October 1, 2009

Back To School Part II

First, a report from one of your classmates on how to school a wingnut evangelist:

Bravo, young lady! You deserve an A for atheism.

Okay, attention class, this next subject is a fun one! It's a survey of the plethora of cover songs within the spacerock realm, whether it's spacerock bands covering songs not normally considered to be part of the genre, or bands not normally considered to be spacerock indulging in a little lysergic pleasure. It allows us listeners and aficionados to peek into the psyches of these artists and discover more about them by exposing their personal tastes and influences - after all, you wouldn't cover a song you hate, would you? Except ironically, of course, and there's a modicum of irony or satire in spacerock (look at Hawkwind, for example), but it's definitely not the modus operandi. Seeing which covers these bands choose, and how they choose to cover them - whether in sincere homage or by completely dismantling the song to reassemble it their own way - helps us to discover the lineage between these musical movements, develop contexts and histories, and better understand the solar systems and larger galaxies of spacerock.

In this segment we also get to break three rules of the Spacerock Continuum: we can play the same artist in the same set, and we can play two versions of the same song in the same set. AND, we'll be going a bit over the two-hour mark this time, so get comfortable class, this will be journey of discovery for us all.

Ready? Begin:

We start in an obvious place (at least for those of us familiar with the LA supergroup featuring members of Failure and Tool who formed purely to put out a one-off collection of radically reinterpreted cover songs) with The Replicants and their take on a "silly" Paul McCartney & Wings ditty, and a track from Pink Floyd's spacey soundtrack for the obscure 70s film 'More'. Speaking of the Floyd, we follow with Japanese electronicists Color Filter and their dreamy version of one of my favorite Floyd songs ever from the Meddle album, and Red Temple Spirits doing another track from 'More' as well as a track from 'Umma Gumma'. We then have two drastically different versions of a 13th Floor Elevators' chestnut from Oneida and Primal Scream. Red Temple Spirits put out more than their fair share of covers and here we have another one from them in the form of their version of a Spacemen 3 gem, which was actually a cover of a 13th Floor Elevators track. Confused yet? How about Spacemen 3 themselves (who put out and album coincidentally called 'Sound of Confusion') with an unrecognizable cover of a Sun Ra song? Speaking of the Spacemen, next up are two of the best tracks from a tribute album to the opiated astral travelers from Frontier and Asteroid #4.

Okay, let's get a bit more down to earth (as much as we ever do in spacerock): next up, The Gun Club's fitting rendition of an oldie-goldie from Creedence Clearwater Revival, followed by True West making their acquaintance with Syd Barrett's friend Sam and Bauhaus meeting an entirely different Sam, a friend of Marc Bolan and T. Rex. Paying tribute to The Rolling Stones' ill-advised foray into sci-fi rock are 80s goth favorites Danse Society, then Maynard James Keenan from Tool feting Bauhaus survivors Love & Rockets with his side project Puscifer. Also from that album of L&R covers is Film School sounding reverential to their obvious forebears. Also proudly displaying their influences are Jessamine covering Suicide and Loop doing Neil Young. We then have a bizarre take on another Neil Young classic from The Flaming Lips, as well as their surprisingly faithful rendition of Queen's quintessential (if overplayed) rock opera. Another surprise choice is Husker Du, here mangling a slice of Byrdsian psychedelia. Then Th' Faith Healers demonstrate where they tuned up their motorik by covering vintage krautrockers Can.

In addition to Pink Floyd and the 13th Floor Elevators, another iconic band to cover is, of course, The Velvet Underground, and here are just a couple from 80s experimental stalwarts Clock DVA and Japan (REM was too obvious). Another is, even more obviously, David Bowie, and here we have the late, great Zen Guerilla paying debt to a classic Ziggy Stardust glamrocker (which I had the tearjerking pleasure to witness live on the very day of Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson's untimely death). Then we come full circle back to the Replicants with their reinterpretation of Bowie's finest epic.

Last, but certainly not least, Built To Spill's Doug Martsch conjures the god of thunder guitar on Neil Young's most torrential opus. Exhausting but not exhaustive, this set is by no means meant to be comprehensive - there are simply to many choice covers from which to choose. What are some of your favorites not included here, class? Discuss.

The following tracks should appear in the player below:

Silly Love Songs - Replicants - Replicants
Ibiza Bar - Replicants - Replicants
Fearless - Color Filter - I Often Think In Music
Nile Song - Red Temple Spirits - Dancing To Restore An Eclipsed Moon
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun - Red Temple Spirits - If Tomorrow I Were Leaving For Lhasa I Wouldn't Stay A Minute More
Slip Inside This House - Oneida - Come On Everybody Let's Rock
Slip Inside This House - Primal Scream - Screamadelica
Rollercoaster - Red Temple Spirits - If Tomorrow I Were Leaving For Lhasa I Wouldn't Stay A Minute More
Rollercoaster - Spacemen 3 - Sound Of Confusion
Starship - Spacemen 3 - The Perfect Prescription
Hey Man - Frontier - A Tribute To Spacemen 3
Losing Touch With My Mind - Asteroid #4 - A Tribute To Spacemen 3
Run Through The Jungle - The Gun Club - Miami
Lucifer Sam - True West - Hollywood Holiday
Telegram Sam - Bauhaus - In The Flat Field
2000 Light Years From Home - Danse Society - Heaven Is Waiting
Holiday On The Moon - Puscifer - A Tribute To Love & Rockets
An American Dream - Film School - A Tribute To Love & Rockets
Cheree - Jessamine - Another Fictionalized History
Cinnamon Girl - Loop - A Tribute To Neil Young
After The Gold Rush - Flaming Lips - A Tribute To Neil Young
Bohemian Rhapsody - Flaming Lips - A Tribute To Queen
Eight Miles High - Husker Du - single
Mother Sky - Th' Faith Healers - Lido
Black Angels Death Song - Clock DVA - Advantage
All Tomorrow's Parties - Japan - Quiet Life
Moonage Daydream - Zen Guerilla - Trance States In Tongues
The Bewlay Brothers - Replicants - Replicants
Cortez The Killer - Built To Spill - Live