Note: Originally posted July 15, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.
– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)
Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.
David McComb And Adam Peters – I’m Your Fan
In September 1991, a number of artists influenced by Leonard Cohen’s music were assembled by Christian Fevret, editor of Les Inrockuptible, the best known rock magazine in France, to put out I’m Your Fan,1 a tribute album with the professed goal of introducing Cohen’s work to a younger generation.
Among the musicians participating in this project were David McComb, best known as the lead singer for The Triffids, & Adam Peters, a member of both The Triffids and Echo & The Bunnymen, who together performed “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” from Death of a Ladies’ Man, the album resulting from the Leonard Cohen – Phil Spector collaboration.
Leonard Cohen On Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On By David McComb & Adam Peters
Leonard Cohen was interviewed about the album for the Austrian magazine “Basta:”2
Question: Some songs [from I’m Your Fan] keep very close to your original arrangements, some of them sounds totally different. Do you discover here new qualities in your own compositions?
Cohen: I was interested, with what technical means these songs would be worked up today. That gives me new ideas for arrangements and production. One song on that new album I like more than my own original version, ‘Don’t go home with your hard on’, done by David McComb & Adam Peters. [Emphasis mine]
The Story Of David McComb, Adam Peters, & The Triffids
Cohen’s praise for the McComb and Peters version of “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” was pointed out to me by UrPal, a contributor to LeonardCohenForum and a moderator of The Triffids web site. At that time, I might have correctly identified The Triffids as a rock band on a multiple choice test. After reading up on the group and its individual members, especially David McComb, I became intrigued by the songs and the history of these musicians. Consequently, I asked UrPal to provide the essential information about David McComb, Adam Peters, and The Triffids in order to include it in this post. I am pleased to report that he graciously agreed, with the following result:
David McComb was the charismatic lead singer and songwriter of legendary post-punk ’80s Australian band The Triffids. Emanating from Perth (the most remote city in the World), The Triffids built a loyal following and released two albums and several singles in Australia before traveling to England in 1985 to pursue wider fame and glory, with Nick Cave and The Go-Betweens as fellow passengers of the moment.
Their blistering live performances soon saw The Triffids being hailed as darlings of the British and European music press. John Peel, the preeminent British DJ, became an early champion of the band, broadcasting three sessions of their songs in rapid succession. The classic album Born Sandy Devotional was released soon after, featuring their touchstone song, “Wide Open Road,” which has since been recognised as one of Australia’s Songs of The Millennium. Major label, Island Records, then signed the band and released two albums, Calenture and The Black Swan, as well as a series of singles. Also during this time, The Triffids picked up fame across Europe, touring extensively and performing at major festivals, including Glastonbury and its continental equivalents, and headlining several.
Despite the enthusiasm and admiration of rock journalists (David Fricke of Rolling Stone amongst them), fellow musicians (from Nick Cave through Michael Stipe and Bono to Lenny Kaye), and music producers (Pixies’ producer Gil Norton and Smiths’ producer Stephen Street produced their records), The Triffids never hit pay dirt with major hit records and high public recognition. Independent music was still in a nascent state and had yet to merge into the mainstream. After five years of creative genius from McComb and with the nineties looming, the band called it quits and headed home to Australia to pursue more settled lives.
But, as with the best of music, their songs continue to linger in the hearts and minds of those who heard them and make new converts with each generation. McComb died in seeming obscurity in 1999, but recent reissues of The Triffids’ back catalogue has coincided with McComb and the band being acknowledged through lifetime achievement awards, hall of fame inductions, TV documentaries, films and a tribute stage show performed thus far at Sydney Festival (2008) and Perth International Arts Festival (2009). Books featuring David McComb’s poetry (“Beautiful Waste”) and a series of essays by writers, musicians and colleagues (“Vagabond Holes”) are due for publication later this year by Fremantle Press. Meanwhile, fans of the band are campaigning to save from demolition the heritage 19th Century mansion known as The Cliffe in which McComb was raised and The Triffids first rehearsed: http://savethecliffe.info/
Adam Peters is probably best known for his strings contributions as a cellist and his orchestrations on Echo & The Bunnymen’s classic album “Ocean Rain”, and performed a similar role on The Triffids’ UK recordings. Around the time The Triffids split he became a musical collaborator of McComb’s. They released a single together on Island Records called “I Don’t Need You.” Peters has also worked with other notable acts, including Siouxsie & The Banshees and Lloyd Cole.
Incidentally, the guitarist on the McComb/Peters version of DGHWYHO is renowned lead guitarist of Echo & The Bunnymen, Will Sergeant.
David McComb & Adam Peters – Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On
I want to offer special thanks and a tip of the Cohen chapeau to UrPal, who takes music seriously, thoughtfully, and enthusiastically and from whose posts on LeonardCohenForum and The Triffids web site I’ve learned much. Writing concisely, clearly, and meaningfully for a blog audience as he has done in the section on The Triffids is, as those who have contributed content to Heck Of A Guy will attest, no simple or easily accomplished task. It is, however, an appreciated one.
- The track list for I’m Your Fan follows:
1. The House Of Love: Who By Fire
2. Ian Mcculloch: Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
3. Pixies: I Can’t Forget
4. That Petrol Emotions: Stories Of The Street
5. The Lilac Time: Bird On The Wire
6. Geoffrey Oryema: Suzanne
7. James: So Long Marianne
8. Jean-Louis Murat: Avalanche Iv
9. David Mccomb & Adam Peters: Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On
10. R.E.M.: First We Take Manhattan
11. Lloyd Cole: Chelsea Hotel
12. Robert Foster: Tower Of Song
13. Peter Astor: Take This Longing
14. Dead Famous People: True Love Leaves No Traces
15. Bill Pritchard: I’m Your Man
16. Fatima Mansions: A Singer Must Die
17. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds: Tower Of Song
18. John Cale: Hallelujah [↩]
- This excerpt was found at LeonardCohenFiles [↩]