Friday, August 01, 2008

Canadian Cover Content #11: Hard Core Logo, Cover Podcasts & Crash Test Dummies

Some belated Canadian cover happenings...

On August 14th in Toronto, there's a whole tribute night devoted to Canadian cult rock film Hard Core Logo with a screening of the film, a Q&A with director Bruce McDonald, punk bands covering the fictional band, lots of prizes, and "unannounceable but very special SPECIAL GUESTS". Hmmmm... Joe Dick himself perhaps? Mr. Hugh Dillon is currently enjoying success on Flashpoint, a big hit both in Canada and the US, which is cool because it's clearly filmed in Toronto and Canadianisms have a way of sneaking into the episodes (a Timmy's run anyone?). How surreal would a reunion of the original Hard Core Logo line-up be with Joe Dick, Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie), John Oxenberger, and Pipefitter performing? Uh, technically impossible if you've seen the movie and actually kinda strange considering the 1996 film was about a very reluctant reunion tour, but I'd pay to see that anyway. For Torontonians or hardcore Hard Core Logo fans, details on the Tribute Night are here. Only $12!

Hard Core Logo - Rock 'n' Roll is Fat and Ugly
54•40 - Rock 'n' Roll is Fat and Ugly [originally by Hard Core Logo]

Last week CBC Radio 3's Grant Lawrence devoted an entire podcast to Canadian artists covering Canadian artists. It can be downloaded here in various formats. What's cool is that for several covers he chats with both the coverer and the coveree (as put by Danny Michel & Emm Gryner in a similar themed episode of Under the Covers). We get The Be Good Tanyas covering Geoff Berner, Kathleen Edwards covering Jim Bryson, Cuff the Duke covering the Rheostatics, and much more.
**UPDATE: Also check out this week's Part II - The Originals of the songs featured last week.

Speaking of Danny & Emm's Under the Covers, last week's episode was about "Covers You Didn't Know Were Covers". One that greatly surprised me was finding out Kim Carnes' eighties hit Bette Davis Eyes was not the original... it was co-written and recorded in 1974 by Jackie DeShannon. It has a radically different tone-- almost country & western with chorus girls. Sounds like a weird cover, but it's the original! Between this, Tainted Love, and There's Always Something There to Remind Me, how many more 80's one-hit wonders are actually cover songs?? There's no doubt that all covers of Bette Davis Eyes are of Kim Carnes' version. My favourite is an acoustic cover featuring the deep baritone vocals of Crash Test Dummies' frontman Brad Roberts, from his solo live disc Crash Test Dude. A couple years ago I was slow in ordering the Crash Test Dude CD/video combo from Maple Music then it went out of stock forever. I always kinda regretted that, though eventually it ended up on iTunes and eMusic. The album also contains a handful of unlikely covers: La Grange, Da Do Ron Ron, Trident Gum Theme(?), Unbreak My Heart and Baby One More Time.

Brad Roberts - Bette Davis Eyes [originally by Jackie DeShannon]
Ever wonder what Brad Roberts is up to these days? He's a guitar/songwriting instructor at the Paul Green School of Rock Music (!), which likely was the inspiration for the film School of Rock and was featured in the documentary Rock School. Incidentally, a School of Rock 2 was announced a couple weeks ago with Jack Black, writer Mike White, and director Richard Linklater all returning.

Brad Roberts - Superman's Song
I'm of the mind that one can't technically cover oneself, so here's Brad Roberts revisiting the Crash Test Dummies' first hit, Superman's Song, a plaintive ode to Superman released a year before the big S actually "died".

Brad Roberts - One of Us [originally released by Joan Osborne]
Here's something curious I just learned while writing up this post. Direct from the Crash Test Dummies FAQ: "the song's writer, Eric Bazilian, had written the song with Brad Roberts' bass baritone in mind. When the two met, Brad recorded the song just by himself with an acoustic guitar. When news of the song first broke, it was expected to appear on the Armageddon soundtrack. It did not, and so far, the song has only been made available to the public in a leaked MP3 that found its way onto file-sharing networks." Wow, so could this be considered almost the original One of Us...?

Crash Test Dummies - The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead [originally by XTC]
I remember buying the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack specifically for this song, finding out it was a cover many years later. This is the first Crash Test Dummies single to feature the band's only female member Ellen Reid taking over lead vocal duties from Brad Roberts who sings back-up. The Dummies also recorded another XTC cover All You Pretty Girls for the XTC tribute album A Testimonial Dinner.

Jaymz Bee & The Royal Jelly Orchestra - Superman's Song (feat. Melleny Melody) [originally by Crash Test Dummies]
An unlikely lounge cover from Jaymz Bee & the RJO's Cocktail: Shakin' and Stirred album of Canadian covers.

Weird Al Yankovic - Headline News [parody of Crash Test Dummies' Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm]
I remember reading an interview years ago with the Crash Test Dummies and they were asked how they felt about Weird Al parodying their song. Of course, they were excited and honoured, going so far as to be Weird Al's back-up band on a MuchMusic Video Awards performance of the parody. The parody makes now dated references to headlines at the time (Tonya Harding, Lorena Bobbitt, and that guy who got caned in Singapore), though Weird Al changes it up in live shows with current headlines. When I caught his show last summer he sung about Britney's shaved head incident and Paris Hilton. The original has the very dubious distinction of being one of Blender's 50 Worst Songs Ever (#31), VH1's 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever (#15), and called by the Rolling Stone's blog as one of the 20 Most Annoying Songs Ever (#15). Yikes, I don't think it's that bad.

Covers of a different sort:

Bacchus and Ariadne [originally by Titian] ;)

(note: I only made one of these...)


Bilbo Baggins said...

Dear Sir,

This post was the most pleasant surprise I have ever found on Hypem! I have wanted the Crash Test Dude version of Superman's Song for the longest time, and for whatever reason I never broke down and went to iTunes. Brad is SUCH an underrated talent. Another live fave would be Afternoons & Coffeespoons. These songs always make me shiver. Thank you mightily, and God Bless!

(Idea for a follow-up post would be my other greatest musical request, the live Our Lady Peace album with Superman's Dead and Not Enough -- pure bliss!)

You made my day,


ekko said...

I was a big fan of CTDs, until I saw them live. Ugh! But they made two great albums, at least.

Very cool post, Fong.