Reunited soul-rock heroes the Afghan Whigs have famously covered artists like Barry White and Frank Ocean, but one popular song they attempted but left off this year’s Do The Beast was “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” Frontman Greg Dulli tells Entertainment Weekly what happened:
We sort of made a demo of the song and forgot about it. And then when I was mixing the album the engineer said, “Hey what is this “Every Little Thing” on here?’ He played it for me and I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ He was like, ‘Did you want to keep that vocal? You could probably sing that vocal better.’ So I re-sang it in December and then forgot about it again.”
I’m a fan of that album in particular. I remember I was driving in the desert with Mark McGuire, who’s a guitar player friend of mind. He’s a young guy and I mentioned something about the Police and he was like, ‘I’ve never heard the Police.’ So I played him Ghost In The Machine and he loved it. I think that probably was the moment, because I played ‘Every Little Thing’ several times, as I’ll do if I’m in the car and have control of the music. I think it’s just a really well-written song that’s always had this kind of spooky melancholic undercurrent to it that I’m a fan of.”
In its original form, “ELTSDIM” was a jazzy acoustic demo Sting brought to the short-lived pre-Police band Strontium 90. By the time he recorded it four years later with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland for 1981’s Ghost, it was halfway between calypso and new wave; Sting heightened the tension between the bouncy chorus and the song’s verses, which were made darker with simmering synths from Jean Roussel. That famous 90 second coda (“Eee, oh, oh”) ultimately became a Sting signifier, plus Sting liked the opening lines so much he called back to them in two later songs (the Police’s “O My God” and solo hit “Seven Days”). This was when the trio was on the cusp of becoming the world’s biggest band, and falling apart at the seams.
I’m only detailing all the history because it’s one of the best songs on the best or second best album by my favorite band, who we rarely get to cover on Stereogum these days. In the Afghan Whigs’ lumbering interpretation, Dulli sings the chorus over the verse chords. But it works. I usually hate covers of this song.
Listen to the Afghan Whigs version below.
If you’re looking to go deep on the Afghan Whigs you’re in luck. Just earlier this week we ranked the band’s discography from worst to best. Check that out here. But yeah, there is no “worst” with these guys.
Do To The Beast is out now on Sub Pop.