Tuesday, October 26, 2004

There is a light that never goes out.

John Peel is dead. This is by far the saddest celebrity death that's had an impact on me in years. I'm certain my love of music (and covers) would not be as strong as it is if it weren't for John Peel's relentless dedication to exposing new and often strange musicians to a public who'd have otherwise never discovered them. His influence on performers, journalists and fans is immeasurable. I hope that my fixation on the new in music and culture continues into my 60s (and beyond, if possible) as his did. I can't imagine living my life any other way.

Rest in peace, friend.

  • Flaming Lips "Life On Mars (Peel Session)"(David Bowie cover)
    Edit: Sorry about this cutting off at the end. I suck.

  • Mogwai "Don't Cry (Peel Session)" (Guns N' Roses cover)
  • Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Kinda like the Michael Moore of the music world.

  • Petra Haden & Bill Frisell "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" (Stevie Wonder cover)
    I've been meaning to post some Petra since Fluxblog posted about her unreleased acappella version of The Who Sell Out. (!!!) I had a brief obsession with that dog. in my early twenties and loved me some Rentals shortly thereafter. I love that sweet-voiced girl twee crap. You know, songs that remind you of breaking up with your teenage boyfriend at summer camp and then going out with your best friend to wallow in self pity over a chocolate sundae? Or songs whose lyrical basis is seeing a cute guy at a show? That kinda shit.

    I'm not sure if Petra's jazz connections (her dad's Charlie Haden, you know) were at all involved in the Frisell collaboration, and quite sadly, I'm too lazy even to do a quick Google search to find out, so look into that on your own if you want to know. Heh. Sorry.

    Anyhow, their Petra Haden & Bill Frisell album is available as a Canadian import and is chock-full of sweet little covers of very diverse songs like the Foo Fighters' "Floaty," Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," Coldplay's "Yellow" and songwriter Henry Mancini's "Moon River," among others. Check it out.

    Oh, and this Stevie Wonder song, while very pretty and uplifting, always reminds me of working music retail when the soundtrack to High Fidelity was released and hearing it constantly and wondering why everyone seemed to love that movie (or book, even) so damned much. And that it was filmed in Chicago only annoyed me more. I swear to God, I was walking in Wicker Park one day last year and overheard some yuppie girl excitedly tell her out-of-town friend, "High Fidelity was filmed right around here. You could be walking where JOHN CUSACK WALKED!!!" and go on to giggle maniacally as I looked on, cynically nonplused.

  • Marianne Faithfull "What Have They Done to the Rain?" (Malvina Reynolds cover)
    This folk staple has been covered by Joan Baez and Melanie and The Searchers and The Seekers (Searches and Seekers? '60s folk combos were really hunting for truth and solutions to the world's ills, weren't they?) and probably many others. Most importantly to me, though, is that the Lili Taylor character in Dogfight sings a very tentative rendition to the lovable asshole as played by River Phoenix, thus inspiring me to hunt out every version I could find, original or otherwise. And because I caught a Marianne Faithfull concert last night on Trio, it's her version I chose to share with you today. And, yes, almost all of my decisions are based on things I see on TV.

  • The Ataris "A New England (Live)" (Billy Bragg cover)
    Speaking of TV ruling my decisions, in the most recent episode of The Surreal Life (which lives up to its name more this season than ever), former American Idol wannabe Ryan Starr whines about singing a pop single penned by Jordan Knight because it's not the kind of music she's into, and if it gets played on the radio (shah, right!) her fans (?????) will think she's "selling out." Um. Did her publicist not inform her that she's the lowest rent "celebrity" on The Surreal Life and that being a part of this show is, indeed, a greater form of selling out than singing some crappy song? Apparently so. Aaaaaanyhoooooo, while our fair Ryan is crying and pleading her case (and eventually totally giving in, by the way), she happens to be wearing an Ataris shirt. And that reminded me that I had this live acoustic cover of Billy Bragg's fantastic song, which—for a version by your standard pop-punk act that only knows three to five chords—isn't really half bad. Much better than their god-awful cover of "Boys of Summer," by far. "A Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac"? Whatever you say, kids.

  • Dr. Ammondt "Quate, Crepa, Rota (Shake, Rattle, and Roll)" (Big Joe Turner/Bill Haley/Whoever cover)
    To help cope with his divorce in the late '80s, Dr. Jukka Ammondt, a 50-something Finnish ethnomusicologist, decided start recording Finnish tangos. Who knew such a thing existed? Subsequently, he paired his love of '50s rock 'n' roll with his love of dead languages, bringing us a Latin Elvis tribute as well as Rocking in Latin, from whence this track comes. His most recent effort features three songs sung in Sumerian. Ah, academia!

    On his site, he acknowledges:

    Despite that my singing career is at the same time an intellectual joke, I have also a serious message to the people: "Don't stop, find always new ways to break the borders- your own and the others." I think that's the most important thing in the creativity.

    Damn. Just when I wanted to kinda mock him, he acknowledges his "intellectual joke" and gets all positive and inspirational on me. This album cover is still fair game though, yes?

  • Re: Moon River

    Maybe lack of sleep is making me extra cranky, but I feel the need to tell everyone that I KNOW HENRY MANCINI WROTE MOON RIVER!!! I've had a few comments and a handful of e-mails about it. I KNOW!!! I knew when I posted it that he wrote it. But, since we're talking covers here, I went for the Andy Williams reference because his version is plausibly the most famous.

    Please, forgive me for the mini-rant. I do appreciate your feedback, but after the 10th or so person submitted his or her "correction," it started to bug me.

    So, um, yeah. My next post, which will hopefully occur later tonight or early tomorrow, will feature some actual MP3s. Promise.

    Significant back-scratching.

  • If you missed it back in the day when I posted the Macha & Bedhead cover of Cher's "Believe" and The Mountain Goats' rendition of Ace of Bass' "The Sign," get thee over to Oct. 17 post at The Of Mirror Eye now. There's an O'Jays song as covered by the Sun City Girls there as well. Thanks for the homage!

  • Thanks to Israeli fan Dovi for the heads-up on The Girls, an Israeli band who covers Blancmange's "Living on the Ceiling," which you can download, along with a few of their non-cover tracks, on this page.

  • Jon, of the new Lestermix, just found out that his old band's cover of Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army's "Oh, Didn't I Say" is available for download here.

  • Spin might not want my input, but Keith at PWI does. Head over to that link, where you can download a song (not a cover, sorry) from one of my favorite obscure '80s acts, The 27 Various, and read my "sick" cover suggestions.
  • Saturday, October 16, 2004

    I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.

    I just found out (from my Live Journal friends page, of all places!) that I was not quoted or mentioned at all in the Spin article on the MP3 blog phenomenon, despite having rambled on to the interviewer for about an hour. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe I doled out any astute or otherwise worthwhile insights or anything, but I was hoping to maybe make a tiny "here are some sites to check out" sidebar or something. But, no. I guess that means I'm still officially cool. You know, all under the radar and shit.

    So, yeah, don't worry about me. I'll be okay. I'm as jovial as Babs is while she sings this:

  • Barbra Streisand "With a Little Help From My Friends" (Beatles cover)

    For reals, yo.
  • Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    There's such a lot of world to see.

    No rhyme or reason to today's selection. Just stuff that's hitting my shuffle play lately.

  • The Frogs "Vacation" (Go-Go's cover)
    Holy God, the Frogs are insane. But you gotta give it up for a cover I started off hating but wound up liking the more I heard it. The playful irreverence grew on me, what can I say? As for the bulk of the vocals: I won't tell on them for kidnapping the cast of a grammar-school production of Oliver! if you won't. Definitely one of the most unique covers available on Unsealed: A Tribute to the Go-Go's. "Whatever!" indeed.

  • Elbow "Independent Woman" (Destiny's Child cover)
    An interesting novelty, I guess. Not even half as impressive as their original work, of course. Click here to see Joel Veitch's all-kitten band version.

  • The Innocence Mission "Moon River" (Andy Williams, among others, cover)
    I can't believe this Christian-rock Sundays sound-alike is still together. This is my friend Ray's favorite version of this song. It's pretty.

    Also: Thanks to all those who've sent e-mails or left comments of support and/or information about songs I've posted in the past. Though I might not be able to respond to everyone individually, I do quite appreciate it.
  • Friday, October 08, 2004

    Will you recognize me, call my name, or walk on by?

    Remember me? What seems like four years later, I keep my promise for covers of songs from John Hughes movies. Of course, I'm doing so from work so I hope you'll forgive the slapdashness of it all.

  • Billy Idol "Don't You (Forget About Me)" (Simple Minds cover, The Breakfast Club)
    Maybe it's just me, but I have a difficult time buying Billy Idol singing a song like this. When the Billy Idol who resides permanently in my mind as an aging punk with an attitude sings a slow song, I want it to be about sex or drug trips, a la "Flesh for Fantasy" or "Eyes Without a Face." While I'm sure Idol is emotionally multifacted, desperate longing is not an option on my Idol menu. No substitutions, please.

  • Automatic 7 "Pretty in Pink" (Psychedelic Furs cover, Pretty in Pink)
    Modern pop-punk is not my cup of tea and this version is not different enough from the original to make any real impact on me. And yet, here it is.

  • Halo Benders "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (Smiths cover, Pretty in Pink)
    A quirky little indie-pop whine of a version from the Halo Benders, a side project of Built to Spill's Doug Martsch and Beat Happening's Calvin Johnson, among others. I like geeky rockers and I like this cover.

  • Free Loan Investments "If You Leave" (OMD cover, Pretty in Pink)
    This twee, influenced-by-'60s-orchestral-pop track comes from a "synthpop" (a modifier which confuses me a bit given this bands sound) tribute to OMD called Messages and is reminiscent of the stuff from Tullycraft and the Softies and others on that out-of-print Double Agent 1980 comp I love so.

    Edit: The reason the Free Loan Investments track doesn't sound as if it should be on a synthpop tribute to OMD is because, um, it isn't. I got my OMD tribute albums mixed up, and this track is actually from Pretending to See the Future: A Tribute to OMD. My bad.
  • Monday, October 04, 2004

    Shed a tear 'cause I'm missin' you.

    This is just a note to say that I'm sorry for posting so sporadically. I've been kinda sick this past week and hope to post in the next few days.