Saturday, August 08, 2009

Music: Is your name Mary Kelly?

I posted a short live clip of Screaming Lord Sutch doing his big hit "Jack the Ripper" before a wonderfully terrified crowd of young Brit girls. It was disappeared not long ago. Good news though: Here's a longer clip of the same performance with even more crowd discomfort.

And here, just for giggles, is the White Stripes cover of the same song:

You may well ask, "CRwM, why are the lyrics so different?"

Good question. I'm glad you asked.

Screaming Lord Sutch would incessantly re-record his one big hit. Sometimes he'd redo it just to play with some new instrumentation. On some occasions he'd get obsessed with a new musical genre and recontextualize his hit to fit the new mode.

Yes, Virginia, there is a disco version of "Jack the Ripper."

The upshot of this is that there is really no canonical "Jack the Ripper" and the result is a sort of "open source" garage tune that everybody picks up and makes their own.

Here's The Horrors' version:

How do they walk on legs that skinny?

Sutch wasn't the only dude to dabble in Jack the Ripper songs.

Here's Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Though their "Jack the Ripper" isn't a cover in any real sense, the acoustic intro alludes to a Sutch original:

Morrissey has a bit of a thing for English true-crime slashers. His tune "Spring-Heeled Jack" is more famous, but he did a "Jack the Ripper" too. [Commenter Glass corrects me: Mozzer's tune is "Spring-Heeled Jim," not Jack - CRwM] Here you go:

Here's a late-career Link Wray, the rockabilly legend, doing "Jack the Ripper."

Isn't neat that we live in a world where rockabilly is a word that my spell-checker recognizes?

Here's the too-brilliant for words Japanese metal outfit Seikima II doing their "Jack the Ripper." Japan is the most awesome place on Earth.

Oddly, Saucy Jack played a curious role in the Golden Age of Rap. When LL Cool J decided he needed to officially produce a diss track aimed at Kool Moe Dee, he created a track called "Jack the Ripper." I kid not. (Dee's LL diss track was called "Death Blow," the video for which started with J's mom telling a prostrate LL in a boxing ring that she told him not to mess with Dee.)


Glass Devaney said...

Spring-heeled *Jim*, is the Moz song. It's not about the Ripper ;}

CRwM said...


You are correct. I had Jack on the brain. The more famous Mozzer tune is Spring-Heeled Jim - an allusion to, but not a literal song about the folkloric Springheeled Jack of London and later Sheffield, Liverpool,and Midlands fame.

Gracias for the check.

wiec? said...

one of the best songs to get stuck in my head is Sutch's Jack the Ripper.

thanks for the other versions too.