Like many music fans I love a good ‘side project’. In fact, in many ways the cassette experiment (and the bestselling kindle book that will hopefully follow in its wake) is my own little ‘side project’. It’s not actually my main source of income – I know that many of you will be deeply relieved to hear that.
‘Side projects’ at their best are a way for creative musicians to keep themselves fresh and at their worst are bolt-holes for commitment-phobes.
Damon Albarn has a pretty mean line in side projects, and over the years he and his bandmates have proved helpful to other ‘side projecters’. Thom Yorke loves a good ‘side project’ too, with his performance on Unkle’s ‘Rabbit in your headlights’ being one of my favourites. But for me the ‘side project’ to end all ‘side projects’ (and if you know me this will come as no surprise) is Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s self titled 1985 masterpiece (which unfortunately, search as I might in the spare room, I can’t seem to find).
One of the major delights of the cassette experiment has been rediscovering the many albums that entered the loft as caterpillars (not all ugly, hairy caterpillars mind) and have emerged as extremely attractive butterflies (but not the ones who have wings that look like big eyes to scare birds away – they’re just creepy). One such caterpillar is our cassette of the day, a 1990 ‘side project’ for 75% of R.E.M. and 100% of Warren Zevon, ‘Hindu Love Gods’ by, well, Hindu Love Gods.
It’s an album that used to be a very likeable caterpillar, but after a few listens in good old 2013, it’s emerged as a rollicking, rocking, bluesy butterfly.
It’s an album of great covers, many, but not all, are blues classics and it sounds convincingly like it was recorded in one take by four obsessive fans who just so happen to be able to play and sing just a little bit.
Initially, as with all cover albums, I loved the tracks where I knew the originals best. So a brilliantly breakneck ‘Raspberry Beret’ and a scorching version of The Georgia Satellites’ ‘Battleship chains’ stood out. As did the boys’ version of the age-old classic ‘Junko Partner’, which I knew best by The Clash, which is here rendered in the extremely listenable style of a drunken Elvis by Warren, who is on top form throughout.
But the more you listen, the more the other tunes start to rise to the top. The opener, a version of Robert Johnson’s ‘Walkin’ Blues’ sets the tone magnificently. The opening track on side 2 ‘Mannish Boy’ is a corker too. But when push comes to shove it’s on the double entendre laden ‘Crosscut Saw’ that the album impresses most. It’s a brilliant version of the track, with everyone apparently belting out a different tune and a different rhythm that somehow come together to form a wonderful, raucous, classic whole.
Listen too for what seems to be a giant biscuit tin used to augment Bill Berry’s drum kit, which he uses to spectacular effect.
Label – Giant records
Year – 1990
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