"Tainted Love" - My Brightest Diamond
Yes, it's that song. Fingertips doesn't traffic in covers very often--hardly ever, actually--but that's not because I have anything against someone singing someone else's song. It's just hard, I think, in the end, to take the focus off the mere act of covering--hard, that is, to turn the new version into truly its own performance. The original is always the unspoken third person in the room between the performer and the listener. If the new version is a respectful homage, well, there it obviously is; if the cover, on the other hand, is an extreme re-working of the original, the distance between the two versions draws its own kind of attention to itself.
This problem is most easily overcome when the performer doing the covering has so much of his or her own magnetism that the song becomes merely another vehicle for it. Two-time Fingertips veteran Shara Worden, a musical force of nature recording as the entity My Brightest Diamond, qualifies without hesitation. Worden restores the drive of the Gloria Jones original, but instead of an early-'60s R&B stomp, she runs with a swirly, neo-disco ambiance that somehow manages to feel, also, pre-disco/retro--disco, perhaps, as imagined by the Jetsons, full at once of accidentally too-organic sounds (the drums sound very real) and early space-age bleeps and "futuristic" tones. Vocally, Worden is at her semi-operatic finest, singing with a husky, quavery restraint that makes it sound like she's holding back even when she's letting loose.
This new "Tainted Love" comes from the CD Guilt By Association Vol. 2, set for release on Engine Room Recordings in February, although it's already available digitally via iTunes. You can check out a stream of the whole thing on the Engine Room web site. The CD is the second in a series which features cover versions of big pop hits, of the top 40 variety, by indie artists. MP3 via Pitchfork.