Thursday, November 23, 2006

In our lifetime those who kill, the news world hands them stardom. And these are the ways on which I was raised.

  • The Now Time Delegation "Nothing But a Heartache" (The Flirtations cover)
    I had never heard the original version of this song until the fabulous Rhino box set One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found came out last year. And though it's difficult to pick a favorite from a collection so chock-full of gems, this song was (and is) defintitely my No. 1. Similarly, until I'd heard the original last year and went on an immediate hunt for any band who might have covered this track, I was unaware of The Now Time Generation—a punk/garage/soul indie supergroup featuring members of the BellRays and Monkeywrench, among others, that sprung from the ashes of the King Sound Quartet. As I suspected, any band that would cover this would instantly become a New Favorite Thing [TM]. Their Watch for Today album is about half lively contemporary covers of soul and mod classics and half originals that sound like lively contemporary covers of soul and mod classics. It's pretty awesome.

  • Chris Cacavas "Someone to Pull the Trigger" (Matthew Sweet cover)
    This hit my shuffle play the other day and I thought, "I don't remember having a cover of this by Neil Young!" Heh. I didn't. Upon closer listening, I don't hear it as Young-ian (clever, no?) as I did previously, but it's a sweet little Americana version nonetheless. And don't get me started on what an impact such a lovelorn, suicidal anthem (or any Altered Beast track, really) had on College Liza back in the day. My heart breaks all over listening to any version.

    Somewhat related: My former coworker Chad has a tattoo of of the dinosaur logo from Altered Beast. Now that's dedication. Adorable, adorable dedication.

  • Robyn "Jack U Off" (Prince cover)
    As I've mentioned previously, I'm loving Scandinavian artists lately. (BTW, Swedes Please is my favorite drug.) Robyn's 2005 album is one of my favorite albums of that year. And, hell, this year too. I can't get enough. She's adorably bad-ass. I'd been hunting for this a while and reader Jerker sent it my way. Callou callay, says I. What a cute little vulgar song!

  • Altered Images "Song Sung Blue" (Neil Diamond cover)
    It's weird. I love Altered Images' originals. I mean, what would Sixteen Candles have been without "Happy Birthday"? And how inspiringly poppy was "I Could Be Happy"? Granted, even back then, I could see how Clare Grogan's voice could be like nails on a chalkboard to many, but I kind of liked that it was so high-pitched and thought it added to the charm of the songs. And she was so cute in Gregory's Girl. Maybe I'm getting old or something, but hearing this cover kind of makes me want to beat someone up.

  • Cadaveric Sludge Dispenser Unit "Consequence of Sounds" (Regina Spektor cover)
    Whoa. This is just plain strange. When any band covers one of my favorite new performers, I take note. And often—even after collecting covers as long as I have been and seeing tons of bands covering the work of artists I can't even believe they've even heard of—I'm surprised. I rarely expect gore outfits with names like Cadaveric Sludge Dispenser Unit to cover quirky little anti-folksters like Regina Spektor. Maybe it was the fact that the song references "bowels" that drew CDSU to it. Or maybe the fact that they only had to play a note or two on their synthesizer. Or maybe they're huge Spektor fans. That's the beauty of the out-of-character cover. You choose your own adventure.

  • Epoxies "Join the Professionals" (The Professionals—or The Fabulous Stains—cover)
    So, the Sex Pistols broke up and Steve Jones and Paul Cook started The Professionals. But that's not the important part. The important part is that they showed up in the cult hit Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains (with Ray Winstone acting as the lead singer) as the Looters and sang it. Then the more important part is when the heroine—a spunky, young, see-through-shirt-wearing Diane Lane—steals the song and makes it her own (aka much worse). (But not quite as iffy as her only other song.) Then, after much turmoil, her band goes on to make a mainstream new-wavey pop video of it. And most importantly, the Epoxies covered it and now it's featured here. I'm really liking their cover choices.

    Note: The Donnas-esque (although a bit poppier, kind of like Lindsay Lohan's band in Freaky Friday or something from the Valley Girl soundtrack/s) California band Rocket does a pretty good cover of this as well and you can hear it when you visit their site. I don't have the scratch to buy the EP it's on just now (nor their other cover-filled record), but it will happen soon. BTW, Why isn't everything in the world available as purchasable downloads yet? I thought this was the future!

  • Faye Wong "Silent All These Years" (Chinese Tori Amos cover)
    I'm sorry to report that I'm unsure whether this is the Cantonese or Mandarin version. Anyone?

    Edit: The verdict is in and Mandarin wins.

  • Larrikin Love "A Horse with No Name" (America cover)
    The Tower Records by my house, like all Tower Records locations, is going out of business. Generally, I don't latch onto corporations, but I must admit Tower was good to me. Not so much musicwise, 'cause their shit is expensive, but definitely on the movie rental and magazine selection fronts. Seriously, the magazine department was sick. (This is the first time I've ever used sick in its new "cool" compliment variation. I'm not so sure it works for me.) Anyhow, the good thing about the store closing is that back issues of magazines are 75% off, which means for a while I can actually afford British publications, such as September's issue of Q, which came with a CD brimming with '70s soft-rock hits. This is one of the better covers from said disc.

  • Flat Pack "Sweet Child O' Mine (Mylo Club Mix)" (Guns N Roses cover)
    As regular readers know, Axl would have been ultra safe hiding in my hair. Just sayin'. I like this version. It makes me want to break out the acid-wash and dance.

  • Russian Love "The Last of the Famous International Playboys" (Morrissey cover)
    Morrissey was in town last night. I didn't go to see him, and I haven't since the Kill Uncle tour a few days before my 19th birthday in '91. At the time, it was both the shortest and most expensive concert I'd ever been to. Morrissey was surly back then and I was unimpressed, unlike the person who wrote this who described it as "excellent." I vowed never again to pay to see him, but in recent years I must admit I've thought about amending my stance. But the tickets are even pricier now, so forget it.

    This all said, I was fortunate enough to meet him back in my Borders days one day when he was shopping. I made an ass of myself telling him how his music helped me get through high school, but at least I only did so after he approached my coworker and me outside and asked us for directions to another bookstore. (It was a pet peeve of mine to approach celebrities in general, let alone while working.) We walked him halfway to the Barnes & Noble and he was pretty gracious in the face of my fumbling attempt to thank him for the impact his body of work had on me. The only thing that would have been better would have been if he would have put us on the guest list for his show that night a la the keyboard player from the Fixx, but I digress.

    "The Last of the Famous International Playboys" has long been my favorite solo Morrissey track, and Russian Love are Scandinavian, so here we are.

  • The Jimmies "Chevy Van" (Sammy Johns cover)
    Sometimes you're just in the mood for a "Chevy Van" cover. Today was that day for me. And while punk bands are usually not my thing, I must admit that if The Jimmies were the regular band at any bar in my neighborhood, I'd go check them out from time to time.

  • Twang "Song 2 (Blur cover)
    Whether I love or loathe shticky all-cover bands depends on the day. Today I'm choosing to love Twang because there are millions of "Song 2" covers and 99% of them sound exactly the same, whether performed by pop, acoustic, grunge, metal or punk acts. And 99% of those completely SUCK. Granted, I'm a huge Blur fan and "Song 2" is quite possibly my least favorite song in their catalog so I'm biased from the get-go, but at least Twang did something different with it.

  • The Vienna Boys Choir "Supreme" (Robbie Williams cover)
    Hey, apparently it's "Singers I've Met" day here at Copy, Right? Robbie Williams was already huge for years in Europe by the time The Ego Has Landed was scheduled for US release. And the record label was touting him as the next big American thing. (Um, never really happened, sirs.) I got invited to a very swank, chichi Robbie Williams record industry showcase, which was primarily populated by EMI execs wearing suits. I was at the tail end of my phase involving hating all things mainstream pop back then, and I went to the show for the free top-shelf liquor and shrimp appetizers. I was aware of Williams and Take That and his reputation as a megalomaniac. I was expecting a really lame performance by a total jerk. But he was extremely charismatic, energetic performer who admitted being humbled by the fact that he can walk the streets here without being accosted. My "meeting" him was nothing more than saying something like, "Hi, I really enjoyed that" and overhearing him say that he was gong to have a smoke outside because, again, he was excited not to be bombarded. I remember him being super-short, but have since read that he's either 6'0" or 6'1" or so. I'm not sure if there's an exaggeration going on somewhere or if I was just really drunk. I'm 6'0" and remember looking down at him. Maybe he was standing in a hole.

    Since my experience back in the day, I have really come to enjoy Robbie Williams. In fact, I've listened to his new electro album Rudebox—which features lots of covers, reworkings, allusions and homages of/to acts such as Manu Chao, Human League, Stephen Duffy, the Pet Shop boys and more—more this week than any other. And "Supreme" is one of my favorite songs of all time. I sent this track to my friend Ray and his response was:

    Brilliant. Hearing a boys choir sing "all the handsome men are gay" makes
    me feel wrong. And a little turned on.

    I feel the same way about that and the "switch teams" part. Seriously, I love "Supreme," particularly for using the tune from "I Will Survive" in a way that doesn't send me into a homicidal frenzy. Seriously, do we ever need to hear anyone anywhere sing that tired track ever again?

  • MakroSoft "I Will Survive" (Gloria Gaynor cover)
    Answer: Maybe. MakroSoft (Ruediger Esch of Die Krupps, Trini Trimpop of Die Toten Hosen and trumpeter/composer Juergen Hahn) have put out an album called Stereo Also Playable Mono that is full of covers that sound as if they should be on Cinecitta soundtracks or '60s James Bond theme compilations. This would be on the latter, and again: no homicidal thoughts. I'm going soft in my old age.

  • Mikiko "Human Nature" (Michael Jackson cover)
    Sheesh! I don't know how you real bloggers out there write something about everything you post. I'm exhausted after this "write a lot" entry, and I really didn't even have to do research or give an responsible, professional review of anything. I don't know that to say about this track, so I'll let Sony Music Online Japan's "helpful" description speak for me:

    Clear air in every respect! Listening to her voice, you can feel a brisk wind.

    And there you have it.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And by "everyone" I mean US residents. And by US residents, I mean those who like to celebrate genocide by binge eating. Mmmm! Cranberries!
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