Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Who Covered In Cheese

February's issue of Mojo Magazine has The Who as the cover stars - there's a big special about the band in the mag and a free CD called The Who Covered. It's 15 covers of some of the Who's best known tunes, from a very wide selection of bands. It kicks off with The Jam doing Disguises, and goes on to include songs from The Flaming Lips, The Greenhornes, Petra Haden (from her accapella version of The Who Sell Out), The Waco Brothers, and Richard Thompson. It's a very nice listen, full of variety. There are several straight versions that don't veer too much from the originals, some inspired creativity - hello Petra! - and some straight up cheeze. I mean cheezy like easy - go go boots, swingin' '60s, Bacharach and Quincy Jones' bossa nova - yeah, baby! First up is Sandy Nelson's Pinball Wizard. He was a session drummer in the '50s and '60s - played sessions for Phil Spector and Gene Vincent - who was best known for his instrumental cover tunes. Driven by some tight and funky drums, it starts off as you'd expect, but soon it's all cheese guitar and horns playing the vocal lines. The chorus is brilliant - all massed horns and big organ, and it slides effortlessly into the mid section's laid back "feel me, hear me, see me" break. Truly swinging. Next up is Lord Sitar's I Can See For Miles. It was rumored for a while to be an alias of George Harrison, but in actual fact it was another session player, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. Released in the late '60s, it was a blatant attempt to cash in on the sitar's risiing prominence in western pop - thank you, the Beatles. It is also an incredibly swinging take, with the psychedelic, Brit rock of Carnaby Street clashing with the tablas and sitar of India. Very shagadelic.

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