Picked up for a few quid in Chester one lunchtime when I was feeling a bit blue, I bought Duck And Cover, a 1990 covers compilation from SST Records. Featuring the luminaries you’d expect, Black Flag, Descendents, Dinosaur Jr. and Minutemen, together with a bunch of (mostly) guys I’d never heard of before, or since. The results? varied.
The three real heavyweight tracks here are the ones I bought Duck And Cover for, Black Flag ‘Louie Louie’, Husker Du ‘Eight Miles High’ and Dinosaur Jr ‘Just Like Heaven’. They’re pretty much Grade A solid class. Black Flag’s version of ‘Louie Louie’, which I only just realized has Des Cadena on vocals rather than Rollins, is an absolute bulldozer of a track – mean, nihilistic and musclebound and I’m pretty sure I first heard it hundreds of years ago on a cassette a friend had called The Best Of Louie Louie, which was an album of cover versions of ‘Louie Louie’*. I also have a real thing for the sheet metal version of ‘Eight Miles High’ by Husker Du, which despite having hippy parents I heard years before I ever heard the original, Bob Mould’s vocals on this one are great as always he just sings with TOTAL conviction. The Dinosaur Jr. version of ‘Just Like Heaven’ is just pure trademark Dino, those lazy can’t-be-assed vocals, stabs of stunningly fluid guitar and bits where I just wish they’d pull their finger out and play for their lives, rather than go through the motions. I’ve always found them such a frustrating band**, controversial I know but I far prefer Joy Zipper’s version of ‘Just Like Heaven’.
The rest veer from the pointless (Saccharine Trust with ‘Six Pack’), the okay (Volcano Suns ‘Kick Out The Jams’), the unmemorable (Leaving Trains ‘The Horse Song’) and the strange, but not in a great way (Trotsky Icepick ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’). A few others of some note though, including Revolution 409, who basically seem to be 1537-faves Redd Kross^, covering a tune I just plain love, ‘Crazy Horses’ pretty darn well. Also Minutemen’s jerky, ADHD-like cover of ‘Ain’t Talkin ’bout Love’ bears some repeating too.
Here’s a band I just don’t get though, Meat Puppets. I know we all love their contribution to Nirvana Unplugged, but I inherited a greatest hits album of theirs from my brother and I just don’t get it. They have a version of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ on Duck And Cover and it’s excruciatingly bad, it sounds a bit like a sped-up version of one of those bands who make the instrumental tracks for karaoke CDs but with really horrible, almost helium-affected vocals on top. Am I just being grumpy because my broadband still isn’t working properly and I’m really tired? or do any of you out there see/hear things in this band that I just don’t?
All compilations are mixed bunches, by definition really, but Duck And Cover a bit more so than most. I’ve burnt 5 tracks out of the 13 here and that’s about it, it’s too fractured an LP to just slip on the turntable very often. Shame SST couldn’t/didn’t include anything from Sonic Youth or Soundgarden.
I won’t be back this way for a while.
*including the brilliant marching band version heard at the end of The Naked Gun.
** Freak Scene, Start Choppin’ and Take a Run At The Sun, excepted.
^or at least feature both McDonald brothers; topical as I can’t stop play Off! Wasted Years at the moment.