Got You Covered

Prepare To Meet Your Re-Makers
The Inmates

When you do a cover version of someone else's song you have to treat it like you are sleeping with someone else's wife. You don't want to be too obvious, you don't want to get involved with something old and tired that has a lot of baggage and do it so well that just once isn't enough. What happens most of the time in this situation is that it ends up being forgotten about because the parties involved are too embarrassed that it ever occurred. Covering a classic song? That takes balls, so in order to pull that off without getting pistol whipped in a rage of cathartic jealously by the guy whose life you ruined with this shit, you have to go into this with the expectation that you are going to own it when you are done with it by doing something unique. The Inmates weren't home wreckers, they were more like your mom's new boyfriend-they did the same stuff your dad did but much cooler because he actually wants you to like him.
The Inmates were lumped in with Punk and New Wave like everything else from 1979 that didn't have a 6 minute guitar solo and an album sleeve inspired by a gram of psilocybin laced mushrooms. What they really were was a bad-ass bar band who were not looking to make something new, but to dress up mid '60s rock with leather and a bottle of mid shelf bourbon creating a sound that reached out from your speakers and grabbed you by the throat long enough to shake the wuss out of anyone within earshot. "Dirty Water" was a severe and unapologetic overhaul of a dated top 20 hit, and they nailed it. The difference in the sound between The Standells original recording of "Dirty Water" and The Inmates remake of the song was the quality of the water they were singing about. The initial entry from 1966 was menacing by glorifying the polluted riverbanks of Boston's Charles River and hiding references to The Boston Strangler in it's murky reverb. By the time 1979 rolled around, the rivers of the world's large industrial cities were toxic fire spawning death flows, so any redoing of this song needed to reflect the current state of affairs by being as hard as the edge of a busted beer mug and having a badge of honor quality, therefore, avoiding sounding like you are the opening band at a No Nukes concert held in the parking lot of a stereo store. The band stamped these badges, town by town, making city specific versions (re-recording an entire stanza-not just dropping the location in an empty space in the song) with the name of the local river pressed on promotional 12" vinyl for local radio play. So, not only did Baltimore, Houston, Cleveland and the rest of industrial America get an "oh wow!" version of the song, they were guaranteed a shout along showstopper when the band played a local venue.

Listen to "Dirty Water"

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The Inmates - Dirty Water - The Very Best of The Inmates - Dirty Water

David Lindley and El-Rayo X

The dream date with David Lindley begins and ends much differently than the bar crawl we just had with The Inmates. Lindley arrives promptly in a second hand pickup with flowers picked minutes ago from your neighbor's garden. Dressed in eclectic thrift shop gear, he whisks you away for an ironically original evening of leftovers and reruns. This is the genius of David Lindley and El-Rayo X, crafting magic out of previously recorded material, chosen with deft to suit his voice, style and playing ability.

Lindley is a crack musician and a master of every single string instrument, however he and his band refuse to be caught in the trappings of virtuoso pretension, instead focusing on creating an entertaining aural ruckus, peppered with layers of different instruments. Every album the band released beginning in the early 1980's (After Lindey left Jackson Browne's band) was a new batch of hairy buffalo effortlessly fusing unrelated genres of music. By the time the band released it's final record "Very Greasy" the block party had moved to the Caribbean.

Leading off side 2 is an adventurous strike at Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London" which in theory has all the appeal of passing a kidney stone. The ability to pull off something of this magnitude owes it's success to the listener not knowing what they are listening to until the operation is in overdrive, like being kidnapped by drunken strippers. The song holds you at boobpoint, racing, swaying and strangely hypnotized by David Lindley speaking, not singing, the lyrics that Zevon wrote and free forming a few of his own. It is the music and the band, however, that keep this from becoming a farce by balancing adept horns and a brilliant slide guitar break that ends as abruptly as 3 dollar lap dance.

Listen to "Werewolves Of London"

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David Lindley & El Rayo-X - Very Greasy - Werewolves of London
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If you Asked These Two Musicians If They Were Crazy... They Might Say Yes

Alice Cooper

It's getting so hard to see a doctor nowadays that people are soliciting examinations for all of their ailments from people on the street. Either they want to be calmed and reassured death is not minutes away or doctor visits are eating into their lottery money. Normal citizens will ask me to view discolorations of the skin or some knot or bump and actually want my opinion of what it might be. My answer, always the same, "That's cancer," seems to alarm them. "Oh my god! Why would you say such a thing?" I tell them this because I am not a doctor and I want them to go away. This will work most of the time...

Our obsession with diagnosing others as "crazy" has reached such expert proportions that the word is meaningless in modern society. To label someone crazy does not have anything to do with their mental state any longer, it just means they have outlived their usefulness. Someone exceeding the speed limit behind the wheel of a car you're in is making good time, until they get a ticket, then they were driving like a maniac. Girlfriends aren't crazy - EX girlfriends are. Back in the 20th century if you were "crazy," you got thrown in the hole, not released back into the wild to drunk dial you at 4:15 am claiming you ruined their life by not doing the dishes. Being crazy meant something and branded you with a badge of honor that scared the fuck out of voters and landowners. Alice Cooper scared people and got put away, but is by no means crazy.

Alice Cooper is the Hugh Hefner of rock, meaning his name is the brand and everyone wants to hang out with him. When asked about not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame he said it would be cooler to "get kicked out" of it, displaying the aura that made everyone stop asking what his real name (Vincent Furiner) is. Also making up that aura was Alice's late 1970's daily consumption of booze that would euthanize the average bar patron. This drunken layer not only affected the Cooper stage show but his judgment enough to write a loose concept album around a fictional private detective named "Maurice Escargot." The record, "Lace And Whiskey" tried to succeed by harnessing the singer's newly found star power (Cooper appeared on the Muppets, Hollywood Squares, Dinah Shore's talk show and funded the renovation of the famous "Hollywood" sign.) and a ballad ("You And Me" which went to #9 on Billboard.) helped the album sell, but no one was really buying that this baby killer was in the rat pack. During the support tour for the album, Cooper checked himself into a sanitarium in order to treat his sadistic alcohol habit. Before he cleaned himself up, he recorded "It's Hot Tonight", a bad ass rocker enough out of place with the rest of the album that metaphorically has a drunken Cooper picking up the best looking girl in the bar. The opening riff is as heavy as a humid summer night without air conditioning, giving way to twin guitar ruckus mimicking all the noise from the street cascading through your open window. The song might have been taken more seriously if it was not for Cooper's need for fame knocking down his credibility with the rock crowd and the stage performance of the song featuring the singer in full P.I. getup being chased by chickens with automatic weapons.

Listen to "It's Hot Tonight"

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Alice Cooper - Lace & Whiskey - It's Hot Tonight

Frank Marino

Frank Marino took a lot of acid, so much of it the experiences couldn't be called "trips" they were full blown relocations. As a result of these daily interactions with LSD, he had to be placed in an institution while still in his teens. Instead of concentrating on eating solid food again while under psychiatric care, Marino instead focused on playing guitar religiously throughout the day forging his renowned speed, power and technical skill that drew comparisons to the greatest guitar players dead or alive, and a drive and passion not normally associated with someone that probably used the word "groovy" more than once. After being released from the hospital (or maybe being asked to leave on account of the noise being too much for the inhabitants of the ward) Marino embarked on his journey into rock music with a slightly clearer sense of direction.

After pounding out a number of albums with his band "Mahogany Rush", Frank ventured on his own trying to expand on his Canadian homeland fan base by breaking through in the US. Marino's second solo effort "Juggernaut" succeeds in capturing the American audience by showcasing the guitar player's adept ability to bounce between different styles, both old and new. The new was the initial single from the album "Strange Dreams", and its addition of a synthesizer, which meshes very well as it interacts amongst the heaviness of the story generated in the deepest sleep. This new dimension works because Marino himself, and not some new wave poseur, mans the controls of the synth line so it acts almost as another guitar track, complementing the sound of the song enough to make you want to reach for the corner of your eye in order to remove the deposit that built up overnight. The song's ability to get attention without overpowering you had no similar brethren on the album, dooming any change of a successful follow-up single.

Listen to "Strange Dreams"

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