Two Great Tastes that Taste Kinda Awesome Together . . . 

Thursday, Nov 10 2005
Photo courtesy of
Warner Bros. Reocrds
I was super-stoked this week to hear the White Stripes covering Tegan and Sara’s shoulda-been-Top-40 “Walking With a Ghost.” (Thanks, Indie 103!)

Now, see, that is why I love the Stripes, even when they’re going through their Moody, Uneven and Misunderstood phase. (Who knows? Maybe they’re out of it by now. They’re constantly changing!)

We’ve celebrated the Stripes’ old-fashioned instinct for “instant music” before — as when they released “Blue Orchid” mere days after recording it. And still, I must appreciate them again. You see, something happens when a fine rock & roll band steps out of the framework through which we usually receive music and says, Here, eat this while it’s still hot from the oven. It might not be so good in five minutes, but I made it special just for you, so eat. It’s a great gimmick, and so much more than a gimmick for someone like me.

Most of the time, I walk around in a meta-historical haze, my spirit tossed between musical decades — haunting some imaginary Brill Building of the soul, then reclining in the hair of Marc Bolan and then — occasionally — being drawn back to the future by a contemporary artist of real imagination and talent. So there’s nothing like a great band pulling a stunt like this to remind me, You’re actually alive, now, at this precise moment in history.

The funny thing is, it’s not even that great a cover. Definitely doesn’t touch the original. But again, that’s why I love this band. Unlike just about everyone today, the Stripes understand intuitively the precious nature of spontaneity. Sometimes the magic chemical reaction occurs, and greatness is achieved. Sometimes, the yeast doesn’t rise, and you’ve got to eat it real fast before the thing turns into a hockey puck.

This just in: Just found out Jack White’s composed a jingle for Coke, saying, “I think it’s the greatest drink ever made by man.” White is so audaciously mental, he’s gonna pull this off — and seem even cooler for it.

Speaking of Marc Bolan: A couple weeks ago I thanked all the new bands out there for not slavishly ripping off T. Rex and ELO. Soon after, I caught the new video by the Living Things (whose name is, apparently, not inspired by the ELO abortion elegy, “Livin’ Thing”). Made for their single, “Bom Bom Bom”— which is getting heavy airplay on Indie 103 — the psychedelic animated video is beautiful and stylish. And the song — like much of the album (Ahead of the Lions,on Jive Records) — is about the hypocrisy of American warmongers. That’s nifty. (It’s not uncool to actually care about the state of the world, Cobrasnake!) But dude, we’ve got to talk about this T. Rex thing. You can rip off Marc Bolan’s hair, or you can rip off his sound, but you can’t do both at the same time. You’re going to have to choose. The third and most difficult option would be some subtle combination built on rad pop songcraft. (Just ask Outkast — or the White Stripes, for that matter — about that.) Godspeed.

Two degrees of Jeff Barry: Neil Diamond’s new record, 12 Songs (produced by Rick Rubin), is good, if a bit sonically skeletal. My favorite track, however, is a bonus alternate version of the instant-classic “Delirious Love” — featuring sleigh bells, the yummiest hand claps this side of “Cherry Cherry” and backing vocals by Brian Wilson. It’s like the Beach Boys bumping into Neil at a fire pit on Timeless Geezer Beach. They sound old in body, but eternally young at heart.

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Reach the writer at ksullivan@laweekly.com

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