Thursday, July 22, 2004

I can't believe they never bothered to Move On...

William Shatner & Joe Jackson - Common People (Pulp Cover) - yes kids, you heard that right... Shat's back! (No, not that Shat, though from the singing talent...) I didn't want to like this song. Not one bit. But, I honestly can't stop listening to it. Say what you will of Shatner, he has never pretended to be a musician - his deadpan drawl is designed not to present songs as works of music, but rather as texts, to be read aloud, and y'know what? I can't think of a single song more suited for that treatment than "Common People". It sounds like a narrative set to music - a less talented, American Streets kinda vibe... If anything desecrates pulp, it's not Shatner, who delivers the song's final lines with all the appropriate venom, gained over years of hammy acting, but Joe Jacksons HIDEOUS guitar work, and terrible attempt at singing the songs chorus near the end, which is just utterly cringeworthy. Of course, production by Ben Folds isn't helping matters there, but when has it?

Hot Hot Heat - Move On - Hot Hot Heat were busting this song, the B-Side to the Bandages single, pretty regularly on their last few laps of the world, before heading into the studio to work on album #2 (or 3 if you count Scenes), and with good reason. It's all the jangley poppiness of their debut EP (and still their peak todate IMHO, mixed up with the stuttery freneticness of Breakdown. Whent he song breaks into a 3 part harmony about a minute and a half in, we begin to see HHH's new drection - but it only lasts a minute. This may not be Fiery Furnaces level jampacked with ideas, but it suggests at least a half dozen new directions for Hot Hot Heat to head for their new album, and all of them are good ones. And am I the only one who sees this song as fitting, not just with the name, but also the mission of a certain political group that is much in the limelight?

[Buy Hot Hot Heat albums from Amazon.com]

Other news: Saw Radio 4 and Ted Leo on LonGuysland last night. Ted leo was fantastic as always. The new material is GREAT, and he's touring with a stripped down band now (Just Bass and Drums + Him. No key's or violin or second guitar, as he was when supporting Hearts of Oak. This seems to suit the new material best.) And he PLAYED HEARTS OF OAK! Finally, after 5 times seeing Ted, and never hearing it, I finally got to see him play his "Radio 4 Song" when playing with Radio 4.

R4 were incredible. They've moved so far beyond what they were when last I saw them. The new material is FANTASTIC live, as all the new songs pick up healthy doses of the "Congas and Shakers and Shit" that make Radio 4, Radio 4. Not to mention, Ted came out and did a mean Cowbell Solo on Struggle. The band was REALLY in a good mood, what with playing at the center of all their respective hometowns around Long Island (the guitarist introduced each band member between songs, and noted what high school they went to. Classic LI - even a decade removed, the only way to register where someone is from is their High School.) And just a generally fantastic set. "The Death of American Radio" is GREAT live, and "Transmission," a song that, on record, seemed buried under it's production to me, becomes a complete fucking anthem live. Dominated the whole set when they finished with it.

13 Comments:

At 7/22/2004 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Mike D. said...

i was at the radio 4 show last night too!

 
At 7/22/2004 06:20:00 PM, Blogger Loki said...

what do you mean he's never pretended to be a musician? in my opinion it's good to see William Shatner back doing what he does best - genuine visionary pop stars playing at acting; never good, thank God he's seen the light, I've been dreading a Tarantino comeback to lead him away from his true vocation.

I've posted a few tracks from Bill before...Rocketman still kills me: "i'll be HIGH as a KITE by then..." - the best cover since John Cale did Heartbreak Hotel...

Although Napalm Death's version of the Muppets theme was pretty good.

 
At 7/22/2004 07:10:00 PM, Blogger Keith said...

Loki - I never said it was Shatner was anything but. It has nothing to do with is singing though. Rather, the greatness of Shatner - indeed, the whole conceit of Transformed Man - was to take classic pop songs, and recast the lyrics as dramatic readings - that is, to make use of his acting skills in a musical context, and to reinvent lyrics as audio drama - and I can't think of a song better suited to just that than Common People.

 
At 7/22/2004 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Canowine said...

There should have been a karaoke bar on the Enterprise, and the fellas should have sung like the Ally McBeal lawyers at the end of every show. Hindsight.

 
At 7/22/2004 09:56:00 PM, Blogger Sean said...

that shatner is TERRIFIC. no really!

 
At 7/23/2004 12:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Jackson is the best part of the song! When he launches into the chorus all crazy like! This song rocks you, fignuts. Like a hurricane and shit.

 
At 7/23/2004 03:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo, thanks for the heads up about Radio 4. I'm really excited about the new stuff.

Oh, and I'm the girl who posted a while back about not liking the Blueberry Boat... yep, I still don't like it. I've tried and tried, but I can't just like it because people tell me I should. I still think people feel pressured to say they like it just because Pitchfork gave an early review and scored them a 9.6, and that if they don't understand it, then they are just stupid. It is a filter of sorts to see who(m) is more indie...

 
At 7/23/2004 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Keith said...

I've been hyping Blueberry Boat since months before Pee-fork said a word about it.

I'm about 50.50 on agreeing with them actually, and if anything, I'm inclined to disagree as a knee jerk more often than not.

That said, the indiehypemachine is, I will admit, going full force for the Furnaces. I suppose the backlash is inevitable. Hopefully I'll find something that clicks with ya! ;)

 
At 7/25/2004 08:51:00 AM, Blogger Tyler Fedchuk and Paul Devro said...

Remember Joe Jackson's "Steppin Out?" that song is the best. Or was the best till I heard him work with william shatner. What do you think the big idea is? That's a couple of odd dudes to be sharing company--and over a pulp track!

fantastic

 
At 8/02/2004 02:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are being unfair to this cover. Shatner's delivery adds a viciousness to the lyric that only an old queen can add - but without the pulsating and totally compelling rythmn it would be ineffective. The backing moves the entire thing into a new dimension - it is utterly compelling.

 
At 12/21/2004 02:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Production by Ben Folds isn't helping matters? When has Ben Folds creating ANYTHING OTHER than purse rock art? He is one of the greatest musicians we have out there today amongst the masses of unrecognizable cookie cutter sell-out such as John Mayer and his cheesy lyrics mixed with his best Dave Mathews impression..that's just a SMALL example of the problem with music today. It's run by kids who don't know how to create something with fusion, passion, and originality-unlike Ben Folds. And I dare say, unlike Shatner who claims to not be a musician, but someone who made this cd to talk about deeply felt things he wished to share (save the fun cover of "Common People". I'll leave you now to listen to your Avril Levign or Ashly Simpson or Creed or whatever crap it is that you think justifies "good" production of music.

 
At 12/07/2005 01:07:00 AM, Blogger Code Worrier said...

I think Shatner's mature enough to pull off self-parody with great finesse. He's evolved beyond the pure egotism and is actually somebody that would be cool to hang with ... for about an hour, max.

The album contains a heartfelt tribute to his recently-deceased wife. My opinion of Shatner is definitely raised a few notches.

 
At 2/08/2011 05:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN to the post on 12/21/04! Sorry if Ben is too cool for ya, there, Keith.

 

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