The other day, Rocks Off was researching another blog, and we stumbled across Duran Duran's 1995 all-covers LP Thank You on Spotify. Then we listened to it all the way through, on purpose.
Recorded when the Birmingham-born band was at a post-"Ordinary World" fork in the road, Thank You wasn't the Durannies' contractual kiss-off to Capitol/EMI, as some might assume -- that actually came with 1997 stiff Medazzaland -- but it was probably the coup de grace that doomed the band's career with the label.
The album actually starts off OK, with a crunchy-guitar version of Grandmaster Melle Mel's old-school rap nugget "White Lines (Don't Do It)," but Lou Reed's anemic "Perfect Day" is an early sign things are heading south. Never mind Public Enemy's "911 Is a Joke," there is no reason they should have ever even rehearsed the Doors' "The Crystal Ship," and by the time Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" comes around, Thank You is astoundingly bad. No thank you.
Eventually, Duran Duran recovered nicely, and will join Snow Patrol, Stereophonics and Paolo Nutini at a concert in London's Hyde Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies of the next month. Now that's a good gig. But Thank You taught them a lesson, once and for all, that some bands are better off sticking to their own material.
Other groups, though, are quite good at singing other people's songs. Whether they limit themselves to a certain artist, a broader genre or style (New Wave, hair-metal), or just anything with chords or a drum part, cover bands have to learn a whole different skill set. They are sometimes derided by their fellow musicians who insist that playing "original" music will always be superior, but also find that the money can be much better and the work much steadier. If nothing else, it usually turns out to be a good way to pay the bills while working on those original songs.
Starting next month, the Houston Press and Rocks Off are pleased to present some of the area's best cover and tribute bands every Friday afternoon in House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room and Foundation Room at our inaugural "Cocktails & Covers" happy hours. Unwind after work or gear up for a night out with your friends and some of your favorite songs. And drink specials. What could be better?
Shows start at 7 p.m. Tickets go on sale this Friday for the first two C&Cs, featuring Skyrocket and the Molly Ringwalds. The rest of the shows, starting July 27 with Lovefool, are free. Won't you join us?
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All tickets sold online are subject to service fees during checkout, but these are the advertised base ticket prices: $12 advance/$13 day of show (Skyrocket); $10 advance/$15 day of show (Molly Ringwalds).