In House #1716: The Walkmen Cover Nilsson's Pussy Cats; New Dr. Dog
Beginning in 1973, for reasons unmattering here, John Lennon and Yoko Ono split up for a period of eighteen months, later to be called Lennon's "lost weekend." Freedom restored, Lennon headed for southern California intent on relishing his liberty, if not outright abusing it, and met up with new-found friend Harry Nilsson. In the several months that followed, the pair (along with characters like Ringo Starr and Keith Moon) wreaked havoc on Hollywood and were thrown out of clubs left and right for their destructive and belligerent behavior. Somehow along the way, they also managed to record Nilsson's Pussy Cats, an album that has grown notorious over the years for both the bender of a backdrop against which it was created, and the often chaotic (but ultimately rewarding) product the situation produced. Lennon served as producer and also contributed vocals to the sessions-- Nilsson's own vocals became progressively more harsh as the recordings wore on as he attempted to sing through a ruptured vocal cord he suffered early on. There are several originals included, but also a truly random assortment of covers: everything from Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," to "Rock Around the Clock," to the children's song "Loop de Loop."
Skip exactly thirty-two years, to January of 2006. After completion of their most recent full-length, A Hundred Miles Off, New York City's Walkmen began discussing the idea of a note-for-note re-creation of one of their favorite albums: indeed, Nilsson's Pussy Cats. They proceeded to call in some of their friends, including Mazarin's Quentin Stoltzfus, Tomorrow's Friend's Alessandra Maria, Ian Svenonius, and Rockwell (later to be collectively dubbed the Saturday Night Marcata BBQ Chorus); and round up the rare musical instruments, including a glockenspiel, a table saw, a triangle, and other various and sundry music/noise makers. The result is a rather astonishing sonic copy, a true homage to the spirit of Lennon's and Nilsson's original recording. Hamilton Leithauser sounds particularly at home as the lead voice behind the songs (especially on Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross"), and his somewhat hoarse vocals provide a generally solid copy of Nilsson's shredded cords. Pussy Cats Starring The Walkmen comes out October 24th on the Record Collection label.
In House #1716.
Focus: Upcoming release from The Walkmen, Pussy Cats Starring The Walkmen, plus new music from the Pernice Brothers, Dr. Dog, and more.
The Walkmen, from Pussy Cats: "Loop De Loop" (MP3)
In House PODCAST #184