4.11.2005

the second time around

I decided to write about the phenomenon of "cover songs". First let me tell you that I'm in a band called el jezel and we do at least one cover every other show, sometimes more. I would say that I am the instigator of the cover 9 out of 10 times, and many times my fellow el jezelers have to shoot me down. So here's a list of Five Songs El Jezel Will Never Cover:

1. Morrissey- "Last of the Famous International Playboys"
We actually jammed that a few times before Dan found out it was a Morrissey song. In truth I couldn't sing it that well, but we did give the main riff a dirty vibe that the original lacked. I have since decided to do a solo ep of Morrissey covers that is languishing in pre-production.

2. Prince- "Let's Go Crazy"
I also got a chance to play this in the one-time incarnation known as Swell Jezel. Since Dan had to be out of town for our Astoria Beergarden show last Summer we recruited Don from The Equation and Bryan from Man In Gray to join us for a short set padded with covers. Now this wasn't a tounge in cheek cover dripping with irony- I can't stand those. Like when Travis did "Baby One More Time". I like Travis, hate that cover. The joy in doing "Let's Go Crazy" was just trying to pull it off. It's a tricky little pop song with a ridiculous solo so it was a hoot to try and swing it. I'd say we kinda did. But I strongly doubt the original version of El Jezel needs to do it at this point.

3. Bauhaus- "Kick in The Eye"(the funky version on Mask)
I've never even mentioned doing this to Jess and Dan cause I don't think it would get that far. It's kind of a song I wanted to cover since I first heard it in high school, but never got around to it. It's like goth meets dico funk and it would rock the party. Maybe someday...

4. Level 42- "Something About You"
I have no idea why I think this would make a great cover, but I do. The idea of it terrifies me. I wouldn't pitch this as a cover with El Jezel because I'd be scared that they'd take me up on it.

5. Any Led Zeppelin song
Though I did get El Jezel to put the main riff from "Heartbreaker" at the tail end of our "This is Love"(PJ Harvey) cover, I don't think I'd have the cajones to sing like Robert Plant. And I do mean that literally.

It's funny how different bands have different stances on doing covers. I've met people in bands that are completely against covers and bands that just can't get all members to agree on what to cover in the first place. One of my best friends was in a Top 40 cover band that was really good, yet pretty lame. I mean there's a fine line between doing a set full of obscure covers at Pianos and playing "Gin and Juice" to a bar full of frat boys in New Jersey. Or is there?

Anyways, I still dream of putting together a commando outfit of rotating musicians for the ultimate cool cover band. It's simple. We all make mixes, send it out to the others. We all pick 3-4 songs from each mix and learn the parts. Then we get together on a Friday night, drink some beer and rehearse them once. Then we meet at the gig. Who's with me? The only thing getting in my way is thinking up a name.

How about The Dust Jackets? The Heart Sleeves? The References?

19 Comments:

Blogger d said...

aaw man, you know I'm down. whenever, wherever! I loves covers. so revealing. they are the rock mirror to the soul.

last of the famous.., huh? that opening riff is su-weet. man, I loved that song back in the day. leave it to moz to write a love letter to a nasty piece of work gangstah.

personally, I think el jezel should do when u were mine. c'mon! it would be SO GOOD!

2:39 PM, April 11, 2005  
Anonymous mike said...

I like to play covers because they're generally better than my originals. What I don't like are jokey covers of obvious hits; it's harder, but ultimately more rewarding, to take a song that's hated by conventional wisdom and turn it into something substantial. Which is why I like Lou Barlow's "Round & Round" so much - by playing it completely straight, he discovers heretofore-ignored depth. What irony exists is subtle.

3:52 PM, April 11, 2005  
Blogger d said...

mike, you remember lou barlow's cover of bryan adam's run to you? I remember that a lot of friends of mine thought that it was snarky "bad song cover" but I always sensed real affection behind it. that's part of why I liked it. it was tinny & weird & rather sweet.

4:15 PM, April 11, 2005  
Blogger d said...

ps I'm down with the heart sleeves. failing, that there's always the comforters.

4:52 PM, April 11, 2005  
Blogger jess said...

George really painted me out to be a cover hata, didn't he? Nah, I know that he knows I like them, but I'm picky about what to cover. Believe me when I say I've learned some songs that the boys would never do. I think I can speak for Dan by saying that he feels covers take away from what the band is really about when playing live...I can hear where he's coming from, but you can't deny the rush you get when you hear the crowd cheering because you're playing a song that they know and love!

9:02 PM, April 11, 2005  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Me! ME! Pick me!

I'm in one of those bands that can't ever agree on covers, so I'm together with your plan, spoonman.

I sort of agree about not ever being about to sing like Robert Plant, but it would be kind of fun to cover them with a blatantly un-Plantlike vocal.

9:19 PM, April 11, 2005  
Blogger bryan said...

goddamit jeremy, i want to play in the cover band. and the way i figure, it would already have one really good guitarist who could actually do the songs justice (george) so why would they need another one? they need me to bring the chaos element. come on now. and MiG is a pain in the ass with covers. we've done a few (Matthew Sweet's "Superdeformed" because I demanded it and didn't really give anyone a choice and Mission of Burma's "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate" because we actually all agreed on that one somehow). Other covers have been one-off things and few and far between. Reasons including Jared refusing to do that cool bass slide in Cannonball, me automatically shooting down any talk of Pink Floyd and Zep covers, and Jeremiah making absurd requests to cover Cody Chestnut songs mashed together with Bowie songs. My attempt to disguise a cover of "This Little Light Of Mine" as an original song didn't work either.

1:52 AM, April 12, 2005  
Blogger d said...

god bryan, stop being such a greedo. let the poor man play in a covers band.

9:02 AM, April 12, 2005  
Blogger d said...

PS george, j & I do a version of stairway that would definitely get us killed by an angry mob. even more so than our "deaf girlfriend" routine at an open mic.

10:46 AM, April 12, 2005  
Blogger punk ass g said...

Travis' Baby one More Time. You hate it? Really? I thought it was awesome, and I'm actually planning to do a cover of their cover on a demo I'm allededly working on. Oh well, to each her own.

I'm not in a band, but I do love me some covers and if you need another warbler, I'd be oh so willin'.

10:18 AM, April 13, 2005  
Blogger punk ass g said...

I meant "allegedly." I'm a better singer than I am a speller.

10:18 AM, April 13, 2005  
Blogger Marta said...

dude that "Something About You" level 42 song is so summer crush for me, hmm prolly not ELR friendly. crazy keyboards.

11:23 AM, April 13, 2005  
Blogger Tavie said...

I'm currently holding imaginary auditions for my imaginary Hedwig and the Angry Inch Tribute Band, Tits of Clay.

Line up, don't crowd now.

11:28 AM, April 13, 2005  
Blogger george said...

To me the Travis song is kinda like a Weird Al cover. Really amusing the first time, but in the end it's just a novelty song. I know some make the argument that the way they "interpret" it makes it genuine, but I just don't buy that. I'm talking to you Ted Leo! (He just covered the Kelly Clarkson song "Since You've Been Gone".)

12:56 PM, April 13, 2005  
Blogger d said...

yeah, it gets a bit shady. I'm not a ted leo nut so I don't think I'm qualified to dis. I do like richard thompson's oops! (I did it again) but he's got his wolfy voice & that guitar dexterity on his side. he sounds like he's about to have another BLOWOUT!

something about you would make an excellent cover. what would you do with all those whoah's?

I saw some kids that opened for mig do a pop/punk cover of west end girls which was satisfying.

2:29 PM, April 13, 2005  
Blogger JLM said...

d, i do believe you are referring to those weezer-meets-elvis costello kids that opened for mesmer when we went to tiswas that one time. my purpose in life is to set you straight.

5:57 PM, April 14, 2005  
Blogger d said...

it wasn't bad. I like that song anyway. I'm down with the pet shop boys. I've always wanted to cover "rent" just for the lines I'm your puppet/I love it. I'd have to find a way not to bust out laughing though.

5:03 PM, April 15, 2005  
Blogger d said...

PS the jlm is right. they were playing mesmer band. no mig is sight.

5:05 PM, April 15, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruchman, you cunt.

10:31 PM, May 02, 2005  

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