In 1979 the phantasmagorical love song about a muse named Gloria was originally written and composed in Italian by Umberto Tozzi and Giancarlo Bigazzi, with an English translation by Jonathan King. Three years later, singer Laura Branigan covered the song and had a monster hit on her hands, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard charts and later certifying platinum.
Now, it’s Angel Olsen’s turn to tackle the cryptic classic on her upcoming covers EP, Aisles, due out on digital 20 August and on physical media on 24 September via her own Jagjaguwar imprint, somethingcosmic. Olsen also covered Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without A Face”, Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance”, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave”, and Alphaville’s “Forever Young” for the EP.
The dreamy, druggish take on Gloria strips away the sparkling Italo-new wave element familiar to millions, and yanks it into the Black Lodge of Twin Peaks. The result sounds astonishingly little like the original version, but a fascinating, electric take nonetheless.
“I’d heard Gloria for the first time at a family Christmas gathering and was amazed at all the aunts who got up to dance,” Olsen explains. “I imagined them all dancing and laughing in slow motion, and that’s when I got the idea to slow the entire song down and try it out in this way…I know it’s not really in my history to do something unintentional or just for the hell of it,” she says, “but my connection to these songs is pretty straightforward, I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!”
The album was recorded in the winter of 2020 with Adam McDaniel in Asheville at Drop of Sun Studios.
“I told Adam I had an idea to record some covers and bring some of the band into the mix, or add other players,” Angel says. “I needed to laugh and have fun and be a little less serious about the recording process in general. I thought about completely changing some of the songs and turning them inside out. I’d come over to find Adam had set up five or so synthesizers, and we’d get lost on a part for a while messing with some obscure pedal I knew nothing about. We’d spend a good amount of time going through sounds before finding one or two, sometimes we’d get real weird and decide to just go with it.”
Olsen is excited about her new imprint, somethingcosmic, which will serve as a home base for her covers, collaborations, and singles. Citing the break from touring as inspiration, she’s grateful for a new flexibility in release. “The hope is that it will become a place for all of my creative endeavors, music and otherwise,” she concludes.
Listen to Gloria here:
You can preorder the album here.
Aisles EP Tracklist
1. Gloria (Laura Branigan)
2. Eyes Without A Face (Billy Idol)
3. Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)
4. If You Leave (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark)
5. Forever Young (Alphaville)
For old time’s sake, here’s the version from the late, great Laura Branigan:
Photo Credit Dana Trippe