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Sunday, September 12, 2010

178. "No, Your Product" by The Saints

Sometimes, as with yesterday's Bob Mould cover, I just start with a basic idea and watch it blossom track by track into something else, and with each little decision that works it gains momentum towards being some particular thing to the extent that the final touches are practically written and played for me. That's cool. Other times, as today, each addition is a telltale that the original idea was not a good one and pursuing it is more or less a matter of cramming oneself down the wrong rabbit hole.

In this case I'd been feeling remiss for not having done a straight-up a capella reading of a rock song, like the kind of thing Petra Haden has been doing lately. I think that, about halfway through this one, I realized the absolute genius of her having started with The Who, and the early Who (well, the middle-early Who or whatever you'd call Sell Out) at that: while it clearly rocks like hell and doing Moony's drums with mouth noises must be incredibly fun, there is also a whole lot of harmonic content to the tunes in a way there's not with, let's say, the Stones or Kinks of the same period. The who are offering you three- or more-part harmonies and basslines that depart from the root chords fairly often, and Townshend's rarely throwing up a chord that he doesn't suspend a time or two. This Saints tune is more like the Stones model: Chris Bailey is certainly in a Jaggery-sneery mode here, and that kind of vocal is almost chord-neutral, I've found. The bass and rhythm guitar lines stick close together in true punk rock style, and the lead is bluesy blends. In short, it's a awesome rock song, but a crap candidate for the choral treatment. Live and learn, I guess... Ray Davies took longer to find it out than I did, and he actually released the record where he did worse than this to some of his own very best tunes.

Personnel: Rex

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