If rock bands have a “death and taxes” equivalent, it could be “cover songs and substance abuse.” There are certainly loads of bands who have never recorded a cover song, but literally every single rock musician has at some point in their lives, learned how to play by copying their heroes, and in many cases, adopting their habits. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Enough said.
For serious rockbanders, there is the ubiquitous practice and/or rehearsal space. You spend a lot of time in that shitty little room and it gets boring on occasion. That’s when someone starts noodling around on the main riff to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and the next thing you know, you’re halfway through the song.
A little known fact about BSM recording artist Golden Tones, is that they spent six months prior to writing their magnum opus, The Portable Thruster and Hyperspace Companion Kit, by learning, practicing and perfecting more than two dozen cover songs. Many practices were recorded on a cassette boom box, so versions of those songs exist; whether they are listenable remains to be seen. The band covered Genesis, King Crimson, The Clash, Adam and the Ants, The Glove, Yes, The Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, and many more.
Three BSM artists, Christian Adams, Aztec Hearts, and Henry Miller Sextet recorded at least one cover song. In the case of Adams, he recorded an entire albums’ worth of four-track versions of his favorite songs, entitled, That’s Me In the Shower. The following are three selected tracks from the record, featuring covers of Adam Ant, The Cure, and Van Halen, respectively.
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Aztec Hearts has recorded two cover songs to date: Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” and Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’”. Both tracks feature Susie Smith on lead and backing vocals and stand as a severe warning to the kids: Don’t do drugs. This is what happens.
In 2002, Henry Miller Sextet recorded a version of Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger”, which turned out to be the only cover they would record. Check the Iron Maiden guitar harmonies on the hooks!
Meanwhile, many HMS live performances began (or ended) with a cover song. Over the years, the band tackled:
- Bad Company (“Feel Like Makin’ Love”)
- KC and the Sunshine Band (“Please Don’t Go”)
- Cheap Trick (“Downed” and “I Want You (to Want Me)”)
- Off Broadway (“Stay in Time”)
- Rod Stewart (“Every Picture Tells a Story”)
- Joe Jackson (“It’s Different For Girls”)
- The Cure (“The Exploding Boy”)
And so, one day in the future we’ll dig up those Golden Tones’ tapes and see what’s there. It should be good fun.