Oct 162013
 

As usual with We Are Scientists, they explain things better than we ever could. Here’s the statement they gave…

“The path to covering Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” was for We Are Scientists a long and twisted one, spanning at least two generations.

“We had Top Gun on VHS when I was a kid — we’d watch it three or four times a week. My dad would always play tasteful pedal steel whenever Kelly McGillis was on-screen. That’s kind of where the idea for it started,” says Chris.

Keith continues: “Chris and I first watched Top Gun together on the tour bus a few years ago, and I remember Chris kept singing these really lovely ambling pedal steel parts under his breath when Kelly McGillis was on-screen — well, I thought he was doing a trumpet at the time.”

Later, in the spring of 2013, the band decided to record a cover along with several other tracks that would ultimately land on the forthcoming Business Casual EP (Oct. 14). Chris volunteered that he had always wanted to do a version of “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton.

“Man, that song’s a total piece of shit,” Keith told him.

“Ha. I guess you’re right,” said Chris. Then, as was his habit during moments of tension, he began quietly humming an improvised pedal steel part for “Take My Breath Away.”

“Wait, you realize that’s pretty much the same chord structure as Wonderful Tonight, right?” Keith said.

“I… huh?”

“That Top Gun sex song — it’s pretty much just Wonderful Tonight without awful Eric Clapton. Let’s just cover that.”

They had found a solution that would let everybody win except Eric Clapton. The next day, they brought in multi-instrumentalist and occasional Scientist Max Hart, whose extemporized pedal steel part — both lilting and playfully reminiscent of Top Gun’s brazen sensuality — outdid even Chris’s gilded memory of those childhood recitals. When Andy Burrows’s pounding drums drop into the mix, the evocation of blasting jet engines and throbbing adult desire is unmistakeable and timeless.

“Everybody wins except Eric Clapton,” says Keith, “which of course is what everybody except Eric Clapton wanted.”

“Take My Breath Away” comes off the band’s new ‘Business Casual’ EP.

Sep 032010
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

You think Vermont music, you might think flanneled hippies strumming mandolins. Not Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They may come from the great wooded north, but their big soul sound comes straight from Dixie with a side of south-side Chicago. Potter is a vocal tour de force, a skinny white girl with an enormous voice. She can do a two-hour show without fading a bit and her hot four-piece band keeps right in step. Searing guitar solos abound, but nothing can upstage that voice.

Through years of near-constant touring, the band has amassed quite a stack of covers. In our latest Live Collection, we collect every concert cover we could find (thanks archive.org!). That includes blasts through Blondie, My Morning Jacket, and a whole lot of Neil Young – including a 14-minute “Cortez the Killer” that should be required listening for any rock band. Josh Ritter joins the band on John Prine’s “Pretty Good,” but otherwise they don’t need any help in blowing the roof off any building they play.

As a special bonus, below the main set we have the thematic new covers from their 2009 New Year’s Eve show. The band had clearly been spinning the Top Gun soundtrack a lot; they cover seven songs from the darn thing! And not just the original soundtrack either. The band apparently took to the 1999 Special Edition CD, cause they run through three of the four old-school bonus tracks as well. In between ’80s classics like “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone,” the band throws out Top Gun lines as a wink to clued-in audience members. “This is Ghost Rider requesting permission for a flyby!” Permission granted. Continue reading »

Aug 122010
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

My Morning Jacket made a name for themselves through epic live shows. Stretching on for up to three hours, the band’s sets don’t skimp on the covers. Their Bonnaroo sets are particularly legendary; their 2008 late night set explored funk with songs by Sly & the Family Stone, Funkadelic, James Brown, Kool & the Gang, Bobby Womack, The Velvet Underground, and Mötley Crüe. More recently they covered John Prine for a new tribute album (download it here).

“We’re trying to find amazing songs that people don’t really listen to anymore, who would hear them and go, ‘Oh, my god — why haven’t I listened to this forever?” drummer Patrick Hallahan told Spinner about what songs they select to cover. “They have to be out of rotation for a little while before we pick them up.”

In this installment of In the Spotlight we look at five of their best. The range spans from Americana to new wave, obvious choices like The Band mixed in with more surprising ones like Berlin. Some get performed for years while others only come out once or twice. The band plays a monster New York City stand in October, performing each of their albums for charity. Hopefully they’ll find time for a cover or two. Continue reading »