The idea in and of itself wasn't a new one. As soon as the first song was ever written, the first cover song probably followed closely behind. More recently, publications and websites have been pulling bands together for cover song series for years, with The Onion A.V. Club's "A.V. Undercover" probably being the best known current example.
There were, however, a couple of things that made "Completely Covered" unique. Firstly, most cover song projects give the bands involved at least a certain modicum of choice: an artist is selected, or a list of songs presented, and bands are usually given the chance to pick their poison. But for "Completely Covered" what intrigued me was not "how would these bands take on Brittany Spears," but rather how a bunch of different minds and talents would choose to look at exactly the same material. It was meant to come off less like a tribute CD, and more as an examination of perspectives.
But more importantly, of course, it was local. Musical projects that try to incorporate a large number of Des Moines-area musicians are few and far between. There's the occasional local music festival, though those tend to be highly genre-specific. The DMMC's annual offerings of GDP and Little BIG Fest are probably the highest profile examples, though they are notoriously prone to their own special set of politics. Juice has been producing their terrific "Side Sessions" video series since August, and it really highlights what kind of fun, creative things you can do with local music in Des Moines when you've got a little money to throw at your ideas.
But Band Bombshell had no cash, and one really can not heap enough praise on Bryon Dudley and Nova Labs for his willingness to hop into the project with both feet, and do all of the recording and mastering for nothing more than the fun of the project, a banner ad and a hearty thank you. The series also stands as a credit to the musicians who took part. When I pitched the idea to them all, they were given the basic premise, but were not told what song they were going to be working on until after everyone had said yes. It was a bit of a gamble for everyone involved and one that required more than a little adventurous spirit. It was incredibly fun to watch it all come together.
For today's look back, we turn to The Other Brothers, a throwback rock trio consisting of front man Eli Clark, drummer Jason Kadiwhompus and bassist Larry Enos.
The Other Brothers' track was the first one I received a rough cut of. Up until then, the whole idea was still very theoretical. Bands had said yes, but while everyone was working on their offerings, progress was impossible to gauge. There was still the very real possibility that the series would either wind up sounding awful, or falling through altogether. The moment I opened the email with this song in it and let it play, I knew everything was going to be alright.
The Brothers were also one of the bands who opted to pull the song almost completely apart. Ditching much of Kanye's touch, and stripping the song down to the Ray Charles hook. The result was not only a great song, but actually wound up being the first thing The Other Brothers would actually record. Months later, when the band would headline a Band Bombshell-sponsored show at Gas Lamp (the results of which would become their "Live at Gas Lamp" album), the Other Brothers also became the first band to actually play their cover live. Now, in case you missed it the first time around, here it is again.