Thursday, January 31, 2008

Time for some Beatles Love

Well, I'm back from rainy California. Turns out sunny California was a myth, in January at least. When you fly south for the winter you're supposed to fly way farther south. Most of the time I was there mini waterfalls gushed off the curbs and each night I'd come back to the hotel and hang up my pants to dry overnight. When I got home Tuesday night I was warmly welcomed by a parade of snow and -31ºC feels like -40 temperatures. Incidentally, -40 is where Fahrenheit and Celsius meet to hang out and drink hot cocoa. Yay for Edmonton! Now it's back to work, or rather back to not working. As it turns out, by definition I've not been unemployed for 4 months. I've just not been working. See, I've been out of work voluntarily and if I had known that I might have been able to avoid repeated hassle at Canadian customs where an unemployed single traveller on short trips equals drug dealer. But I cannot tell a lie and the more accurately I would answer questions the higher the customs agents' eyebrows would arch before I would would be hauled away to join the other ethnic folk for full bag checks. Sigh. Anyway, I'll be flying back to Vancouver next week to "settle" and find a job. If only I could pay myself to keep writing Fong Songs! If you're curious, the impetus for all this travel in the past month is an Air Canada flight pass I bought that allowed me to fly unlimited flights anywhere in western North America they fly for one month. There are obviously some catches, but it's a pretty decent deal to check out some places I've never been to before. To get full value though, you basically have to be unemployed (ahem, not working) or retired (like my dad who joined me in Vegas and San Fran).

Now the moment you've all been waiting for, back to covers! And as I rejoin the fray, could it be that I resort to the most clichéd cover source of all-time?? Yes folks, it's The Beatles!

My travels began in Las Vegas, but I'm a pretty cheap gambler. For instance, I placed a bet on the Oilers game at Bally's and sat for the next 3 hours watching that $5 bet play out. Over 5 days, I lost less than $100 mostly on a sad round at the blackjack table. So my dad and I had to find some other sources of entertainment (yes, it was a father/son bonding trip). My dad's primary reason for going was to check out CES, which was a horrible exhausting experience. I got in with dubious credentials and it was awful-- I get a headache thinking about it. Definitely not for your average schmuck like me. In my head I imagined it would be like those first few pages of Popular Science with the coolest, wackiest gadgets and future technology that would wow the most jaded consumers. But instead it was like 50 football fields of iPod covers, digital picture frames, massage parlors, TVs, and bigger TVs. We walked up and down the Strip, collecting those casino club memberships like credit cards (give up your privacy for some cheap souvenirs!). When the glitz started to wear off, we visited Red Rock Canyon (quite cool) and Hoover Dam (Damn you again Michael Bay for Transformers!). We saw Penn and Teller who were not bad, but kind of disappointing since I'm a fan of theirs (the 25% theatre capacity also made for an awkward atmosphere).

...And we saw the Beatles LOVE. While planning our trip, I knew I wanted to see this show if we could get a ticket. My dad is a huge Beatles fan, which has made for some easy Christmas and X-Mas gift decisions whenever a new anthology or Beatles thing comes along. I've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show and I've never been remotely tempted to see one, but an acrobatic spectacle set to newly recontextualized Beatles music definitely intrigued me. My dad's the same way and has been holding out to see Across the Universe on DVD since he thinks it will be too artsy for him. After checking the half-price ticket booths to no avail and blowing off the other shady discount dealers, we just went directly to the box office and bought the cheapest seats possible. We both quite enjoyed the show, which was good if possibly great. The best part is simply having the Beatles blasted at you as your entire peripheral vision is filled with Beatles iconography taken to extremes. The show begins with a wonderfully austere cut of Because (just the a cappella vocals) in near pitch black before the stage explodes visually and sonically to Get Back. One of my favourite moments was the surreal-- most of the show was surreal but this was moreso-- Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite with creepy faceless moptop dancers, live action Jack-in-the-Boxes, fascists, multi-legged freaks in cages, and other carnival oddities Beatles-style (apparently). Another visually spectacular piece involved a massive billowing sheet engulfing half the audience as some kids floated on a bed in the middle of the blanket-y ocean before plunging 4 stories into the middle of the stage. Even though we had the cheap seats, we had a great vantage point above and could see all the action in the theatre in the round. If we were sitting a lot closer I imagine you'd miss things going on behind you and be craning your neck upwards for much of the show. I'm not even going to try to describe the rest of the show, which featured a ton of extremely talented performers and an incredibly dynamic stage that transformed in unexpected ways. I've read that the show is actually shutting down for three days, forsaking $3 million in ticket sales in order to perform 2 songs at the 50th annual Grammies in less than a couple weeks. So if you want a glimpse of the nonsense I'm spouting, check that out.

Of course, the star of the show is the music, the Beatles catalogue reworked by George Martin's son Giles with the blessing of the Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia (not quite the Fab Four, but it'll do). Apparently the soundtrack features elements from 130 individual Beatles songs mixed, mashed, and stripped but never really losing any of the power of the originals. It's astounding to imagine the cultural impact of the Beatles and unbelievable when you think of the short time the band was actively together producing albums... which was (please don't quote me on this) 7 or 8 years. Anyway, the show got me thinking about my favourite Beatles mash-ups, which I present for your listening enjoyment along with some of my personal favourite Beatles covers and miscellaneous related tracks.

Hank Handy - Beatles Mash-up Medley
This is a mash-up tour-de-force, first introduced by the folks at Boing Boing a few years ago. This is amazing fun to listen to and play "Name that Song" as elements from numerous songs are layered so skillfully that it never descends into chaos as one might imagine with about 40 Beatles tracks in 3.5 minutes.

Go Home Productions - Crazy Little Fool [Beatles vs. Queen]
Fool on the Hill vocals over Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Works unexpectedly well with some Dear Prudence in there too.

team9 - Eleanor's in My Head [Beatles vs. Queens of the Stone Age]
This mash-up is stunning in that it recontextualizes Eleanor Rigby as a dark electro-rock number that sounds completely natural.

Lenlow - To the Taxmobile! [Beatles vs. Neil Hefti]
This was the driving force behind the Batman vs. Taxman post I wrote over a year ago, which I self-link to repeatedly. Even though the links are are all dead, I often marvel incredulously at the results that can come about when I get a goofy idea and carry it out with maximum effort.

Jonathan Coulton - When I'm 25 or 64 [Beatles vs. Chicago]
As part of his Thing a Week series, Jonathan Coulton produced his very first mash-up: When I'm 64 clashing with 25 or 6 to 4, which by his own admission is not completely successful. Though I think it works better than I think he gives it credit for. This is a hotlink directly from JoCo's site. The funny thing is he bought both songs from iTunes then he proclaims, "I circumvented the DRM in a blatant violation of federal laws! And I’d do it again!". Probably the most disappointing thing about going to CES in Vegas was that I arrived a day after Jonathan Coulton appeared on a panel with Mark Hosler of Negativland, Samantha Murphy, and Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite! And there was a concert that night, grrrr! I felt better when I got home and in my mailbox was a Thing A Week box set I ordered from CD Baby in a cute tin box with the 4 Thing a Week CDs inside and unexpectedly signed and numbered (#1078) with liner notes by college buddy John "I'm a PC" Hodgman. Curiously this mash-up was Thing a Week #10, but is not in the box set. And yet there are still 52 tracks... I spent 5 minutes staring at the track lists and cross-referencing it with the actual Thing a Week posts to figure out where the extra song came from. I'll leave it to you to do the same thing once you buy the box set too. While I was late in Vegas to catch his show, I was also way too early in San Francisco for a concert DVD he's recording there on February 22nd (now sold out). You should also check out this awesome ukulele cover of JoCo's Tom Cruise Crazy. At this point, I'm just re-hashing links from Jonathan Coulton's blog so you should just go ahead and add it to your RSS feed reader of choice.

Toad the Wet Sprocket - Hey Bulldog
World Party - Happiness is a Warm Gun
Funny thing about these is that they're both pretty straightforward covers, not deviating much from the originals. But I like them both a lot. The Breeders also do a nice cover of Happiness is a Warm Gun.

Jake Shimabukuro - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
There's a studio version of this wonderful ukulele cover by virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro from Gently Weeps (available on Amazon, eMusic, or your best deal on Amie Street... several other covers too). But I love the urgency of this version recorded in Central Park near Strawberry Fields, which I ripped from a video seen here. He really gets into it and his fingers float magically across the uke. It's an beautiful cover and watching it is even better.

Yukio Yung - Free as a Bird
This cover of the 1995 "new" Beatles song is kinda wacky. The original, due to the circumstances of its production, inherently had a melancholic, bittersweet feel to it. Here it's transformed into an upbeat pop song that recalls an earlier era Beatles.

Lulu Hughes - Helter Skelter
Lulu Hughes is a singer from Québec whose self-titled 2002 album I stumbled upon at the library and luckily found this cover. She's also responsible for that wicked cover of Pink Floyd's Time that I love. Her Helter Skelter starts off with a laid-back reggae feel than explodes into a more traditional rock number, but with a bevy of back-up singers and a horn section. I'm a huge sucker for horns. The only mis-step is her laughable snarl of "I've got blisters on my fingers!" which was a startling death scream from Ringo at the end of the original, but here sounds woefully calculated like "Yeah, I'm rocking out!" or "Coincidentally I've got blisters on my fingers too!".

No Doubt - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (live)
From their Live in the Tragic Kingdom DVD, this silly Beatles song suits their ska stylings. Alliteration, ha!

Jamie Cullum - Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Last year was the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and to celebrate the BBC brought in a bunch of artists to cover the whole album (like us, the BBC is clearly obsessed with covers). Other artists involved were Bryan Adams, Razorlight, Athlete, Kaiser Chiefs, The Fray, Magic Numbers, Oasis, Russell Brand, Travis, The Zutons, and Stereophonics. That line-up sounds a lot more exciting than the results. The Jamie Cullum cover stood out, though I'm admittedly biased. In general, Beatles covers are best when you're not tackling the sort of songs that show up on every Beatles greatest hits package and it's nice to hear a cover of the underrated BftBoMK!, which coincidentally is also a criminally underused Batman sound effect.

The Beatles - Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey [originally by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller / Little Richard]
Not a mash-up, but a medley from Beatles for Sale, a half-covers Beatles album. This is my favourite Beatles album and is deeply ingrained in my childhood psyche as it was probably the first Beatles album I ever heard. This was the second CD our family ever bought, the first being a 3-inch Chuck Berry one, at Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto. I think it's my dad's favourite Beatles album too so it's sort of hereditary. It kicks off with No Reply, my favourite Beatles song of all-time. In fact I don't think I ever really want to hear a cover of this song, though wikipedia reports (with absolutely no backing) that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have recorded this for their next album. The "If I were you..." bridge just kills me every time. When I was little I used to listen to that part, rewind it and listen to it over and over. Reviews often point out that the album was rushed or banged out with Mr. Moonlight often being called out as possibly the worst Beatles song ever recorded (I don't mind it), one of 6 covers that fill out the tracklist. Probably the most well-known track from Beatles for Sale is Eight Days a Week but it also features a killer cover of Chuck Berry's Rock & Roll Music. I was definitely an unconscious cover lover at an early age.

Elton John - Burn Down the Mission/My Baby Left Me/Get Back
Also not a mash-up, but a medley... a truly epic medley pushing the 20-minute mark from one of my favourite live albums Elton John's 11-17-70. This radio broadcast is from near the very beginning of Elton John's career and captures the wicked energy of his live performance. The sound quality is excellent and you're in for a treat if you haven't really heard him completely rocking out. Hard to believe this is just a trio making all that noise, bringing the house down. Reportedly Elton cut his hand at some point in the show and by the end the piano keys were covered in blood. That's rockin' out.

Geoff Gascoyne - God Only Knows (featuring Jamie Cullum) [originally by the Beach Boys]
I first heard this version on Jamie Cullum's Live at Blenheim Palace DVD. Geoff Gascoyne, an accomplished jazz bass player who tours with Cullum and helped produce his first album, composed a string quartet arrangement inspired by Eleanor Rigby for a cover of God Only Knows. This version is from Geoff Gascyone's 2005 album Keep It To Yourself.

The Beatnix - Stairway to Heaven [originally by Led Zeppelin]
From an Australian TV show called The Money or the Gun, this Beatles tribute band performed a startling version of Stairway to Heaven as if performed by the Beatles. Search youtube for the video, which enhances the performance by uncannily re-staging their Ed Sullivan appearance. A collection of numerous Stairway to Heaven performances from the show were collected on a CD called Stairways to Heaven. The show's host Andrew Denton is also responsible for a couple CD compilations of Andrew Denton's Musical Challenge where on his radio show he would challenge guests to cover unlikely songs. This is where you would hear the Wiggles cover AC/DC, Neil Finn's great cover of Billie Jean, Willie Nelson tackling Nirvana, and more.

Mark Ronson - We Can Work it Out (feat. Daniel Merriweather, Tawiah and Sean Lennon)
Last year Mark Ronson performed at the BBC Electric Proms festival in London with tracks from his cover album Version with many special guests backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. The whole thing can be seen on youtube and would benefit from a DVD release someday. The evening was capped off with Mark Ronson's Favourite Cover of All-Time which is Stevie Wonder's cover of The Beatles' We Can Work it Out. And in a surreal narrative twist, Mark Ronson is joined by childhood friend Sean Lennon who sings along to his dad's song... in the style of Stevie Wonder! So there we have it, a cover of a cover. I love it.

Coincidentally last night I caught the tail end of The Hour where George was interviewing Jerry Levitan who at age 14 in 1969 weaseled his way into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto (just prior to John & Yoko's bed-in for peace in Montreal) and interviewed him. He's produced a short film directed and animated by Josh Raskin with illustrations by Alex Kurina and James Braithwaite using audio from the original interview. I Met the Walrus has been nominated as Best Animated Short Film at this year's Oscars. While many offers had been made to make use of his recorded material, it was a pitch as an animated short by Toronto animator Raskin that finally grabbed his attention. Check the trailer at the official site. Looks cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Hello intrepid readers. I am in LA now. Will be back next week. I'm blogging from an iPod touch (not mine!) one painstaking letter at a time. You have no idea how long it took to type that sentence... Or that one. Thanks to Kurtis and Boyhowdy for taking care of things.

I was shocked, sad, angry, and depressed when I heard about Heath Ledger yesterday. Words seem pretty useless to describe it. Sad, tragic, devastating. A truly great loss for everyone.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jar of Covers

Hello once again! It's me! Kurtis from Covering the Mouse! I'll be guest posting today while Fong is enjoying the California sunshine!

One of my favourite bands is Jars of Clay. The main reason I love them is the amount of care they put into their songs. The production is always high on their records and I love the way they use their instruments and their harmonies.

While they are quite famous in the Christian circuit, they are still unknown to the rest of the world. They don't record albums to tell everyone they are Christians, but the subject matter of some of their work has kept them from breaking through to the mainstream market.

The band has covered many songs over their career and I've broken them down into three groups: Covers of Famous Groups, Covers from the Christian World, Christmas Covers.

Covers of Famous Groups

Lonely People (America)
No Matter What (Badfinger)
Crazy Love (Poco)
God Only Knows (The Beach Boys)
Swingtown (Steve Miller Band)

Covers From the Christian World

If I Stand (Rich Mullins)
Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows (Petra)
Dig (Adam Again)

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet (Gavin Bryars)

I need to talk about this track because it has a cool story. Gavin Bryars is an English jazz bassist turned composer. His most famous work is the LP he released in 1971 called Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet. Bryars heard a homeless man singing this song over and over which inspired him to recreate this loop, layering more and more instruments and countermelodies before fading out at the end. For the first recording as an LP, Bryars was limited to a duration 25 minutes for the piece; when cassettes came along, Bryars made a 60 minute version of the piece, and for CD, a 74 minute version. Jars of Clay's version is only 4 minutes long but you still get a good sense of what Bryars was trying to accomplish.

In 2006, Jars of Clay recorded Redemption Songs, an album of a few originals but mainly reworkings of famous hymns. I could post the whole album but instead I've picked four tracks. Nothing but the Blood features the Blind Boys of Alabama.

I'll Fly Away
Nothing but the Blood
They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love
It Is Well with My Soul

Christmas Covers

Christmas for Cowboys (John Denver)
This song was covered for the Maybe This Christmas Tree compilation album.

A few months ago, Jars released a Christmas album full of great arrangements of famous and obscure Christmas songs.

Wonderful Christmastime (Paul McCartney)
I actually don't like the original at all but the Jars of Clay version has some really great production and makes it very easy to listen to.

Christmastime is Here (Vince Guaraldi Trio)
This is quite a different take on the classic tune from A Charlie Brown Christmas but I like it.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Little Drummer Boy

These two tracks originally appeared on an EP early in the bands career and were rerecorded for this album.

In the Bleak Midwinter (Christina Rossetti, Gustav Holst)
This is originally a poem written by Christina Rossetti sometime before 1872. It has been put to a few different melodoies, the most famous composed by Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke in the early 20th century. It has also been covered by Julie Andrews, Allison Crowe, Sarah McLachlan and many others over the years.

Gabriel's Message
Sting has covered this song but he changed "Christian" to "everyone".

Friday, January 11, 2008

All Folked Up:
Pop Punk Covers of Folk Songs

Hi ho, this is your old pal Boyhowdy, host of folk-music coverblog Cover Lay Down. Your usual host left me with the keys to the place while he's off galavanting around in the lower 48 for a week or two; I've fed the plants and watered the cat as instructed, and now it's time for a little noise.

Because while Fong's away, the cats will play. Loud, and with plenty of feedback.

Though my own blog runs to the mellow and acoustic, as audiophiles go, I'm more than a collector of folk covers. I spent my late teens and early twenties in thrall to the rising fuzz and feedback of the pre-grunge, post-punk late-80s alt rock movement, particularly the east-coast manifestation -- The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., Juliana Hatfield, Sonic Youth and others -- and over the years I've retained a fondness for this genre, even as its seminal artists go mellow and find alt-folk along with the rest of us. (I'm also a man who once brought a picture of Val Kilmer to a hairstylist, but that's a story for another day.)

In my constant search for new folk covers to share with my own listeners, I find plenty of stripped down covers of songs by the west coast grunge camp -- Nirvana covers are a dime a dozen in every genre. But it's comparatively rare to find a folk cover of a Lemonheads tune. Seems these guys were known for their sound more than their songs.

Luckily, a coverlover with a genre bias always has two places to look for his earcandy: covers IN that genre, and covers of songs FROM that genre. As such, the happy place where my two loves meet turns out to be full of driving drums, fuzzed guitars, howling vocals and the squeal of feedback, all to the tune of some classic folk song.

Today, some punked up, fuzzed up, sped up, juiced up folk songs from both coasts, and beyond. These are the guys who paved the way for Nirvana, Hole, Green Day, Blink 182, and The All-American Rejects, among others, so give a little respect as you pass. And if anyone has a copy of The Lemonheads cover of Suzanne Vega's Luka, please let me know -- I used to have it on a transparent yellow vinyl 45, but I gave it to a great friend and serious collector as a holiday gift over a decade ago.

The Lemonheads, Mrs. Robinson (orig. Simon and Garfunkel)
A decade before Stacy's Mom brings the MILF back into the popular imagination, the original angry young late-eighties kids fall in love with a new kind of Mrs. Robinson. Picture a stringy, greasy long-haired grunge-rocker in Dustin Hoffman's place, hunched over a bass guitar and amp in the basement while he moons over some unattainable baby boomer friend of his baby boomer parents, and you've got it exactly.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Boxer (orig. Simon and Garfunkel)
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard (ibid.)

Can you tell I've been gathering in covers for a Simon and Garfunkel post over at Cover Lay Down? Prolific pop-punk cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is well known to coverbloggers; they specialize in tearing top forty ballads and light folk hits to shreds.

Sebadoh, Pink Moon (orig. Nick Drake)
I saw these guys at Bard College in 1992 with Superchunk -- they were late and almost too messed up to play, but they still ROCKED. Today, like The Lemonheads' Evan Dando before him, Sebadoh frontman Lou Barlow is known for his alt-radio sound; last year's Emoh was a blogfave. This is back when they were seriously punk. The best part is when the lead singer screams like a banshee. Never has the word "pink" sounded so terrifying.

P.J. Harvey, Highway '61 Revisited (orig. Bob Dylan)
The song sounds quiet at first, like the audio levels are off, but beware -- it's a trick, designed to get you to crank the volume. Fall for it. P.J. Harvey is only pop punk sometimes, but this is one of those times.

Sonic Youth, I'm Not There (orig. Bob Dylan)
Included on the incredible soundtrack to recent Dylan biopic of the same name, as a nod both to the indierock roots of most of the other artists, and to the continued genius of still-kicking experimental post-punkers Sonic Youth. This is what a pop punk power ballad sounds like. (Sonic Youth also does an electronic folk version of Mama You've Been On My Mind; it's out of this world, but I'm saving it for the folkblog.)

Jason Falkner, Both Sides Now (orig. Joni Mitchell)
Jason Falkner's dreamy, lushly-synthed album of instrumental Beatles covers used to work wonders at bedtime. This is not it. No, this is a fast-paced romp meant to speak for a generation dripping with anger and frustration at not being able to put words or meaning to that crazy little thing called love.

Dinosaur Jr., Lotta Love (orig. Neil Young)
More Lou Barlow, in his other band Dinosaur Jr. -- the guy defined the lo-fi alternative indierock sound way back in the 80s, but don't tell the indiekids, it would break their hearts. This barely recognizable cover comes from a 1989 alt-rock and grunge-heavy The Bridge: A Tribute To Neil Young, which is so awesome it could have been the entirety of this post, if we let it.

Screeching Weasel, You Are My Sunshine (orig. Jimmie Davis)
You'd think the sentiment of this song wouldn't fit with the style, but it works pretty well as a full-bore, post-punk, almost metal-tinged paean to someone clearly just as unwashed and emo as Screeching Weasel themselves.

Fong won't be coming home for a while, so I might be back again over the next two weeks. Then again, I might not. I left the water running for the cat, just in case, and rumor has it you might be getting a drop-in from at least one other familiar guest as well. In the meantime, how about joining me over at Cover Lay Down, where today we're featuring a short set of stripped down folkcovers of songs by The Smiths.

As always, all puchase links above go to artist and label sites wherever possible. The better to stick it to the man with, my dear. Be punk; buy disks and disdain downloads, because downloads don't pay artists like plastic does.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Pinball Number Count Revisited

[EDIT: 7/19/2008 2:46pm]
MP3 links temporarily restored in conjunction with Muppet Covers Week!

[EDIT: 1/11/2008 10:36pm]
Now with direct links! Dear readers, a spike in traffic to this blog in which the 10GB/month bandwidth limit was exceeded in the last 2 days has had me reconsider the benefits of the pay account. Lucky you I decided to not invest $80 in more blackjack, but rather get a account with unlimited bandwidth and as an added bonus, direct links! And guess what? Despite great temptation I will not start soliciting donations... Everybody wins! To boot, there are a couple new covers by Venetian Snares and Inglewood Jack added.

First post of the new year and instead of looking forward, I'm going to delve into the past to wallow in possibly unhealthy nostalgia. In one of the earliest posts on Fong Songs, I focused on a funky little ditty known as the Pinball Number Count, which we should all fondly remember from our collective childhood memories of Sesame Street.

To pretentiously quote myself:
"I remember several years ago going on a mission to find this song and eventually downloading a shortened version (just the number 4) through Napster. This was also pre-"google-takes-over-the-world", so I never did really find out anything more about it. What a difference a few years makes."

Well, what a difference a few more years makes. In the meantime, the influx of Pinball Number Count-related material has been incredible. Since that original post, the song has been covered several times, parodied on Family Guy, released on DVD(s), gotten its own wikipedia entry, inspired clocks, and much more. Its place in pop culture history is cemented as long as the internet doesn't implode, which considering the percentage of dead links on the previous post (3 of 5) is not entirely unlikely.

Pointer Sisters - Pinball Number Count [DJ Food Re-Edit]
Originally composed by Walt Kraemer and performed by the Pointer Sisters, the full story of the Pinball recording sessions can be read here in a letter from the composer himself obtained by unofficial Pinball Number Count historian Matt Jones. As I would learn later, this full-length edit of the Pinball Number Count is actually a remix by DJ Food released on the Ninja Tune label in 2003. The 3-song release Solid Steel Presents Sesame Street also contains 2 disco remixes of C is for Cookie.

The Dead Hensons - Pinball
The Dead Hensons are an 8-piece band from the San Francisco Bay area that exclusively perform covers from the Muppets and Sesame Street. Active since 2004, the band was assembled after founding member Ryan Beebe placed an ad on Craigslist seeking seeking Muppet-music enthusiasts. And thank goodness he got some responses. I'm still waiting for a follow-up to their only release, a 4-song 7" vinyl. Find some more mp3s on their official website.

Big Organ Trio - Pinball Number Count
This organ-based jazz cover sounds like Medeski Martin & Wood invading Sesame Street. And hey, why not? Incidentally, a Medeski Martin & Wood children's album will released tomorrow. Check out Big Organ Trio's website and you may just find some more covers...

Neil Cowley Trio - Pinball Number Count
A sweet, sweet piano jazz cover is from the Neil Cowley Trio's 2006 debut album Displaced, which won the BBC Jazz Award for Best Album.

Wicked Hemlocks - Number Count
This experimental/funk/rock cover by Wicked Hemlocks is the most recent addition to the Pinball Number Count collection, just released last June by indie label Stick in Your Spokes Records.

Blind Spot - 12
From the impossible-to-find 1995 compilation called 20 Bands Trash 20 Songs to find the way to Sesame Street. Trash is a fairly accurate description of the punk covers inspired by Sesame Street, though luckily the Pinball Number Count is the best cover on there, done in a ska/punk fashion.

Nude Continuum - Twelve (live)
Australia-based funk/acid jazz outfit Nude Continuum perform a sweet rendition of the Pinball Number Count live. This mp3 is ripped from a youtube video, which features lead singer Princess Freesia rockin' out in her underwear on stage. Clips from their impending debut album Nightclub of the Nudist sound promising and Jamiroquai drummer Derrick McKenzie is a guest performer.

Serious Aeolian Belfry - Twelve (live)
I consider it a major coup to find this cover, recorded live in the summer of 2002 at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville, Ohio. On occasion I'm prone to go all Veronica Mars-like in pursuit of covers. After extensive research (read: googling), I found a mention of a band called Serious Aeolian Belfry performing the Pinball Number Count live and a recording that may exist. I was able to contact Andrew Rothman, drummer for the now defunct band, who graciously indulged me with my strange request for the cover. Now here's the really cool part: does the name Andrew Rothman ring any bells? Just a couple weeks ago, Andrew won first-place in the Coverville theme remix contest that ran in conjunction with the Coverville Countdown! Congratulations! And to boot, Andrew also won Coverville Idol last March! Wow, it's a small coverworld after all.

Braces Tower - Eleven Twelve
Sweet head-bobbin' remix by the possibly non-existent Braces Tower (their website has been "coming soon" for a long time).

Venetian Snares - Twelve
Thanks to many readers who've pointed out this 2005 Venetian Snares remix that I missed the first time around. Different but good, a schizophrenic breakdown of the original track. I've read it described as "breakcore", a term that really means nothing to me. By the way, Venetian Snares is the alias of one Aaron Funk (a highly appropriate name) who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Inglewood Jack - Pinball Number Count (live)
One more cover for ya! Just when I think I've exhausted all cover sources, I stumble upon this live cover from Ottawa band Inglewood Jack on the Internet Live Music Archive. If you scroll around, they've got a few different shows with the Pinball Number Count. Go Canadian Content!

Hockey Night - For Guys' Eyes Only
Not limited to mere covers, the Pinball Number Count gets a shout out in this catchy Hockey Night tune.

Stephen Lynch - Jim Henson's Dead
In spite of its morbidly blunt title, this is a terrific ode to the muppets creator from comedian/musician Stephen Lynch, possibly with the most melodramatic rendition of one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twweeEEEeeeeEELLVE! The chorus is as follows: Oh Jim Henson's dead and gone / But his muppets will live on / And Kermit's still hot, 'cause it's still not / Easy bein' green.

Pinball Number Count international
As it turns out, the funkiness of the Pinball Number Count transcends many languages. Sort of. While the master instrumental tracks cannot be de-funked, some of these versions do not benefit from the awkward extra syllables. I'll leave it to you to laugh inappropriately when necessary.
Flipperkast [in Dutch]
TallSangen [in Norwegian]
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Strangest Pinball Count-related video: "SE7EN!"
David Fincher's Se7en is mashed-up with the Pinball Number Count. Funky AND disturbing. Really quite brilliant.

Best Pinball Number Count video on Youtube
It starts off innocuously at a radio station in Hamilton, Ontario. 2 guys in a broadcast booth, one guy standing awkwardly facing the camera, the other in chair facing away. Someone whispers "Six!" and the pinball number count is on! The guy standing proceeds to unashamedly dance his socks off as the other eventually shuffles off camera. This appears to be an on-going project of one Mike Long of Hamilton whose youtube video count is nearing 300 (!), most of which are him dancing guerrilla-style in and around Hamilton, sometimes to the utter bafflement of passerbys. Getting jiggy to Mickey Lee Lane's Hey Sah-Lo-Ney in a health food store is particularly brazen. The hilarious kick-off to France Gall's Poupeé de cire, poupée de son is also not to be missed. Napoleon Dynamite and the Torrance Community Dance Group would be equally proud. Dance on, my friend.

The Fox lawyers have been busy... It was surprisingly hard to find a working link to the spot-on Family Guy pinball parody. But you know, you can't really stop the internet from doing it's thing.

Want to own your own piece of Pinball Number Count? The DVD collection Sesame Street: Old School, Volume 2 contains a replica animation cel from the Pinball Number Count! A tempting offer no doubt.

A nice 1280 x 1024 wallpaper can be found here. Originally available in conjunction with the Ninja Tune release.

Gee, I've always wanted a clock based on the Pinball Number Count animation, but I just didn't know how to go about making my own. I'm sure you've been struck by that same insight at one point or another. Well, we're in luck. Someone more capable of putting thoughts into action has a step-by-step guide to creating such a clock. Very, very impressive. Ironically, he was struck by a wave of nostalgia triggered by the Family Guy parody. Inspired by the DIY clock, someone else made a flash version of the same clock. At first I thought I was looking at a static image, until I realized that indeed the clock was accurately displaying the time.

OK, I'm off to Las Vegas & San Francisco for the next few weeks. You may or may not see guest posts in the meantime. Later 'gators.