Tell your dad to get off my back. . .
No time for dicking around tonight, as I'm laying around completely lazy as I enjoy the last day of a 5-day "vacation." I have an entire DVD of Undeclared episodes to catch up on, so I'm bringing you a quickie post full of covers (and in some cases, the original versions as well).
"Band of Gold" by the AFGHAN WHIGS: Let's get one thing right out in the open: the Whigs' Greg Dulli can not sing. He can howl and purge his soul with the best of them, but when it comes to hitting the notes in the technical sense, he's Exene Cervenka. In any other band it never would have worked, but the Whigs have a penchant for atonality. Those wiry guitar lines and droning feedback are the band's calling card(s), and they've rarely been as powerful as here, deconstructing and choking the perkiness out of this hit from Freda Payne. Diana Ross (CORRECTION: a sharp reader noted that this is the Freda Payne version I've posted, not the Ross version. . . I must now hunt down the Ross version and post it here when I find it) is the spurned lover, but Dulli is the dude sprawled out on his kitchen floor, covered in self-inflicted slash wounds and stinking of whiskey, surrounded by the shattered remains of his telephone.
"After the Gold Rush" by THOM YORKE: This is a live track from Radiohead singer Thom Yorke's appearance at a 2002 benefit for Neil Young's Bridge School. I've heard Radiohead cover a Neil Young song before (there's a live version of their "Cinnamon Girl" floating out there on the web), but after hearing this song, I won't be satisfied until the band does a whole album of Young covers. While he botches a lyric here and there, Yorke really nails the cracked, longing vocals in Neil's original song. The Flaming Lips once recorded a cover of this one.
"What'd I Say" by RARE EARTH: Anyone who has ever seen me DJ in Omaha can tell you that I have a shameless love for a certain brand of groovy 70s cock rock. I've been known to bust out the odd April Wine or Grand Funk track here and there, and I'll even come to the defense of Rare Earth, who had a big hit with "I Just Want to Celebrate." On "What'd I Say," these guys get their honkey funk groove all over the Ray Charles classic, which is pretty damn scorching in its own right.
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" by ALEX CHILTON: Yes, this is the Alex Chilton the Replacements were singing about. This raggedy cover comes from 1970, an album full of sessions Chilton recorded after the demise of his BOX TOPS (they had a hit with "The Letter" in 1967) but before the arrival of BIG STAR (they. . . didn't really have a hit). The album is a bit spotty in places, but there are a few great songs in there. Stones purists may hate the change in rhythm. I don't mind it a bit.
"Thirteen" by WILCO: Tying together a number of tangents in one song, here Jeff Tweedy pays tribute to the aforementioned Big Star by covering a gorgeous little song from their debut album and possible masterpiece, #1 Record. It's hard to believe the original Big Star version is almost 35 years old. I've heard some people complain that the thought of two guys writing a song about being thirteen and in love skeeves them out, but I just have to ignore their cynicism and enjoy the song for perfectly capturing how awkward and emotionally raw those days were. The recently unearthed version of "Thirteen" by ELLIOTT SMITH mirrors the Wilco version, making things a little more somber and unsure.
"Be Your Husband" by JEFF BUCKLEY: This Nina Simone cover is the opening track to the newly augmented double disc version of Jeff Buckley's debut EP, Live at Sin-e, and it's a great way to start the album because it's basically Buckley's soundcheck (the annoying guy asking for reverb is not Jeff), as he feels out the room and the microphone. Without ever touching an instrument, he hits almost every little nuance in Simone's "Be My Husband", right down to the grunts.