Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Adapt and Survive
After the show at the Cottage Bistro Friday night, Super Robertson gave me a lengthy explanation as to why The Beggars hadn’t put “SarahLou2” in the set. Maybe he thought that he had curtailed some Mule ego trip. The explanation wasn’t necessary. I didn’t care that they hadn’t played it. I’d had a good time, and the non-Jackass Beggars songs were already slotting themselves into my mental jukebox. “I am a failure and I know it” was a common refrain around the place all weekend.

Smash recently pointed me in the direction of Super’s 21 Tandem Repeats album, a release I’ve neglected terribly. The Beggars have adapted a handful of songs from it for their set, whipping them into stage-ready form. The original recording is nicely layered, sometimes wispy and ethereal, courtesy of a mix by the Shockker. Played live by a three-piece rock band, the songs become loose and friendly three-chord toe-tappers. I really enjoy it when bands can adapt their music to different group configurations, venues and the like.

Stoke, the headliners on Friday, have done the same thing to a certain extent. They played a revised version of “Paulina” (from the Huxley album) that I hadn’t heard before. It was always a great song, and I’m glad Alick’s reworked it for the black ‘n’ blues format. As far as I could tell, the revisions excised most of the Scorpions-like stuff from the original (“You’re my Warsaw woman,” etc.), and rejigged the bridge or middle 8 or something.

When Stoke play it’s interesting to hear how their drummer plays some of the parts I recorded originally. I like what he does with Klagg’s “Orange Cat.” It’s funkified in a manner I couldn’t muster when Ian first came up with the riff. I thought his treatment of “Spider in a Jar” on Friday night wasn’t as sympathetic to the needs of the song, however. I remember working on those parts (in consultation with Alick) for quite a while before we recorded it. I always thought of the song as a little epic, with each verse/chorus building on the next, restrained at first, then introducing new elements with each section, then a final release for the concluding solo. You could say the new approach is groovier. It’s certainly not enough of a deviation to ruin the song.

Unfortunately he didn’t heed the unwritten law of the Bistro and make another vital adjustment to his playing—he was too loud. Or maybe I’m too old.

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