Saturday, February 23, 2013

Grandma's Starchy Blankets

Are there at least 500 albums in your music collection? If so, you should have no less than 10 cover tunes worthy of placement on a mixed tape/CD. A casual journey thru my stash yielded almost 100 take-twos ready to battle for prime track position on one of the Grandma's Starchy Blankets volumes. After rounds of debating that had become more intense than choosing the field for NCAA's March Madness, 80 cuts were given bids to the GSB tourney. Spread over three discs, these salutes are extended with varying degrees of embraces, smooches and smirks. Perhaps I'll do a future Granny installment via YouTube playlist, but here are the highlights from the tangible offerings. I'm joined in the booth by Kitty Foxx and Jeanette Spangler, both of whom are appearing in magazine form. Too bad these legendary lovelies aren't in the flesh, 'cause this piece would be delayed until Christmas 2014. But alas...

Since women are on my mind, let's start with one I had the great pleasure of seeing on July 4, 2002. Technically, I could've used Joan Jett And The Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" on GSB and been within the rules. The original version comes from the U.K. group Arrows, who are of no lasting import. Being Captain Obvious ain't my style, thus Joanie's inspired stroll along the avenues of Gary "U.S." Bonds' "New Orleans" gets the nod. In any form, the song is a slice of perfectly pure R 'N' R. One of the biggest surprises of Hardcore Norfolk weekend (8/20/2011) was witnessing Bonds and the reunited Ant Man Bee excite an already-pumped audience with a new "New Orleans." JJ would've loved seeing an old friend having a blast on a stage in his hometown. Bagpipes and all, AC/DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top..." is one of the biggest jolts from High Voltage. Lucinda Williams chooses to harness its electricity with a slowed-down, Bonnie Raitt-ish blues that's more in keeping with the wine-drinking set. Apparently, Lucinda's performance at Town Point Park years ago contained more expletives from her mouth in two hours than Acca Dacca had uttered in thirty years. How's that for Mom-rock irony? The words "ABBA" and "crunchy" might seem like strange companions, but the Swedish quartet's awesome "Hey Hey Helen" is packed with more "CHOMP!" than a three-pound Nestle bar. U.K. noise-pop mistresses Lush add a creamy center to the candy batch, and their beautifully echoed tones balance the sugar rush from the buzzy guitars. The Cowboy Junkies would've done some fast horse-trading for The Textones' hat-tip of Smokey Robinson's "I Second That Emotion." Post-swap, Margo Timmins would turn into an Indian giver and moan about an inability to hit those high notes. Only low 'n' slow cookin' for her.

The New Bomb Turks tapped Wire, The Rolling Stones, Pagans, Hawkwind among many others to pad their multitude of stellar 45s. For whatever brain-dead reasons, I wasn't able to find room for one of the Turks' delightful re-creations. Many of their "gunk-punk" comrades, however, have eager hands tucked into the pockets of Granny's seersucker. Electric Frankenstein, creators of a monstrous mound of recorded material, piece together random arms and legs on a walking-dead waltz of Vox Pop's "Just Like Your Mom." The non-"Stomp The Yard" stepping continues with The Slobs making a glorious mess outta The Dovells' "Bristol Stomp" -- which I once heard at Fuddrucker's in between burger bites and shake sips. Regarding Fudd's, ostrich was the meat from a final main course I consumed at the now-departed Va. Beach Blvd. location. Australia's Cosmic Psychos and The Onyas certainly know how to properly grill and season the big birds. On their respective patties of L7's "Shove" ("Some girl just pinched my ass!") and The Chords' Now It's Gone," the dudes from Down Under brand their marks with more spatula skill than a twenty-year employee at Hungry Jack's (the Aussie equivalent of Burger King). Any cookout worth its weight in charcoal should offer bottles, cans and kegs within an index finger's reach. Point at The Pleasure Fuckers, pouring Gang Green's "Alcohol" into red Solo cups, as the crew with the cactus juice. Last week, Reg Presley of The Troggs succumbed to the crippling effects of a cruel cancer. I placed "From Home," the B-side of "Wild Thing," on a Dirty Sheets comp, and The Fluid's flowing mixture of "Our Love Will Still Be There" also raises its glass in tribute to a mighty man who made our hearts join him in song. Billy Childish released a Clash pisstake entitled "We're Selling Jeans For The U.S.A." on a single I picked up at Camp Zama for a buck or so. In Thee Mighty Caesars, he opts not to damn The Damned's "Neat Neat Neat" and keeps the tweed trousers fairly unwrinkled.

At Hardcore Norfolk's first open-mic night at the OLD Colley Cantina, local guitar slinger Pete Overstreet made the spontaneous decision to tackle said Damned cut in an acoustic fashion. With the pretty Sue Panique holding a lyric sheet and an outstanding harmonica player whose name escapes me, Johnny Galecki's twin brother won over several fried pickle eaters seated stage right. On Overstreet's self-released demo disc, he applies a similar unplugged-punk coating to Tom Waits' "Going Out West" that's loaded with enough salt strings and whiskey pulls to fortify a brand-new flavor of potato chips befitting the former Lay's pitchman. I often refer to Johnny Rock as "the one who brought a lil' bit of New York to Norfolk." The subway rider is equally comfortable on a stagecoach, as evidenced by steady galloping on Hank Williams' (1st edition) "Mansion On The Hill." Upholding the terrific tradition of the M-80's and Nightcaps, the Sambone-led Horehounds remain the best band who's ever played at a bar in Kempsville. Their handling of "Death By The Gun," a Radio Birdman obscurity, empties its chamber with righteous riffing that matches center targets with Deniz Tek's original kill shots. To my knowledge, Norfolk's beloved Waxing Poetics are the lone Tidewater band with an entry in one of the Trouser Press Record Guides. Ira Robbins himself described their version of Wreckless Eric's "Semaphore Signals" as "ominous." Couldn't have said it better. Actually, that's not true, but I'll let him have the collar.

To hear what The Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting For The Man" would've sounded like had it been penned by the New York Dolls, place your $26 in Slaughter And The Dogs' hands and cop on the Ziploc filled with the addictive magic of Thunders-esque guitar. For a youthful, Wire-informed wink at the burgeoning straight-edge scene in 1980s Washington, DC, the Teen Idles' playful rigidity on The Stooges' "No Fun" flies over the collective heads of folded-arm fuckers wearing permanent scowls. I've never owned a Grateful Dead album, but The Pontiac Brothers' Stones-y jump-start of the dirty hippies' "Brown Eyed Women" has me looking past the pot plants and patchouli for a well-worn copy of Workingman's Dead. Intensive care is the doctor's order on The Townies' rub of the Vaselines' "Molly's Lips," and the nu-college rock heals chapped skin more effectively than Nirvana's earlier haphazard balm. Anti-Nowhere League's addendum "I'll show you something that'll make you really sick!" adds an unexpected page to the travel brochure of Ralph McTell's folk chestnut "Streets Of London." A compilation of the best Bob Dylan covers must include Richard Hell And The Voidoids' Mick 'N' Keef-inspired reading of "Going Going Gone" to be taken seriously by the average busker in Greenwich Village. Philly underdogs The Hooters jab and uppercut Love's "She Comes In Colors" with the skillful confidence of Rocky Balboa's second fight with Clubber Lang. Mr. Overstreet needs to take possession of the V-shaped guitar signed by members of Molly Hatchet and strum a shit-hot rendition of The Valentinos' "It's All Over Now" to reclaim the roots from his adolescence. While vacationing in Iceland, Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman selected Helmet's heady grasp of "Primitive" over Metallica's backwards-cap deconstruction on "The Wait." Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley P.T.A." was more than a little bit country, but Hoodoo Gurus' after-school band practice of her lesser-known "The Generation Gap" bridges a whole lotta punk rock. The video for The Embarrassment's shameless version of Led Zep's "Immigrant Song" showcases hyena-style vocals and multiple time signatures that are otherwise enjoyed by a dancing Janet Wood-type clad in physical education shorts. Tom Petty was said to have been greatly perturbed by Husker Du's louder-than- 10,000-decibels demolition of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High," though I'm sure the Heartbreakers' lead axeman Mike Campbell raved about the jet noise to his drinking buds stationed in Jacksonville.

I've run out of starch, so I should stop here. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen: "Well, I'm looking for an artist who will take one of my songs and cover me."


  1. nice. a lot of stuff i'm not familiar with (not surprisingly). Well done, sir.

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