31 May 2005, 7:43 pm

Recently I’ve been discussing the notion of getting into music sdrawkcab with some friends. Here are a few of the dewollof ev’I sliart:

Big Star from The Replacements
I knew enough to make an educated guess that the music playing before the Replacements took the stage (to play one of the sorriest shows I ever saw) was Big Star, but I’d never actually heard the band before that night.

The Beatles from Guadalcanal Diary
This is stretching the point a bit. . .when I heard Guadalcanal Diary’s 2×4 I already owned copies of the Beatles “blue” and “red” collections. But I also thought the radio songs represented the best the Fabs had to offer, and those 4 sides were all I had. GD’s mostly-faithful reading of “And Your Bird Can Sing” helped me convince me I had more ’sploring to do.

Velvet Underground from R.E.M.
Not that I didn’t have a healthy appreciation for the Velvets when Stipe and crew were closing their shows with “After Hours”. . .I did. And this may be hard to comprehend in 2005. But R.E.M. in the ’80s played Velvets songs with far less ironic detachment and world-weariness, and far more emotional fragility, than the Velvets themselves. Without the hipster posture, the brilliance of the songs — especially on that 3rd album, which R.E.M. covered about half of at one point or another — was just that much more apparent. It helped me get from like to love with the VU.

David Bowie from Bauhaus
David Bowie on the radio back then was “Let’s Dance” (yuck), “Fame” (which I always liked), “Major Tom” (which I was sick of) and “Suffragette City” (ditto — it’s still about my least favorite tune on Ziggy). It was a snapshot that did a great disservice to a wide-ranging talent, and — despite the “wham bam” line and the drugginess of Major Tom in his tin can, it’s a tame snapshot for an artist who’s often been genuinely subversive.
Bauhaus’s cover is one of the word’s most useless — the guitars are more distorted (though not heavier), but mostly it’s as close a copy as they could manage. Murphy is clearly aping Bowie’s delivery to the very best of his ability on it. The track sounded nothing like Bauhaus, and added nothing to the song that wasn’t there to start with. But it was a damn good commercial for the real thing.

Misfits from Metallica
I bet I’m not alone in this one if folks are honest. But I actually had Diamondhead and Budgie records, and I still don’t think I’ve heard Holocaust.

King Crimson from April Wine
OK, now I’m just being silly. And exposing myself to deserved ridicule. But I did, in fact, hear the venerable Cannuck rockers’ take on “21st Century Schizoid Man” well before I heard the original.

8 comments on “sdrawkcab”

  1. Paula

    The first one that leaps to mind is Syd Barrett through REM. They’d covered “Dark Globe” in concert, and I was really taken with the song, which Stipe had prettified. Hearing the real deal was an ear-opener.

  2. editrix

    I had a parallel entree to the VU via R.E.M., but my exploration of Big Star began with This Mortal Coil. I’m sure there must be many others.

  3. Paula

    Oh, I thought of another one, and this is a weird one. My first exposure to VU was…Rachel Sweet! She covered “New Age” on her second album, and did a crackerjack job, too. It was the thing that inspired me to check out the Velvets (well, that and Creem magazine always going on about Lou Reed).

    Sadly, I think that album is gone forever, and CD retrospectives of her short career leave this li’l gem out.

  4. summervillain

    Wellity wellity. That’d be Protect the Innocent, no? I fished a copy of that outta a bargain bin in the last year or so, coz I vaguely remembered a Trouser Press write up, and besides, it was a Stiff Record. Anyway, I reckon you can be hooked up in some form or another.

  5. Paula

    Dude! Yeah!

  6. Ezra

    Good topic. First that comes to mind is The Kinks from Yo La Tengo (specifically “Oklahoma, U.S.A.” on Fakebook). Obviously, I heard the Kinks before, but didn’t pay much attention.

    Worst that comes to mind is Kurtis Blow from They Might Be Giants.

    Most genre-hopping is Al Green from the Talking Heads.

    I could probably do this all day.

  7. rob

    trolling through yr old posts - how about wire from r.e.m.? their cover of “strange” on document made me go back to pink flag.

    thanks for the mention the other day.


  8. summervillain

    good one! r.e.m. is a clear winner, and no one’s even mentioned Pylon (or Aerosmith).

    I was happy to find your site. I was a fan of “You Could Do Worse” way back when.


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