Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meat Purveyors- bluegrass goth and c*ck-rock

Maybe it's not a great sign when a band's cover songs are better than their originals but that's the case on the Meat Purveyors' Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse! (Bloodshot). Which isn't to say that this Austin bluegrass band doesn't come up with good songs- their album titles alone belong in the down-and-out hall of fame (another one is All Relationships Are Doom To Fail).

But what's admirable about their covers is how much they reveal. You'd think that except for some nostalgia buffs, Foreigner's cock-sure "Hot Blooded" or the Human League's synth-goth "Don't You Want Me Baby" would be bad memories, much less an odd choice for a bluegrass group to cover. The fact that they're such odd choices and that they work is what makes them such good covers though. Minus singer Lou Gramm's chest-beating vocals, Jo Walston's high-stepping glee makes the "Hot Blooded" sound like the fun it's supposed to be (just as in the film Monster, I finally understood the power of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" as an inspirational working class anthem even though I still hate the song itself). Similarly, she moves the League song from a cocktail bar to a honky-tonk bar where it sounds just peachy, even without the force of the synth hook on the original (plus the singing is much better here).

Playing it for other music fans who remembered the original versions, they didn't have any second thoughts- they knew that the Purveyors improved the tunes, even more than the Abba and Ratt songs that they covered on earlier albums. Nevertheless, the fact that the band did pick up on those tunes meant that they did effect them in the first place and now we know why- like good DJs who scour the bins for something interesting that they can unleash on a dance crowd, the Purveyors similarly scour their own collections for something seeminly offbeat that they can sink their teeth into. More proof that sometimes, beyond the fog of bad vocals and bad intentions, good tunes may be buried underneath.

Also see the MP's MySpace page to hear some of their prime original material.


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