Barefoot on the Accelerator
Looking over the list of songs generated here, I find myself surprised by how damn many cover songs Chris D worked into the sets of his various bands. It has long been my contention that Chris is among the most gifted wordsmiths Los Angeles ever generated. His gushing, lop-rhythmic descriptions of desolation, longing and salvation are still capable of stunning me with their unexpected turns of phrase, and the gut illuminating power of their deep pulp/noir roots. But lists don't lie. The guy apparently knew a great song when he heard one, and felt little impulse to compete with other form-masters on their own turf.
Chris's own early songwriting, so memorably referred to as “blabbermouth lockjaw of the soul” by Richard Meltzer, created a compressed universe of glottal-sound that is still unmatched in terms of raw spurt. But he was absolutely willing to pay tribute to people like Ann Peebles (whose sultry arrangement of Sam & Dave's “I Take What I Want” was the basis for the Flesheaters's version), rather than attempt to create a secondhand soul ballad with his own pen. Which was probably a damn good idea. Chris's delivery of this sort of material, and the stage presence he manifested while performing it were definitely referencing people like Al Green and Isaac Hayes. And it could seem a bit of an odd fit conceptually inside the later-period Flesheaters, whose sound was so fucking heavy, but they made it work. And when he started incorporating learned soul-bits into later material, they sounded right and unforced because he had spent the time working out the gestural language of the music, figuring how it could fit in with the rest of his musical vision. It was the same with the country material that Divine Horsemen experimented with. The idea, I think, was to pick songs with crucial formal elements and figure them out in a new setting before trying to do originals in that mold.
Of course, all of Chris's bands have known their way around the dynamics of rock and punk, so when they've done these sorts of tunes it's largely been for live gigs or comps or just for the sheer pleasure of doing them. My favorite cover of their is not represented here, which I guess makes sense, since it's the Flesheaters Mk. V covering “Pony Dress”, a song originally done by the Flesheaters Mk. III a few years earlier. They just shred themselves on that one. But they were always doing that -- delivering so much more than you'd ever expect or hope.
So much guts. So little glory. Fuck the world.
For my part, I'd just like to thank Byron, Bruce Milne and Chris D.
TJ Honeysuckle/Trevor Block, Melbourne Australia 2013
Dedicated to the members of all the bands featured.
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