Carter: All Night Long

All Night Long

Richard Carter

One of my favorite things to do is to watch bands put together their cover songs. For one thing, you can tell an awful lot about a group by their choices of cover songs and how they play that material(how they interpret it).

Growing up, an awful lot of the area bands that I played in, or went to watch, tried to cover a song perfectly. And, some tunes are pretty easy to play like the band does on the album. We could play a perfect version of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed.” It was funny because most rock bands didn’t play their songs like they recorded them, unless it was Boston.

Anywho, covering the Rolling Stones was never that hard to do, though doing a Beatles song and trying to get the harmonies right is next to impossible, unless you have some great singers in the band.  And, in local bands, that usually doesn’t happen.

The point I am attempting to make here is appreciating area bands making a cover song their own. For example, a while back I wrote about Mr. Fairchild learning to play the Van Halen song “Panama.”. It was pretty hilarious watching them do it, because it was half fun and it was half serious. Surely they could have played it perfectly, but that wasn’t the point.

Obviously, Mr. Fairchild is no more, and several of their former members are now playing in the Blue Light Special band. It’s a band that pretty much does ‘70s style versions of the blues, and they take doing it pretty seriously. Most of the guys grew up with the blues, and they revere it.

In putting together their recent New Year’s Eve show at the Pub, they were determined to do something serious, but they were also wanting to do something humorous and that’s why they played the Lionel Richie card. In covering the song “All Night Long,” they played a classic ‘80s song where everyone in the video was wearing too much pastel (and it sort of sounds like it in the song too.) The song and the singer are a kind of fake soul, and no one could seriously believe the band was doing that tune.

In practice, I watched the band members listen to the song several times and work out their parts and then saw them play along with the song. They decided that three of the six members would play percussion on the song including drums, congas and either a shaker or an agogo bell. David Sanchez sang it straightforward, at least one background singer sang it sort of straightforward, while the bass player seriously played line and the guitarist jazzed up the spacey guitar lines.

From five times I heard the band play it through, the song the first time through was very humorous. Over time, it slowly began to sound more serious. By the fifth go through, I was not so sure they were joking around with the song. As one guy said, it will be funny because of the song selection. It would also be funny because one of the background vocalists was going to ham it up. I think people might end up being more impressed with their version than humored by it.

Anyhow, listen to how musicians change a cover song when they play it. Seriously, go to a Queen for a Day show and watch Brian Harris play lead guitar and tell me the guy didn’t grow up around a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s guitar players. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like Queen for a Day and the band does play with their covers.

Speaking of Queen for a Day, I know they are coming back to the Pub to play in January or February, but the date has not been confirmed yet. Will post when I know.