At least for Lonesome, Onry and Mean, a good cover is one that takes an old chestnut in a new direction. And if about halfway through the chorus a light bulb flashes on in the brain: "Eureka, Batman, I know this song." The Hickoids' new album of all British-rock covers album Kicking It With The Twits meets our criteria in spades.
Jeff Smith and longtime partner in crime Davy Jones have selected eight British rock hits, run them through the land of conjunto and Augie Meyers, and come out the other end with one of the most satisfying rock albums we've heard this year. They knock "Benny & the Jets,"
"Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In the Shadows,"
and "Brontosaurus" out of the park with a great dash of South Texas soul.
"I had the idea to do the record quite a while," says Smith. "I had four songs already picked and Davey and I just made a list and picked the other five songs in about six minutes. So that's how much thought and time [went] into planning the repertoire."
"We've always had a rule that we wouldn't cover the Stones because so much of what gets covered of theirs is just so obvious. So we were looking for an obscure Stones hit and 'Have You Seen Your Mother' worked."
According to Smith's liner notes, "This is our own little tribute to the sexually deviant rock'n'rollers of the British Isles.
He continues: "The Brits brought a sexual freedom, ambiguity, and fetishization to their original compositions that would never have flown in the U.S. at the time, and went beyond the watered down innuendo that scraped past the censors in the States.
"One way or the other, we wanted something with a hint of sexual deviancy in each song we chose," says Smith.
"Like 'Pictures of Lily' - that is obviously a song about masturbation, even though Sir Pete Townsend insists these days that it's not. And Elton John, of course, is a world-class twit. And we've got Brian Eno's 'Needles In the Camel's Eye.' If you look at that album cover [Here Come the Warm Jets, 1974] there's a lot of androgyny going on."
Smith and mates close this torrid set with The Damned's "Neat, Neat, Neat."
"'Neat' kinda paved the way for a lot of goth," he says. "That album had a couple of songs about necrophilia even though this song doesn't have that in it. But that album had a lot of sexual deviancy, either implied or documented."
Smith doesn't see the album as a departure for the zany band he's helmed for 25-plus years now.
"We've always been out there over-the-top with sexual content in our songs, so this is nothing new," he says. "But I think it's the best-sounding album we've ever done."
With Poor Dumb Bastards, 10 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Dr., 713-862-3838.
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