Cover Me: Mark Bacino’s Queens English
In the latest installment of “Cover Me,” power-pop prince Mark Bacino re-envisions his latest album, Queens English (DreamCrush/ Redeye), which dropped earlier this summer on Amazon and iTunes. In addition to granting the Bad Penny a downloadable MP3 (scroll to the bottom of the post), he wonders what the songs would sound like if they were performed by Steve Earle, Jeff Tweedy, even Archie & Edith Bunker – and seals it all with a Kiss.
Cover Me: An ongoing series in which musicians reveal the artists they’d most like to hear covering their songs.
“Who Are Yous? (Prelude)”
Since the leadoff track on Queens English is a short, string-centric instrumental, I thought who better to cover it than New York’s own, post-classical string quartet – Ethel. As the tune’s vibe attempts to balance on that line between the classic and the contemporary, so too does the great Ethel.
I could think of only two people qualified to cover a glam-rock song whose odd, lyrical subject matter explores the New York borough of Queens as well as the issue of neighborhood gentrification – Stanley Eisen and Gene Klein, two Queens boys better known to the world as Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of Kiss. Childhood heroes of mine who know a thing or two about rock, the outer-boroughs and identity crisis.
In a perfect world, this British music hall ode to suburban delusion and cube farming would be covered by none other than Muswell Hillbillies-era Raymond Douglas Davies. His slightly off-kilter vocal style meets deadpan sarcasm would, undoubtedly, serve the song infinitely better than my vocal take.
“Muffin in the Oven”
In my mind this somewhat silly song about the somewhat serious topic of unexpected expecting would lyrically and musically be a perfect fit for the world’s greatest unsung band, NRBQ. Featuring Joey on lead vocals and backed by the Whole Wheat Horns, I could easily see “The Q” making this Lovin’ Spoonful-esque shuffle their own.
I would gladly never sing this song again if the amazing Randy Newman agreed to cover this track. His slightly sarcastic vocal stylings and piano accompaniment would be the ultimate companions to a song whose cheeky lyrics liken the trials of first-time parenthood to a stay at Guantánamo.
“Angeline & the Bensonhurst Boy”
For the song that pays tribute to my parental units, I’d have to offer my folks the royal treatment and give the track to Sir Paul McCartney. I think a Revolver-era Macca would, of course, hit this out of the park and, really, who better to sing the praises of a working-class couple made good than a knight from the streets of Liverpool?
“Bridge & Tunnel”
I’d love to see this track in the hands of one of my all-time faves, Harry Nilsson. Nilsson’s beautiful A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night-era croon set against an orchestral background paying tribute to the often maligned NY B&T set would be well worth the commute in my book. And Harry’s originally from Crooklyn, yo!
My choice of cover artist for this moody ballad would be the great singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston. A master of storytelling and left-of-center character study, Freedy is definitely well-equipped to sell a song that describes the bipolar life of an inanimate garment.
Although framed as a pop song, I’ve come to feel this tune could also be rendered via a more twangy approach; as such I’d love to hear the wonderful Steve Earle’s take on this Queens County “country” tune complete with its story of townie pride and middle-class life just outside the big town.
“Ballad of M & LJ”
Written for my son, this tune is probably the most personal cut on the album, making it the hardest in terms of selecting a potential cover candidate. Ultimately, I came up with esteemed Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Jeff being one of the finest musicians working today as well as the father of two boys, I’d be more than honored to have him stand in as surrogate Dad to my day-in-the-life tune chronicling father and son pals way busy doing something close to nothing.
“Who Are Yous?”
This was the easiest (and probably the most leftfield) of choices. I’d die to hear this album closer as covered by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton (a.k.a. Archie & Edith Bunker) of “All in the Family” fame. As longtime, imaginary residents of Astoria, Queens, I figure an Archie and Edith front-parlor duet could offer a fitting version of this anti-hipster tune which curmudgeonly laments the passing of old-time New York.
• Paper Tongues’ installment of “Cover Me”
• Research Society’s installment of “Cover Me”
• Mark Bacino’s installment of “Cover Me”
• Cassorla’s installment of “Cover Me”
• French Miami’s installment of “Cover Me”
• Cougar’s installment of “Cover Me”
Go here for more info on Mark Bacino.