Thursday, June 19, 2008

Covers from The Living End

In exactly one month, July 19th, The Living End will release their latest album White Noise. I've mentioned them here and there, but never really given them their proper due on Fong Songs, which is remarkable because

  • A) They're one of my favourite bands
  • B) They're very cover friendly

    In fact, I consider their Tainted Love as bit of a modern cover classic and it's the song that introduced me to the band. After repeatedly digesting the cover, I was compelled to check out their 1998 self-titled debut and its 2000 follow-up Roll On from the library, both incredible albums. I've been a huge fan ever since, snapping up each subsequent release, though honestly nothing really tops those first two albums (they're just too good).

    The Living End - Tainted Love [originally recorded by Gloria Jones]
    [**link removed by request**]
    This has a great guitar solo by lead singer/guitarist Chris Cheney, who has got to be one of the most underrated guitarists in modern rock. In fact, I can't really think of anyone comparable. His playing is just unreal, especially live. See them perform E Boogie and you'll become a believer. Their song Carry Me Home made an appearance in Guitar Hero II, but I could easily pick about a dozen more Living End tracks that I'd want to play in that or Rock Band. Someone should definitely make it happen.

    The Living End - How Do We Know?
    This is their latest song from from the upcoming White Noise. It's pretty good and built on some killer riffs, a bit of a different sound than the usual Living End release. Perhaps because everything I hear is filtered through the White Stripes, I'd say it sounds a bit Icky Thump-ish (song, not album), in the same way that Supergrass's Diamond Hoo Ha Man sounds like the Stripes' Blue Orchid.

    I was very fortunate to catch them live in 2006 when I was visiting Toronto, an amazing gig that I shockingly never blogged about for some reason. I get the impression there's a massive disparity with the Living End's popularity in their native Australia and here in North America. They were playing at a medium sized nightclub and I went an hour early to line up, though that wasn't necessary since there were only 12 fans in front of me. At first I wasn't even sure I was at the right place. About 20 minutes before the doors opened, the band casually walked by the line and went to a restaurant across the street. That was a bit surreal because I imagine any other band would be mobbed if they did that, whereas here only a handful of people even recognized them, including one guy who immediately began hatching a scheme to go in there and buy the band drinks (successfully I found out later). The opening bands were local band The Mark Inside and The Lashes, whose lead singer jumped off the stage and stepped on my feet while haphazardly dancing. Eventually the place filled up by the time The Living End came on and I was in a particularly great spot, one layer of bodies from the stage, which unexpectedly provided a cushion from the moshers behind me (i.e. instead of being crushed against the stage, I was indirectly crushing others). Um, I'll just let some photos tell the story:

    Yeah, needless to say it was awesome. I've got some more photos from the show in a facebook album. Here's a sweet clip from the show, a Mr. Sandman cover:

    Here are just a handful of the many covers they've released:
    The Living End - I Get a Kick Out of You [originally by Cole Porter]
    The Living End - I've Just Seen a Face [originally by The Beatles]
    The Living End - Rising Sun [originally by Cold Chisel]

    The Living End - Jailbreak (live) [originally by AC/DC]
    Recorded live just three days ago on an Aussie webcast, The Living End cover Bon Scott era AC/DC.

    The guitar/double bass/drum trio set-up of the band is modeled after the Stray Cats, Brian Setzer's rockabilly group who were a huge influence on the band. In fact, Scott Owen switched from piano to the double bass after seeing the Stray Cats live with Cheney. Pre-Living End, they were a cover band called Runaway Boys after one of the Stray Cats' songs.

    Runaway Boys - Rock This Town (live) [originally by Stray Cats]
    Runaway Boys - Looking Out My Back Door [originally by Creedence Clearwater Rivival]

    "The Living End" itself is borrowed from the 1956 rock & roll movie Rock Around the Clock featuring Bill Haley & The Comets, which ends with that very phrase instead of the usual "The End". For a ton of Living End live tracks and rarities including the full set of Runaway Boys demos, head on over to audio gallery of fansite The 23rd Precinct.


    Megan P.I. said...

    I love these guys! I've only seen them a couple times, but the shows have been amazing.
    The first time was an awesome small club in L.A., but the second time was at the Santa Anita horse track. KROQ does these cheap $5.00 shows and brings decent bands. The Living End played with A New Found Glory and Save Ferris. It's a bummer because they don't let us get close to the stage, so we have to rock out from afar.

    My friend Angie managed to take this awesome photo of the bassist standing on his upright and playing it:

    Thanks for the covers! I have the Tainted Love one, but hadn't heard the others.

    Dean said...

    i actually had almost an identical experience when i saw them at the house of blues on the sunset strip--these guys are totally unreal, but no one seems to know.

    in any case, how did you find all of these covers by them? i'm a huge fan and have all of their albums, but i've never heard of these... thanks for posting them!

    Fongolia said...

    One of their albums (I forget which) came with a bonus disc called "Under the Covers" with 6 covers that were probably b-sides or something. You've gotta visit The 23rd Precinct, a fantastic resource for live Living End material including some covers and early demos.