Covers and Mirrors


Any of the Matt Pond fans who may have caught my post a few weeks back will be happy to know that the band's new EP, "Winter Songs," was just released this week. I just got the band's email newsletter and they said the first pressing has sold out and a second is on its way. If you can't wait that long, go find it on iTunes and download it immediately. Along with a couple of great originals, the EP contains great cover versions of "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (Neutral Milk Hotel) and "Holiday Road" by Lindsay Buckingham (you might remember the original from the closing credits of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION). The band also does a mezzo mezzo cover of Neil Young's "Winterlong." Can't top the original, or the Pixies cover from the Bridge tribute album.

I've had that EP on repeat for the past couple of days (I'm going to wait a week or two before posting anything from the EP), and I started thinking of other cover songs I want to post to this blog. There's a huge list, so we'll just consider this the start of a "regular" feature on this site.

CLEM SNIDE "I'll be Your Mirror": I'd seen the name Clem Snide pop up in a few magazines like Magnet over the years, but until the release of their BEAUTIFUL EP last year, I'd never given them a listen. I guess I just couldn't wrap my head around that band name (I still don't know what it means or who it is in reference to), or the fact that the band's lead singer is a guy named Eef Barzelay. The NBC show "Ed" used one of their songs as its theme. Anyway, they are as brilliant as this cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'll be Your Mirror." Hunt around for some of their stuff on the web (Emusic.com is a really cheap place to download their stuff, including their best album so far, THE GHOST OF FASHION). The EP that this song comes from also features a pretty cool cover of "Beautiful," the Christina Aguilera song. Future shoppers note: the band's new album, THE END OF LOVE, is coming out in a few weeks.

JOSE FELICIANO "California Dreaming": File this one under "Wow, I Never Thought I'd Like a Song by (Insert Artist Name Here)". You know how you might think you know a band or an artist, and you think you've decided that they must categorically suck because of what little you've heard from them? A good example would be the Bee Gees. You might think you absolutely hate them, but then you hears something like their "Marley Purt Drive" and it makes you amend, if not reconsider, your position. Jose's take on the old Mamas & the Papas chestnut did the same for me. Here's a guy famous for a lame cover of the already lame "Light My Fire" by the Doors, and the theme song to "Chico and the Man." But what the hell do I know, if I never realized he could jam like he does on "California Dreaming."

OHIO PLAYERS "Feelin' Alright": Do radio DJs not know about this cover of the Dave Mason/Traffic hit while they continue to play Joe Cocker's cover up and down the classic rock radio dial? We need to have a singles recall, the same way a book company would have a recall if they discovered a glaring misprint in one of their books. Please, classic rock DJs, return your copies of Joe Cocker's single to the label and replace any future appearance of the song on your playlists with the Ohio Players' cover.

HARRY NILSSON "Subterranean Homesick Blues": Just as manic and breathless as his "Jump in the Fire" (which was unforgettably featured in the movie "Goodfellas"... think of the scene where Ray Liotta is driving and watching the helicopter following him) is Harry Nilsson's cover of Bob Dylan's pre-hip-hop "rap" song. That fuzzy thumping bassline is the one thing holding this acid freak out together. Harry was friends with John Lennon, and Lennon produced this track and the album it comes from, PUSSY CATS. Nilsson recorded this whole record with a ruptured vocal cord, which goes to show: if you've got John Lennon behind the boards, fuck getting sick. To quote Jesse Ventura in "Predator," "I ain't got time to bleed."

For more on the artists listed here:
Clem Snide's web page
Some cool Clem Snide video footage, from their site
Jose Feliciano's official homepage
All kindza Harry Nilsson links
Unofficial Ohio Players page (check the afros!)
Scans of some classic Ohio Players album covers
Reason the Ohio Players song never made it to radio: It was unreleased until the "Westbound Funk" comp



Anonymous said...

Dylan, it's Jones. i hope i'm not too late and you still check comments from previous days blogging. your discusion of covers, especially those that reinvent the song (as a good cover should do) got me thinking about one of the most underrated cover bands ever, Low. I know what you are thinking (Low?), but when they decide to cover something, they completely turn songs on their head. 2 primary examples, Transmission (Joy Division) from the Transmission EP, and Down By The River (Neil Young), from the In The Fishtank EP with the Dirty Three. Both are revelations, and if you do not have them next time you are over I will kick them to you. Amazing.

Dylan Gaughan said...

Nice call on Low, Jones. I have the Fishtank EP but not the Transmissions one. Have you ever heard their cover of Pink Floyd's "Fearless"? Great stuff. I have it on 7", and I may have the .mp3 on my roommate's computer. If so, I'll try to post it soon.