Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tunesday: "Pictures of Matchstick Men," Camper Van Beethoven

Camper Van Beethoven's best-known song is, IMHO, an inferior cover of Status Quo's big hit. There's nothing to not like about this live performance — including Francis Rossi's 'stache — on "Top of the Pops" in 1968. I don't think I've ever heard a more liberal use of phaser pedals among all the guitars on one song. So thick, you can swim in it.

Despite the recent inclusion of the Quo's original in "Men In Black 3," most people are more familiar with CVB's take. Yep, even more so than Ozzy's version and Kasabian's cover. Hard to believe, I know!

Morgan Fichter's violin is what makes the band's interpretation from 1989's "Key Lime Pie" superior. It's also very difficult to ignore David Lowery's singing screaming of the lyrics. I'm not knocking his delivery. It's his signature sound, and he employed the hell out of it quite effectively in the '90s with his next band, Cracker. I present ex. A: the prechorus and chorus of "Low"; ex. B: the halfway point of "Teen Angst"; and ex. C: the chorus of "Get Off This." That's a fine trio of pop-rock singles. I will, however, knock the band name. Cracker? That's it? That's all you've got? I guess it is darn difficult to top a name like Camper Van Beethoven.

What else?

• Not familiar with CVB? Then you at least owe it to yourself to listen to "Take The Skinheads Bowling."
• Are you a fan of all things David Lowery? Didya know he and his bands still perform? In fact, you can see both in one evening — on Sept. 13 at Campout 8 in Pioneertown, Calif.
• Who the heck are the matchstickmen Rossi wrote about? They would be the figures in L.S. Lowry's paintings.
• That I am aware of, there is no relation between David Lowery and L.S. Lowry.


Marci said...

I loved "Take the Skinheads Bowling" it was my intro to all that music my parents hated..Dead Milkmen, Descendents, Dag Nasty, Butthole Surfers. Ah to be young again!

Michelle K said...

OMG....classics of my high school years. Great memories!