Tuesday, August 31, 2004

With you I'm not shy to show the way I feel.

As you're all well aware, I'm prone to sicknesses of the ironic variety. This blog merely showcases one of them. Most recently—in addition to my inexplicable desire to watch the worst movie ever, Stephen King's Dreamcatcher, repeatedly on cable—my guiltiest of guilty pleasures is currently the '70s soft rock hit.

It seems that in the '70s, men and women songwrights alike suddenly felt safe sharing the let's-work-through-this journal entries their therapists made them write by turning them into "deep" and "meaningful" ballads rife with metaphors and analogies and general "I'm OK, You're OK" wussiness. Gone was the ambiguity of the lyrics of the '50s and early '60s when everyone was dreamy and breakups were poppy. All of a sudden, it was okay to whine like a bassett hound, tell the truth, open yourself up to everyone and, subsequently, face severe ridicule from "real" rock stars. And all without any real vocal passion. Weird.

Until the past year or so, I actively ignored (that's possible, right?) the genre, primarily because it brought back memories of being trapped in a car with my chain-smoking mother on my way to the horror of nursery school and kindergarten in Crown Point, Indiana: the time I got in trouble for using my middle finger to guide my eyes as I read a book; the time I had to sit at the lunch table all day because I wouldn't eat the egg salad sandwich being forced upon me; being scolded for singing the "it's a bitch, girl" line of Hall & Oates "Rich Girl" ... all of these memories come flooding back the second I hear the beginning strains of any successful '70s sap.

I predict my temporary fascination with this once-despised genre will end within the next few weeks, but for now it's here and I'm its biggest fan. But I'm not the only one. Observe ...

  • Floorfilla "Sister Golden Hair" (America cover)
    Next to country and smooth jazz/R&B, most soft-rock covers appear to be of the Eurotechno variety. Recipe: Hire someone who can summon a Jamaican accent for the spoken intro, speed up the beat, eventually throw in a carnivalesque, Vengaboysian (shut up, it's a word!) pipe organ and be sure to periodically give the chick's vocals that warbly effect initially popularized by Cher's "Believe." Et voila! You and your friends are unwittingly raving to the oldies. Helpful hint: Take the X a few hours before downloading.

  • 58 "Alone Again (Naturally)" (Gilbert O'Sullivan cover)
    If half of Bran Van 3000's members were ex-heroin addicts and Baz Luhrmann was producing their album, this could be the product. Instead, we've Nikki Sixx, Barry Gibb's son and a few other rock weirdos to blame for this. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but not necessarily good.

  • Millie Jackson "Just When I Needed You Most" (Randy VanWarmer cover)
    Oh, yes, Millie! This is how this song should sound. I mean, the motherfucker is leaving you. Just when you need him most! I need to hear the ire, and the often-blunt Millie couldn't resist adding her own little "fuck you" asides because she wants you to feel what this song is really about. Much better than the Japanese boy-band [name unknown] version of this track that literally took me seven hours to download the other night. And much more strong and passionate than the original, although I will say that "VanWarmer" is an all-too-apropos name for someone who writes touchy-feely '70s ballads.

  • Matthew Sweet "Magnet & Steel" (Walter Egan cover)
    I love Matthew Sweet, but he doesn't really do much with this. I'd rather hear a terrible cover that tries something new than a competent cover that's not different enough from the original to matter. Luckily, this is from the Sabrina the Teenage Witch soundtrack CD (there's such a thing?), so until now, no one had to hear it. Heh.

  • Rockell "We Just Disagree" (Dave Mason cover)
    Zzzzzzzzz. Cheesy freestyle "diva" Rockell is only nominally talented. Dave Mason's association with Steve Winwood, a soft-rocker whom even irony will not allow me to enjoy, ensures my disinterest. [Shudder.] In my opinion, a true case of the bland leading the bland. [Note: For a great Rockell-related cover, Rufus Wainwright covers the originally-recorded-by-Rockell track "Instant Pleasure" on the Big Daddy soundtrack and gives it a depth you'd never expect upon hearing the original.]
  • Monday, August 23, 2004

    Yesterday don't matter if it's gone.

    I spared you the Julian Lennon version.

  • Fleming Pie "Ruby Tuesday" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Somewhere between J-Pop and J-indie falls Fleming Pie, a Japanese outfit with a handful of cover-only, out-of-print maxi CDs that are nearly impossible to find physically in the US or anywhere. On this track, they futz a bit with the timing, stretching out the words into a bizarre twee warble. Marginally interesting.

  • Melanie "Ruby Tuesday" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Ah, Melanie! I was so happy a few years back when the always insane "Brand New Key" made it onto the Boogie Nights soundtrack, thus introducing its aforementioned insanity to a new, younger, unsuspecting audience. And don't get me started on her high-pitched folksy ire on "Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma." There are points in this track in which she sounds so impassioned—and not unlike a cat in heat—that I can't tell whether or not I should be laughing at it. But I do.

  • Sex Mob "Ruby Tuesday" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Improv jazz quartet that performs mostly covers. I'd say this is my favorite version posted today, if only because it's the most unique.

  • Thelma Houston "Ruby Tuesday" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" is, in the wake of the '70s revivals that happen every five years or so, one of the only ultra-ubiquitous disco tracks I can stomach. Donna Summer's always impressive vocal range notwithstanding, Houston's deep, powerful voice lends a sincerity to songs—cover and otherwise—that, to me, wins out over the "Ring My Bells" and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexys." (Somewhat related: Did any Chicagoans catch the PBS special about the Steve Dahl-fueled "Disco Sucks" demolition riot at Comiskey in '79? I remember seeing that on the news as a kid and thinking it was pretty cool, despite the fact that I liked disco. Now I think it's pretty damned stupid.)

  • Oliver "Ruby Tuesday" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Some say Oliver's 1969 version of Hair's "Good Morning Starshine" is one of the worst singles ever to make the charts. But you gotta admit the X-Files-y Mr.-Burns-as-alien episode of The Simpsons that pays homage to it rules. I kinda like dippy '60s pop covers. Sue me.

  • Jad Fair & Daniel Johnston (& Chris Bultman) "Ruby Tuesday" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Ugh. Go figure. Work is keeping me busy. Read about the album from which this comes here.
  • Tuesday, August 17, 2004

    I lead you to moonlight only to burn you with the sun.

    I'm sick today and don't feel much like writing, but that shouldn't mean you have to be deprived of covers insanity.

  • Ze Malibu Kids (Jeff and Steve McDonald from Redd Kross with their wives Charlotte Caffey [Go-Go's] and Anna Waronker [that dog.], respectively) "You're So Vain" (Carly Simon cover)

  • Baxendale "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" (Human League cover)

  • X DJ Bass* "She's Like the Wind" (Patrick Swayze cover)
    *That's the name that the file says, but I can't find any evidence of such a DJ. I know it's not the Jan Wayne or Phonkillaz version, among others. Who knew there were so many techno remakes/remixes of this schmaltzy, uh, classic?
  • Friday, August 13, 2004


    You've been craving it your whole life without even realizing it: Finnish polka/oopmah (humppa, to those with Finnish leanings) covers of the hits of yesterday and today. And, lemme tell you, Erkelaiset will give them to you in spades. It's just up to you to rifle through their immense catalogue and listen to the songs repeatedly in order to try to discern what's what. (A procedure I've still not completed. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to suss out even the most familiar tunes when rendered in a foreign language by an oompah band who changes all of the titles to incorporate the word "humppa.")

    As one who's only familiar with Latin-based languages and, of course, English, I have no idea whether the lyrics come even close to proper translations of the songs. I'm guessing not due to the aforementioned humppa in each title. Perhaps some of the Scandinavian readers (I know you're out there, I check my stats) can shed some light on the situation. Until then, this is all we have to go on:

  • Elakelaiset "Humppa (Zombie)" (Finnish Cranberries cover)

  • Elakelaiset "Humpatarzan (Monkey Wrench)" (Finnish Foo Fighters cover)

  • Elakelaiset "Heil Humppa! (Kids in America)" (Finnish Kim Wilde cover)
  • Somewhere in the crowd there's you.

    I was going to host a copy of Salma & Sabina singing Abba's "Super Trouper" because,
    along with Shaun Cassidy's Born Late and Pat Benatar's Precious Time, Abba's Super Trouper was one of the first albums I actually paid for as a child and listened to repeatedly. That explains a lot about my eclectic and often questionable taste in music, doesn't it? I digress. Anyhow. Abba is one of the most-covered acts out there (not to mention worshipped by a the slew of tribute bands that exist), presumably because they were brilliantly sentimental dance-pop craftsmenpeople.

    Anyhow, luckily, I just remembered that this track (as well as the other Abba songs Salma & Sabina have done) is already featured on April Winchell's awesome multimedia page, along with many other bizarre delights, covers and otherwise. Get thee over there!

    This strange little piece of outsider audio comes from the 1981 album, Salma & Sabina Sing Abba in Hindi. Scroll down to the April 3 post over at the 365 Days Project to read an excerpt from the cassette cover, as well as to take a gander at these lovely ladies in their convertible.

    And stay tuned, I'll be posting other odd foreign stuff a little later today.

    Edit: Winchell's site appears to be down temporarily, sorry about that. It was working fine when I wrote this post. I'd say check back later today or tomorrow to see if it's up.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Feeling so frustrated, even antiquated, 'cause you can't update me.

    Many thanks to reader DK who turned me onto this downloadable cover album. (The page's intro says the tracks are no longer downloadable, but I didn't have a problem getting them.) I already had about half of the tracks featured there, but I didn't know from whence they came. Embarrassingly, one of the bands featured is my good friend Jason's (I once posted a song of his) band, The Danglers, so I feel as if I should've already been in the know about it. Likewise, former Zero Hour artist The Multiple Cat is there as well. Eh, what can you do?

    Unrelated: VH1 Classics is my heroin. I never in a million years expected to see TMBG's "She Was a Hotel Detective" while randomly flipping channels. Likewise, earlier today I was stunned into silence by the horror of Rod Stewart's "Infatuation." Ah, I miss the days when stalking was cool. And don't even get me started on John Mellencamp's hair in "Cherry Bomb." Cover-related: I still see tracers from Three Dog Night's "Try a Little Tenderness" video. Yep. Heroin. Damn, a Ned's Atomic Dustbin video that's not "Grey Cell Green"? I, uh, gotta go.

    Monday, August 09, 2004

    I guess you're wondering how I knew.

    Admittedly, thanks to my lousy slow computer, I'm a bit behind on my MP3 blog reading. Therefore, I missed Loki posting this classic punk cover by the Slits that, I swear, I was a day or two away from posting myself.

    Similarly, Chris over at Fluxblog has posted a few new (Kate Bush and Outkast) covers here.

    This ain't a song for the brokenhearted.

    Welcome to all the new Rochester, NY, readers. I hope you enjoy your stay.

  • Ida "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" (Neil Young cover)
    Ida is one of my favorite bands and they have some of my favorite covers, so choosing which to use was difficult, but I was in a kinda country mood—well, until I stumbled on the last two tracks, anyhow—so this track won out. It's light and airy and folksy and pretty and, well, just plain Ida-esque.

  • Kelly Hogan & John Wesley Harding "I'm a Little Bit Country, I'm a Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll" (Donnie & Marie Osmond cover)
    A perfect song choice from two decidedly more rocky of our alt-country/alt-folk superstars. JWH has been a long-time favorite of mine, and not solely because a few of his albums were released by Zero Hour, a former obsession I detail here. Actually, I think I first stumbled on JWH and his Billy Bragg-esque wit, cynicism and folkishness, via his track, "When the Beatles Hit America," which was on one of the Just Say ... comps back in the day. Kelly Hogan, on the other hand, despite being known to me for years, is someone whose oeuvre I'm just beginning to explore and enjoy. Her voice is that awesome combination of power and subtlety and Southern twang that makes me wish I'd been born to a musical family in Georgia. And if I ever want to meet her, rumor has it I can swing by the Hideout and watch her play or pay her for whiskey. Accessible artists rule.

    This you-really-can't-do-much-with-a-song-like-this-but-it's-fun track comes from one of the three all-cover compilations released by Chicago's own Pravda Records, 20 More Explosive Fantastic Rockin' Mega Smash Hit Explosions! These comps mostly feature Chicago-area artists rehashing old K-Tel radio hits and is, as most all-cover comps are, full of hits and misses.

  • Pastel Vespa "Living on a Prayer" (Bon Jovi cover)
    This is where the country ends. Brazilian-born (but currently living in Australia) chanteuse Pastel Vespa (her real name, it appears), is my new hero. I've long been waiting for the day in which I'd hear a Bon Jovi song rendered in an immensely listenable fashion. (Don't get me wrong, I was a big Bon Jovi fan back in the day, but most modern covers of their work are unbearable.) If you liked the Nouvelle Vague track a few entries ago and/or any of the loungey Japanese tracks I seem particularly obsessed with, this is for you.

  • Boy Division "It's My Life" (Bon Jovi cover)
    My friend Matt and I have had a few discussions about forming a band that solely performs covers but that isn't your standard cover band. You know, we'd just be a band who happens to sing other people's songs but is so innovative and experimental that we'd make each song our own. A lofty goal, to be sure, but one that apparently others have had. Yes, Germany's own Boy Division has beaten us to the punch. Fortunately, a quick sampling of their covers lends me to believe that they weren't as interested in making each cover sound different from one another, but it's all, um, interesting to say the least. Like what you here? Check out a few of their other covers here.
  • Wednesday, August 04, 2004

    The next post will have a song, I promise.

    Trust me, I don't want drama to be a regular part of this blog (I have a Live Journal for that kind of shit, thank you very much), but it appears some people are baffled by what is my apparent hypocrisy. Yes, I suppose it's bad karma for me to post songs without a copyright holder's consent and that I subsequently somehow cosmically deserve it when people hotlink directly to my files. Whatever. What bugs me most about discovering that fellow bloggers are hotlinking to my files is the fact that bloggers in particular should know the amount of time and effort it takes to find these and write about them. And I'd like an accurate as possible count of how many people are visiting and/or are downloading files. And while I'm not some wide-eyed, naive, hippy type, it still just seems rude to me to do purposely do something you know bothers someone else. Sigh. Maybe it's old-fashioned to be polite and expect people to return the favor, and maybe I'm somehow uncool because of it, but I don't care. It's what I think. But, until I figure out how, I can't stop anyone from doing it. So, go ahead, if you're happy being that sort of person.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

    Perhaps this makes me seem uptight, which is fine since I often am, but I think it's in poor taste when other sites or bloggers link directly to my music files. So, yeah, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't do that. A hyperlink to the specific entry takes the same amount of time to create and it brings people to my blog, which last time I checked, was the purpose of my creating it. I'd offer you the same courtesy.

    It couldn't be me and be her in between without you.

    If the covers I posted earlier aren't enough for you, Stereogum has some live covers here, as well as the John Eddie cover of the Cure that's in the sidebar and which is from one of the first all-cover various artist compilations CDs I ever bought, Elektra's now out-of-print 40th Anniversary Rubaiyat.

    Monday, August 02, 2004

    I'm a song written by the hands of God.

    The following tracks come from a mostly charming little Irish benefit compilation called Even Better than the Real Thing, Vol. 1, which was put out by an Irish radio station and which is apparently still on the charts there. A lot of it reminds me of that Luka Bloom cover of LL Cool J's "I Need Love" in the early '90s. Maybe all Irish acts perform covers the same way. Maybe not. Either way, it's still better than the millions of god-awful hardcore or nu-metal tribute albums out there. If you feel you must have it—and are willing, if you're not in Ireland, to pay import prices—you can still find it at places like this. Volume 2 is forthcoming.

  • Maria Doyle-Kennedy (actress, ex Hothouse Flowers, ex Commitments, etc.) "How You Remind Me" (Nickelback cover)
    One of the greatest pleasures in what I refer to as my "sickness," is the discovery of a song I completely hate performed in such a way that I reconsider and come to decide that it's not so much the song that's awful, but it's the band who wrote/originally performed it that I truly despise. Conversely, one of the greatest pains related to my cover addiction is that, once I've finished listening to the intriguing cover a few times and go on my merry way about my day, it is not the cool new cover that gets trapped in my head. Instead, it's the horrifying original and next thing you know, my co-workers, friends and family are subjected to repeated Nickelback impressions as I attempt to release the demon from my brain. This is how I remind me of who I really am.

  • Roesy "Breathe" (Blu Cantrell & Sean Paul cover)
    Okay, I admit it—and I don't even know if this makes me cool or lame, since I'm practically dancehall illiterate—I like Sean Paul. And though this Blu Cantrell track would've probably had less of an impact on me had he not been involved, it's okay enough. Certainly more listenable to me than her gold-digger anthem, "Hit 'em Up Style." Roesy is, admittedly, new to me and I'm thinking I like what he's done. I've been ignoring a lot of modern Nick Drake-influenced artists lately, but this guy has such an interesting timbre to his voice that I'm very interested in checking out his latest album Only Love is real very soon. And he paints too.

  • Kieran Goss "Underneath Your Clothes" (Shakira cover)
    Irish country/folk artist Kieran Goss is apparently fucking huge in his native land, and, until now, I'd never heard of him. Sigh. I'm so American. As for Shakira, I must admit I remained intrigued with her (and her hypnotizing ass shaking) even when she flicked her switch from Spanish angry-girl alt folk rock to English dance pop. Most likely because it's not often that English-language dance pop has lyrics like "lucky my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains." [See and hear the track below.] After listening to this halfway decent cover, however, I always get the Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine" stuck in my head. Seriously, do their intros sound exactly alike or am I going crazy?

  • Mundy "Wherever Whenever" (Shakira cover)
    Can't get enough Shakira covers? Neither can I or Irish folk stars, it would seem. I once took a Mundy promo home from work, gave it a listen, and promptly dubbed it borecore. I'm not sure my stance has changed, but I do enjoy a nice foreign mope singing about the aforementioned small breasts. Scarily enough, Mundy (I think) also recorded a poppier version of this song that I found whose lyrics were altered so they were about, presumably, football (read: soccer). Um. That's just weird.