Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Hatcher’s Junk Drawer #12: Musical Edition

I had two different column ideas set for this week but certain books I need for each of them haven’t shown up yet.

So instead, let me tell you about my speakers.

A long, LONG time ago, Chris Kohler built me a new computer when he heard me carrying on about how crappy mine was. (Today, he’s the award-winning illustrator of Sentinels and my own Silver Riders, but back then we were just a couple of geeks hanging out at Comic Book Resources. Some day I will get around to the column about how many of the old CBR Mission Beach Mafia have turned pro.)

It was a great computer and it lasted for well over a decade, but sooner or later all things return to the earth. Gradually we had to replace one component after another until the only remnant of the one Chris had pieced together for me were the speakers. I kind of liked having them still on the desk as a reminder of the remarkable act of friendship Chris had undertaken for me in building it. (He pooh-poohs this, saying it was just piecing together extra stuff he had lying around, but it was the hell of a lot more than that.)

But even the speakers finally gave out on me a couple of months ago…. well, one of them did. I was limping along on the remaining one until this week, when a nice book check came in and we had (some) disposable income. We took care of basic adult things, bills and so on, and when even after that we had money left over, I decided that I would look at replacing my computer speakers. (Not without some regret, but sentimentality had to step aside for function.)

I ended up with these. Nineteen bucks, including the shipping.

They arrived a couple of days ago and it was almost a religious experience. They are tiny but man, they sound great. Clearly, technology has made some strides in the years since Chris gifted me with the first pair. I have to admit that having real, quality stereo in here for the first time in ages is playing hell with my work schedule. I keep getting distracted by the cool music videos I’ve stumbled across.

Anyway. Since I can’t write either of the columns I had in mind for this week, I’m just going to share a few of those videos with you. It’ll give me an excuse to play them again, in loud glorious real stereo. Some of you may recall from the Thirty-Day Music Challenge that I am very fond of interesting cover versions of old favorites of mine. So here are a bunch I happened across, just surfing around the net. As you watch these, I recommend you take them full-screen; they’re much more entertaining when you can see the bands playing. And it goes without saying that I hope you’ve got a nice pair of speakers.

Here’s one I will never, ever get tired of. The best Batman theme cover ever. These guys committed to it.

It was pointed out to me that everyone’s in a costume; backing up the Caped Crusader you can see the Blues Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend circa Woodstock, and Ziggy Stardust on the drums.

Here’s another fun cover. Worth it just for the band-geek introduction.

Interestingly enough, Lalo Schifrin made that very connection and put a really nifty combo/medley of the two songs out on one of his own albums. I looked all over for his version, but I couldn’t find it.

I did find THIS one which is a completely different arrangement from Schifrin’s but it’s every bit as much fun. These guys are feeling the funk.

Here’s a very odd, but very cool, arrangement of “All Along the Watchtower.”

This is Spinning Jenny doing “Paint It Black.” Nothing particularly innovative here, I just really like it.

Here’s Phil Manzanera’s solo arrangement of the hit he had with Roxy Music, “Out of the Blue.” This one lives or dies on the violin solo and the young lady here does a really nice job.

This is one of the oddest and coolest things I turned up; Michael Stipe from R.E.M. and the Patti Smith band on New Year’s Eve, playing, of all things, “Wichita Lineman.” One of my favorite things is seeing bands having fun when they play live, and the affection on display here is a great example of this.

One more. You might have seen this but maybe not. This is Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart playing “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center Honors wherein one of the honorees that year was Led Zeppelin.

Seeing Robert Plant puddling up always gets me.

Anyway. I better stop before I use up all our bandwidth. We’ll let the Folsom Lake Symphony take us out….

Back next week with something cool.


  1. Le Messor

    Years ago, (2000) there was a concert series called The Ultimate Rock Symphony, or The British Rock Symphony, depending on where / when it was.

    I actually got to see it live in Sydney (Roger Daltrey broke his arm right before the Canberra concert).

    Anyway – my CD version CD has Anne Wilson performing Stairway. She’s great.

    (I don’t remember who performed it at the live version I went to; it could have been her, could also not.)

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    Nothing much to add, other than Laika & the Cosmonauts did some great covers of instrumental themes from tv and movies, including Mission Impossible, The Avengers, The Wild Angels, The IPCRESS File and a couple more. Great band, doing surf style instrumentals, who are contemporaries of Los Straitjackets (same label for their early stuff, in the US). I can thank Filmfax/Outre Magazine for introducing me to both.

  3. Edo Bosnar

    Yeah, I first saw that cover of Stairway a few years ago. It is truly epic.
    Otherwise, I often get lost chasing links to music videos on YouTube – it eats up a lot of time, but you also find cool and fun stuff, like this cover of “I Will Always Love You” that segues into Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” performed by The Band Perry on Letterman.
    I also recently came across this not-really cover of Ramble On (since Robert Plant is doing the singing). On full display though is something you mentioned above, i.e., it just looks like everyone on stage is enjoying the hell of themselves.

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