Monday, July 14, 2008

Under the Coverz 2/22/08

I’m extremely picky about cover songs, it’s music snobbery protocol that all musicians follow, I imagine. Nothing brings out the arms-folded-across-the-chest stance more than when an original band whips out a cover tune.

Whether it’s a tribute to your influences or a way to show off your "chops", as it were, the choice of cover is very revealing. When playing out, I always made sure the covers were of something unexpected like The Sex Pistols’ "Pretty Vacant", or "Do It Clean" by Echo and the Bunnymen which is older and somewhat obscure to most people. Then, of course, you have to occasionally go with relevance by doing U2’s lesser known classic "Running To Stand Still" after a heroin addict steals a PA system from your practice space (it happens).

One of the best live covers I ever witnessed was Supergrass doing "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)". Phenomenal.

Most live cover blunders are forgivable, but when one RECORDS a cover, oh I shiver just thinking of what can only be described as audio STAINS that some bands have offered up under the guise of "modernizing" a song.

Recorded covers of The Beatles’ songs should not be allowed without my approval. You can’t ever do The Beatles better than they did, EVER! It’s sort of sacrilege to let your tiny pea brain consider that you can even attempt such an endeavor. I’ve heard some recordings that don’t entirely piss me off (Candyflip’s dance version of "Strawberry Fields Forever" comes to mind), but I stand by the premise that outside of the former band members themselves, only George Martin can update their work via the studio.

If I ever hear of anyone redoing "Hung Up on a Dream" by The Zombies, or the Stones’ "Child of the Moon", I will most certainly be personally overseeing their sadistic execution - leave PERFECTION alone!

I threw up a little in my mouth when I heard Sia’s version of Radiohead’s "Paranoid Android", not only did it feel "too soon", but it also emanated the desire to slap that Anna Nicole-like vibrato right out of her quivering throat. Who allowed this? If only there was legal recourse one could pursue when their eardrums are violated thus.

Ok, so yeah, a cover can make people really hate ya, but it can also make someone respect you a little too.
This was the case with Pearl Jam, whom I’ve never been a fan of but I stumbled across their live version of "Throw Your Arms Around Me" by the Hunters and Collectors. It’s an old song that I really, really dig, so PJ gets semi-props for that one.

Covers of The Velvet Underground’s stuff have most always been alright with me, especially Nirvana’s rendition of "Here She Comes Now". I completely lose my shit every time he hits that higher octave bit. The build up...I wish I knew some compliments in Italian as I feel that language would properly exude more passion in describing it.

Obviously, Hendrix did Dylan just fine. Radiohead can do whatever they want and I’ll probably lick it up, geeze… there are so many great ones, I couldn’t possibly get to them all here. I’ve put a few on my profile play list, Ben Gibbard’s version of "They Don’t Know" is awesome. He must’ve been spying on me because I play it that same way, fucker! Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement fame) also did an ok version of my favorite Dylan song "Ballad of a Thin Man", it’s on there too.

The cover you do is a layer you put on a work that was considered finished by somebody else at some point, so don’t leech, it’s much more admirable to add something. Take a sad song and make it better. =)

Currently listening :
VU By The Velvet Underground Release date: 25 October, 1990

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