Friday, December 21, 2007

Listening Post (New Wave Edition Part 3: Covers)

Rounding out the trilogy with two more songs from the 80s: One a cover released during that period; the other a cover of a song from that era.

The Power Station

Say what you will, The Power Station was an experiment that worked. They fused the smoothness of Robert Palmer with the crunch of Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and John Taylor -- allowing them to actually play their fucking guitars for a change -- and the balls-out heft of drummer Tony Thompson. Add to that Bernard Edwards's oddly stripped-down, garage-like production and you had something bordering on magical. Their debut record wasn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it was damn good. Unfortunately, the group's relevance disappeared into a cloud of smoke and mirrors the minute Palmer bailed and notorious band-killing asshat Michael Des Barres was enlisted to replace him on tour. For a brief moment in time though, The Power Station were the kings of power pop.

Here's their impressive cover of T-Rex's Bang a Gong (Get it On).

Lazlo Bane

You may not know it, but you're probably already well-acquainted with this Santa Monica band: They do the song (I'm No) Superman -- better known as the theme to Scrubs. Although they're by no means the kind of band that's ever going to align the planets, they're about as harmlessly likable as any other band from the Southern California coast, and they happen to have a surprising level of good taste when it comes to the music they choose to cover. I mentioned awhile back -- during a column dealing with a victim of the Virginia Tech shooting (And All that Could Have Been/4.19.07)-- that Men at Work's Overkill remains one of my all-time favorite songs. It's as close to a pop masterpiece as you're likely to get, a point proven by the fact that it's been covered several times since its original release and never seems to lose any of its potency. Ten years ago, Lazlo Bane took on Overkill, but added a clever twist: They enlisted the help of the original voice behind the song, Men at Work's Colin Hay, during their recording session. The result is a really fantastic cover of a really enduring song (one that unfortunately wasn't included on the band's inspired all-covers iTunes release Guilty Pleasures).

Here's Lazlo Bane's version of Overkill.


tamara said...

Had the Powerstation album (yes,album....vinyl 'n' all that!) in highschool...thumbtacked the cover to my bedroom wall. I smiled when reading your take on it. Wish I still had it...all vinyl stolen—400+ albums, some first-press Beatles albums even—in 1990. Sigh.

And, just in case you haven't yet, check out Colin Hay's solo effort, "Going Somewhere"...there's some real gems in here...the especially poignant "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" was used on the "Garden State" soundtrack. This is the song that will change your life.

Suzy said...

you plan on resurrecting any style council? pleeeeeeease? depeche mode black celebration? you're the only one i think about when i listen to flies on the windscreen. : )
ahhh... that red berlinetta.

Anonymous said...

I remember listening to this at your house back in the day. Y'know Tony Thompson passed away a few years back, right? Freak out. //c

Danny said...

the Powerstation...I STILL have my vinyl. What a solid I want to dig it up and put it on!


Bob in Tennessee said...

Excellent choices Chez. Hadn't thought about the Power Station in a loooong time...good stuff.

I'm normally not a fan of cover songs, Lazlo Bane's "Overkill" is an exception. They made the song "theirs" without stripping it of it's original soul.

Julie said...

Wow...I got chills when Hay joined in. That's such a wonderful song, and so meta that Lazlo Bane covered it.