The Last Town Chorus – Modern Love

23rd September 2023 · 2000s, 2006, Country, Music

The Last Town Chorus cover David Bowie’s upbeat single Modern Love and improve it by turning it into a melancholy country ballad.

The perennial pub argument about best cover versions returns every now and then. Among the old favourites (Gloria, All Along The Watchtower, Tainted Love, Always On My Mind) this one would always be in my top ten.

If the criteria are that the song must be (a) just as good as, if not better than the original, and (b) substantially different from the original, then this wins on both counts.

It’s much better than Bowie’s jauntily forgettable single from Let’s Dance, which was the first of his albums to disappoint me when it came out and just sounds irritatingly dated all these years later.

Bowie’s version, the opening track on that album, is almost a pastiche of a New Wave sound, with lyrics that are simultaneously uplifting and “positive” yet somehow wistful and nostalgic.

Last Town Chorus turn it into a maudlin, melancholy country ballad steeped in Megan Hickey’s lonesome lap steel guita and forlorn vocal, its funereal pace accentuating the mournful sadness in the lyric.

I saw them perform once, at some subterranean cellar in Spitalfields, around the time this appeared on their second (and last) album, Wire Waltz, in 2006n.

I also remember being introduced to her afterwards and one of my colleagues, no stranger to this sort of thing, taking a shine to her and having to be steered away by her publicist, the lovely Andy Prevezer.

The Last Town Chorus started out in Brooklyn, in 2001, as a duo of Hickey and guitarist Nat Guy, though he left after their first album and she performed with backup musicians, as she did that night.

I see that Ms Hickey now runs her own successful ad agency in Florida so I’m assuming she has given up on music, which is a big shame although, to be truthful, this is the only song I remember from that night.