Friday, April 24, 2009

Andrew the Bird covers Kermit the Frog (en français)

Yesterday Andrew Bird made an appearance on the Paris radio show Le Fou du roi performing a fantastic rendition of the Kermit the Frog standard Bein' Green, in French no less! He was accompanied by in-house pianist Richard Lornac.Andrew Bird - Bein' Green [originally by Kermit the Frog; written by Joe Raposo]

He also performed one of my faves from his latest album Noble Beast:
Andrew Bird - Oh No (live on Le Fou du roi)

Tonight his European tour kicks off:
04/24 Bourges, France - Theatre Jacques Coeur
04/25 Rennes, France - Ubu
04/27 Paris, France - La Cigale
04/28 Nancy, France - L'Autre Canal
04/29 Nantes, France - Olympic
04/30 Lyon, France - Epicerie Moderne
05/01 Cologne, Germany - Luxor
05/03 Stockholm, Sweden - Strand
05/04 Copenhagen, Denmark - Lille Vega
05/05 Hamburg, Germany - Uebel & Gefahrlich
05/06 Berlin, Germany - Admiralsplast 101
05/07 Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Paradiso
05/09 Brussels, Belgium - Les Nuit de Botanique Cirque Royal
05/10 Bristol, England -Thekla
05/11 London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
05/13 Manchester, England - Academy 2
05/14 Glasgow, Scotland - Oran Mor

Here's another cover of Bein' Green I love performed by fellow Muppet, Rowlf. Useless fact #37: Rowlf and Andrew Bird have both played doctors on TV.

Rowlf the Dog - Bein' Green [originally by Kermit the Frog]
Yep, A Bird and a dog covering a frog. Sounds like the start of a Fozzie joke...

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Bird Dog [originally by the Everly Brothers]
Wocka Wocka Wocka!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Greasy Batch of Covers

The Boy Least Likely To - You're The One That I Want [originally from Grease]
This promo release showed up in my inbox a few days ago and I'm happy to share it since I often lament the dearth of covers from musicals. This one's decent, though not particularly groundbreaking. It's the b-side to the band's first single When Life Gives Me Lemons, I Make Lemonade from their sophomore album that was released recently. Though I'm not really a huge Grease fan, there are definitely a few other Grease covers and such hiding in my collection.

Less Than Jake - Greased Lightning [originally from Grease]
In 1996, Florida punk band Less Than Jake released Greased, an 8-song covers EP of all Grease covers.

The Vandals - Summer Lovin' [originally from Grease]
Apparently punk bands love their Grease. This one's from The Vandals on their 1990 album Fear of a Punk Planet. Moon Unit Zappa contributed guest vocals to the cover, which is actually more of a parody considering the reworked lyrics. This was the also the first album after drummer Josh Freese joined the band. You've probably been reading about him in the last couple months because of the bizarre, hilarious, and successful self-promotion of his solo album with a tiered pricing scheme. Just last week a teen fan splurged on the $20,000 package, which included an impromptu pizza party at Mark Mothersbaugh's, mingling with Slash, mini-golf with Maynard James Keenan, a song written about him, and a lot more... though there seems to be tragic subtext to how this teen was able to pony up the cash.

HLAH - Summer Nights [originally from Grease]
This is probably my favourite of this batch of covers. From New Zealand rockers HLAH (Head Like a Hole) who took their name from a Nine Inch Nails song, but were later forced to abbreviate their name due to legal issues.

Party Ben - Ooh La La Summer Nights [cast of Grease vs. The Wiseguys]
A thoroughly listenable mash-up from generally dependable, sometimes brilliant Party Ben.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

O Happy Day!

Hope you all had a nice Easter weekend. I had an unbelievable Sunday surprise when the Easter bunny appeared in the form of cheery leather jacket-clad author bearing a basket full of blog hits. I knew something was up when visitor traffic quadrupled on Sunday, which is not altogether uncommon when I get get some link love from anybody, but my little geek heart nearly exploded when I saw the source of the incoming traffic:

neilhimself: @donttrythis Adam, billybob's erratic interview is completely and delightfully explained at

NEIL GAIMAN TWEETED MY BLOG, BWAHAHAHA! Then my nearly exploded little geek heart melted into a warm puddle of goo when I doubly realized he was tweeting my blog to ADAM SAVAGE. Yep, who-ya-gonna-call-Mythbusters Adam Savage! I don't care what you say, I am at complete liberty to geek out all I want (and I have). I took great comfort in Neil's later tweets that he would have totally geeked out during his interview on Q back in March had he known beforehand that Jian Ghomeshi was in Moxy Früvous. Neil, a closet Frühead? Priceless! He even has a Bargainville cassette that is long overdue for a CD upgrade.

Some related linkage:

  • Video of Neil's interview on Q by Jian Ghomeshi during press for Coraline (notice he does not freak when referred to as an "author")

  • A friend visiting from out of town gave me the heads up on this eerily relevant video bit I was unaware of: Jeremy Fisher's cover of the Q theme with made-up lyrics! The original theme was created by fellow Canuck musician Luke Doucet.

  • some recent rumour-mongering is pegging Emmy Rossum as a possible candidate in a Neil Gaiman Death film...

  • In a few weeks (on my birthday in fact) a musical adaptation of Coraline opens in New York with music by Magnetic Fields' Stephen Merritt. It runs from May 7 to June 20th, ticket info here. "What's There to Be Afraid Of? A conversation with the artists behind Coraline" including Merritt, David Greenspan (book writer), Leigh Silverman (director), and Jayne Houdyshell (Coraline) will be held Tuesday April 21st, debuting some songs from the musical. Info on that here.

  • Adam's informative Q&A with fellow Reddit users in conjunction with the new season of Mythbusters which premiered last week

  • if you have an hour to spare, Adam's talk on the nature of obsession is fantastically fascinating

  • This video of Adam channeling Penn Jillette makes me laugh every time

  • One of many reasons why Mythbusters is awesome: Rocket Car Pancake

  • And because I Just.Cannot.Let.This.Go.At.All... The AV Club just posted their "24 musicians who aced acting roles. Funnily enough Dwight Yoakam made the list for his role in fellow musician Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade. However, Billy Bob's hero Tom Petty did not make the list for his turn in Kevin Costner's The Postman. No, I would not ask Tom Petty about that.

Moxy Früvous - Maple Syrup Time [originally by Pete Seeger]
The joy of this song more or less describes accurately how I felt the other day. Also makes me want to boil and boil and boil tree sap all day long. Note: along with "Here comes the gravy!", "It's maple syrup time!" is a popular Canadian exclamation commonly shouted before hockey fights.

Moxy Früvous - Love Potion #9 Medley [originally by The Clovers]
As always, the Internet Live Archive is an invaluable resource for Moxy Früvous live, most of it with impeccable audio quality. This is one of my favourite live recordings, a spirited medley of Love Potion #9 that includes snippets of CSNY, The Bee Gees, Alanis Morrissette, and more.

Unfortunately, their heyday of live shows was around the age for me where the possibility of going to shows of your favourite bands was a completely foreign concept. The one opportunity I had was at the 2000 (I think?) Edmonton Folk Fest where I saw them perform Johnny Saucep'n on the main stage in between the set-ups of another band. Then I missed all their side stage workshops because of work, although I did have a friend who'd never heard of them rave how great they were (gee thanks!). Then of course came the indefinite hiatus that I'm still waiting to end. Maybe we can hope for a 25th anniversary tour in 2014... I'll mark my calendar. A couple years ago I did get to see half of the Früv perform as The Great Atomic Power at a free show in Toronto. Amusingly, this entire show was taped and I remember sitting right behind the taper with my cousin who I had dragged there. There seemed to only be about 40 people sitting around the public square and even then they just happened to be there because it was lunchtime. Regardless, great music.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jeremy Fisher Explains Billy Bob's Erratic Behaviour

As one would expect, Billy Bob Thornton and his Boxmasters were heckled and booed at Toronto's Massey Hall following his headline-making interview with CBC's Jian Ghomeshi. Three songs into the set opening for Willie Nelson (whom he's "never met"), he attempted to give his side of the story. Yesterday, The Boxmasters cancelled the last two stops on the Canadian tour because, according to his official website: "Boxmasters musician and crew down with the flu". Right.

There is a third side to what happened last week on the radio as Canadian singer-songwriter/homebrew animator Jeremy Fisher dished the scoop on what really happened:

That's the 4th episode of Fisher's youtube series For Real whose previous guests have included such luminaries as Colin Farrell, David Lee Roth, and most recently on the Easter edition, Mel Gibson. It's sort of like indie rock's answer to Weird Al's celebrity interviews on Al TV.

Jeremy Fisher - The Boxer (live) [originally by Simon & Garfunkel]
A live cover full of amusing banter and audience laughter that still manages to be poignant. The whole show recorded in Vancouver a few months ago is currently archived at CBC Radio 2's Concerts on Demand.

Jeremy Fisher - Solsbury Hill [originally by Pater Gabriel]
From a show recorded in Solana Beach, California hosted on the Live Archive (the only one in spite of his approval of tapers).

Jeremy Fisher - Harvest [originally by Neil Young]
From the double disc album of Neil Young covers Borrowed Tunes II by fellow Canadian artists.

By the way, lightning struck twice, this time over at CBC Radio 3 as host Tariq talked to musician-turned-ventriloquist, Shane Nelkin of The Awkward Stage... "Would you say that to Shari Lewis and Lambchop?"

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Gwen, Franz, Sugar Ray

A couple notable covers hit this week:

  • Franz Ferdinand was in BBC's Live Lounge doing their rendition of Womanizer, which is quickly attaining Toxic levels of cover versions. I say bring 'em on since I gotta admit I actually really like most of the Womanizer covers I've heard.
  • The reunited No Doubt cover Adam & The Ants' Stand and Deliver. I read a comment somewhere that Gwen is sounding more and more like Geddy Lee and it's totally true, a fact that threatens to become very distracting upon future No Doubt playcounts.
Here are some related covers that immediately sprung to mind:

Sugar Ray - Stand and Deliver [originally by Adam & The Ants]
I used to hear this blaring out of my sister's room and it eventually came a favourite of mine, years before I found out it was a cover. It's slavishly faithful, but irresistible.

Pinmonkey - Fly [originally by Sugar Ray]
An unexpected country cover of Sugar Ray's first hit from the same album as Stand and Deliver. I found this at used CD store while cover hunting on my recent Chicago trip.

Franz Ferdinand - What You Waiting For? [originally by Gwen Stefani]
Franz Ferdinand was on BBC's Live Lounge a few years ago with this Gwen Stefani cover, which was the first single from her debut album after going solo from No Doubt.

Divide & Kreate - Waiting For My Hash Pipe [Gwen Stefani vs. Weezer]
When I first heard What You Waiting For I couldn't help but notice the similarities to Weezer's Hash Pipe. Fortunately, people more talented than me mashed together this audio evidence.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jian vs. Billy Bob

Things got awkward then hostile as Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters were on CBC's Q being interviewed by Jian Ghomeshi:

Apparently he is not an actor and repeatedly likens himself to Tom Petty. "Would you say that to Tom Petty?" Also, Canadians audiences suck because we don't throw enough stuff at the band (though I'm sure Noel Gallagher was thrilled when he was assaulted on stage in Toronto). Entertaining in the most cringeworthy way. Poor bandmates... at the 9:05 mark of the video, watch Billy Bob offer up another zinger answer then the reaction shot of his bandmates says it all.

Check out the amusing tags on the youtube video:
billy bob thornton blow up cbc tv qtv jian ghomeshi radio vs ass of himself crazy joaquin phoenix boxmasters perez hilton willie nelson actor music oscars

The National Post talked to Jian after the interview here.


Also, next Sunday is the last weekend of The Wright Stuff in Toronto, the month long series of film screenings curated by Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright who's been in T.O. filming Scott Pilgrim. Fittingly, the final screening is a double feature of David Cronenberg's The Brood and Don McKellar's Last Night. Last Night is one of my favourite Canadian films, sort of the anti-Armageddon as several characters (including Cronenberg himself) prepare for the end of the world. It was cool to read that Last Night was an influence on Shaun of the Dead! Don McKellar will be a special guest at the sceening. Details here

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Classic Rock Covers

Here are bunch of great bands (and covers) that I've been meaning to write about for a while. It's about time they get their dues.

Shaka Labbits - That Thing You Do! [originally by The Wonders]
Reaching #7 on the Billboard charts in August 1964, this was the only hit for Erie, Pennsylvania band The Wonders. In 2003, the one hit wonder was revived in this irresistible cover by Japanese ska punk band Shaka Labbits.

Jackson Browne, Jewel, Lyle Lovett & Ghostface Killah - Walk Hard (All-Star Version) [originally by Dewey Cox]

Charlie Wadhams, Gus Seyffert & Eleni Mandell - Let's Duet [originally performed by Dewey Cox & Darlene Madison]

Dewey Cox - Starman [originally by David Bowie]
No doubt the most successful son of Springberry, Alabama, Dewey Cox was one of the most versatile and underrated performers in rock & roll, country, and disco history. The world still mourns his timely death in 2007, in fact it feels a little soon to even talk about it.

Stillwater - Hour of Need
Peter Frampton - Hour of Need
This is one of those tricky David Bowie/Mott the Hoople cover cases. The song was indeed written by Peter Frampton, but it was first recorded by unheralded 70's rockers Stillwater in 1973. Frampton himself wouldn't release his own version until nearly 20 years later.

Soundgarden - Big Bottom [originally by Spinal Tap]
A true Spinal Tap reunion is impossible in light of the tragic history of former drummers, but founding members David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls have nevertheless set a Guinness World Record for the most reunion shows in rock & roll history. In fact, the band intends to break up and reunite at every stop on their forthcoming tour, which kicks off in Vancouver on April 17th!

The Folksmen - Start Me Up [originally by The Rolling Stones]
The original Folksmen line-up of Jerry Palter, Alan Barrows, and Mark Shubb are also Guinness World Record holders for most reunion shows in folk music history, most notably at the 2003 Tribute Show to Irving Steinbloom. Coincidentally, their latest reunion tour also kicks off in Vancouver on April 17th. Decisions, decisions!