I gotta say, when I saw MGMT at the Voodoo Experience in New Orleans last year, I had a hard time concentrating on the music. Besides the fact I’d seen them in concert earlier that year at the Sasquatch! Music Festival, their Voodoo set was on Halloween … and they came out on stage dressed as Mystery Inc. Andrew Vanwyngarden made a fetching Daphne, as the sunset glinted from the synthetic strands of his orange wig. Ben Goldwasser and James Richardson stood at either side as Velma and Scooby Doo, with Matt Asti and Will Berman to the rear as Shaggy and Fred. You’ll forgive me if I was a little distracted.
But when I heard the band’s recent Daytrotter session, I was reminded of something. They had played a song I recognized at that show, but not from their albums. One I’d surely heard before, but knew not where. All I was certain of was that the tune was from the 1980s. Sometimes there’s really no debating such things. Was it the Cure? The opening guitar and bass parts suggested it might be, but I know my Cure well enough that by the time the chorus came along, it was out of the question. I was stumped.
It was time to consult the Google machine. A short search led me to learn the original version of “Only a Shadow” was by a fairly obscure English '80s band The Cleaners From Venus. (They don't have their own Wikipedia entry; they MUST be obscure.)
What the search didn’t tell me is why I’d recognized the song. Perhaps it was just because I’d heard MGMT perform it live just months ago, or perhaps it’s because it so closely resembles other such music from its era. The really important thing to note here, however, is that now there’s a decent recording of MGMT’s cover version for download. Once again, I find myself humbly indebted to Daytrotter for its unrelenting awesomeness.