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.
Kevin Dotson got the name Linus of Hollywood from his wardrobe bearing a similarity to that of the Peanuts character. A self-described metalhead in his youth, he started out in the pop-punk band Size 14; by the time he was releasing solo work, he was radiating California, from his nom de tune to the good vibrations coming off his sunny melodies in waves.
Oh, and he does covers too…
Linus of Hollywood – Sunday Mornin’ (Margo Guryan cover)
Margo Guryan’s 1968 album Take a Picture never rose above cult status, but that cult knows a baroque pop masterpiece when it hears one. Linus ensured that others would hear the album by rereleasing it on his Franklin Castle label; he also covered its opening track, “Sunday Mornin'” (“I knew I had to record the song as soon as I heard it,” he said), thus following in the footsteps of Julie London, Bobbie Gentry, and Spanky & Our Gang. Decent company, and he keeps it very well.
Linus of Hollywood – Run To Me (Bee Gees cover)
Linus takes the Bee Gees song about a man willing a broken-hearted girl to seek him out for comfort (there’s no way he would have spoken a single word of these lyrics to her), and creates a version that should have every young Hollywood screenwriter who hears it running to write a romantic comedy, just so they can showcase this song right smack in the middle of it.
Linus of Hollywood – Hot Child in the City (Nick Gilder cover)
Nick Gilder wrote a song about an underage prostitute, cleverly disguised the lecherous tone in catchy threads, and turned it into a multinational #1; karma being what it is, he’s currently residing in the “Where Are They Now” file with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and the guy from the Soloflex ad. In Linus’s hands, “Hot Child in the City” is so free and breezy that the lecherousness of the original isn’t just disguised – it’s vanished.
Linus of Hollywood – Need You Around (Smoking Popes cover)
Linus returns to the bossa nova sound with his cover of “Need You Around.” The Smoking Popes’ original sounds like Morrissey fronting the Ramones; here, Linus’s vocal doesn’t have a hint of baritone croon or blast-off punk to it, but the tenderness it brings to the song makes it equally endearing, in such a different way.
Linus of Hollywood – Warm and Beautiful (Paul McCartney & Wings cover)
Listen to What the Man Said was an all-Paul tribute album that featured covers of a surprising amount of Mr. McC’s lesser-known solo stuff. Linus can take credit for finding the most deeply buried treasure and getting it to glitter the brightest; he took “Warm and Beautiful,” the piano ballad that closed Wings at the Speed of Sound, and turned it into rich, warm a cappella number, arranged so perfectly that it’s a wonder Glee hasn’t tried to steal it yet.
More Linus of Hollywood can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and linusofhollywood.com.
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