The Saw Doctors taste in covers tends to run towards fare from its native Ireland. But last year the group enjoyed some success with an unexpected and buoyant cover of the Petulia Clark pop hit "Downtown," which went to No. 2 in its homeland and also charted in the U.K.
"It's a wonderful song," says the group's Leo Moran. "We did it live one time -- I can't actually remember why -- and we could see that people loved it. So that put the idea in our back pocket, that it might be an interesting kind of Christmas single. Even though it's not a Christmas song, it has that Christmas feel."
Once the group decided to do it, meanwhile, Moran and his mates reached out to Clark herself to make a guest appearance on the single -- and ultimately in the video.
"We didn't think she would, but she came back and said she'd love to," recalls Moran, who co-founded the Saw Doctors during 1986 in Tuam, County Galway, and remains from the original lineup along with Davy Carlton. "We booked a studio in London and hooked up with her, although it was very hectic. And we had been playing the song in the original key, which she couldn't do anymore, so we had scramble and re-record all the stuff in a key both she and Davy could sing in and then ram it down quickly before she had to go.
"But it worked out wonderfully, maybe all the better for having to scramble. And it's a very great privilege to work with someone like Petulia Clark, so it was worth everything we went through to do it."
The Saw Doctors perform Thursday, March 22, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Door open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 313-961-8137 or visit www.livenation.com.
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