Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Rooftop Garden” (Lou Reed Cover) (Feat. George Xylouris)
Drag City luminaries Bill Callahan and Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) have been blessing us with a fascinating array of covers for months now. Every week, the duo shares a recording of some not-particularly-obvious song, crafted with a third collaborator. It started at the top of October, not long after Callahan released his excellent Gold Record, and it seems to be continuing into 2021.
For New Year’s Day, Callahan and Oldham have served up their rendition of “Rooftop Garden” from Lou Reed’s 1983 album Legendary Hearts. With an assist from George Xylouris of Xylouris White, they’ve turned the gleaming new wave track into loose, noisy experimental Americana, led by Oldham’s unmistakable vocal and haunted by Callahan’s baritone beneath the surface. This version of the song has more in common with Reed’s early Velvet Underground recordings than his ’80s material, and it’s probably my favorite in this covers series so far. Listen below, along with the Reed original.
Seems like they should probably press up all these covers on vinyl at some point, eh?