via The New Yorker, I learn that the outsider rock band The Shaggs recently had a reunion just down the road from me. Writer Howard Fishman asks
Was it fair to even call this band the Shaggs? Or was it, rather, a Shaggs cover band providing a live karaoke soundtrack for the Wiggins to sing along with?
As someone who once judged a contest in which contestants tackled the question of whether a band can be its own cover band, I can’t let this pass as just a rhetorical question.
The Shaggs was a trio of sisters who sang and played instruments in the late 1960s and 70s.1 The reunion concert had the two surviving sisters singing, backed by skilled musicians who carefully echoed the way that the sisters had played their instruments. All of the instrumental parts were thus played by the new backing band.2 So maybe Fishman’s suggestion is apt.
In other covers related news: a technical glitch in the news feed for AV Undercover meant that I didn’t learn about most of the new season until just a couple of days ago, when all the episodes showed up in my reader at once. Serious listening to be done.
Tigers Jaw’s cover of “Hey Ya” is good. I like Outkast’s original, but imagine if Buddy Holly recorded it.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s cover of “Debra” is simply awesome. Beck’s original has clever lyrics but sounds like a Lonely Island parody of the kind of song that it is. The Dirty Dozen are clearly having fun, but beautiful instrumentals take the song to a new level.
- The Wikipedia entry and the New Yorker article aren’t entirely consistent, but the details don’t really matter.
- The care involved in sounding just like the Shaggs used to do is a bit like Mostly Other People Do The Killing echoing famous jazz improvisations on their album Blue.