tremble clef

Friday, October 07, 2005

Inga Humpe, "Do I Have To" (1990)

Tis true, what Edward said over at Umlauts: there aren't nearly enough good covers of Pet Shop Boys songs.

The Dubstar version of "Jealousy," with the mournful oboe, is quite nice -- despite how Sarah manages to get the very first word of the lyric wrong -- as is, surprisingly enough, Paul Anka's take on "It's A Sin" this year. But Ben Lee's cover of "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore" sounds like death not even warmed over, and Merril Bainbridge's acoustic version of "Being Boring," in which she seems to be singing "I came across some casual photos," "Now I sit in different faces," and "My shoes were high and I had spores"? Girl, maybe the reason you have spores is because you go around nonchalantly sitting in faces.

Hopes are therefore high (while the bar is low) for West End Girls, two Swedish lasses who, according to Popjustice, will be doing nothing but PSB covers. Incidentally, other names considered for the group but rejected were: Go Westies, Donna Juan A Cat, and Disco Potential. (I'm sort of regretful about that last one.) (Actually I'm sorry about all three.) The photo of them, pretending to be all glum while updating the Go West helmets ("Let's make them...silver! Because...shiny!!!") is unfortunately rather better than their take on "Domino Dancing." But it's the thought (and stylish thinking caps) that count. Because, let's face it, it's hard to improve upon perfection.

Inga Humpe, frankly, doesn't even try, and that has its own kind of charm. Nowadays Inga is best known, if she's known at all, for being half of 2raumwohnung. She would be the one that plays the Alison Goldfrapp part. But before 2raumworraloadofetcetc, Inga was in...well, a million groups, apparently. I remember one of them -- Humpe Humpe, the one she was in with her sister Annette -- quite well, because Smash Hits talked about them, and because, c'mon, they were called Humpe Humpe.

In 1990, Inga went solo and covered the PSB b-side "Do I Have To" for a single. It's a pretty faithful version. It came about because she was working with their programmer Andy Richards, who asked the Boys to suggest a song to do. Neil and Chris went with "Jack The Lad" (which I agree might have been a better choice), but Inga preferred this. I bought the 12" while I was in college -- it has a lovely b-side of its own called "Falling (Forward)" -- and then years later found the full album, Planet Oz, on CD in a used store. It certainly calls on some big hitters: Trevor Horn wrote and produced the album's first single, "Riding Into Blue (Cowboy Song)," a little electronic jaunt that sounds like a horseride, and Andy worked on a few songs, including a cover of "Something Stupid." (The other producer is someone named "Fischerman's Friend." Who knew lozenges even had opposable thumbs?) But it made no impact and is not finally a great album, despite some nice floaty electronic numbers, but inga pinch it'll do. (Ha ha, etc.)


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