FDR is a relatively local label based across the river in Jersey (though this set was done in conjunction with Michigan’s Jam records) and thus a number of artists from this region contributed to this set (Photon Band, Bastartds of Melody, Dipsomaniacs, Tommy Conwell, Bigger Lovers, Cordalene, Taggart, Grandfabric, & Nancy Falkow).
One particular problem in doing Who songs is overcoming the imprint of Keith Moon, his drumming is so central to many of them yet much of today’s drumming is so perfunctory or slapdash that… Again not much annotation is provided.
It leads off with the Photon Band’s rendition of the late Ox’s Heaven & Hell and promptly breaks Rule #3b by extending the already extensive instrumental break by almost another minute. But Art’s our good pal and we forgive him, mostly because he throws his whole heart into this and his vocals has more Townsend than Daltry in them lending a different tone to this tale.
(Back when I was briefly muttering about reviving my old label the plan was to include one cover in each five song EP. One of the first potential contributors I approached was Art. I had it in my head for him to take on My Wife as his cover, and he started battling for Heaven & Hell. Now three or so years later the good Doctor-to-be takes a jaunt up the Art Museum’s steps for his Rocky moment.)
Face Down standard bearers the Dipsomaniacs bring solid workmanship to Bargain. Chris Richards turns loose the Power-Pop that Townsend’s claimed to have originated in his bouncing, snappy, layered reading of Maryanne With The Shaky Hands. The Blank Pages combine both aspects to Substitute.
The two most well-known names here, Pat Dinizio (Smithereens) and Guided By Voices turn in the most disappointing contributions. The former’s is an echoey, live voice and acoustic guitar rendition of Behind Blue Eyes which has that hoary tradition of getting the audience to complete various lines. While the latter’s Baba O’Riley, also recorded live, sounds like it was taken from someone’s broken Walkman up in the balcony, not to mention being up to Pollard’s usual drunken standards.
The most interesting recordings, probably because they feature female vocals, which automatically take them out of the realm of replication, are Nancy Falkow’s 1921 (a.k.a What About The Boy — for some reason on the sleeve of Tommy the song is listed as the latter but on the lyric/picture book insert it’s titled the former) and the Glowfriends’ I Can’t Explain. Ms. Falkow follows things pretty closely but her soulful, Laura Nyroish lilts in spots take it out of the original concept to some late night bar with a small piano led combo in the corner.
The Glowfriends slow down things, sort of like what the Cowboy Junkies did with Sweet Jane, feature two female voices in harmony and produce a Folkish lament layered in misery. The Contractions an all-female, quasi-Post-Punk outfit from San Francisco whose name I haven’t heard in over twenty years disassemble My Generation, but being part of the tasteless masses I have no idea what to make of such Art.
[Released by Face Down 2004]