Friday, October 31, 2008

Dancing at the Zombie Zoo!

Come on in, the party has just begun! DJ Frankenstein is spinnin' tunes tonight and he's definitely got some treats for you. Have a safe and happy Pooky Night everyone!

Zacherley - Zombie Zoo [originally by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers]
Originally from Tom Petty's 1989 Full Moon Fever, this odd cover gives it the novelty horror treatment courtesy of Mr. John Zacherle,

Vincent Price - Monster Mash [originally by Bobby "Boris" Pickett]
The funk of forty thousand years reached a pinnacle with this awesome recording by the horror icon. In a fittingly creepy tribute, Monster Mash creator Bobby "Boris" Pickett's remains were recently immortalized as a certified diamond.

Groovie Ghoulies - Time Warp [originally from the Rocky Horror Picture Show]
From the Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show, an all-punk tribute album to the cult musical.

Bonerama - Frankenstein [originally by The Edgar Winter Group]
Couldn't stop DJ Frankenstein from playing this one... Beware, this live cover clocks in at a frightening 13 minutes! Recommended if you like LONG trombone solos.

Shock of Pleasure - Spooky [originally by Classics IV]
This spooky cover ended up in my inbox several months ago from Dallas electro-lounge act Shock of Pleasure whose album It's About Time also features a cover of the Delaney & Bonnie song Superstar (a huge hit for The Carpenters).

Argies - Psycho Killer [originally by Talking Heads]
A sweet foreign language cover from Argentinean rockers, the Argies.

Helloween - Hocus Pocus [originally by Focus]
The best rock yodel song!

The Rowdymen - Clap for the Wolfman [originally by The Guess Who]
This lifeless (undead?) cover of The Guess Who comes from a tribute album Guess Who's Home by local Winnipeg artists. I'm still curious to check out the rest since it includes several unlikely cover candidates of classic Guess Who material. The original was a tribute to American DJ Wolfman Jack whose own voice (palely imitated here) features prominently throughout the track.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers - Transylvania Twist
[originally by Count Dracula??]
So that's what happened to the Transylvanian Twist! Recorded by the Monster Mash man himself.

Rasputina - Bad Moon Rising [originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival]
A gothic cello dirge of a cover.

Dev Large for Devastator Enterprises - Fantasia [Dirty Raw Bobo James Mix]
[originally by Mussorgsky]
An awesome remix of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, famously used in a sequence from Disney's Fantasia. It's from a Japanese album Disney Breaks & Beats, which again proves the Japanese take their Disney cover songs seriously and that's why I love 'em. I've posted this before, but I think it's essential to any Halloween party mix.

Bing Crosby - The Headless Horseman (alternate version)
One of my favourite Halloween-themed songs from Disney's animated version of the legend of Sleepy Hollow. This was sung and written (I think) by Bing Crosby who also provided the narration for the short film, which made up half of the Disney feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. This version of the song is different than the one found in the film and I presume it was recorded for radio play... I found it on the eMusic album Klassic Kiddies' Sing a Long Songs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Congrats to the Ditty Bops!

Received word today that The Ditty Bops' Abby and Amanda just got married after 10 years together! Congratulations! I'm a huge fan of the Ditty Bops and very happy for the newly married couple.

From their latest newsletter:
Hi Everyone! We just got married! We are so happy that after 10 years together we could make our union legal in the State of California. However, there is a ballot measure in California which would eliminate the rights for same-sex couples to marry and would write discrimination against gays and lesbians into our state constitution. Please join us in voting NO on Proposition 8.

Next week when (some) Americans go to the polls, Californians also have a number of propositions to vote on including the bluntly titled "Proposition 8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry". The Ditty Bops also support voting YES on "Proposition 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals", a measure which will help put an end to animal abuses in factory farming. If you're Californian, go vote! If you're American, go vote! And if you're like the rest of us, sit on your hands and hope! Or rather, tell your American friends to go vote!

The Ditty Bops - The Weeds are Winning


In other cool news today, the ultra-violent, controversial, and hilarious Preacher graphic novel was picked up by Columbia Pictures with Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, Mr. Kate Winslet) slated to direct. At one point, James Marsden (dear god no!) was attached as Jesse Custer, the title character. More recently, the 75-issue run of the series (collected in 9 volumes) was going to be made as a on-going series on HBO (good!) by Mark Steven Johnson (bad! bad!) who was responsible for such gems as Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and Grumpy Old Men. It'll be curious to see if this comes to fruition since if you've read the book, much of it seems unfilmable or one would be hard-pressed to avoid a NC-17 rating as a live-action film. Well, with the "unfilmable" Watchmen gearing up to be one of the biggest films of next year, it's nice to know that Preacher is now in capable hands. Now who would make a good Cassidy, the Irish vampire?

BNL's Steven Page Free!

Fans and non-fans were shocked earlier this summer when seemingly clean-cut frontman for Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page was arrested in New York alongside his girlfriend and her roommate for cocaine possession. Their court appearance was yesterday and a deal was reached with US prosecutors so that he avoids jail time provided he stays clean for the next 6 months. Court documents showed that the roommate and Page had snorted cocaine "using a rolled up Canadian bill". Yikes, how's that for CanCon!

rx - White Lines (Don't Do It) [originally by Grandmaster Flash]
Steven should have listened to this lesson from soon to be ex-president George Bush. Rang dang diggity dang di-dang!

In June, Steven performed a stunning set of covers of his favourite songs with the Art of Time Ensemble, fortunately recorded for posterity by the fine folks at CBC Radio. I haven't mentioned it enough (if at all), but CBC Radio 2's Concerts on Demand is an incredible resource that's constantly updated with amazing concerts of Canadian acts (lots of great covers too if you dig a little). I occasionally envy the BBC and some of its cover-centric programming, but this concert archive should make everyone envy us, bwa ha ha! You know, I can't tell but I presume it's not for Canucks only... unlike many many sites I seem to visit lately (US only, UK only, bah!).

The Art of Time Ensemble with Steven Page

The Setlist:
1. Lion's Teeth [originally by The Mountain Goats]
2. Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure [originally by The Weakerthans]
3. I Want You [originally by Elvis Costello]
4. Running Out Of Ink [Barenaked Ladies]
5. For We Are The King Of The Boudoir [originally by The Magnetic Fields]
6. Changing Opinion [originally by Paul Simon & Philip Glass]
7. A Singer Must Die [originally by Leonard Cohen]
8. Foolish Love [originally by Rufus Wainwright]
9. The Taxi Ride [originally by Jane Siberry]
10. Tonight We Fly [originally by The Divine Comedy]
11. Paranoid Android [originally by Radiohead]

Listen to the whole thing here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just Words

Halloween came early last week in the form of a Blogger takedown notice and threats regarding the DMCA. By far I'm not the only house on the block being paid a visit. Blogger has been a-knocking on lots of doors and they're clearly not here for tricks or treats, though I'd love to dump a handful of peanuts and unwrapped apples in their bag. Also, those nasty orange and black things in wax paper, ugh. To this point, I haven't really gotten too upset since I've knowingly not been overly vigilant about what I post-- I mean, my blog tagline states as much-- but the most frightening and disturbing aspect of this whole affair is hearing the accounts of fellow bloggers.

Our pal Boyhowdy at Cover Lay Down had a post taken down for a file he recorded live AND received written permission from the artist in question. Chad at Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands is considering packing it in after a tribute to Elliot Smith with perfectly legit public domain mp3s was unceremoniously removed. Ekko at Berkeley Place is having posts deleted left and right. The list goes on and on... This one was particularly ridiculous: Ed at 17 Seconds had a year-old post featuring an entire interview with Glasvegas deleted even though the post contained no valid MP3 links, which were links to free demo songs anyway. Apparently I was lucky I even got a notice. Some bloggers' posts have just gone AWOL with no explanation whatsoever, which makes me wonder if that's already happened to me since I don't often peruse my own archives...

I seriously doubt there's some malicious reader going around submitting complaints about all the posts in question. Last year, Viacom spammed YouTube with 100,000 DMCA takedown notices based on an indiscriminate blanket search of the site's videos. I think something similar is happening here on behalf of some big wig record company.

Setting the Woods on Fire just posted an excellent piece on these issues facing music bloggers.

The future is decidedly unfriendly right now, but don't expect me to quit blogging over it. I'm still a little leery right now about even posting legit mp3s so for now I've got words, just words.

An MP3-less Playlist:

1. Randy Newman - Strange Things
When from out of the sky like a bomb comes some little punk in a rocket,
now all of a sudden some strange things are happening to me.

From the Toy Story soundtrack, this song accompanies a montage of Woody realizing that the times they are a-changin' as Buzz Lightyear comes on the scene. That had a happy ending, right?

2. The Crickets - I Fought the Law
I remember some time in high school when I found out The Clash's I Fought the Law was a cover, proudly sharing the fact that the original was by the Bobby Fuller Four. Turns out that was a cover too! The original was by The Crickets, post-Buddy Holly.

3. The Shins - We Will Become Silhouettes [originally by The Postal Service]
I'm not coming out until this is all over.
One of my favourite covers.

4. The Flying Lizards - Money (That's What I Want) [originally performed by Barrett Strong]

5. Brie Larson - Unbelievable [originally by EMF]
Crumbelievable OH!

6. OK Go & Bonerama - Rock & Roll Suicide [originally by David Bowie]
Here's my endorsement for favourite cover song of the year.
**Update: I was reminded by a reader that this comes from an OK Go & Bonerama benefit EP for New Orleans musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The 5-song EP is only $3.49 on iTunes and includes a rousing Bonerama horn section on some OK Go songs like A Million Ways in addition to the Bowie cover. Definitely worth a purchase.

7. Hard Attack - Land of Confusion [originally by Genesis]

8. Sertab Erener - Music [originally by Madonna]
Music makes the people come together.

9. The Raconteurs - Keep It Clean (live) [originally by Charlie Jordan]

10. Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts - Words That We Couldn't Say

11. Robert Plant - For What It's Worth [originally by Buffalo Springfield]

12. GrimSkunk - Rockin' in the Free World [originally by Neil Young]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ben Folds Reunion Up

The Ben Folds Reunion concert is up on MySpace's Front to Back site now. Overseas fans are getting the shaft and that includes Canada since the 49th Parallel now extends into cyberspace. Yes, it's US only. The rest of us are slapped with a unexplained "error". Presumably it's awesome, though a DVD better be forthcoming since it doesn't include the encore.

***UPDATE: lowly non-Americans can view it at forums. You can catch a blurry glimpse of me at the 39 second mark! Time to play Where's Fongo?

This month marks the 35th anniversary of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a stunning album whose tracklist reads like a greatest hits compilation: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie & the Jets, Candle in the Wind, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting... and the rest is all killer, no filler too. On Monday, "Elton John & Friends" played a benefit concert in NYC playing the whole album in its entirety, but fans who paid upwards of $2500 a ticket were somewhat pissed when it soon became apparent that it was more "Friends" than Sir John who came out for the last three songs only. Ben Folds was on hand to play not one, but TWO covers! Grey Seal and This Song Has No Title, two lesser known but great tracks. I hope there's a DVD of this too!

The C&D scare Monday derailed plans for a Goodbye Yellow Brick Road cover post, but I could only find covers of 9 of the 17 tracks anyway. I don't know how Ray over at Cover Me makes it look so easy when he compiles a full covered album! There seems to be some sort of Blogger crackdown these past couple weeks and I know I'm not the only one affected. At least one blog I read received the same notice a couple days ago and there are plenty others too. No worries, Fong Songs won't be packing it in quite yet, I'll just be more discerning about the songs I post.

Monday, October 20, 2008

80s Cover Weekend Redux (Re-post minus links + ominous tidings)

Landmark day here at Fong Songs... I received my first dreaded "cease & desist" letter from Blogger:

"Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog infringes upon the copyrights of others. The URL(s) of the allegedly infringing post(s) may be found at the end of this message."

The e-mail almost reads like spam with a link to something called, until I checked my site and that saw that my latest post had indeed been purged. Mother of mercy, is this the end of Fong Songs? I sure hope not. The complaint was specifically in regards to this 80s Cover Weekend Redux post, though I'm not sure which is the offending song. Was Kevin Rowlands mad I poked fun at Dexys? I've re-posted without the mp3 links and now I'm going to lay low for a bit because this sort of thing freaks me out.


I've got one last 80s-themed cover post for you with a slight twist. As cover enthusiasts would probably know, a handful of big one-hit wonders of the 80s were in fact covers themselves: Soft Cell's Tainted Love, Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes, and Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, to name a few off the top of my head. While I focused previously on newer covers of 80s songs, today's post features covers that are by artists primarily known for their 80s musical output, either released in the 80s or otherwise.

Soft Cell - You Only Live Twice [originally performed by Nancy Sinatra]
"You only live twice or so it seems, one life for yourself and one for your dreams..." That's seems sadly appropriate and prescient lyrics to be sung by any one-hit wonder act. Is there life after one-hit wonderdom? After being listened to and enjoyed by millions worldwide, what do you do after you become a pop culture footnote? Go back to your day job? While known as a one-hit wonder in the US, Soft Cell actually had ten Top 40 hits in their native UK after the fact. Soft Cell's Marc Almond and David Ball parted ways in 1984, but they continued working on solo projects and collaborations before reuniting as Soft Cell in 2001. They're still active to this day, believe it or not. As previously alluded to, a cover trip through the James Bond theme collection is heading your way in a few weeks, but You Only Live Twice is already well represented so I don't mind dropping this one early.

Dexys Midnight Runners - Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile) [originally by Van Morrison]
Known most popularly for Come On Eileen, Dexys Midnight Runners actually reached #5 on the UK charts with this Van Morrison cover. Lead singer Kevin Rowland switches it up by swapping the original's ding-a-ling-a-lings for too-dle-lang-a-langs. Don't look now but sometime in the last couple years they've dropped the Midnight Runners and have reinvented themselves as just Dexys according to their official myspace site, which also contains this amazing fact about the band's history: "The problem was though that in many ways, they were ahead of their time, they were visionaries." Uh huh. Their myspace page also streams Dexys' cover of The Four Seasons' Rag Doll, unexpectedly venturing into Hey Jude territory with a running time surpassing 8 minutes! I repeat: an 8+ minute cover of Rag Doll. I think the world still isn't quite ready for Kevin Rowland and Dexys.

Twisted Sister - Leader of the Pack [originally by The Shangri-Las]
I love this oddly faithful cover flipped to the perspective of the leader of the pack himself and it's the girlfriend who meets a tragic end on a rain-slicked road. Best part? The tell me more, tell me more Grease-like cronies that sing back-up vocals.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Born to Run [originally by Bruce Springsteen]
Presumably like most people, I've only heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood from their 80s hit Relax, which makes this Springsteen cover all the more surprising.

Tiffany - I Saw Him Standing There [originally by The Beatles]
Tiffany was 16 when she hit it big with her cover of I Think We're Alone Now from her self-titled debut. New Kids on the Block were her opening act on tour! This Beatles cover with a distinct Prince flavour is from that same debut album. I have got to stop reading wikipedia before writing up each of these entries because I waste so much time scrolling through pages of "Where are they now?" factoids about bands/artists that I assumed ceased to exist 20 years ago. Seriously, Tiffany released an album of cover songs just last year! Check out that winning album cover too.

Def Leppard - No Matter What [originally by Badfinger]
Like most aging rockers who've fallen out of the spotlight, an album of cover songs is inevitable and Def Leppard is no exception. The blandly titled Yeah! came out in 2006 and featured covers of artists such as Sweet, ELO, T. Rex, and Bowie. Here's a decent, if straight forward rock cover of Badfinger. Recently, for reasons unclear, the NHL ill-advisedly booked Def Leppard to help kick off the new hockey season by having the band perform during the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Lead singer Joe Elliot proceeded to basically give hockey fans the middle finger when he hoisted the Stanley Cup, the holy grail of hockey, over his head then put it down upside-down on a table. Yikes. Funny more than anything, it simply underlined the glaring question as to WHY Def Leppard was hired to kick off the NHL season in the first place? I mean, even the launch party of Fallout 3 featured a 90 minute set from the Foo Fighters! Score one for the geeks!

Duran Duran - The Needle and the Damage Done [originally by Neil Young]
Duran Duran's inevitable cover album Thank You came out in 1995 with bizarre cover choices such as Public Enemy's 911 is a Joke and Grandmaster Flash's White Lines, which I probably shouldn't like but I do. This Neil Young cover was not on that album, but it appeared as a b-side to the single Perfect Day, a cover of Lou Reed.

Styx - I Can See for Miles [originally by The Who]
Styx's cover album Big Bang Theory came out in 2005, though without their original lead singer Dennis DeYoung who was replaced in 1999 by Canadian Lawrence Gowan (who had a successful solo career as under the stage name Gowan). I have to admit I quite like this cover and their take on The Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City from the same album.

Jill Johnson with Kim Carnes - Tumblin' Dice [originally by The Rolling Stones]
Swedish country singer Jill Johnson recorded this duet featuring the unmistakable raspy vocals of Kim Carnes for her 2007 album Music Row. Of course, Kim Carnes is best known for her cover of Bette Davis Eyes from 1981.

Huey Lewis - Oh! Darling [originally by The Beatles]
One of my favourite Beatles tracks. You just can't beat Paul's howls, so thankfully Huey doesn't even really try to replicate them.

Daryl Hall & KT Tunstall - Something to Talk About [originally by Bonnie Raitt]
Daryl Hall, the Hall of Hall & Oates, had bloggers buzzing earlier this year when he teamed up with Montréal electrofunk duo Chromeo for an episode of his web jam sessions Live from Daryl's House, available for free on his site. Last month featured Canadian rock group Finger Eleven and previous guests have included Nick Lowe, Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy, and Oates himself! This is a lively cover duet with KT Tunstall of Bonnie Raitt's 90s hit Something to Talk About, which was actually penned by Canadian singer-songwriter Shirley Eikhard.

Monday, October 13, 2008

By the Numbers

Impending cover album alert! Miami pop band The Postmarks are releasing a cover album, By the Numbers, which will feature covers of number-related songs. I'm looking forward to this after inadvertently stumbling upon their cover of You Only Live Twice while searching for Bond covers (uh, blatant post foreshadowing). That cover along with Bowie's Five Years, Antonio Carlos Jobim's One Note Samba, and more were available for free on eMusic as they were being released each month. Don't bother checking, they've been removed in anticipation of the new album. I didn't realize the full story until Stereogum's Gum Drop newsletter arrived last week with a mini-interview of The Postmarks. The big revelation for me was that the penultimate last track on the album is the Pinball Number Count! As regular readers will know, I'm a little obsessed with that song.

1. One Note Samba [Antonio Carlos Jobim]
2. You Only Live Twice [Nancy Sinatra]
3. Three Little Birds [Bob Marley]
4. OX4 [Ride]
5. Five Years [David Bowie]
6. Six Different Ways [The Cure]
7. 7-11 [The Ramones]
8. Eight Miles High [The Byrds]
9. Nine Million Rainy Days [The Jesus & Mary Chain]
10. Slaughter On Tenth Avenue [Ray Rodgers]
11. 11:59 [Blondie]
12. Pinball Number Count [The Pointer Sisters]

Release date? 11/11.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

80s Weekend Hangover

Grrrr, my internet's been cutting in/out all day... and the only cure is a monster batch of even more 80s covers! Here are some that didn't make the first cut, mostly because they don't carry the same personal resonance as some of those earlier picks. Some I just plain forgot to include and the 80s police got mad at me.

The Pigeon Detectives - The Power of Love [originally by Huey Lewis & The News]
Tropical Jazz Big Band XI - Hip to Be Square [originally by Huey Lewis & The News]
Huey Lewis is so synonymous with the 80s, in no small part due to The Power of Love's prominent role in Back to the Future (possibly the greatest 80s film?), it was extremely difficult to resist the temptation to load up on Huey Lewis & The News covers the first time around. The Pigeon Detectives do a fine take on The Power of Love, representing the year 1985 on the BBC compilation of covers, Radio 1 Established 1967. The instrumental Hip to be Square cover is a hoot too.

Lostprophets - Need You Tonight [originally by INXS]
INXS covers are surprisingly hard to come by. This one's kind of a wasted opportunity because I think the music takes some interesting twists, yet the vocals adhere way too closely to Michael Hutchence's inimitable delivery and thus pale in comparison.

Francis Soto Band - Sunglasses at Night [originally by Corey Hart]
Here's my CanCon for the post. We can't talk about 80s music in Canada without mentioning Corey Hart, now can we? Here's a German metal cover of his big hit, Sunglasses at Night. Weird trivia via wikipedia: Corey Hart turned down the role of Mrty McFly in Back to the Future! Luckily that role went to Edmontonian (yay!) Michael J. Fox. When I think Canadian 80s music, the real king is Bryan Adams, covers of whom are sadly lacking except for a couple I've posted before. I also wanted so bad to include a Glass Tiger cover, but I couldn't track down anything worthwhile.

Dondero High School - Love in an Elevator [originally by Aerosmith]
Here's one I left off since I don't really associate it with the 80s, not surprising since the album it's from Pump was released in September 1989. This hilariously great cover is from the annual Dondero High School Pop Concert (1971-2006) in Royal Oak, Michigan. Each year, the student choir and musicians would perform 20 or so covers of popular songs. Archives of concerts held between 1995 and 2005 are available for free download (hosted on the Internet Audio Archive). Lots of inspiring cover choices, prepare to clear out some hard drive space for these. Interesting factoids: the school was opened in 1927, became Royal Oak Middle School in 2007, and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey is a former student.

Rilo Kiley - Simply Irresistible (live) [originally by Robert Palmer]
Robert Palmer covers are pretty scarce as well. If not for the lyrics, this slowed down indie cover by Rilo Kiley would be pretty much unrecognizable.

Spunge - Centerfold [originally by J. Geils Band]
One of the most sing-a-longable na na na na na sections in 80s music. I knew nothing about the J. Geils Band, so I was mildly surprised to learn 1981's Freeze Frame was the band's 12th album and they originally formed in 1967!

Mose Giganticus - Mr. Roboto [originally by Styx]
Self-described electronic/synthpop/punk/rock band Mose Giganticus perform this surprisingly faithful Styx cover except with more aggressive vocals. My first exposure to Mr. Roboto was actually through some lyrical quotage in the Barenaked Ladies' The King of Bedside Manor. I was mildly obsessed with this song when I "re-discovered" it in high school, presumably through this 1999 VW Golf commercial. Coincidentally, this ad came up last week in an AV Club article where I found out the man singing/dancing in the car is none other than Tony Hale AKA Buster Bluth on Arrested Development (AHA!). Up until last night, I ignorantly assumed that people were making ironic Styx references when they used "Kilroy Was Here" when it turns out it's a popular American expression dating back to WWII. Geez. Leave it to wikipedia to provide much needed context. Mr. Roboto inadvertently resonates with me because of Graeme Base's 1989 children's puzzle/mystery book The Eleventh Hour, in which someone eats all the food at Horace the Elephant's 11th birthday and all his guests are suspects. It's full of elaborately complex clues, lavishly detailed illustrations, and a sealed section at the back which reveals the big mystery. I spent hours poring over this book and still ended up half-guessing, then all out sneaking a peek at the sealed section, painstakingly reading it without actually breaking the seal, which is still intact today. If you know the song and you've read the book, you might know what I'm talking about.

B.A. Baracus Band - Growing Pains [originally written by John Bettis]
Here's another guilty pleasure from the B.A. Baracus Band. As Long As We've Got Each Other, the theme to Growing Pains, was performed in most seasons by B.J. Thomas, probably best known for singing Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head, and Jennifer Warnes. I remember my sister watching the show because it had Teen Beat cover boy Leonardo DiCaprio in an early role. Mind you, this was in during the show's last season in 1991...

Julian Velard - Here I Go Again [originally by Whitesnake]
From a session on BBC 2's Dermot O'Leary, New York artist Julian Velard flips Whitesnake on its head by performing this cover, unless it's my imagination, in the style of Barry White. Barry Whitesnake?

Speak Low - Thriller [originally by Michael Jackson]
An early nightmare image from my childhood derives from my uncle showing me a VHS recording of the Thriller music video at my grandparents' house while on a sleepover. Basically just the scene of MJ in the woods turning in a werewolf (er, cat) while his girlfriend screams in terror... the eyes, the yellow eyes! I don't remember the song or even the rest of the music video after that point, so maybe I didn't even watch the whole thing. In fact, for a long time I thought I had just seen some excerpt of a feature-length Thriller movie, which I vowed to never see. And now it's considered one of the greatest music videos of all-time. Petra Haden does an amazing a cappella cover of Thriller, but my favourite version is this wah-chicka-wah/Hammond organ/Shaft-like instrumental funk cover by Speak Low. It always grabs me right when the horns make their entrance and never lets go.

Robin McKelle - Abracadabra [originally by Steve Miller Band]
This is a fantastic big band jazz cover by relative newcomer Robin McKelle. When I was talking about the Mini-Pops the other day, I can't believe I forgot about Abracadabra, which introduced me to the Steve Miller Band long before I heard songs like Rock'n Me, The Joker, or Take the Money and Run. I'm flying back home for Thanksgiving (next Monday for Canadians) and I'm going to dig up that Mini-Pops cassette in the basement.

Reel Big Fish & Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer - Don't You Want Me [originally by Human League]
Can't believe at forgot this one. A popular singalong on roadtrips for my sister and I by virtue of being one of the few duets on any mixtape, ignoring the creepy connotations of kids singing this (not unlike the Mini-Pops). When I was about 8, the Yellow Pages had this automated music trivia quiz I used to call all the time where they would play a song clip and ask multiple choice questions about it, answering with the touchtone phone. On one of these quizzes the clip was Don't You Want Me and that's when I learned the artist was Human League after enlisting in some help from my mom.

The City on Film - Come on Eileen [originally by Dexys Midnight Runners]
An acoustic guitar and violin cover sung in loving tribute of one of the most enduring one-hit wonders of the 80s.

Tori Amos - I Ran [originally by Flock of Seagulls]
In my mind, Tori Amos is basically her own subsection of covers. This Flock of Seagulls cover is from her 2005 tour, in which she devoted one section of her concert to playing covers that fans could vote for in advance on her website. Six of these shows were recorded and released as The Original Bootlegs and featured covers such as Aerosmith's Dream On, Oasis' Don't Look Back in Anger, and George Michael's Father Figure.

The Wrong Trousers - Video Killed the Radio Star [originally by The Buggles]
The Wrong Trousers - Handle With Care [originally by the Traveling Wilburys]
Lastly, but certainly not leasty... The Wrong Trousers, who I've mentioned in a previous post because of their great cover of Such Great Heights. Since then, I bought their debut CD off CD Baby and loved it. I'd describe their sound as joyful, but not cloying. Their covers were a promising indicator of the quality of their originals, which are awesome. This was a request from Boyhowdy over at CLD who heard their Video Killed the Radio Star recently and was wowed. I completely overlooked this when compiling my earlier 80s post and glad he reminded me because it's definitely worthy of attention. He also alerted me to their Traveling Wilburys cover that I didn't know about. Thanks! The cover world can always use more Wilburys covers. The Wrong Trousers first gained attention with a youTube video of them as teenage buskers covering The Buggles. As a mandolin, harp, and upright bass trio, there's the immediate threat of being dismissed as a novelty, but their music is full of heart and major talent to be reckoned with. In fact, one of their members was accepted into UCLA this year and is currently studying mandolin with a major in Ethnommusicology! I think they've got a new EP or LP due soon and I'll snap it up as soon as I can. Technically, Video Killed the Radio Star was released in 1979, but it made 80s history after becoming the first music video to ever be played on MTV when the channel debuted in 1981, at the same time cementing its place in Trivial Pursuit for ever more.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In Today's Harvey Danger news...

Some notable news from the world of Fong Songs fave, Harvey Danger:

If Rock Band 2 is your thing, Harvey Danger's Cream and Bastards Rise was released today as a downloadable track. That's pretty awesome. Last month on the HD forums, Harvey Danger guitarist/pianist/Microsoft employee Jeff Lin mentioned they had to provide seven different versions of the song to make up the final Rock Band track. I don't have the game nor envision getting it in the foreseeable future, but on a lark I downloaded demos of Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero Aerosmith just to see if it was possible to play with no guitar controller... though obviously not that satisfying in the rock star sense (imagine Keytar Hero), it's bizarrely entertaining and challenging, not to mention surprisingly intuitive. I was able to muddle 75% through Walk This Way (feat. Run DMC) on hard before getting slaughtered at the guitar solo.

Harvey Danger - Cream and Bastards Rise Reprise
The original Cream and Bastards Rise was from Harvey Danger's 3rd album Little by Little..., which has been available as a free download from their site since its release in 2005. This radically different version of the song appears on the bonus disc, which you got if you purchased the physical album. I'd love to hear more songs like this in Rock Band. Someone needs to make an Indie Rock Band or something.

Last week, it was also announced that Barsuk Records would be re-issuing Death Cab for Cutie's debut album Something About Airplanes as a deluxe 10th anniversary edition CD, which will feature "extensive liner notes" by Harvey Danger vocalist Sean Nelson. The set will also include a bonus disc with a "recently-unearthed" recording of DCfC's first ever show in Seattle. Harvey Danger happened to be the headlining act at that February 1998 gig at the Crocodile Café and Sean Nelson joined DCfC to sing lead vocals on a cover of The Smiths' Sweet and Tender Hooligan. That whole shaboodle is due out November 25th. Mark your calendars.

Finally, last Friday a stripped down Harvey Danger played a live show at Neumo's in Seattle that was recorded by Seattle radio station KEXP. It was just Jeff on piano and Sean on vocals, plus a couple special guests. Fortunately for our purposes, they also performed a couple covers including this one that surprised me:

Harvey Danger - Bone Machine (feat. Ryann Donnelly) [originally by the Pixies]
Sean Nelson is joined by Ryann Donnelly, lead singer of the Schoolyard Heroes on this piano & vocals Pixies cover. She sings the Kim Deal bits.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

80s Cover Weekend

Lately I've been resting on my laurels, so to speak. By laurels, I mean couch. By resting, I mean playing my new X-Box. I also feel that lately I've been posting too much Ben Folds this, Amanda Palmer that, and White Stripes blah. So it's back to basics with some regular Fong Songs cover content. Right now I'm in the middle of an 80's kick, so let's make it an All 80's Cover Weekend! Ah, the eighties... a whole decade of guilty pleasures. But why feel guilty about it? These are awesome songs.

The Dan Band - Gloria/Mickey [originally by Umberto Tozzi/Toni Basil]
When collecting music became a bit of an obsession, it was a challenge to dig up songs heard on childhood camping trips based on half-remembered lyrics embedded in my head. In retrospect, many of the songs came from the Footloose and Flashdance soundtracks, but it took me years to figure that out. One song that particularly bugged me for a long time was about "some girl named Gloria and a telephone". Turns out it was Laura Branigan's 1982 hit Gloria, which I just learned is a cover itself! The original is in Italian by Umberto Tozzi released in 1979. This cover is by the Dan Band who you may know from their appearance in Old School singing a profanity laden cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart. Their debut album The Dan Band LIVE! includes that and lots of similarly incongruous boy-sings-girl covers.

B.A. Baracus Band - Total Eclipse of the Heart [originally by Bonnie Tyler]
The B.A. Baracus Band is a cover band from Ontario that cover 80s TV themes and hit singles "using only a guitar, djembe, solid harmonies and kazoos". Active since 1997, I got one of their albums on CD Baby and if you check the media/sounds section of their official site, you may just find a full live album for download.

Shawn Mullins - Wake Me Up Before You Go Go [originally by Wham!]
A popular cassette with my sister and I back in the day was the Minipops, basically an 80s version of Kidz Bop: children's covers of sometimes inappropriate adult hit songs. But cover songs are an alien concept when you're little, and to your young inexperienced ears the original and the cover are basically interchangeable. When I think about it now I'm sure the Minipops were my introduction to Wham! In fact, this is the exact album we owned. No doubt, my first exposure to Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Tears for Fears too!

Katy Perry - Head Over Heels [originally by Tears for Fears]
Katy "Kissed a Girl" Perry was on BBC 2's Dermot O'Leary show last weekend playing an acoustic version of her hit song and this Tears for Fears cover. Not too shabby. Today, Canadian rocker Sam Roberts is the scheduled guest and I can't wait to find out what cover he pulls out!

Danni Carlos - Sowing the Seeds of Love [originally by Tears for Fears]
A nice bossa cover from Brazilian artist Danni Carlos.

Jaded Heart - Easy Lover [originally by Phil Collins & Philip Bailey]
A Swedish German glam metal band. Sweet.

D-Sailors - Beds are Burning [originally by Midnight Oil]
D-Sailors - We Built This City (feat. Wick Slick) [originally by Starship]
We Built This City has been maligned as one of the worst songs in history for its hypocritical anti-corporate message. Not to mention for a song about building a city on rock and roll, it decidedly does not rock nor roll. Marconi plays the mamba? Add in the radio announcer bit and you've got a full scale disaster, right? All that aside, I love this song. Seriously. Unironically. Then again, I love MacArthur Park too. D-Sailors are a German punk band who contributed these two awesome covers to the Punk Chartbusters series. In fact, these are two of my favourite all-time punk covers. Fun factoid: We Built This City was co-written by Bernie Taupin, long-time songwriting partner of Elton John.

Inspection 12 - St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion) [originally performed by John Parr]
Another 80s classic, written by David Foster for Rick Hansen's legendary Man in Motion tour. It was also on the soundtrack of the film of the same name.

Glen Phillips - I Want a New Drug [originally by Huey Lewis & The News]
Atta Boy Skip - Ghostbusters [originally by Ray Parker, Jr.]
Huey Lewis successfully sued Ray Parker, Jr. for plagiarizing I Want a New Drug with Ghostbusters. Somewhat hilariously, a few years ago Parker counter-sued after Lewis breached his confidentiality agreement by discussing the lawsuit on a VH1 special. Oops!