Back in April, alt rock titans The Afghan Whigs released their first album in over 16 years, Do to the Beast. Despite a two-decade absence, the resulting LP was full of wild-eyed innovation and a ceaseless sense of hunger and curiosity. As fresh as the songs may have been, though, the band also spent part of their sessions recording a pop music artifact: a cover of The Police’s seminal 1981 single “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”.
“We sort of made a demo of the song and forgot about it,” frontman Greg Dulli told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”
Thankfully, their manager later unearthed it, and the cover is now streaming below. Even though this writer thinks the original is damn near perfect, the Whigs’ rendition is intriguing nonetheless. Gone is the reggae vibe and unshakable piano line, replaced instead with something that’s a bit more dark and brooding. Over weaving guitars and thudding drums, Dulli practically screams at times, making this rendition feel slightly more about a man who is sick with love than simply celebrating some fantastical female. Love is grand and all, but there’s nothing quite as emotionally rich as pure heartache.
Added Dulli, “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.”
Listen in below: