Agony Shorthand

Monday, November 14, 2005

God, I haven’t knuckled down and cranked out a good dumb list on this site in a year or more. It took about 5-6 minutes of pondering to come up with 10 of the best rocknroll cover songs known to me, versions that could be said to beat or tie the originals. How about that? Am I missing anything?

1. “Ain’t Nothin’ To Do” – GREEN RIVER (originally performed by The Dead Boys) -- This roaring ear-bleeder so handily beats its forefather and every other song the Dead Boys performed that I've never played the Dead Boys since I first heard it. In 1987. From a rare 45, and also available on the "Rehab Doll" CD.
2. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – ALEX CHILTON (originally performed by The Rolling Stones) -- Loose and raw reworking of a great song that was only 2 years old when a solo, pre-BIG STAR Chilton opened it up into something almost funky in 1970. Totally special and unique take on an arena classic.
3. “The Way I Walk” – THE CRAMPS (originally performed by Jack Scott) -- Sure, like you I heard the Cramps version first, and it's still probably the single best thing they ever waxed outside of "Human Fly" & "Twist & Shout-Drug Train".
4. “Hands In My Pocket” – MIRRORS (originally performed by the Velvet Underground as “Guess I’m Falling In Love”) -- The best Velvets revival band of theirs and maybe of any era, doing tribute to a world-class guitar churner & drum thumper.
5. “Strip Club” – WORLD OF POOH (originally performed by 100 Flowers) -- Curveball gender reversal with fey, plaintive vocals from Barbara Manning about lonely longing for a strip club waitress. Better than the original? I think so.
6. “No Values” – MEAT PUPPETS (originally performed by Black Flag) -- A total spoof, with Curt Kirkwood bringing back his godawful banshee scream vocals to take take the piss out of the 'Flag on the Lovedoll Superstar soundtrack. This works as a killer, unintelligible hardcore song or as a straight-up laff -- I'll take both.
7. “Penny Lane” – BETTER BEATLES (originally performed by The Beatles) -- Thanks to Scott at Crud Crud, this rockets onto this dumb list as a version miles better than the intolerable original -- a weird, vamped unknoting of the twee song into something very robotic and odd. A true slice of early 80s American DIY genius.
8. “Moonlight on Vermont” – CLAW HAMMER (originally performed by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band) - Don't ever forget the 'Hammer, one of the great lost bands of the 1990s. They covered so many heroes so incredibly well -- Hampton Grease Band, Brian Eno, Patti Smith - but this b-side from 1989's probably their tribute masterwork.
9. “I’ve Got the Blues” – COME (originally performed by the Rolling Stones) -- Stone dead nailed-it version of this Stones downer from an early Come B-side; easily one of the original band's best spiritual two-guitar heirs.
10. “Former Airline” – TYRADES (originally performed by Wire) -- And a surprise entry on the list, a friggin' amazing cover of this 2nd-LP-era Wire 45 from a female-fronted Chicago garage punk act I'm not sure I'm even that wild about. Better than the original, just red hot and twisted into a coiled-up snakepile. From some 7" the last year or so.