Saturday, April 03, 2004

Whatever you want to do is all right with me.

In my former life as a supervisor in the music department of the largest MegaStorders in the country, my favorite regularly assigned task (and, yes, I assigned myself the task—particularly because I didn't trust any of the department's slack motherfuckers to do it even half as well as I did) was the daunting process of alphabetizing, organizing, dividing and otherwise caring for the pop/rock compilations. It was tedious and time-consuming and ultimately futile since the minute the area was left unattended, the masses would descend upon it with fervor, examining the discs and throwing them back wherever they saw fit—most often somewhere in the adjacent Country section. Bastards!

Still, the time spent was worth it to me, if for no other reason than I became aware of every tribute album the buyers in Ann Arbor allowed us to stock and, subsequently, my vast knowledge of Trivial Shit No One Else In The World Cares About In The Least increased tenfold. That said, the unfortunate truth is that—most likely as a result of the fact that people working music retail have to sign contracts to be the most condescending, apathetic, contrary, negative, know-it-all grumps on the planet and that I was working at MegaStorders, of all places, and made nowhere near enough of a wage to actually shell out the required $18-a-disc fee for anything there that caught my interest—I was jaded as hell and immediately thought everything there to be total crap, whether or not I had anything to go on besides the album's cover and/or the record label that produced it.

One of the many CDs I often sneered at—while lovingly placing it exactly where it was supposed to be, of course—was 1998's electronica (heh, remember back in the old days before the -core and -wave suffixes affixed themselves to every fucking genre and we called it electronica?) tribute to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. And the sorta-cool/sorta-cheesy cover art probably didn't help. Well, many years have passed since those dark (darkcore?) days, and my current daily Wellbutrin/Zoloft cocktail has retroactively allowed me to sit back, relax and float downstream toward the masterpiece of a synthcore geekwave concept album that is CyberPunk Fiction.

A song-for-song (and more, since "You Never Can Tell," "Flowers on the Wall" and "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon" are given two versions each) homage to the original film soundtrack, CPF is honestly one of the most intriguingly fun cover compilations I've yet to find. And the spoken sound bytes emulating the dialogue-only tracks from the OST are dead-on (I'm willing to overlook the mispronunciation of Linux if you are) and are probably already in the permanent playlists of every true computer nerd in the world. Readers, please note how difficult that is for me to say: I'm not a big fan of electronic music. Likewise, I'm by no means down with the types of jokes sysadmins tell around the water cooler. Still, this tome released by the now-defunct Re-Constriction label is a true gem full of original, often upbeat, mostly unrecognizable interpretations. Synth/goth/industrial (sleepcore?) cover albums are a freakin' dime a dozen. They trudge on and on in the most predictable drone and make you want to slit your wrists—and not because you're deep like The Crow. But CPF, on the other hand, is worth a good 10 cents all on its own, probably more. Seek it out. Own it.

  • Christ Analogue "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green cover)
    It's blasphemy, I know, but I've never understood why Al Green and Barry White are so widely considered the sex kings of the music world. Their standard slow-jam ballads are the last things I'd want to listen to while I "got it on." Those songs make me want to go to sleep rather than want to sleep with someone. I need a rhythm, a beat and lyrics sung by someone who sounds like a pretentious asshole. That's what gets me hot. I'm into havin' sex, I ain't into makin' love. This version of LST gives off the perfect fuck-me vibe—you know ... the same driving rhythm and soft-yet-gruff Reznoriffic vocals that got you hard and made you want to fondle yourself the first time you listened to Pretty Hate Machine in its entirety. (Don't deny it.)

  • "Electro Body Music" (spoken dialogue homage)

  • Collide "Son of a Preacher Man" (Dusty Springfield cover)
    I go way back with Dusty. Well, as far back as someone born in 1972 can, I suppose. Let's just say I was a fan prior to her work with the Pet Shop Boys and certainly well-before 1995 when the release of Pulp Fiction skyrocketed SOAPM it into severe ubiquity. Seriously, have you seen how many American Idol hopefuls have butchered this classic? I wouldn't have been anywhere near as excited initially to hear it in the movie had I known how many sorority members would suddenly be singing it at karaoke bars, I swear. But, ironically, it's SOAPM's ubiquity that makes me absolutely adore this cover. Collide, whose name perfectly describes the manner in which this duo smashes head-on into this track and makes it their own, has done the previously unthinkable and all but erased the multiple renditions I've heard by wannabe pop stars or thong-exposing drunk girls that have been resonating in my nightmares for years now.

  • "User Friendliness Goes a Long Way" (spoken dialogue homage)
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