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Saturday, October 23, 2010

219. "10538 Overture" by Electric Light Orchestra

Requested by Jeffrey Norman, who won the privilege by correctly identifying my backward-masked singing of "Revolution Part 2" by The Butthole Surfers during the bridge to "Something in the Air".

(Also, maybe it should be "The" Electric Light Orchestra per the single's artwork at left; this remains unclear.)

Due to the unusual nature of this cover, I'm going to highly recommend that you listen to the piece before reading my comments. To aid in this process, I'll put the links to the original and my cover right here so you can download them now, and return to find out what the hell you've just heard afterwards.

Okay, so the odd story here:

I have a very time-consuming recording project to tackle this weekend, so my time for 39-40 is a bit limited. But the idea of doing this song as an acoustic number seemed ludicrous to me. I mean, it would actually be possible and maybe an interesting challenge, but I think it was proposed by Jeff hoping that I'd do something differently interesting with it, and I was hoping to do so without breaking the time bank.

It occurred to me that I'd recorded an unreleased cover of a different ELO song, "Do Ya", with The Chiggers three years ago. The Chiggers were an interesting project, masterminded by Ms. Nigel Cox, who'd played keyboards in Skates & Rays (and is on our album You Are My Home) and was a vehicle for her original songs and some unusual covers in a stripped-down country-ish style. The core members were Nigel ("Tammy Chigger"), her boyfriend Patrick ("Slim Chigger"), and myself ("Waylon Chigger"). The band existed simultaneously with a very busy period for Skates & Rays and my schedule was really stretched trying to do rehearsals, shows and recording with both groups, but it was all worthwhile. Eventually Nigel & Patrick moved out of California before the recordings were really completed or released, and the project sort of faded away. Remembering it, I thought it was a shame that it never reached an audience, and that maybe it could in this context.

But I thought that just switching ELO tunes was a little too cheap, so there would have to be some pretext. My idea was, I'd record it as if a band was trying to play "10538 Overture" and struggling with it; after the take in question fell apart, they'd give up and decide to do "Do Ya" instead, which would be the cue for the Chiggers track. For the ruse to be even slightly successful, though, the false start of "10538" would have to sound like something more than a pisstake; it would have to sound like I'd made a real commitment to nailing the tune.

So-- and yeah, I appreciate that this is all nuts, but I think Jeff of all people might appreciate it-- I got pretty exacting about creating my fake band falling into a nonexistent chaotic shambles. I figured there had to be a fairly expansive arrangement, showing evidence of a decent amount of multitracking and programming and re-thinking of the song, all of which would seem to require more effort than anyone would reasonably put into something that was just going to die after less than a minute and a half. In fact, it ought to sound pretty damned good. And then there was the actual part where the song fell apart itself... that had to actually sound fairly convincing, at least the first time a listener heard it. So that took a bit of time, too.

So you kind of get a bunch of stuff all rolled into one. I hope at least some of it strikes you as groovy.

Personnel, "10538" intro:
Rex Broome ~ Piano and strings programming, guitars, bass, mandolin, harmonica, vocals

Personnel, "Do Ya":
Nigel Cox ~ Piano & lead vocal
Patrick Morrison ~ Drums
Rex Broome ~ Guitars, bass, backing vocals

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