I just can't get over my newly renewed obsession with the Interstate '76 soundtrack. As I'm prone to on occasion, I went into a mad frenzy last night at 2am scouring the net for I76 soundtrack news. Someday I hope to uncover the "lost" tracks of the official soundtrack. So I snatched up some cheap copies of the original game off eBay to replace my missing CDs and the Nitro expansion pack, which supposedly has a few new tracks.
But I also hit the jackpot: Not one, but TWO live Interstate '76 cover medleys. JOY OF JOYS! Check 'em out on mySpace! I hate mySpace, but I could kiss it right now.
Five Alarm Funk - Suite of '76 (live in Vancouver)
This is probably THE cover find of the year for me. An 8 1/2 minute jam of three of my favourite tracks from the original soundtrack. Wow. My mind is completely blown by finding this cover. And it's Canadian to boot, ha!
Federation of the Disco Pimp - Interstate '76 Medley (live)
Not as instantaneously great as the other track, but 1000 points for covering Interstate '76 anyway. It's actually pretty sweet since it covers some different I76 tunes than the other medley, although it replaces the rousing horn section with a frenetic synthesizer thing. Not bad, just different. Finding these two covers is proof of the lasting influence of the Interstate '76 soundtrack.
If anyone's feel particularly left out of this recent string of Interstate '76 nostalgia, check out this video of the game's intro in all of its polygonal Dire-Straits-Money-for-Nothing-music-video 70's retro glory. And don't worry, I'll be back to posting other covers soon.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I just can't get over my newly renewed obsession with the Interstate '76 soundtrack. As I'm prone to on occasion, I went into a mad frenzy last night at 2am scouring the net for I76 soundtrack news. Someday I hope to uncover the "lost" tracks of the official soundtrack. So I snatched up some cheap copies of the original game off eBay to replace my missing CDs and the Nitro expansion pack, which supposedly has a few new tracks.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I try not to repost things, but someone requested this and it's just too good to remain unavailable. I'm talkin' about the soundtrack to Interstate '76, oh yeah. This amazing funk soundtrack is arguably better than the stuff it's paying homage to. Simply fantastic, get it while you can.
Rehashed from my April 18th post:
"Nearly 10 years ago, Activision released a computer game called Interstate '76 that featured muscle car mayhem, afroed sidekicks, and a protagonist named Groove Champion. I remember it being fun (but barely running on our computer) and it was followed by a dismal sequel Interstate '82.
The key ingredient that made the original game so good was the wicked funk soundtrack that accompanied the vehicular combat. Heavy on the wah-wah pedal, lots of fuzz, and sexy sax. You can totally imagine this groovy music overlaying a 70's police car chase or possibly porn.
This was one of the first games (that I remember) with professionally recorded soundtrack where the game CD could actually double as an audio CD. As you raced around blowing up other cars, this awesome music played on endless rotation off the CD , which made it easy to ignore the choppy, repetitive gameplay and mediocre graphics (hey, they were cool at the time).
The soundtrack was performed by the one-off band Bullmark headed by Arion Salazar (bassist of Third Eye Blind) and made up of Brian "Brain" Mantia (drummer for Primus), Santana's keyboardist, and other session musicians. Some of these songs are among my most played iTunes tracks, which goes to show how these have long outlasted the novelty of the game."
Interstate '76 soundtrack by Bullmark
"NOTE: these are the 16 tracks that came off the actual game CD. In fact, I only know these songs by track number. Activision actually released an official soundtrack with even more tracks (with real names), which you can read a review of here."
I have yet to hear this official soundtrack since I was too stupid to buy it at the time (if in fact I knew it even existed). Here's a pack of extra Bullmark tracks that I withheld from the original post. I think I downloaded them from Arion Salazar's website, which no longer exists.
-Can You Feel
-DESTRON Super Jam
-Interstate '76 Theme (Slight Return)
-Pocket Full of Yanni
-Skaebae Ranger GO!
-The Crab Style
Get 'em all:
Interstate '76 bonus tracks by Bullmark
And would you believe it, an Interstate '76 cover?
Aqua Viva - Interstate '76 Theme [originally by Bullmark]
That is, if by "Interstate '76 theme", you mean Song #1. I always remembered Song #16 being the main theme... I have no idea where I got this cover and google's no help here.
Vaguely related, semi-cover:
Velvet Revolver - Interstate Love Song (acoustic on KROQ) [originally by Stone Temple Pilots]
This would be the equivalent of Audioslave "covering" Soundgarden.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Ben Folds - Songs of Love [originally by the Divine Comedy]
This cover off of one of Ben's EPs is the first time I had ever heard of The Divine Comedy (the band, not the poem). Recently though, the Divine Comedy and the man behind the music, Neil Hannon have been cropping up in a bunch of notable covers and such. For example, the Life on Mars? cover I posted a while back and a Queens of the Stone Age cover (see below). The Divine Comedy toured with Mr. Ben Folds in 2002, which later led to a co-headlining tour of the UK. The three live covers below come from an October 2002 gig at Brixton. I just read now that Neil Hannon also sung So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish in the closing credits of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film. It suddenly occurs to me that I should investigate the music of Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy more thoroughly...
The Divine Comedy - Brick (live) [originally by Ben Folds Five] Ben Folds & The Divine Comedy - Raindrops are Falling On my Head (live) [originally by Burt Bacharach] Ben Folds & Neil Hannon - Mess (live) [originally by Ben Folds Five] Ben Folds & Neil Hannon - Race for the Prize [originally by the Flaming Lips]
This is from a Jonathan Ross BBC radio show.
The Divine Comedy - No One Knows [originally by Queens of the Stone Age]
I forgot how much I liked the original when it first came out, so this sweet cover was a nice reminder. Banjo solo!
Unbeknownst to me when I started this post, Obscure Sound just recently posted a bunch of Neil Hannon covers too. Go check it out.
Monday, December 11, 2006
About 3 months ago I was prepping a post on the ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers chanteuse Katherine Whalen who put out a solo album earlier this year. I got sidetracked and never finished the post, but now there's a damn good reason to revive the post. I just randomly checked out her website and found out that the Zippers will be back and performing a select few dates next year in the southeast US! That is, without key members Ken Mosher & Tom Maxwell, who aplit from the band and tour separately as the aptly named Maxwell/Mosher Band... more on that later. The Squirrel Nut Zippers are one of my favourite bands ever and criminally underrated. They were often lumped in the same group of 90's swing craze bands that included Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, though I think the Squirrel Nut Zippers were vastly superior and whose music was much more multi-dimensional, covering a wide range of musical styles that defied easy categorization. Yet it all went belly up about 5 years ago. Once I was wearing a SNZ shirt at work and a patron was like "Squirrel Nut Zippers, eh? Whatever happened to them?". I didn't know then, and now I kinda know.
Up until recently, I was oblivious to the traumatic series of events that eventually tore the Zippers apart, but I came across this article from this past May that absolutely broke my heart. Go take a read and come back, I'll be waiting... Yikes, one sad part was Whalen was forced to sell her banjo and return to waiting tables (!). No, not the banjo! From the article: "Yeah, I ran out of money, so I sold it," she says. "But that's OK. It's just a banjo. Getting divorced was much more stressful. Much sadder." Whalen was married to fellow member Jimbo Mathus and the band, in fact, grew out of impromptu jam sessions at their home. The Zippers went from playing at Clinton's inauguration and a platinum-selling album to vicious in-fighting and legal action that befits a particularly jam-packed episode of Behind the Music, a fact alluded to by ex-member Tom Maxwell in the article. Another article I just read here, describes the acrimonious period recording the record label contract-induced Christmas album (phoned it in) and "band-not-talking" recording process of the album Perennial Favourites. During that album, the band couldn't even stand being in the same room together so they recorded in little groups or at one point cobbled a guitar solo together out of some half-hearted takes...Yikes! Man, even at their worst, the Squirrel Nut Zippers were unbelievable. It's a testament to the immense talent of the Zippers that amidst the behind-the-scenes hell, they put out a fantastic album chock-full of some of my favourite tracks including the wicked Ghost of Stephen Foster, which features honourary band member Andrew Bird who went on to become a great artist in his own right. It's a shame that all sorts of crap happened to bring down such a great band.
Here's a mish-mash selection of Zippers-related paraphenalia including covers, semi-rare live performances, and tracks from the SNZ family of artists.
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Hell (Springfield remix)
Back in the Napster days, I stumbled on the Squirrel Nut Zippers quite by accident with this remix while searching for Simpsons mp3s. From the "Sauter Sonic Labs", someone cleverly took the Zippers one hit song Hell and mixed in Simpsons quotes about hell and the Devil. After a few listens I started wondering about the underlying song, which was actually quite catchy. As was the case with a lot of crap from Napster, the MP3 was mis-labelled and required some lyric searching to finally find out it was the Zippers. Luckily the ol' Edmonton Public Library was well-equipped to fuel my new-found Zippers obsession, carrying almost all their albums plus spin-offs like Katherine Whalen's Jazz Squad, the Jim Mathus Knockdown Society, and Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire. The SNZ continue a strange tendency I have to latch onto a band after they break-up or go on indefinite hiatus, only to resurrect years later (see: Harvey Danger, Presidents of the United States of America, or The Philosopher Kings). I'm still waiting, Moxy Früvous...
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Lover's Lane (Live on Conan O'Brien) Squirrel Nut Zippers - I've Found a New Baby (live in Munich, Germany)
I really wish I could have seen them live... The long defunct site Passed Out on the Landing (from a SNZ lyric) serves as a handy guide to their side projects, compilation tracks, old/new bands and so on.
Katherine Whalen - Dirty Little Secret
When I was working on the original post, I was going to focus on Katherine Whalen's new-ish solo album Dirty Little Secret. It's a far departure from her days in the Squirrel Nut Zippers, but her voice is as hypnotic as ever. Whalen also put out a great album of jazz standards under the title Katherine Whalen's Jazz Squad. Seriously, it's great.
Katherine Whalen's Jazz Squad - After You've Gone Katherine Whalen's Jazz Squad - Yesterdays Jim Mathus Knockdown Society - Blues Jumped a Rabbit
Zippers co-founder, Jimbo Mathus branched off into the blues with his solo act The Knockdown Society.
Ben Folds Five - Army
Tom Maxwell and Ken Mosher of the Zippers joined the horn section on fellow Chapel Hill artists Ben Folds Five. I've read that the distinctive cackle heard just after Ben sings "My redneck past is nipping at my heels" is none other than Mr. Maxwell himself. After leaving the Zippers, Maxwell would later tour with ex-Ben Folds Five bassist Robert Sledge as The Minor Drag. Ben also did a cameo in the Zipper's music video for Suits are Picking Up the Bill. When I was travelling this summer, I was dumbfounded to find out my room-mate at a hostel in a Salzburg, Austria was from North Carolina. This was the day after my Edmonton Oilers beat the Carolina Hurricanes in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals (Carolina would ultimately win... grrrrr), and here I was halfway across the globe in a room with this guy. So random! But amazement at the coincidence turned to disbelief as I found out he barely knew they had a hockey team and had only vaguely heard of Ben Folds and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, who are two of the most prominent acts to come out of his homestate. So much for local pride. Bah to him!
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Under the Sea [originally from Disney's The Little Mermaid]
I posted this last year, but here it is again. I say more bands should do Disney covers. Future post mayhaps?
Asleep at the Wheel featuring Squirrel Nut Zippers - Maiden's Prayer [originally by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys]
Sorta a old-school country swing song with the always lovely Katherine Whalen on lead vocals.
EDIT (12/13/2006): I was just checking out the liner notes and this is actually Asleep at the Wheel with the Squirrel Nut Zippers as guests.
Maxwell/Mosher - Little Boxes [originally by Malvina Reynolds]
They were announced as one of the artists performing this song for season 2 of Weeds. I'm not sure what happened, but it looks like it was never used. Well, I found it so take a listen.
Andrew Bird & Nora O'Connor - Oh Sister
[originally by Bob Dylan]
Andrew Bird - Case in Point
Semi-regular Zipper, Andrew Bird has the distinction of making my Top 10 most played iTunes tracks twice. I'm eagerly looking forward to his new album next year, tentatively named Armchair Apocrypha. Should be a keeper for sure.
Covers of the SNZ are hard to come by, but here are a couple:
Streetlight Manifesto - Hell (live 2005-04-22 at The Forum, Tunbridge Wells UK) My-Tea Kind - Blue Angel (live)
Other unexpected SNZ appearances:
Their hit Hell strangely used In a Turkish Rinso(?) commercial on where else? YouTube.
Anyone have a MP3 or video of the Squirrel Nut Zippers on Sesame Street? Apparently they performed a parody of their own Put a Lid on It. You can read about it here, but that's about it...
If you ever wanted to hear Put a Lid on It re-imagined as a political rally for change, go get the MP3 from here. Rickie Lee Jones performs with Maxwell/Mosher.
Some seasonal tunes:
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Santa Claus is Smoking Reefer [originally by Johnny Guarnieri with Slam Stewart]
This hidden track from their EP is actually a cover of a song called Santa's Secret originally recorded in 1944 (!).
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Carolina Christmas
From their holiday album Christmas Caravan, which was forced upon them by the record label and they reluctantly churned out. That doesn't mean it's not good though.
(Pssst... their entire 1998 Christmas album can be snagged here)
If you're not a fan already, I'd seriously consider checking them out. If you're stumped for X-mas gifts, share the Squirrel Nut Zippers with a loved one.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I just deleted a massive post I was working on when I closed Safari instead of just the tab. My heart sunk in the split second after accidentally hitting command-Q. Sigh.
Harvey Danger - Save it For Later [originally by English Beat]
Lesson learned... until next time it happens.
Posted by Fongolia at 12/07/2006 01:20:00 PM
Friday, December 01, 2006
Less than a day after the post, somebody e-mailed me the correct answer (no wiki/no google I am told) to Cover Riddle #5, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Written, of course, by Hunter S. Thompson, illustrated by Ralph Steadman, and adapted by Mr. Terry Gilliam into a film starring Johnny Depp. Depp is included among the "friends" of Oasis and he plays guitar on the track if I remember correctly.
So, my top 3 Viva Las Vegas [originally by Elvis Presley] covers:
Dread Zeppelin - Viva Las Vegas
Most people probably don't take Dread Zeppelin as serious as I do, but I think they managed to take a novelty concept and make it work quite well. An Elvis impersonator fronting a reggae Led Zeppelin cover band... okie dokie, crazy but I like it. I think they're still around, but I basically stopped listening to their stuff after "The Fun Sessions" (quite good), a Dread Zepp cover album of classic rock songs, the first to stray from Led Zeppelin material. This is one of their best Elvis/Led Zeppelin mash-ups as Viva Las Vegas clashes with Zeppelin's Custard Pie.
Dead Kennedys - Viva Las Vegas
I don't really have anything to say about this, except that it's over-the-top goofy yet vaguely unnerving in a "scary clown" way. It's also really good. This cover was actually used in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as well.
Bruce Springsteen - Viva Las Vegas
The Boss covers The King.
And now on to the real reason for my post:
One of the highlights of this past summer's 2-month trip to Europe was getting to actually meet TERRY GILLIAM, the American member of Monty Python and one of my favourite directors, at the Filmmuseum in Brussels. Twelve Monkeys is one of my favourite all-time films, so this opportunity was just absolutely crazy for me. I just happened to be in Brussels for a couple days and I found out he was going to be previewing Tideland three days later on June 6 (6/6/06). Fate methinks? Of course, I changed my plans to go to Amsterdam and did everything in my power to go to that screening. In the month preceding this event, the Filmmuseum was having a mini-Gilliam retrospective, which included screenings of all his films and select Gilliam-approved picks. So the night before Tideland, I was lucky to be able to see the 60's Czech version of Baron Munchausen which was a clear influence on Gilliam's version.
I was actually quite bummed out on the day of the screening because all attempts to get tickets failed since it had been sold out for weeks in advance. In fact, some old Belgian ticket guy chastised me for being so stupid as to think I could actually secure a ticket. Bwahaha, I sure showed him later! Since I couldn't get into Tideland, I decided I'd go see Jabberwocky, Gilliam's first post-Python film, which was showing next door for only €2. I was hoping that Gilliam would possibly show up at Jabberwocky since the Tideland screening wasn't until later in the evening. And guess what? He did. Following Jabberwocky, Terry came out in a typically Gilliam-esque Hawaiian shirt and briefly talked about the making of the film. Actually it wasn't quite a Hawaiian shirt, but it was loud, garish, and most people would not be caught dead in it, but Terry wears these sorts of shirts very naturally. So I guess that puts him in the same company as Weird Al.
The major coup for me was after his brief talk... He was whisked away to the lobby, but I was near the front so I quickly followed and luckily he wasn't off to Tideland quite yet. I gingerly approached and asked him to sign my copy of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, which I had been carrying around Europe as train-reading material. To understand the sheer magnitude of this event, you have to understand that Neil Gaiman is my favourite author (see sidebar)and Terry Gilliam has on/off been planning to make Good Omens for years. Upon seeing what I had in my hands, he exclaimed "Oh! Look what he has." (or something to that effect) and he told me that this was his next project once the financing comes together, though hopefully this doesn't end up like another Lost in La Mancha. And that is the tale of how Terry Gilliam signed and doodled in my paperback copy of a Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett book in Belgium. Damn sweet.
To make a long story longer, I did actually weasel my way into the sold-out Tideland screening/film talk despite not speaking any Flemish (and scant French). Standing around with a lot of other unlucky schmucks who didn't have tickets, I was one of the last people to squeeze into the €30 event after a bunch of no-shows didn't claim their tickets. Bonus! One of the most memorable days of my life.
Now, Brazil covers! The details of the original are not completely known to me, but I vaguely remember that "Brazil" is the English title of an older Brazilian song, the title of which I don't know.
Some variations on Brazil from the soundtrack of Terry Gilliam's 1985 cult classic:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra with Kate Bush - Sam Lowry's 1st Dream/Brazil The National Philharmonic Orchestra - Central Services/The Office The National Philharmonic Orchestra - Bachianos Brazil Samba Geoff Muldaur - Brazil The Arcade Fire - Brazil
I just heard this cover for the first time recently... It starts off fairly normal, then some wonderfully sinister strings creep in. I love it!
8½ Souvenirs - Brazil
A band I discovered recently from their sweet cover of After You've Gone.
The Toronto All-Star Big Band - Brazil
During a street jazz festival in Toronto this summer, I saw this awesome youth orchestra crank out classic standards including this one. This album version is from an earlier incarnation of the band.
Beirut - Brazil [live]
Live accordion-based cover. I'm pretty sure I nicked this from over at Mocking Music.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Like Batman, James Bond, and Alien before it, the Cover Riddle is resurrected. The last one I did was, oh, about 8 months ago. These aren't covers, but don't worry there will be cover answers.
Tell me the common thread that links these tunes. Bonus points for not using google, the bane of trivia quizzes everywhere (2nd only to wikipedia). I'm looking for the name of a film and perhaps how each track specifically relates.
Ralph Steadman - Little Boy Billee Oasis and Friends - Fade Away Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Hunter S. Thompson's Younger Brother
Piece 'o cake. Go.
(Actually I changed my mind, go ahead and use O Mighty Google. I changed one of the songs to make it slightly less obvious.)
Friday, November 24, 2006
Bah to change!
I just switched irreversibly to the new Blogger Beta. There's some nifty new features, but having to reconstruct all my sidebar content was a pain. The previous formatting is also gone since it's both "easily" customizable, yet overly restrictive. And check out that cool dynamic archive thing on the side. Pretty awesome, unless you have a Mac and it crashes trying to load August 2005. Fantastic! Editing the template on my Mac is also like hell. And similar to the garbage that is "Windows Live! beta" (obviously not designed for the Mac user), once you switch you can't go back. Damn you Google, you aren't supposed to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft!
Harry Nilsson - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life [originally by Monty Python]
Does anyone remember the time when Google used to just mean a really big number? Bring back googol!
Friday, November 17, 2006
I'm quite excited about Casino Royale, which comes out today and seems to have generated some good buzz. Though after the invisible car, CGI parachute-surfing, Halle Berry-plagued, Madonna-themed antics of Die Another Day (as in "please don't let the Bond series end on this note"), anything is an improvement. I'm sorry Pierce Brosnan, but the Bond films haven't been exciting since Goldeneye (not your fault). People have been ragging on the new Chris Cornell theme song, with some proclaiming "worst Bond theme ever". Honestly, did everyone suddenly forget Madonna's Die Another Day? Gah! Just thinking of it makes me shiver. Or All Time High? All time low of the Bond theme canon is more like it, though perhaps at the time the songwriter really was on an all time high. I was in the Sony store the other day and in their big screen home theatre area they had an instrumental version of the new theme song playing on an endless loop over clips from the film. It was actually pretty sweet and had me psyched to see Casino Royale. Back in January I posted some Bond theme covers as the answer to one of my "Cover Riddles," a feature on this blog that seems to have gone the way of George Lazemby. Now, to celebrate the release of Casino Royale: some more Bond theme covers.
Bond on Bond [originally by Monty Norman]
The all-girl string quartet called Bond performs their namesake. Definitely not your grandfather's string quartet.
Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger [Propellerheads remix]
This comes from a pretty sweet Shirley Bassey remix album, Diamonds Are Forever. I love this remix by the Propellerheads who also do a nutso 9 minute version of On her Majesty's Secret Service. Here there is a low-key, funky intro that leads up to the explosive first notes of the original Bond classic.
Mr. Bungle - Thunderball [originally by Tom Jones]
The new theme song You Know My Name, follows in the footsteps of these Bond songs that also do not share their name with the film:
Radiohead - Nobody Does it Better (live) [originally by Carly Simon; from The Spy Who Loved Me]
There are several covers of this song around, but Radiohead actually tries to live up to the title. It worked.
Pulp - All Time High [originally by Rita Coolidge; from Octopussy]
Considering the original, this is quite listenable.
Tindersticks - We Have All the Time in the World [originally by Louis Armstrong; from On Her Majesty's Secret Service]
Bonus Bond-like theme songs (or more accurately, Shirley Bassey Goldfinger-like theme songs):
Blessed be the Guy That Bonds [McBain end theme from the Simpsons] Scorpio [from the Simpsons] Brian Song [from Monty Python's Life of Brian] Weird Al Yankovic - Theme from Spy Hard [from Spy Hard]
Friday, November 10, 2006
To make up for a lack of posts lately, I've got an epic post for you focusing on the timeless battle of GOOD versus EVIL. Yes, ladies and gentleman in the first corner we have the Batman: superpower-less superhero, detective, billionaire, socialite, vigilante... morally ambiguous, but for all intents and purposes he's our Good Guy. And over there we have the Taxman. Boourns to the Taxman.
Round 1: The Originals
The Beatles - Taxman
Neil Hefti - 60's Batman Theme
Danny Elfman - 1989 Batman Theme
Danny Elfman - Batman The Animated Series
No clear winner here. Neil Hefti's classic Batman theme is instantly recognizable, knowingly campy, it's got the weird Batman chants... ultimately kinda annoying. Danny Elfman's theme to the 1989 Tim Burton movie is a modern classic in its own right, though honestly not a song that gets regular play on the ol' iTunes. The theme to the Batman Animated Series is what makes this battle such a close call because I absolutely love this track. A variation on the movie theme, it's shorter, punchier, and epic using the best bits of the film score all in barely a minute. Alas, the Taxman prevails. Written by Mr. Harrison, the Beatles' classic Taxman from the album Revolver riffs on the 60's Batman theme and makes a rock solid case for the pure evilness of the Taxman. They say money is the root of all evil and the Taxman is exactly that personified. In Dr. Seussian fashion, the Taxman will "tax the street," "tax your seat," "tax the heat," and "tax your feet". Bruce Wayne with his billions of dollars is a ripe target for the Taxman, which is probably why 90% of Bruce Wayne's time is spent at charity functions and being a philanthropist-- trying to maximize his charitible tax deductions. He won't admit it, but that's why Batman started the Wayne Foundation. He can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, and Catwoman, but DAMN, even Batman can't beat the Taxman! Score 1 for the Taxman.
Round 2: Covers
Black Oak Arkansas - Taxman
Catfish Haven - Taxman
Junior Parker - Taxman
Nickel Creek - Taxman [if you only d/l one Taxman cover, make it this one!)
Pat Travers - Taxman
The Music Machine - Taxman
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Taxman
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Taxman
Skavoovie & The Epitones - Batman
The Who - Batman
Yo La Tengo - Batman Theme
Taxman beats Batman in both quantity AND quality of covers with a distinguished crew of coverers including Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Harrison's Traveling Wilbury cohort Tom Petty, and Nickel Creek who dish out a sweet bluegrass Taxman. Batman's got The Who on his side, but like almost all covers of the 60s Batman theme it sounds basically the same as the original. Skavoovie & The Epitones' fantastic ska cover of the film theme is long overdue for credit after years of anonymously making the p2p rounds as "Ska Batman Cover" until I found it on eMusic. But Taxman still wins this round. Taxman: 2-0.
Round 3: Mash-ups
ccc - Tax Jam Pollution [Beatles vs. Beck]
team9 - Lovetax [Beatles vs. The Cure]
Go Home Productions - She Sells Tax, Man [Beatles vs. The Cult]
Lenlow - To the Taxmobile! [Batman vs. Taxman]
This round features the true Batman vs. Taxman battle with Lenlow's To the Taxmobile! Actually this mash-up is more along the lines of a World's Finest team-up than a fight... so we'll call this one a draw.
Round 4: Parodies
Wally Wingert & The Caped Club - Adam West [parody of Wild Wild West by The Escape Club]
Weird Al Yankovic - Pac-Man [parody of Taxman]
Too clever for its own good, the Batman-themed Adam West has one fatal flaw: stretching the word "Adam" in place of the "Wild, Wild" of the original. It sounds forced... that's my beef with that. Also loses points for parodying The Escape Club, which is like making fun of the autistic. There's a reason Weird Al is synonymous with parodies as is evident even with this early semi-rare parody. The lyrics, the accordion-tinged accompaniment, and classic Pac-Man sound effects all combined into a near-perfect parody. Chalk another one up for the Taxman: 3-0.
Round 5: Miscellaneous Non-covers
Weezer - Mr. Taxman (demo)
John Zorn - Batman
Adam West - Miranda
Adam West wins this round all on his own with his hilariously bad (so bad it's good?) 1966 single Miranda, which is all about Batman trying to get in bed with the titular Miranda. It's full of amusing Bat-innuendo with Batman threatening to reveal everything to Miranda and being repeatedly thwarted by none other than the Boy Wonder. Classic line: "Would you like to see me make my muscles dance, Miranda?" Haha, Batman wins hands down. 3-1, Taxman.
Round 6: Dance-off
Prince - Batdance
Prince - Batdance (Vicki Vale Mix)
Prince - Batdance (Batmix)
Prince. Batdance. No chance for the Taxman. Batman get extra points in this round for complete domination: 3-3.
So who wins? Batman says crime doesn't pay... Unless you're the Taxman, raking in the dough, and technically legal, right? They say the two sure things in life are death and taxes. And yet "they" also say to achieve immortality, one must become legend (uh, paraphrasing Richard Matheson, Saw 2, and Ra's Al Ghul)... so that means Batman will always be around to do battle against the Taxman! Death, taxes, and Batman: that's the new standard of life's certainties.
For more evidence to the legend of Batman check out this link and read how Batman fares against Riddler in a dance-off, kicks Joel Schumacher's ass, and may in fact be Jesus: Legends of Batman!
Awesome sign I found in my European travels this summer:
"Hey, Adam West's over that-a-way!"
Monday, October 30, 2006
Hey, there's a new cover freak on the block and his site is aptly called Cover Freak. Check out his first post, a cover tribute to Country Dick Montana.
Alright! Another ally in the on-going campaign to spread cover-mania. A toast:
Robert Goulet - You've Got a Friend in Me (Wheezy's Version)
[originally by Randy Newman for Pixar's Toy Story]
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I went to a sweet live show on Sunday night at the Yardbird Suite (a local jazz/blues club): slide-guitarist Ellen McIlwaine. When I heard she was doing a show, I jumped at the opportunity to see her live because I'm a monster fan of her cover of Higher Ground. Even though I'm obsessed with covers, I have to admit there are just a handful that remotely come close to matching or even topping the original. In my opinion, Ellen McIlwaine's Higher Ground is one of those. Take a listen.
Ellen McIlwaine - Higher Ground [originally by Stevie Wonder]
I first heard the cover from Fatboy Slim's "A Break From the Norm" CD, which featured the original tracks that he's sampled in some of his songs.
Fatboy Slim - Song for Lindy [samples McIlwaine's Higher Ground]
I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to the show. There weren't regular seats set-up since the Yardbird is sort of an old-school jazz club set-up. I ended sitting at a table by the side by myself as I was about 20 years younger than the average patron there. The concert was a treat since it was a CD release show promoting her new collaboration with Cassius Khan, a remarkable Indian tabla player. I had never even heard of a tabla, so it was a real treat to hear him play and talk about the unique instrument. The tabla is sorta like a drum and the various sounds produced are like its own language and he can the sing the vocal equivalent of the tabla sounds while playing simultaneously. Apparently he is one of the few (or only) artists in the world who can play tabla and sing at the same time. When I get the chance, I'll upload a recording I made of his entire tabla lesson. Fascinating stuff. Although she didn't play Higher Ground, I was not disappointed in the least since she put on a wonderful concert. She has a wonderfully expressive voice and she played some sweet blues tracks. Maybe I'll upload her 10-minute R&B medley too sometime.
Posted by Fongolia at 10/26/2006 06:51:00 PM
Friday, October 20, 2006
I just found out yesterday that Harvey Danger's recent single Little Round Mirrors has a cover of David Bowie's Oh! You Pretty Things. Huge HD fan, big Bowie fan, gotta love Oh! You Pretty Things... Already ordered by the time I finished reading about it. It can be purchased here.
My favourite version of the song from Bowie's BBC radio sessions:
Oh! You Pretty Things Peter Noone - Oh! You Pretty Things Seu Jorge - Oh! You Pretty Things Harvey Danger - Cream and Bastards Rise [from their 3rd album Little by Little]
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Just saw the New Pornographers last night. Pretty awesome show. I was quite impressed by one of the opening acts Novillero, a Winnipeg band I'd never heard of. Check'em out if you can. I'm a fan of the New Pornographer's music, though not overly knowledgable about the band itself other than that they're a "supergroup" from Vancouver. Thus, I assumed the only female member of the band on stage was Neko Case, but I was later surprised to learn that she was in fact the band's keyboardist Kathryn Calder, Carl Newman's long-lost niece (?!?). She was also in one of the opening acts, Immaculate Machine. I was mesmerized by her performance (taking over Neko's vocals), though I have to admit that a couple bobbing heads blocked out the rest of the band for 90% of the show. The 2nd song they played in their hour-and-a-bit set is one of my favourites, The Laws Have Changed. Unfortunately, I wussed out of yelling out a request in the encore for my all-time favourite The New Face of Zero and One. They were even asking for 3 song requests but I would have been drowned out anyway by the two guys in front of me shouting "Electric Version!" over and over.
I got a cool free CD called Mint Records presents The CBC Radio 3 Sessions, which features live recordings of the New Pornographers, Novillero, and Immaculate Machine among others. If you're checking out one of their shows on this tour, don't skip the contest entry table for the free CD!
The New Pornographers - The New Face of Zero and One The New Pornographers - The Laws Have Changed The New Pornographers - Your Daddy Don't Know [originally by Toronto] Novillero - Abbey
On a completely unrelated note, check out the new Bravia commercia here, directed by Johnathan Glazer [via Waxy Links]. Following that wonderful bouncy ball ad, Bravia does it again. I wish all commercials were this nice.
It's Rainbow Wars all over again!! When I was little I remember seeing repeatedly this film about the warring colours. The imdb page reveals it was a short Canadian film made for the '86 expo and strangely stars Colin Mochrie & Ryan Stiles (of Whose Line) in it. Apparently, the DVD or video can be bought for $95. Insane!
Posted by Fongolia at 10/19/2006 12:47:00 AM
Saturday, October 14, 2006
For the past few weeks I've been obsessed with David Bowie's Life on Mars?. Bowie is the one concert I always regret not going to when he came to town a few years ago. The Polyphonic Spree were opening... AARRGH! It still makes me upset. Anyway, despite being a Bowie fan I somehow managed to live to this point in time without ever hearing this song before. Now I've heard it and I declare it Perfection.
As usual when I get obsessed with a song, I gotta find the covers. Some fare better than others-- some quite well, in fact-- but nothing comes close to Bowie's original. Again, Perfection. Life on Mars? comes from Hunky Dory, the same album that we get Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, Andy Warhol, AND Queen Bitch (also perfection). I'm sure you've all seen Bowie's hilarious cameo on Extras and that just reinforces how great David Bowie is. And WHY OH WHY did I cop out on that concert?!?
Here's what's in the zip file below:
David Bowie - Life on Mars? [original]
David Bowie (VH1 Storytellers; discusses song's origins and mocks Barbra Streisand's cover)
David Bowie (live in Edmonton 1990)
David Bowie with The Arcade Fire (live at Fashion Rocks)
Anni-Frid Lyngstad [of ABBA] - Liv på Mars [Swedish version]
Des de Moor and Russell Churney
Hector - Sudenkorento [Finnish version]
Joe Jackson (live)
Jon Brion (live) [in the style of Fats Waller]
Rick Wakeman [played piano on the original]
Seu Jorge [Portuguese version from The Life Aquatic Sessions]
The Divine Comedy
The Dresden Dolls (2005-03-02 Hamburg)
The Flaming Lips [Peel Session '92]
The King's Singers
Life on Mars?: The Collection
It's on America's tortured brow...
Best new Bowie track
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Over at Cinescape there's an interesting column by Kurt Amacker, albiet vaguely longwinded, about the Marshall Public Library's awaited decision on the fate of two graphic novels on their shelves. The offending works are Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Blankets by Craig Thompson, the latter of which is fantastic and not remotely offensive.
Read it here: Comics, Sexuality, and the Public Library
EDIT 10/18/06: follow-up article here.
It reminded me of a song I threw together for a friend's mixtape because I lamented the fact (still do) that in all the years of working at the library, none of my friends ever use it... despite it being the ultimate entertainment resource. This song is a mish-mash of Simpsons quotes and a so-lame-it's-cool library card song from the show Arthur (you know, the aardvark?).
At the Library
This song is 100% accurate including the bit about the Big-People Library downtown and potential death. Puppet shows and movies, the cool things never end... IT'S TRUE! IT'S ALL TRUE.
Now you should go to the public library and borrow Blankets and also borrow the truly great Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson while you're at it. I've never heard of Fun Home, but I just went on the online catalogue and requested it. It's actually catalogued under 928.1 in the biography section... SEE HOW MUCH FUN THE DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM CAN BE?!? Go Library!
Posted by Fongolia at 10/11/2006 11:30:00 AM
Monday, October 09, 2006
For the record, What's Left of The Who still rocks and can sure show today's modern rockers a thing or two about putting on a show.
For any Ben Folds aficionados, I'm just going to rehash a posting I made on the boards at www.TheSuburbs.org.uk, a Ben Folds fansite in the UK. These are some non-Ben Folds tracks that are directly or indirectly related to Ben.
Butterfly Boucher - I'm Different
For the Ben Folds completist... I'm not sure how many people know about this track from the children's album For the Kids Too. Imagine my surprise when I read the liner notes and saw additional vocals by Louis & Gracie Folds, Ben's twins.
Rickie Lee Jones - Up a Lazy River [originally by Hoagy Carmichael]
Ben sings background vocals on this cover (for the ultimate version of this song check out Bobby Darin's!).
Rickie Lee Jones - Low Spark of High Heeled Boys [originally by Traffic]
Ben plays piano on this one.
Ben Lee - Brick (live)
One of the Bens covering another. I nicked this from the great music resource Live Music Archive
Darren Jessee - The Magic that Holds the Sky Up From the Ground
An acoustic guitar version by Darren, 1/3 of Ben Folds Five and the song's writer, of what would become Magic on BFF's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner album.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
It's almost exactly 30 years ago that my mom saw The Who live at the Coliseum. On Friday at the same venue, now known as Rexall Place, I'll be checking out what's left of The Who and it's sure to be a blast. I'm very pumped about it even though tickets are exorbitant and I only sprung for the so-called "cheapie" tix. The image above is from a photo-shopped art thing I did a long time ago using an unbelievable photo that my mom snapped at the concert, which she worked as an usher. Townshend, in a signature airborne move, Keith Moon below, Daltrey to the side wearing a slick striped shirt/suspenders combo, and John Entwhistle conspicuously unseen. Classic.
Yvonne Elliman - I Can't Explain Dread Zeppelin - Baba O'Riley Goldfinger - The Kids are Alright Pink Cream 69 - Pinball Wizard Roxy Blue - Squeeze Box
The Waco Brothers - Baba O'Riley Killer Hayseeds - Squeeze Box Frankie Randall - I Can See for Miles Stereophonics - Who Are You The Greenhornes - Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand Rush - The Seeker David Bowie - I Can't Explain
Quite Possibly the Worst Cover I've Ever Heard
Rod Stewart - Pinball Wizard
The Who - Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) [originally by Elton John] The Who - Shakin' All Over (live at Leeds) [originally by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates]
Jason Forrest - 10 Amazing Years
Jason Forrest's endlessly brilliant War Photographer skillfully created a new song from Blood, Sweat & Tears samples. Here he creates a bombastic new song, sampling Who Are You with some bits of the Beatles thrown in for good measure.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
From the realm of unlikely duets, this one ranks pretty high. Found on the children's book/CD called Dog Train by Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford, this over-emotive power ode to naps is goofy fun and is ideally available from your friendly neighbourhood public library. I particularly enjoy the tune because I am self-declared King of Naps, able to sleep anywhere, anytime (and I often do).
Kate Winslet & Weird Al Yankovic - I Need a Nap
Posted by Fongolia at 9/24/2006 05:42:00 PM
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Not sure if you heard about this... Next month, The Nightmare Before Christmas will be re-released in 3D. 13th anniversary, I guess? That's pretty cool, though Edmonton is unfortunately not one of the cities where it's at. Anyway, coinciding with the release of the film, Disney is also re-releasing the soundtrack with a second disc of covers of the songs from the likes of Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Marilyn Manson, and Fiona Apple. While normally this kinda news would thrill me (i.e. favourite childhood movies + cover songs), I'm less than thrilled by the prospect of some "it" bands messin' with the originals. Fiona Apple is the only name there that sounds like she'd do a worthy cover.
If I was a producer, I'd be going straight to the likes of Rasputina & the Dresden Dolls to create thematically/musically cohesive covers. I'm all for radical interpretations, yet somehow a "racous" rendition of What's This? by Fall Out Boy is not cool
A dream cast for Nightmare covers:
Alice Cooper or Iggy Pop - Oogie Boogie's song
Rasputina - Kidnap the Sandy Claws
The Dresden Dolls - Poor Jack or Jack's Lament
Maxwell/Mosher (or in a pipe dream, the reunion of their former band Squirrel Nut Zippers) - Town Meeting Song
I'd like to hear Jon Brion re-interpret some of Danny Elfman's score. That'd be trippy. White Stripes could probably throw in a capable cover too.
Alas, we'll have to settle for whatever the Disney execs deem as hip right now. Here are some of the songs that came to mind when thinking of ideal Nightmare covers:
Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare Iggy Pop - Space Goofs Theme [from the cartoon show] Iggy Pop - Louie, Louie [popularized by The Kingsmen] Rasputina - When I Was a Young Girl Rasputina - Tourniquet [originally by Marilyn Manson] The Dresden Dolls - Amsterdam (live - 2005-03-02 Hamburg) [originally by Jacques Brel] Maxwell/Mosher - Hell [originally by Squirrel Nut Zippers, though technically not a cover but a do-over] Squirrel Nut Zippers - The Ghost of Stephen Foster (with Andrew Bird's wicked violinin')
From the original Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack by the inimitable Danny Elfman:
Kidnap the Sandy Claws Oogie Boogie's Song
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Now, a video of Ben Folds' cover of Such Great Heights has made it up online. Courtesy of the forums at TheSuburbs.org.uk, you can go download a 30MB wmv of the Triple J Like a Version segment:. Or for the YouTube inclined, someone promptly turned around and re-uploaded there for your viewing pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KI78874qbU.
This explains why the cover seems a bit avant-garde with 3 drummers playing beats on random things (i.e. mailbox covered in a towel). Looks like Ben also tweaked the upper half of his piano to create some curious sounds. This also explains why the Macarena slips in at the end.
Real post, later.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I just posted Ben's cover of Such Great Heights earlier today and I would like to direct your attention to the site Automatic Joy, a truly fantastic site of aural pleasure. Full of Dresden Dolls rarities, live covers, radio performances, etc. I just had a field day in the covers section when I stumbled upon this site a few weeks ago. Among the covers is their slowed-down version of Such Great Heights, which again is underwhelming coming from one of my favourite bands. I'm beginning to think The Postal Service's Such Great Heights is absolute perfection and despite my love of covers, I'd prefer to just leave this one alone. Anyway there's a bunch of other great Dresden Dolls material to be had at the site.
Some highlights include:
-acoustic German radio versions of Coin-Operated Boy, Backstabber, and Jacques Brel's Amsterdam
-David Bowie's Life on Mars?
-Three Dog Night's One (with the Ambiious Orchestra)
-Science Fiction Double Feature (from Rocky Horror Picture Show)
...and much more! Automatic Joy-- Go now!
Coming up this Thursday/Friday, a bunch of lucky Brisbanians will get to see The Dresden Dolls join Ben Folds for two shows down under. If anyone's listening down there (or up there), please record these shows!
Hey, quick update here. I've been super swamped doing the double job thing among other stuff. Here's a cover Ben Folds did for the Australian radio station Triple J. I was so excited when I heard he had covered Such Great Heights. One of my favourite songs from the past few years covered by my favourite artist... but I gotta say I was pretty disappointed. You be the judge:
Ben Folds - Such Great Heights [originally by the Postal Service]
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Last thursday I had the opportunity to check out Ben Lee at the Sidetrack Cafe. More than just playing good music, Ben was entertaining between songs as well, telling goofy stories and personally pledging to aid Justin Timberlake's cause to "bring sexy back" by the year 2008. During his set, he covered Modest Mouse's Float On as well as Montreal band Pony Up!'s Matthew Modine about the all-girl band's collective crush on the actor Matthew Modine (hilarious when sung by one guy and with his acoustic guitar). And to fulfil his Canadian content requirement, Ben and his band performed BTO's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet in the encore.
After the show, Ben hung around to sign stuff and pose for photos. How many artists are this approachable? Being a huge fan of The Bens (i.e. the side project he did with Ben Folds & Ben Kweller), I asked him when they're going to reunite. "Soon...when the timing's right..." he said, mentioning that Kweller just had a baby. I hope they do a full album because their 4-song EP is just a teaser of great things. Another Ben Lee project I'm looking forward to is his "Mix Tape" project to be released. . . next year? Word on the street is Zooey Deschanel sings and plays piano on a song. How cool is that? We definitely need more Zooey on CD (and screen).
My growing unhealthy fascination with YouTube continues... here's some footage I shot at the concert:
"Ben Lee - Catch My Disease (live in Edmonton)"
"Ben Lee - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (live in Edmonton)"
Ben Lee - Float On [originally by Modest Mouse] Pony Up! - Matthew Modine Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone - Baby, It's Cold Outside [originally performed by Betty Garrett & Red Skelton] The Bens - I Touch Myself (live in Melbourne) [originally by The Divinyls]
Friday, August 25, 2006
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Wow. What can I say? These two were incredible. Rodrigo y Gabriela are an acoustic guitar duo from Mexico (based in Ireland) who, for the official record, do not play flamenco. It's hard to slap a label on their music, but according to the folk fest program they prefer to call their music "acoustic-folk-rock-metal". I caught wind of them while I was in the UK in June and I absolutely couldn't believe it when I found out they were going to be playing in my hometown at the Edmonton Folk Festival, which I already had a ticket to! As part of the folk fest, artists are slated to play on the side stages at "sessions" or "workshops" with 2 or 3 other artists, usually in various genres. Sometimes the individual artists play their own tunes, but in the best situations they'll all jam together. So with eager anticipation I went to a workshop on the Saturday to get my first taste of Rodrigo y Gabriela live with Rickey Skaggs, Solas, and Dirk Powell. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed as an MC regretfully informed the crowd that "there will be a scheduling change and Gabriel Rodriguez will not be playing". I scoffed disappointedly at the butchering of their name and hoped they would even be there for their next show on the Sunday when they were scheduled for a solo show. The next day I went early to stage 1 to see the band perform before them and to ensure I had a good spot for Rodrigo y Gabriela. As I approached the stage from behind, I saw the distinctive figures of Rodrigo y Gabriela mulling about the festival site. Excellent! At least they wouldn't be no-shows for today. My sister and friend joined me before the show where I had staked out a prime seat in the middle front of the stage. I had been ranting and raving about these guys the whole weekend, so they were obligated to check them out. For those who don't know, there are concerts concurrently on 7 different side stages, so you have to pick and choose your daily schedule of concerts. Part of the excitement for me was seeing the unsuspecting crowd growing. 99% of the people would have never heard of Rodrigo y Gabriela and would have checked them out based on the blurb in the program or just by random chance, so they had no idea they were about to be blown away.
Due to glitches setting up the sound, their show started about 25 minutes late and their entire show was barely 30 minutes... but what a 30 minutes! I had totally psyched myself out for this event and they did not disappoint in the least. In fact, they probably surpassed my expectations. The crowd was caught up in their energetic performance and was on their feet by the time the last song came on. Gabriela let us know that this was their first concert ever in Canada and they would be back in October once their album is released in North America. What an honour it is to have them start spreading the word in Edmonton and hopefully they'll be back like they said because I'm sure everyone there was an instant fan. In hindsight, they were also no-shows at their scheduled session later that day so this 30 minute show ended up being the only glimpse anyone had of them. But during the whole 4-day festival, this was the huge highlight for me. In the paper the next day, a reporter described them as the surprise "stars of the festival" and that she cried after the performance because it was so beautiful and unexpected. See, it's not just me. Oddly enough, they didn't bring any merchandise to the event and the merch tent was bombarded after the concert to no avail. A volunteer said based on the demand they could have sold a thousand CDs. Even in today's newspaper in the culture rant section (two weeks after the fact), someone wrote how incredible their performance was.
Anyway, you should check out rodgab.com, keep an eye out for them in your area, and look into grabbing a copy of their CD when it comes out. Here's a video of them performing Diablo Rojo I snagged with my digital camera, which is not too bad quality though it hardly does them justice. Look at her hands fly!
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Stairway to Heaven [originally by Led Zeppelin]
Susan Tedeschi was another welcome surprise at the folk fest. Here's a Zeppelin cover she did, which admittedly is a bit blase compared to the original, IMHO. But I do enjoy this Junior Wells song she performed at Folk Fest on the main stage. What a great voice.
Susan Tedeschi - Rock and Roll [originally by Led Zeppelin] Susan Tedeschi - Little by Little [originally by Junior Wells]
And while I'm at it, how 'bout some more Zeppelin covers?
Templar - Whole Lotta Love Dream Theater - Zeppelin Medley Hangnail - Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp Tomoyasu Hotei - Immigrant Song
Last week, I reported that Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls wrote in her blog about the phone call from Mr. Ben Folds himself. Now a couple days ago Ben dropped a line on his mySpace page confirming that the Dolls will join him on a few of his Aussie orchestral gigs (ROCK!). The mySpace blog doesn't seem to be working but the full post can be read here.
Ben Folds on the Dresden Dolls:
"speaking of neediness in music or lack thereof... amanda of the dresden dolls, my new favorite band of all time, mentioned that she felt many people thought their music was TOO needy. hmmm... i told her to give me a list of who these people are and i will fly to their homes with a sharpie and draw dicks on their bathroom walls. see, after years of touring, i never succumbed that particular touring pastime . i never drew dicks on walls. but last year, i had to try it. i drew a dick on a brand new clean white dressing room wall. and you know what, it felt good. so i want to draw more, and amanda will hopefully tell me who's houses to go to. feel free to leave a message with your address if you have any criticism of the dresden doll's music at all. and i will come draw a dick on your wall.
same goes for anyone who doesn't like the streets new record. or anything sufjan stevens does. there are a few others, who if you have a problem with, will draw the fiery wrath of my sharpie.... anyway, the dresden dolls will be making a few appearances with me in australia with the orchestras. if you comment with something nice about my favorite music, then i will draw a small child looking in wonderment at a beautiful butterfly (with a big dick)."
HAHAHA... absolutely classic! He also talked about the release of his Supersunnyspeedgraphic LP, which is made up of new mixes of some of his EP and non-album tracks, a live orchestral album on the way, and he'll be back in the studio in October to work on a new album! Wow, that made my day,week,month.
Saw Ben Lee at the Sidetrack Cafe last night. More on that next time...
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Wow, I last posted to say I was still alive and then disappeared for about 3 weeks. I just got back into Edmonton last week and I have been utterly consumed by the 4-day Edmonton Folk Music Festival which started last Thursday. This is the first year I've attended the festival on a more than casual basis. While I was away my sister picked up full passes for the whole weekend, so I've been in 100% festival mode for the past few days. That is to say I woke up, went to festival, went home to sleep, and repeated for four days. To compensate for lack of postings, I'll try to generously pepper this post with related mp3s.
Among the many performers: Linda Ronstadt, David Gray, The Neville Brothers, Sarah Harmer, Bedouin Soundclash, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bruce Cockburn, Chumbawamba (?!), and Ricky Skaggs. The stand-out artists for me were in that category of "heard-of-but-never-actually-heard-before". So I'm a newly minted fan of Feist, Susan Tedeschi, Geoff Berner, K'Naan, and Hawksley Workman.
Chumbawamba was an eye-opening performance. Knowing them only for their annoying 90's hit Tubthumping, it was a shock to find out they've evolved into (or always were) English folk anarchists singing political rebel songs and medieval-sounding ballads. The beautiful four-part harmonies and playful guitar strumming are a stark contrast to the angry lyrics and political themes of their songs (see Homophobia). They're a hoot to see live and they entertained the crowd with goofy in-between song banter and translations of the sometimes overly British lyrics. They finished their set with a funny anti-Queen song, an extension of the Beatles' Her Majesty. I was able to record it with my digital camera, which isn't great quality but not bad considering. The line about showing the queen around Edmonton is particularly amusing because she did come to Edmonton last May for our province's centennial celebrations amid much fanfare. I snapped this photo last year at city hall and was so close I could have slapped her if I wanted to (not that I would...).
Chumbawamba - Her Majesty (Live at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival) Chumbawamba - Her Majesty [originally by The Beatles] Chumbawamba - Homophobia
Apparently Bedouin Soundclash's rise to fame and eventual Juno for best new artist began last year when their song was used in a Zellers ad campaign. Being somehow one of the only people to not hear/see this ad, I had to ask a friend to point out which song it was. They put on quite an enjoyable reggae/ska set. Here's that song for your listening pleasure, which is good song, might I add):
Bedouin Soundclash - When the Night Feels My Song
I'm not a huge hip-hop fan, but K'Naan was a refreshing voice rapping about actual issues and not just the ghetto, girls, and bling, which he actually takes issue with in one of his songs. K'Naan was born in Somalia and he raps about growing up in Mogadishu surrounded by hunger, warlords, and armed children. The first time I heard K'Naan was in this cover of U2's One with Jarvis Church for a peace album. Of course, Jarvis Church is the stage name of Gerald Eaton, lead singer of The Philosopher Kings, who also co-produced K'Naan's first album The Dusty Foot Philosopher.
Jarvis Church featuring K'Naan - One [originally by U2]
Though not exactly my cup of tea, I ended up seeing a sidestage session with Ricky Skaggs because I wanted to see Rodrigo y Gabriela (who were no-shows). It was still a fun show, especially because local artist Oscar Lopez was called to fill-in and he jump-started some awesome jam songs with Skaggs, Dirk Powell, and Seamus Egan (of Solas).
Ricky Skaggs & Jim Varney - Hot Rod Lincoln [originally by Charlie Ryan]
Feist impressed me when I saw a session where she shared the stage with Hawksley Workman, Geoff Berner, and The Waifs. She performed a really cool jazzy number that I don't know the name of and can't seem to find on her albums (something about everlasting love?). The sidestage performances were great because artists were thrown together and encouraged to jam with each other, which sort of depended on whether the artists were open to such an idea. Luckily at this session, they helped each other out on a few songs which is cooler than each individual artist taking turns playing. This was a prelude to a full set she played on the main stage later, qhich was really good although I did prefer the stripped-down set of tunes (just Feist and her guitarist).
Bright Eyes with Spleen - Mushaboom [originally by Feist]
The Blind Boys of Alabama were a treat and brought everyone to their feet with their inspiring gospel music (regardless of religious beliefs). This version of Amazing Grace, which the performed on Sunday night, is unexpectedly yet succesfully combined with the music of House of the Rising Sun.
The Blind Boys of Alabama - Amazing Grace
In '93, Randy Newman put out an album based on his Broadway reworking of Faust and cast various singers to play his "dream cast" including Don Henley, James Taylor, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, and Linda Ronstadt. Linda Ronstadt played the "good girl" role and Bonnie Raitt the "bad girl", but on Thursday night Ms. Ronstadt said she was going to sing one of Bonnie's songs because "bad girls have all the fun". And the song she sang is Feels Like Home, which I enjoyed even though it's atypical of the most of the stuff I listen to... but that's what Folk Fest is all about: exposing your ears to different sounds.
Chantal Kreviazuk - Feels Like Home [originally by Randy Newman]
For her encore, Linda Ronstadt covered this Warren zevon song, here covered by Bonnie Raitt & Jackson Browne:
Bonnie Raitt & Jackson Browne - Poor Poor Pitiful Me [originally by Warren Zevon]
Bruce Cockburn took the main stage on Saturday night and performed this song. I also enjoyed a song called Slow Down Fast, which is off his new album and features Hawksley Workman who was on hand to help perform it live.
Barenaked Ladies - Lovers in a Dangerous Time [originally by Bruce Cockburn]
Geoff Berner - Lucky Goddamn Jew
This guy reminded me of Ben Kweller with an accordion, at least in terms of vocal stylings. He won over the crowds with quirky sometimes angry punk accordion songs such as Maginot Line, Whisky Rabbi, Song Written in a Romanian Hospital, and this one: Lucky Goddamn Jew, which he performed in front of 20,000 folk-festers. At the end of the weekend, Geoff received an award and cheque from Galaxy Satellite Radio for best new artist. Check out his site here for some more MP3s. Strange celebrity sighting: as I was walking to the bank yesterday I saw Geoff on Whyte Ave buying a newspaper. That's random, thought I as I mosied on by.
A hilarious song Geoff sung was called Don't Play Cards For Money With Corby Lund. FYI: Corb Lund is an Albertan artist and sometime Edmontonian who apparently is a bit of a card shark according to Geoff Berner. A Corb Lund cover for you:
The Corb Lund Band - Sixteen Tons (live) [originally by Merle Travis]
Sarah Harmer was the closing act on Sunday night and included in her set was a cover of The Shins' Gone For Good. Here's a version of that song that Sarah Harmer performed with the Weakerthans on a CBC radio program. I nicked this from B(oot)log but I'm mirroring it myself because I was having a spot of trouble with his EZarchive link.
Sarah Harmer with The Weakerthans - Gone For Good [originally by The Shins]
...and another Shins cover for good measure:
Of Montreal - Know Your Onion! [originally by The Shins]
Hawksley Workman was a huge surprise for me. I knew nothing of his music and I was totally blown away by his main stage performance and other sidestage shows. A friend made an interesting comparison to Adam Sandler (Hawksley often ventures into falsetto) and he reminded me vaguely of a edgy, crazy Billy Joel probably because there's a very faint physical resemblance (at least without my glasses on) and he's accompanied by his piano player Mr. Lonely. Here's a video I got with my digital camera as I attempt to implement YouTube for the first time... At this particular session, he shared the stage with Lynn Miles, Michael Joseph & The Ridges, and Lorrie Matheson and you can see Hawksley motioning at Lynn Miles' drummer to join in. This song is Jealous of Your Cigarette off the album (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves with a little Pink Floyd thrown in near the end.
The HUGE major highlight of my weekend was getting the opportunity to see Rodrigo y Gabriela and their abrupt 30 minute performance was so epic it deserves it's own post... so tune in next time for that.
On the topic of my last post regarding the Dresden Dolls, I see that Amanda Palmer recently updated her Dolls blog which talks about the hell of Panic! at the Disco fans and the experience of the Fuck the Backrow shows, one of which I partook in (read about that here. Later down in her post she talks about how Ben Folds randomly called her up and chatted for 2 hours, inviting the Dresden Dolls to play at the Sydney Opera House since both of them would be touring Australia around the same time next month. The mere idea that Ben Folds (probably my favourite music artist) randomly called up one of my other favourite bands and invited them to play almost makes my head explode with excitement. If this leads to some sort of collaboration or double-billed show, I'd be very very very very very very very very happy.
The Dresden Dolls - Mandy Goes to Med School The Dresden Dolls - Pretty in Pink [originally by The Psychedelic Furs] Ben Folds - Songs of Love [originally by The Divine Comedy]
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
For the record, I've been back from overseas since the end of June although I've yet to actually make it back home to dear ol' Edmonton. I extended my trip in Toronto for an extra 3 weeks until August 8th, which has afforded me the opportunity to catch the Dresden Dolls (go me!) and next week The Living End thereby clearing off two upper-level entries in the Must-See-Before-I-Kick-the-Proverbial-Bucket list.
I paid close to 45 bucks (crazy service charges!) for the Dresden Dolls/Panic at the Disco! concert. I had never actually heard of the so-called headliners and left after the D-Dolls finished their 45-minute set to catch a bus and rush north to Bloor Cinema where The Dresden Dolls were presenting a sort-of film festival "thing". In their own words: "FUCK THE BACK ROW! A Night of Short Films and Dadaist Vaudeville with The Dresden Dolls & Co". Now I paid $10 for this show and take a wild guess which show was unbelievably great, unique, bizarre, and shocking and makes anything else pale in comparison?? I thought I'd be checking out a couple short films for an hour, then Amanda Palmer would play some solo stuff and I'd be in/out in 2 hours. Wrong, wrong, wrong. By the time the night was out, I'd spent nearly 5 hours at this "show". The show included some wonderful little films and music videos, a thoroughly engaging performance by The Lollipop People, a ragtag orchestra that evoked the sounds of The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (that's a plus, if you're not sure), and a man lighting his penis on fire. I can only imagine the collective jaw dropping of the crowd as the delirious guy on stage with scenes from The Devil's Reject on the screen, ripped off his dress and, I repeat, lit his penis on fire. Two hours later as Amanda Palmer (1/2 of the Dresden Dolls) hit the stage, people were still talking about "it" in embarrassed guffaws and it was universally declared that that was the pinnacle moment of the evening and could not be topped. Then the entire audience went into a hushed trance as Amanda played through solo piano songs and soundtrack covers. As someone obsessed with both films and cover songs, this was Pure Ultimation (is that a word?). Later in the set, her hitherto unidentified "Special Guest," which was quite possibly the worst kept secret since The Crying Game, joined her on stage. Lo and behold, it's Brian Viglione, 2nd half of the Dresden Dolls playing guitar and a snare drum. Highlights included covers of Rainbow Connection, Science Fiction Double Feature, Pink Floyd's Mother, Favourite Things... actually there were no highlights because the whole thing was PURE ULTIMATION (that's my new phrase of the post). At the earlier show, they had also played covers of Black Sabbath's War Pigs and Hit Me Baby One More Time with Panic at the Disco's lead singer sharing vocals. They were joking around, talking to the audience, taking requests, and messing around-- imagine having a private performance of the Dresden Dolls in your living room. I mean, who really listens to the random yellings of fans? The Dresden Dolls, that's who. Afterwards, they came to the lobby to chat with fans, take photos, and sign stuff. I doubt there were too many people who didn't come away from the experience thinking that they quite possibly are the greatest band in the world. Damn, what a show.
In conclusion, go here, read details, go aah, and put forth great effort to attend the aforementioned show. Note that penis-burning is not guaranteed because that some kind of crazy may be a local Torontonian thing.
I also got to check out New York City for the first time ever and met David Cronenberg at a lecture he did for the Andy Warhol exhibit he's curating in town (got this hilarious photo of him doing zombie dead eyes and me looking like a delirious psycho next to him, sigh). Back in E-Town, I'll hopefully be going to see Ben Lee at a local club, I have tix for The Who (almost 30 years to the day my mum saw them live in the same arena), and I'll be going to the 4-day Edmonton Folk Fest where my new group o' the moment Rodrigo y Gabriela are unexpectedly making a pit stop. I don't know what happened lately, but all of a sudden bands I want to see are actually playing shows in Edmonton and I'll be back just in time for the rush. Now if only Harvey Danger, Andrew Bird, Jamie Cullum, and the Ditty Bops swung by... If you haven't already bought the new Ditty Bops' Moon Over the Freeway, then do so, I command you to.
No mp3 posts until I get back. There's much to tell and discuss about the rest of my trip (mp3/photo tour?), though I realize I've been away for 3 months and any audience I may have had has likely dwindled down to me, 4 other people, and a computer savvy cat. In fact, my heart stopped for a brief second as I logged in thinking that maybe my blogger account was deleted for prolonged inactivity. Alas, 'tis the curse of the unwritten blog. Toodle-oo.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Way back in the day (as in way back in "internet time") when the best site for movie scoops was Corona's Coming Attractions before it was taken over and mutated into part of Cinescape's film section, I first heard about a film in development called Neverwhere based on the novel by Neil Gaiman (which was in turn adapted from his own BBC miniseries) whom I had never heard of hitherto this point.
Life-changing day, that was.
Based on the one-line synopsis of the plot which I fell in love with, I tracked down the book and thrilled myself to bits. I sapped up whatever Gaiman books were available at our library. Soon I was among the eager fan community awaiting his new novel American Gods in 2001. At this point, I had no idea of the scope of this so-called fan community... he was my secretly unknown favourite author. In conjunction with the writing and publishing of this book, he started up an online journal to track its progress. Now this certainly wasn't one of the first "blogs" or even an early one, but it was around a long time before everyone and their neighbour's cat ran a blog (moi-self included). Now it's one of the most popular blogs (there must be stats somewhere to prove this...) and he still regularly updates nearly every other day with interesting, readable postings even though he was under no obligation to continue past the 2001 publication of American Gods.
I remember when the library had maybe three books categorized as "Graphic Novels" including an adaptation of the Vampire Lestat. It was around this time that I had first heard this term and adopted it as my own to defend my reading of comics. "NO! It's a graphic novel," I'd tell my mom, although it was indeed she that handed me the Lestat book and asked me if I was interested. Another one of the early ones available at the ol' EPL was Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters, which sorta went over my head at the time and I didn't get who or what Sandman was supposed to be. Of course, when you hear about Neil Gaiman it's usually Sandman-This and Sandman-That, but the whole Sandman thing eluded me until several years after the fact, the library's graphic novel collection exploded and I finally got my hands on the seminal, epic 10 volume, 9-year run of the series. Masterful storytelling, exquisite art, complex interweaving of myths and history, etc, etc, etc. It was everything great literature could be and it was a comic, so there. It could hardly exist in another medium with the same impact and resonance.
It still baffles me to this day that I try to expose friends/families to Neil Gaiman and no one pays attention. "Neil who?" say the slobbering masses. Yet don't they realize that Neil Gaiman is SLOWLY TAKING OVER THE WORLD??
His career drastically reduced to some trivial points:
-left an indelible mark on the comics world with the Sandman series (1988-1996)
-became a best-selling author of novels (Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys), then children's books (Coraline, Wolves in the Walls)
-has written lyrics for Tori Amos (a friend who has been known to name-drop Neil in her own lyrics)
-wrote the English language adaptation of Princess Mononoke, which was certainly the first Miyazaki film I saw before I even realized I was watching a Miyazaki film
-decides he's going to make some movies, so he writes and directs A Short Film About John Bolton... just to warm-up
-then he collaborates with Dave McKean to create last year's MirrorMask
-co-wrote with Pulp Fiction's Roger Avary the uber-hyped Robert Zemeckis-directed Beowulf (which, for the record is most definitely not filmed with stop-motion techniques) set for release in 2007 with the most eclectic cast one could ever hope to assemble: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Crispin Glover(!), John Malkovich(!!), Robin Wright-Penn
-currently Matthew Vaughan (producer of the Snatch/Lock Stock; director of Layer Cake; near-director of X-Men 3) is in Inverness filming an adaptation of Neil's novel Stardust with another dandy cast of Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alfred Molina, Sienna Miller, Charlie Cox... OK, I've never heard of Charlie Cox either.
-Henry bleedin' Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, anyone?) is directing an adaptation of Coraline, which will be stop motion animation, if I'm not mistaken. Sadly to do Coraline, Selick abandoned his work on the film version of Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox... but Wes Anderson came in to replace him! Henry Selick's Coraline!! Wes Anderson's The Fantastic Mr. Fox!! Has the world gone mad and suddenly fulfilled my fantastical dreams of non-stop stop-motion animation!?!? BWAHAHA, Brilliant!
-Wolves in the Wall was recently adapted for the stage and is being performed by the National Theatre of Scotland
-I think Neil's still in the development stages of his own feature directorial debut for a film adaptation of Death (Sandman's cute gothic sister)
-internet sensation, according to me.
Movies, music, literature, the stage, the internet... is there anything he can't and/or won't dominate? Plus, he has a wonderfully delightful young daughter Maddy who is the real star of Neil Gaiman's journal if you ask any regular reader, and he knows it too.
OK, the real reason behind this whole rambling tirade of tribute is because I was just reading on his journal about "Where's Neil When You Need Him?" an album of music inspired by his work. See? He's unconsciously determined to conquer every form of media. Now it doesn't surprise me that Tori Amos is involved nor am I remotely shocked that past collaborator Stephen Merritt of The Magnetic Fields is a contributor. But according to Neil's latest post, Rasputina is singing a song about Coraline. Rasputina + Coraline?!? Victory is mine! Plus, "Hungry Lucy doing a haunting take on Wolves in the Walls". I know one Hungry Lucy cover and I love it. I can only wish for a tune by the Ditty Bops, another fantastic group that I dig listening to, which can be directly attributed to Neil.
It's kinda scary to see how he has influenced my tastes... damn you! I'm independent and think for myself! You can't brainwash me. Fine... you can, but I won't like it. Ok, ok, I'll like it.
Tori Amos - Angie [originally by the Rolling Stones] Rasputina - Wish You Were Here [originally by Pink Floyd] The Magnetic Fields - Heroes [originally by David Bowie] The Ditty Bops - Ooh La La Hungry Lucy - Jealousy [originally by the Pet Shop Boys]
Neil who? Now you know.
...and just because I can't not share this unrelated great cover:
Motormark - Left To My Own Devices [originally by the Pet Shop Boys]
That's it, I'm off to Europe until July!
I leave you with a newly discovered (very exciting) cover of a song I'm obsessed with (see here).
Blind Spot - 12 [aka the Pinball Number Song from Sesame Street]
By the way, if there are any errors in this post I won't be around to fix 'em. So there.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab for Cutie came through town last night and I went to check it out... it was pretty good. Alas, I wish I could say I'm a huge fan of either of these bands and that I know more than just whatever's played on the radio, but I'm not really all that familiar with any more than 5 or 6 Franz/Death Cab tunes, so that kinda put a damper on the entertainment. But still, not bad.
My favourite part was when Ben went solo acoustic and played I Will Follow You Into the Dark. I was somewhat surprised that most of the crowd was singing along since I wasn't sure how much of a following Death Cab had here in E-Town, but they proved me wrong. During that song he sings, “You and me have seen everything to see from Bangkok to Calgary”, which inspired boos for our hated rivals to the south. Later Ben would shout “Hockey update! Oilers 1, Red Wings 0." to a loud ovation because game 3 of our playoff series was going on elsewhere in the city, then he added "And here’s a song about something completely different." I must say that they were rocking harder than I would have expected from the few songs I know by them. I was also kinda hoping they'd play Such Great Heights from Ben Gibbard's other band The Postal Service, but 'twas not to be.
Franz Ferdinand was rockin' hard. Though again, outside of their hits Take Me Out, Do You Want To, and This Fire, I was sorta out of the loop. The best part was in the second song of the encore when the Death Cab for Cutie guys came out with drum sticks for a big drum-a-long percussion spectacular, which was damn cool. Two Franz guys + a Cutie were on one drumset and the other 3 Cuties were banging along some side drums. Then after This Fire, the concert ends and everybody filters into the lobby to find a 3-3 Oilers tie with 3:00 minutes left in the 3rd. Everyone freezes and 1000 people are riveted to one teeny weeny 17-inch TV hanging from the ceiling. Oiler chants begin as time winds down and we get a late powerplay, but the period ends and everbody rushes off to find a real TV to watch overtime. Long story short, Oilers won in double OT. YEEEHA! Now I'm scared the Oilers will go deep in the playoffs as I jet off to Europe... oh the dilemma!
For lack of Death Cab apparel, I went to the concert armed with my Harvey Danger shirt. If you go way back to one of my October posts, you'll know that I'm a huge HD fan and that their fates are curiously intertwined with Death Cab for Cutie. Both hail from Seattle and have done gigs/collaborations with each other. Their careers follow opposite paths: Harvey Danger had one huge song (Flagpole Sitta) then unfairly faded into oblivion, while Death Cab for Cutie were relatively unknown for years before having a meteoric rise in fame in the past year. I couldn't help but think as I watched Death Cab perform how much I wish Harvey Danger would actually tour up here (or me down there). Their second album King James Version is just so damn good! They reunited late 2004 after a 4 year hiatus (now if I could only get Moxy Fruvous to reunite, I'd be complete) and last year released their 3rd album Little By Little, which can still be downloaded in its entirety for FREE from their website. Go! Download! Listen! What you waiting for?
Harvey Danger - (This is) The Thrilling Conversation You've Been Waiting For
Ben Gibbard does back-up vocals on this HD song from King James Version.
Lounge-O-Leers - Flagpole Sitta [originally by Harvey Danger]
There aren't too many covers (if any, besides this one) of Harvey Danger... it's kinda goofy.
Franz Ferdinand - What You Waiting For? [originally by Gwen Stefani]
Oddly enough, this combo works.
The Shins - We Will Become Silhouettes [originally by The Postal Service]
Another reason to love the Shins: this cover.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Death Cab for Cutie
This is the 60's novelty song from whence Ben Gibbard & the boys derive their name. Curiously, this song was also performed in the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour as a striptease, or so I'm told.
Death Cab for Cutie - Earth Angel [originally by The Penguins]
From the Stubbs the Zombie soundtrack.