#322 with Russ Van Cleave: Razorcake Podcast

Jul 04, 2014

#322 with Russ Van Cleave: Razorcake Podcast


People seem to either love or hate cover songs, the re-recording of a song by some artist other than themselves. Personally, I think they’re great, if only for all of the cool music I’ve discovered because of some cover a band did. My first exposure to Jesus & Mary Chain was via The Pixies, my first exposure to Wire was via R.E.M and my first exposure to The Nils was via Sinkhole. Tracking down the original versions of the songs that appeared on the Elvis Costello album Almost Blue kept me busy for years. And I’m still not done. Bad Brains and I have something in common in that we both got into reggae music via The Clash. There are numerous other examples.

Then there are the covers by artists that got me into other artists whose covers got me into other artists – a whole extra dimension in a tangled web of great tunes. And, of course, there are the covers of songs that make up for the sub-par version written and recorded by the original artist (or “artist” as the case may be). When I worked at WBUL (USF college radio), I had a couple friends who did a show called “The Cover Corner” (I think) where they played only songs by artists that had been written and recorded first by some other artist. So, I thought it would be a good idea to revive that concept here. In fact, I had to pare down this list by quite a bit – so much so that there is bound to be another installment or two in the future. Enjoy.

-Russ Van Cleave
Illustration by Vee Liu

Fay Wray, “Dead Flowers” from V/A No Idea 100: Redefiling Music (No Idea)
Parasites, “Both Sides Now” from Pair(Shredder)
Drive-By Truckers, “Rebels” from The Fine Print (A Collection of Oddities and Rarities) (New VVest)
Mandingo, “Romeo Delight” from All The Songs You’ve Always Hated (Dr. Strange)
Tiltwheel, “Birds Fly (From A Whisper To A Scream)” from Hair-Brained Scheme Addicts (ADD)
Jim & Jesse, “Maybelline” from Y’All Come: The Essential Jim & Jesse (E-pick / Leg-assy)
Dinosaur Jr., “Hot Burrito #2” from Green Mind (Sigh-er)
Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band, “Rudes And Cheaps” from Promises To Deliver (ADD / Dead Broke / Eager Beaver)
Mark Lannegan, “Consider Me” from I’ll Take Care Of You (Lower-Than-Normal Pop)
Spraypaint, “Ain’t Gonna Take It” from Still Empty Me And Still Moving City (Oval)
Dan Padilla, “Between Planets” from Gleam Garden / Dan Padilla split 7” (Snuffy Smiles)
Clairmel, “Taste Of Cindy” from Boot And Bras 7” (No Idea)
Pink Lincolns, “Heroes” from Background Check (Hazzard)
Allergic To Bullshit, “I’m Not Ashamed” from You & Me, This Is What We're For And What We're For Is What We'll Get (Left Off The Dial)

Fay Wray: Ever since I first heard them some 15+ years ago, Fay Wray has been one of my favorite bands. Not only did they put some bitchin’ songs together on their two album discography, but they also recorded this cover of the Karl Hendricks Trio song “Dead Flowers”. I will plead ignorance on my knowledge of the Karl Hendricks Trio. I found a copy of Buick Elektra, the album from which this song was taken, and tried to get into them. There are some good songs on that record, but after hearing Fay Wray do “Dead Flowers”, I couldn’t listen to that song any other way.

Parasites: The Parasites have recorded some really great cover songs – “Last Caress”, “Paperback Writer” and “Suzanne” to name a few – but this version of the Joni Mitchell song, “Both Sides Now” might be my favorite. The awesome little Casio keyboard intro puts it over the top.

Drive-By Truckers: One of my favorite artists covering one of my favorite songs from another one of my favorite artists? I see nothing wrong with this. If you were perhaps unaware that this was a Tom Petty song then may I strongly recommend that you pick up a cheap, used copy of Southern Accents on vinyl.

Mandingo: “Romeo Delight” may be my favorite song from my favorite album by my favorite band. Do the math and you will find that my favorite band is Van Halen and my favorite Van Halen album is Women And Children First. When I first came across a copy of this seven inch in my buddy’s record collection I did a double take. Covering this song probably isn’t really “cool” to begin with, but in 1995, when Mandingo recorded this gem, it really, REALLY wasn’t cool. On the same 7” they also covered Huey Lewis and The Eagles. I’m sure they got death threats for weeks.

Tiltwheel: OK. If you’ve gotten past the part about Van Halen being my favorite band and you’re still here, don’t worry…it gets worse. This song hardly needs an intro anyway. Since you’re listening to this podcast, you undoubtedly own a copy of Hair-Brained Scheme Addictsand are well aware that this is a song by British new-wavers, The Icicle Works, right? I found a copy of the S/T album on which this song originally appeared and listened to it a few times just because of Tiltwheel but I’ve since given up.

Jim & Jesse: This is one of two Chuck Berry songs I’m aware of that this legendary bluegrass duo recorded (the other being “Memphis, TN”). This one is only slightly better.

Dinosaur Jr.: I wore out a copy of Green Mind in high school. When I picked up a copy of the re-issue many years later I was stoked to see that one of the bonus tracks was a cover by one of my favorite songwriters – Mr. Gram Parsons. The original version of this song appears on the highly-recommended, desert-island album The Gilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band: Hopefully this isn’t news to any of you, but Nato and the BDB put out one hell of an album last year. What really sucks is that it’s hard to talk about this song without it turning into a bummer. Bent Outta Shape did the original and I think it is easily one of the best songs that has been recorded in the past couple decades. Nato is probably the only guy I can think of right now who could’ve pulled off a cover of something like this. And I’m glad he did because this song deserves to be heard and should not be forgotten.

Mark Lannegan: Some of you may be familiar with Mark Lannegan of Screaming Trees fame. I love it when somebody puts out a good album full of covers that show their range of influence and appreciation of music. I think this album does that. This cover of an Eddie Floyd song (for which I have still never found the original) is one of the best cuts on the record.

Spraypaint: This is a cover of the Tom Robinson Band song “Ain’t Gonna Take It” by Spraypaint, a great band from Ojiya, Nigata in Japan. I got this CD when I was in Japan the first time and I’ve always loved this cover.

Dan Padilla: Here’s part one of the Jesus & Mary Chain covers. I love Jesus & Mary Chain and Dan Padilla kills this version. The original song is from the album Automatic which is the first J&MC album I heard.

Clairmel: And here’s Clairmel with part two. “Taste of Cindy” was from the first J&MC LP, Psychocandy.

Pink Lincolns: I didn’t have a third J&MC cover to play but I figured this is just as good. This cover of the David Bowie song first appears on the Sumo Fumes 2 7” that Stiff Pole put out. I just have it on this awesome compilation of singles and comp songs that Hazzard Records put out. The original song “Heroes” appears on the Bowie album of the same name. It’s not so surprising that the Pink Lincolns would be into covering a David Bowie song, but I’ve always been blow away by how badass this version is.

Allergic To Bullshit: I only saw this band once. They rolled through town with the Onion Flavored Rings and ruled. I got this seven inch and have always really enjoyed the Bobby “Blue” Bland cover that closed out the record. I’ve never heard the original version, but that’s the great thing about covers. Ever since I heard this song, I’ve been on the lookout for a good Bobby Bland comp and someday I’ll find one. When I do, there is a good chance that the list of great things I have to listen to will expand by exactly one record and I’ll have Allergic To Bullshit, in part, to thank for it. I have also just realized that I played this song once before on a previous Razorcake podcast so please enjoy it for the second time.