Friday Musical Thought Chain: Inferior Cover Songs By Sexy Female Rockers!

Am I the only one hearing rumblings of a summer package tour featuring Courtney Love's latest version of Hole and Billy Corgan's latest version of Smashing Pumpkins?  Will they share Melissa Auf Der Maur?

By the way, anyone who hasn't given  Auf Der Maur's solo work the consideration it deserves needs to click this clip and thank me later.

Admit it, that was way cooler than you expected.

She has a great voice, unique enough to stand out when you hear it because, you know, NO AUTOTUNE REQUIRED.  What surprised me was her presence as a front woman.  Very understated, but confident, like a punk rock Lisa Loeb.  Who?

Dude, you don't know about Lisa Loeb?

Get this, she was a total nobody who managed to befriend neighbor Ethan Hawke and, through him, get her song placed in a legitimate Hollywood film and subsequent soundtrack.  The film was "Reality Bites" and the song was "Stay (I Miss You)", which ended up getting tons of airplay and ultimately went all the way to #1 on the singles chart.

The only artist to score a #1 hit with NO record deal:  Lisa Loeb.

The motto of this story: B-level actors make for great A&R guys.  Ethan played the song for director Ben Stiller, who insisted that it close the movie.  Hawke and Stiller, those guys made it happen.

If I recall correctly, James Barber (one of my FB pals these days) signed her to Geffen.  I've always meant to ask him the particulars of that deal and what the leverage of a #1 hit got her in the negotiations.  Big advance?  Huge publishing deal?  Expiring minds wanna know.

If you think about it, "Stay" had the same impact on cute smart girls that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" had on everybody else.  She was like a bad-ass Natalie Merchant at a time when we really needed one.

Thing is, I can't help think that she opened the door for bands like The Cranberries and Cardigans, whose tunes were beguiling to American ears, but also for Sixpence None The Richer, whose lukewarm coffee house sink water version of The La's already amazing "There She Goes" is an embarrassment to recorded sound.

As it happens so rarely, when I hear The La's version in the car these days, all conversations are ON-HOLD.

The song is literally perfect in every way and gives me the most joyous shiver when I hear it.  Sixpense's version lulls one into a stupor, making the commercial that surely follows sound positively BIF BANG POW by comparison.  It's the same reason stations that used to play Talk Talk's "It's My Life" are now play the No Doubt version.  After five minutes of Gwen Stefani's most heartfelt Fran Drescher imitation, cute as they both may be, now I'm dying for a Geico commercial.

As for Sixpence None The Richer, they truly deserve their own wing in Hell for unleashing that most dreadful of soft-pop earworms that radio just cannot play enough, even all these years later.  The song that ruined forevermore the word "Kiss Me".

Thing is, as dreadful as they were musically, the singer was kinda cute in a Jennifer Jason Leigh sorta way. Wait, the singer's first name is Leigh.  Wow, talk about symmetry.  Wait, did she just say "Kiss me out of the bearded barley"?

Oh, how far we'd fallen from the days of sassy blondes singing for punky bands like The Primitives Transvision Vamp, and Darling Buds.  I still get wood whenever I hear the Primitives' "Crash".  Their whole existence summed up in one perfect blast of Blondie on steroids.

In watching this live performance of the tune, I'm struck by the bass player totally blowing the look of the band.  he's straight out of a Maiden cover band.  If he'd been playing a Jackson or Charvel, I'd have had to stop watching, lest my precious porcelain image of the band be ruined by reality.

As for you, Transvision Vamp, don't think you're off the hook.  After all, it was your "drum-machine-and-Bon-Jovi-haircut" version of Holly & The Italians' punk anthem "Tell That Girl To Shut Up" that launched bottle blond Wendy James' briefly up the U.S. charts.  Before I'd even had a chance to finish my double-take, though, T.V. were gone.  I can't help wonder if Holly Vincent got some nice royalty checks out of that.

Anyone not familiar with the Holly & The Italians version needs to check it out now, funk soul brother.  In the meantime, I wanna turn you onto this clip of the band performing "Youth Coup" on Old Grey Whistle Test.  She's like Winona Ryder and Tina Fey mashed into one gum-chewing punk princess.

If you aren't in love with Holly by the three-minute mark, first, check for a pulse, and then proceed to kicking your own ass for being a tin-eared lunkhead.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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