Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
They’ve been called “the ABBA of bluegrass punk,” and their label’s beautifully written artist page says they’re “doing their best to keep bluegrass from tottering meekly into a dust-covered coffin.” They’re the Meat Purveyors, and while their name may suggest a Victorian butcher shop, one listen to their musicianship and you’ll know that butchering is the last thing on their mind.
Currently on some kind of hiatus (nobody’s saying they broke up, as they’ve called it quits and un-quits twice before), they’re a band that boasts killer originals, with titles that bite like acid – “It Won’t Be Long (And I’ll Be Hating You),” “I’d Rather Be Your Enemy,” and “How Can I Be So Thirsty Today (When I Had So Much To Drink Last Night),” to name but a few. But it’s their covers that really showcase their unlimited imagination. From the Nashville soundtrack to the Human League, nobody’s safe from their talents – nor should they want to be.
The Meat Purveyors – Round and Round (Ratt cover)
If you thought seeing Milton Berle in the video for Ratt‘s glam metal classic “Round and Round” was the most incongruous thing about the song, think again. The Meat Purveyors’ cover from All Relationships Are Doomed To Fail (yep – their album titles have as much bite as their songs) jacks up the tempo to such a speed that there’s no time for any knowing winks to the listener. Nor should there be – they approach this song with the seriousness of a border guard, and guitarist Bill Anderson lets fly with playing that truly takes the breath away.
The Meat Purveyors – What Goes On (The Velvet Underground cover)
The Velvet Underground, likely as not, don’t strike anybody as a band whose music is ripe for pickin’ and grinnin’ – which makes this cover of “What Goes On” all the more valuable. It comes from the 1999 album More Songs About Buildings and Cows, and it proves Lou Reed’s street smarts can be dirt-road smarts under the right circumstances.
The Meat Purveyors – Monday Morning (Fleetwood Mac cover)
“Chummy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you hear the opening track of Fleetwood Mac‘s self-titled album, but it fits the Meat Purveyors’ version to a proverbial T. From 2004’s Pain By Numbers, it proves that a song can sound just as urgent in a barn as it does on a beach.
The Meat Purveyors – Hot Blooded (Foreigner cover)
Likewise, you can take “Hot Blooded” out of the arena, but you can’t take the crowd-pleasing joy out of “Hot Blooded.” Why would you want to? The Meat Purveyors certainly don’t, and 2006’s Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse (really – the best album titles in the business) features this blast of a Foreigner cover, seeking thrills and playing trills.
The Meat Purveyors – Burning Love (Elvis Presley cover)
Okay – by now you’re steeped in the Meat Purveyors’ song stylings, and you’d think “Burning Love” will be right in their wheelhouse; a raucous Elvis Presley number with threads of country already in it should really raise the roof in their hands. Well, here’s where they throw the biggest change-up you’ll ever see, turning the song into a C&W meditation on the toll love takes on a person. Jo Walston’s vocals really shine here.