When I first heard that there was a new cover version of the song "Tarantula" by Beck, I rushed over to Spotify to take a listen to his musical interpretation of the track. Would it sound closer to the somewhat obscure original version by 80's electronic group Colourbox, or the better-known cover by 4AD Records collective This Mortal Coil? Clearly paying tribute to the latter (TMC) version, I was blown away by how incredible Beck's version sounds.
Featuring lovely backing vocals by Feist and stunning orchestral arrangements, Beck's "Tarantula" is inspired by the Netflix film ROMA, and will feature on the forthcoming album, Music Inspired by the Film ROMA (out February 8). The arrangements are a collaboration of Beck with his father (David Campbell), and the track was produced by Tom Elmhirst.
Both Colourbox and This Mortal Coil were artists on British indie label 4AD Records. Being a self-professed 4AD-phile during the label's earlier days, it's exciting to hear a new interpretation of "Tarantula" getting some attention. The original version was written by Colourbox's Martyn Young and Ian Robbins, and featured vocals by Debian Curry. There were actually two versions of "Tarantula" recorded by Colourbox - each appearing as the B-side of their debut single, "Breakdown" (1982, 1983). The 'second version' commands a bit more synth presence and depth than the first. If you've only ever heard the This Mortal cover (and Beck's version), the Colourbox original presents a completely different and heavier electronic vibe than the atmospheric and melancholic TMC and Beck covers.
This Mortal Coil was an iconic musical collective created by 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell, and featured a rotating cast of vocalists who contributed to the songs across TMC's three albums. The "Tarantula" cover version from the Filigree & Shadow (1986) album featured Dominic Appleton on lead vocals, Jon Turner on keyboards, and the gorgeous, otherworldly vocals of sisters Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski. Whenever I think of Filigree & Shadow, it's always "Tarantula" that stands out for me. Take a listen and you'll clearly hear the similarities between the This Mortal Coil and Beck versions.
Along with Beck's contribution of "Tarantula", Music Inspired by the Film ROMA features 15 tracks from other artists, including Patti Smith, T Bone Burnett, Billie Eilish, UNKLE and more.