Friday, September 27, 2013


Bizarro Sgt. Pepper's, Side Two

Maybe you have to have been a Vinyl Baby to get this, but the division between Side One and Side Two is significant.  How could you follow "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" without a moment to exhale, lift the needle, and turn over the record? And then once you had turned it over . . .

"Within You, Without You" [read the original]
Cover by Big Head Todd & the Monsters
A 90s band out of Colorado, so how would I know about them? Yet this cover, better even than Patti Smith's version, dives to the trippy heart of this song. Recorded for a George Harrison tribute album, it adds layers of shimmer and distortion that George Martin would never have imagined, then serves it all up with a blues jam twist. About time somebody put a little unh-hunh to raga rock.

"When I'm Sixty-Four" [read the original]
Cover by Cowboys on Dope
Now this is a hoot. A German country-rock band tackles this Paul McCartney music-hall chestnut and totally transforms it.  Minor key, for one thing -- how brilliant! The "cowboy" part of their name adds some down-and-dirty twang, but it's the "dope" part -- the gritty woozy undertone -- that makes this so delectable. And why shouldn't boozy losers also be able to imagine knitting by the fireside and renting a cottage by the Isle of Wight?

"Lovely Rita" [read the original]
Cover by Fats Domino
Okay, so maybe he loses the campy irony of the original.  Still, the King of New Orleans soul is out to score with this lady Rita, and he lays out some considerable charm to do so. Most telling variation from the original: "When are you free to have a drink [NOT TEA] with me?" The loungy tempo, the playful vocals -- it's all good, sugar.

"Good Morning Good Morning" [read the original]
Cover by Micky Dolenz
Who knew?  I'll admit to having been obsessed with the Monkees in the fall of 1966; for a while there, Davy Jones even toppled Paul McCartney from my fangirl list of must-haves. But it was Micky who really made the Monkees work as a rock/pop band, and now I can admit that. This particular gem from his 2012 solo album Remember -- a mixed bag at best -- kicks Lennon's tortured bio-tune into easy samba mode, which some may see as sacrilege. Not me. Micky runs the whole song through a California soft-rock filter and it comes out surprisingly well. Maybe John Lennon had a hard time getting through his daily grind in 1967 London, but in 2012 Micky is surfing life, shifting gears and chord changes when he has to, riding it all on a wave of copasetic whatever. I would have thought that this angry, conflicted song could never be dialed back to yoga mode. I was wrong.

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" [read the original]
Cover by the Persuasions
The original reprise offered a distinct contrast to the opening track -- let's go for contrast again. Whereas we had Jimi Hendrix jamming it up for Track 1, let's dial things back to 60s doo-wop with the Persuasions, jacking up the tempo and adding an insouciant wink of fun.

"A Day in the Life" [read the original]
Cover by John Mark Nelson
Coda or climax? It's never been clear which "A Day in the Life" was meant to be, and let's leave it in glorious ambiguity. This version is from the Minnesota Beatle Project, an intriguing 4-CD series (2009-2012) that celebrates a panoply of Minnesotans tackling Beatles material. A wunderkind from Minnetonka, MN, young John Mark Nelson somehow gets this complex and ambiguous song. He changes up the tempos and alters the textures of the song even more radically than John and Paul, intent on blending their disparate material, ever did. More importantly, Nelson restores to this song the youthful earnestness that we forgot it deserved. (Because really, how old were John and Paul when they wrote this sweeping indictment of mass media?)  His voice trembles with the sorrow that lives down deep in things - what more could this song deserve?

Friday, September 20, 2013


Bizarro Sgt. Pepper's, Side One

My current obsession with Beatles covers has led me for the past couple of weeks down some very interesting back alleys indeed.  My quest: to put together an entire Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track list, using only cover versions.  Let's call it my Bizarro Sgt. Pepper's.

It's a tricky proposition.  Sgt. Pepper's isn't just a landmark in pop history, it's a landmark in my personal pop biography. Back when it was released, in the summer of 1967 -- which you might know by its other name, the Summer of Love -- I was a geeky pre-teen in Indianapolis, far from the capitals of cool. I had to depend on my 16-year-old brother to clue me into the secret messages on this baffling new LP, upon which my beloved Fab Four were inexplicably turning into . . . something else.  He owned the record, so I had to wait until he wasn't home to steal it, to play in my own pink bedroom with the canopy bed. I lurked throughout that summer and fall, waiting for him to leave the house, obsessed with decoding this treasure box of music. Suffice it to say that I have listened to this record A LOT.

Now,  for those of us who grew up spinning Sgt. Pepper's on a vinyl turntable, the order of the songs is fixed and immutable. They must flow into one another seamlessly, going from the jaunty tap dance of "A Little Help from My Friends" straight into the phantasmagoria of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," and so on. My challenge was not only to find brilliant and creative covers -- NOT mere slavish imitations of the originals -- but also to get a sequence that would flow as well as the original album did.

Here's what I came up with. There's a link embedded for each to send you to the Amazon MP3; brackets after the song title send you to previous blog posts I've written about that song.  Face it, I'm still that geeky pre-teen, obsessed with Sgt. Pepper's.

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"  [read the original]
Cover by Jimi Hendrix.
At first I resisted -- as Uncle E will attest, I am on the record as being no Jimi Hendrix fan.  I just don't get it. Great guitarist, okay, but he rarely delivers what I want out of a rock song. Nevertheless, his whacked-out version of this opening track -- which I've read he was performing already in Stockholm 2 days after the LP was released -- puts a loose and goofy and utterly delicious spin on the original. He opens the throttle and lets its rock soul really soar, adding a little loungy soul-man stuff of his own.

"With a Little Help From My Friends" [read the original]
Cover by Johnny Chauvin and the Mojo Band
Yes, I too love the old-timey music-hall shuffle of the original, supremely perfect for Ringo Starr's limited voice. So what's an American equivalent of the British music hall sound? How about a little uptempo Cajun zydeco from this bar band out of Lafayette, Louisiana?  Chauvin's voice is infinitely better than Ringo's; he doesn't sound quite so hapless, but he sure does seem to enjoy the help of his band buddies. Lots of squeezebox going on, but some lively electric guitar, too. This song just makes me feel happy.

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" [read the original]
Cover by Fee Waybill
Formerly the frontman of the San Francisco band the Tubes (remember their 1975 debut single "White Punks on Dope"?), Fee Waybill has played a drugged-out rock star often enough on stage; the woozy textures of this cover sound totally authentic. He doesn't change much from Lennon's original -- why mess with something so very nearly perfect? -- but I like how he punches up the contrast between the waltzing verses and the lurching refrain. Some nice guitar decoration in there too -- I believe George Martin would have approved.

"Getting Better" [read the original]
Cover by Gomez
From their 2000 compilation Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline, this cover from the English indie band Gomez doesn't tinker too much with the arrangement, yet manages to find a mellow vibe within this song that Paul McCartney never had in 1967. The rhythms swings instead of punching percussively; the rumpled texture of the singer's voice -- think of it as bed-head vocals -- convey a sort of let's-do-brunch weekend zen. (Gomez fans, please help me out -- which guy is this singing?  I looooove his voice.) As Paul sang it, his new love was just beginning to make his life better; Gomez is practically dizzy with uxorious contentment.  Funny how little it takes to change a song.

"Fixing a Hole" [read the original]
Cover by the Wood Brothers
As I was just saying the other day....

"She's Leaving Home" [read the original]
Cover by Harry Nilsson
After a long Nilsson streak this summer, how delighted was I to find this song, on his 1967 album Pandemonium Shadow Show, released the same year as Sgt. Pepper. Like Hendrix, Nilsson was covering this song while it was still new, before it had been ossified by years of familiarity. Yet he delves deep, discovering bittersweet depths within it that to my mind outdo Paul's earnest rendition. I think of Harry Nilsson as one of our greatest interpreters of abandonment -- forever missing the father who walked out on him -- yet his sweetly yearning vocals always adding consoling heart to a song. He throws in an orchestra, he adds some weird percussion sound effects, he goes movie-music with this generation-gap melodrama -- and somehow it works. The haunting social commentary becomes a tender universal statement of loss and change. John's snide line "Fun is the one thing that money can't buy"? It's downright plangent when Harry sings it. I imagine John and Paul listening to this album in 1967 and thinking, "Wow -- we wrote that song?" That's my measure of their genius -- that their songs contain more than they ever consciously realized.

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" [read the original]
Cover by Will Taylor and Strings Attached
 "Mr. Kite" is such a freak-show of a song, it's really hard to top what Lennon did with it without going overboard.  Yet I like how this Austin ensemble pushes the envelope even further. Tons of strings, of course -- that's a given for this group (Taylor himself is plays jazz viola) -- but that includes banjos, blues guitar, the whole works. They switch around tempos, they go deep into the psychedelic effects, and the vocalist (someone named Will Walden?  I have no idea who he is, but I like his real-guy voice) takes liberties with the melody. Sure, it runs on, but so did the original -- a good song to fall asleep to if you wanted some strange dreams. And dig the little surprise at the end.

Stop, breathe, lift the needle . . . on to Side Two next!

Sunday, September 08, 2013


"I'm Only Sleeping" /
Rosanne Cash

So now we've heard from the folk folks, the soul contingent, and the reggae crew -- what about country artists?  It would seem like an obvious connection. There was a definite rockabilly streak trailing through the mid Beatles' catalog -- "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," "I'm A Loser," "She's A Woman," "What Goes On," "I'm Looking Through You" -- no doubt inspired by all those Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly records the Fabs listened to as boys in Liverpool. Country music even solved the perennial What To Do With Ringo question by providing the Buck Owens song "Act Naturally."

Yet surprisingly few country artists have tried their hand at Beatles covers. Sure, there are some gems -- I'm thinking of Emmylou Harris's doggone woeful "For No One," Dolly Parton's fast-break jig "Help," or Johnny Cash's going-to-meet-my-maker turn on "In My Life." Still, the only Beatles cover that ever hit #1 on the country charts was by Johnny's daughter Rosanne -- "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" (1989) transformed into a brisk little Texas two-step.

But Rosanne Cash recorded another Beatles cover, "I'm Only Sleeping," which was never released until it surfaced on her 1995 compilation Retrospective. And "I'm Only Sleeping" doesn't sound country at all -- reminding me that Rosanne Cash, like her daddy before her, is much more than just a country artist.

The Beatles' version of "I'm Only Sleeping" mesmerized me the minute I first heard it on Revolver back in 1966.  John Lennon claimed he was only writing about his fondness for sleeping (fast-forward a few years to John and Yoko's bed-in for peace) but the narcotized tempo, John's weary vocal, and the distorted backwards guitar blips telegraphed to all of us who were In The Know -- this was a Beatles drug song. I mean, come on! "When I'm in the middle of a dream / Stay in bed, float upstream" . . . "Please don't spoil my day / I'm miles away" . . .  "Lying there and staring at the ceiling / Waiting for a sleepy feeling" -- how could we NOT have thought this was about the hazy escapism of drugs?

In fact, I've thought of this as a druggie song for so many years, hearing Rosanne's version was like a shot of energy. Her robust contralto does not sound enervated or weary -- I get the impression that she's staying in bed because she's pissed off.  Or maybe -- I like this scenario even better -- she's an overworked mom who's finally got a few hours to herself and she does not want to be disturbed. 

Though she dials down the psychedelic effects -- her guitar is a brisk acoustic strum, the drumbeat has a little more kick to it, the background oohs hit their beat instead of oozing in -- Rosanne is clearly not going for a country sound here. She commits herself to that backbeat rhythm, and she doesn't deny the inherent spooky melancholy of Lennon's melody, with its circling chromatics and unresolved minor key. (Dig how the second half of each verse repeats the same melodic phrase three times, while the underlying chords shift restlessly -- "[Am] Please don't wake me / [G] No don't shake me / [Am7] Leave me where I am."). The electric guitar part (I'd love to know who played this for her) reads more as rock distortion than as country twang, adding another element of disorientation.

Staying in bed isn't about laziness, it's about escaping a complicated life, and even sleep doesn't drive away the demons. Members of the Cash family know about demons; I'm betting that Rosanne zeroed right in on this subtext. Whether it was about sleep or drugs, John Lennon's original song always begged the question:  What is there about your life that you so desperately need to escape?  Money, fame, critical acclaim, worldwide fan devotion, none of it made John Lennon any happier with himself.

Rosanne Cash may not answer that question, but she lets this song ask it all over again. If one definition of a good cover is that it makes you hear the original song afresh, then Rosanne scored big with this one.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


"And I Love Her" / The Wailers

For Stevie Wonder, crown prince of the Motown hit machine, doing a Beatles cover was a significant gesture. But now consider the case of Bob Marley, cranking out homegrown singles in Jamaica in 1965 with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer (just the Wailers back then, no "Bob Marley & the" about it). Of course they're listening to the new tunes coming out of the U.K., of course they had some idea that Beatlemania was sweeping the globe. They find a copy of A Hard Day's Night and give it a spin. Some good tunes on there -- wonder how they'd sound done Jamaican-style, just a little something for our local fans?

Well, they'd sound like this:

(Yes, that is Bob Marley in the middle on that album cover, long before the dreadlocks and the knit hat, before reggae became a political movement.)

The Wailers' version of "And I Love Her" was released as a single in 1965, only a year after the Beatles original. I imagine it got a lot of radio play in Kingston, but it never made it onto an album, apparently. I'd never heard this song at all until Marshall Crenshaw played it one night on his excellent Saturday night WFUV radio show The Bottomless Pit.  Trust MC to dig up a gem like this.

The Beatles double-A single "If I Fell / And I Love Her" is seriously one of my favorite records of all time, as I've gushed often before. Unfortunately I am not alone in this. There must be at least a hundred cover versions of this song, not to mention the thousands of lounge singers who've worked up a rendition. I can't bear to listen to most of them.  IMHO the original recording is just about perfect; it's sacrilege to cover it, even if you don't change a note.

Well, Bob Marley changes the notes, adding a plangent downward swoop at the end of each phrase, but rising exultantly on the "And I love her"s. He changes the tempo, too, trading in the bongos and samba for a shuffling reggae beat. He keeps the trademark guitar phrase but lets his horn section take it over, turning the intimate ballad into an anthem. Instead of doubling his own vocals, he communes with his buddies singing background harmonies. And somehow it all works, and works gloriously.

All those emotionally ambiguous chord fluctuations in the bridge? Gone. Instead, he relaxes into "A love like ours will never die," reassuring his sweetheart of his constancy. The world's a hard enough place, he seems to be saying -- why not trust in love to make it a little bit better?

Production values?  You've got to be kidding. The music industry in Jamaica in 1965 was strictly small-time -- this was well before Bob Marley became BOB MARLEY and built up reggae to world respect.

But that's what I love most about this record.  It's as sincere as it can be -- much more sincere than McCartney's charm offensive. Marley comes off simply as a guy who loves his woman and is inspired to sing his heart out. Who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


"We Can Work It Out" / Stevie Wonder

And now for something completely different...

It's one thing to cover a Beatles song if their records were the soundtrack of your childhood, the inspiration that made you decide to become a musician. But Stevie Wonder was their peer, more or less; with his first album released in 1962, he was already a Motown star when the Beatles first hit the scene. So why cover a Beatles hit?

Granted, Motowners were probably as eager to ride the tail of the Beatles phenomenon as anybody. If it helped them escape the confines of the soul charts and tap into a crossover market, all the better. Given that the Beatles themselves were influenced by American R&B, repaying the favor was only natural, and Beatles songs really did lend themselves to being soul-ified. (Check out Marvin Gaye's "Yesterday" or Gladys Knight's "Let It Be".)

But this wasn't just a filler track for Stevie; it was track two on his 1970 album Signed, Sealed, Delivered  and he released it as a single in 1971, which hit #13 on the Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy nomination. At a time when Stevie was intent on proving his chops as a songwriter and producer, he still invested this much in a cover song. You have to think there was something about this song that really spoke to him.

Well, duh -- there's something about this song that really speaks to me too.

But then what does Stevie do?  He steers the song straight into Funkytown. He kicks up the tempo, leads off with a sassy keyboard intro, scats the lyrics, and takes that McCartney syncopation to a whole new level. Listen to how he punctuates the line endings, with a bah-dum-pah guitar lick straight out of the Jackson Five. That fed-up John Lennon bridge, the thinly veiled threat about "Life is very short / And there's no time / For fussing and fighting"?  Stevie drops the spooky waltzing harpsichord entirely and sings this with straightforward peacemaking intentions.

While McCartney was pleading with his girlfriend, Stevie sails along on a wave of optimism and confidence.  Sure, we can work it out!  Suddenly this song is no longer about a romantic relationship -- it's about blacks and whites finding a common ground. He adds a musical break full of sweet yearning harmonica, coaxing all sorts of mellow sounds out of that lonesome blues instrument -- it sounds downright Burt Bacharach. Whenever Stevie returns to his harmonica prodigy roots, you have to know it's a good thing.

It took another ten years for Stevie and Paul to finally collaborate, and then the product was the cringe-worthy "Ebony and Ivory." They both should have known better. I prefer to pretend that never happened, and turn up "We Can Work It Out" one more time. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


"Fixing a Hole" /
The Wood Brothers

Wow, thanks for all the recommendations on Facebook -- evidently I have tapped into a rich vein of  music here. That I Am Sam soundtrack alone is chockful of Beatley gems.

So why wait?  Let's get cracking....

Now as you may recall, I'm a dedicated evangelist for the Wood Brothers, rock guitarist Oliver and jazz bassist Chris, who slip into this Americana mode like a pair of worn slippers whenever they get together. What started out in 2005 as a side project has grown into something enduring -- their fourth studio album, Muse, comes out in October -- and I love their quirky bluegrass-and-jazz-tinged roots rock.  This is from their 2009 album Up Above My Head, a collection of cover songs, though they've been known to include a cover song or two on their other albums as well.

The Sgt. Pepper's original "Fixing a Hole" is Paul McCartney Psychedelia Lite, neither druggy nor draggy -- sure, the lyrics free-associate, but Paul's trademark song-and-dance flair won't be denied. The phantasmagoric harmonies on "Where it will go . . . " are kept tethered by Ringo's steady soft-shoe drumbeat, and the verse's sinous melody and offbeat syncopations switch in the chorus to punchy rhythms and tic-like repetitions -- "And it really doesn't matter  / If I'm wrong I'm right / Where I belong I'm right / Where I belong."

He may want to let his mind wander, but he's still testy about the naysayers and critics. It all crests on a single yammering high note: "See the people standing there / Who disagree and never win / And wonder why they don't get in my door" (poor Paul, all those intrusive fans outside his St. John's Wood house), before swooping wearily back down to the next verse. I've always imagined that Paul wrote this song while doing household repairs, or at least thinking that the house needed repairs, before deciding instead to screw it all and just smoke a joint. Oh, and maybe write a song, which was after all his real job.

Of course I love this song -- of course -- but ultimately it is bound up in the particulars of the era, and the historical impact of Sgt. Pepper's, and the ongoing Lennon-McCartney dialectic. So when a cover version cuts the song free and lets it breathe again, it's a welcome breath of fresh air. 

As you'd expect, Oliver and Chris Wood take this song instead for a walk down a country road. The tempo's slowed down to a genial amble, the guitar's unplugged for a lazy strum, and the bass is plucking softly behind. No drums, no harpsichord intro; even the instrumental break is simply a free-form jazz ramble on the bass. Oliver's appealing creaky vocal adds to the loose-limbed charm of this song, as does the low-fi production quality. (The video of them singing this in a stairwell fits perfectly.)  It respects the original, and yet brings something new to the table.

What I love is how Oliver changes things up, scatting the melody a bit, and syncopating McCartney's syncopation even further. He makes us listen to the melody like it's something new, makes us hear words that weren't emphasized in the original. Suddenly I hear the first verse differently:  "I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in / And stops my mind from wondering where it will go." He adds minor-key intervals, turning McCartney's mysterious hints (I mean drugs, wink wink) into a what-can-you-do sigh of modern melancholy. Instead of Macca's doubled vocals, the Woods give us close brother harmonies that really hit the gritty discords, wringing them out, making us wait deliciously for the chord finally to resolve. He slides around on the chorus, straying from the one-note phrases, as if shrugging his shoulders -- he's not bugged so much by those silly disagreeing people. That lovely long pause before "I'm taking the time for a number of things"? He really does take the time.

This cover version isn't psychedelic at all, nor does it try to be. After all, 40 years after Sgt. Pepper, getting high is no longer a coded secret, an act of defiance, a willful escape from the status quo -- it IS the status quo. The Wood Brothers aren't tripping, they're on vacation, and that makes this old song new again. Isn't that what we want from a cover?

Monday, September 02, 2013


"Nowhere Man" / Paul Westerberg

A really good cover of a really great song is a rare and wonderful thing, and there's nothing harder than covering a Beatles song. Considering that almost your entire audience already knows the original, you've got to walk a tricky line. On the one hand, if you merely imitate the original, why even bother to record it? But on the other hand, the original was done so right, if you change it too much, you're committing sacrilege.

Still, a few artists have turned the trick, and as a lifelong Fab Four fanatic, when I find a memorable Beatles cover, I snatch it up right away.  I'm always on the hunt for these, so if you're got a favorite, please let me know about it. 

I would never have expected a great Beatles cover from alt-rock pioneer Paul Westerberg, even though I am secretly a fan of his post-Replacements acoustic stuff. (I came to the game late -- Westerberg's solo music was actually my intro to the Replacements, not the other way around.)  Yet as soon as I heard this song -- you'll find it on his best-of album Besterberg or the soundtrack of the movie I Am Sam -- it revolutionized how I hear this song.

John Lennon claimed that "Nowhere Man" came to him like magic at dawn, after hours of desperately trying to crank out a song for the Rubber Soul album, keenly aware no doubt that Paul McCartney had already tossed off several beauties. (Ah, the fruits of that rivalry....) Back in the early days, songs came so easily to John and Paul, they could scribble a new tune in half an hour during a recording break. Writer's block must have terrified John, like a portent that the jig was up, that he would finally be exposed as the fraud he always secretly thought he really was.

And then, out of the blue came this sublime little folk song, aching with loneliness and existential despair. For once, John abandoned his usual clever puns and snarky commentaries and laid his orphaned soul bare. Though the song claims to observe and address the Nowhere Man, John is of course himself the Nowhere Man, a lost soul behind the mask of his biting wit, and he takes himself wistfully to task for "making all his nowhere plans for nobody." The world may be at his command, but he doesn't trust that one bit.

In the Rubber Soul version, however (which by the way we Americans only got on Yesterday . . . And Today), John has a little help from his friends, who chime in harmonies and la-la-lala's on the chorus. There's a gently rocking tempo, Ringo's chipper drumbeat, and George's twangy guitar break to counteract the song's melancholy. When we first heard it we knew it was a sad-dish song, in the same way that "I'll Follow the Sun" and "Things We Said Today" were sad-dish songs. But the Beatles were a pop group, for chrissake.  Producer George Martin was not about to let them go full-on depressive.

But Paul Westerberg?  Sitting in his basement studio in Minneapolis, making his own handmade solo recordings?  Nobody was around to stop him from scuba diving to the heart of melancholy -- and this cover brilliantly adds a new dimension to Lennon's song as a result.

It's just him and his guitar, the tempo dialed down, the guitar gently picking instead of strumming. Even Westerberg's creaky, scratchy voice is an asset to this track. He sounds like an ordinary guy, observing the Nowhere Man from a distance, awed by the fact that "isn't he a bit like you and me." He's critical, but hesitantly so -- "He's as blind as he can be / Just sees what he wants to see / Nowhere man, can you see me at all?" And oh, he wants the Nowhere Man to see him -- he wants Lennon to know he's there, even though the guy is dead by now, mowed down because of his own celebrity. There's an elegiac quality here that Lennon could never have put into this song. It bears a weight of history; it is transformative.

 And yet in the third verse PW can step up to the plate and counsel the guru: "Nowhere Man, don't worry / Take your time, don't hurry / Leave it all, till somebody else / Lends you a hand." You can't tell me that this guy doesn't feel at least a tiny bit the same burden of carrying on a legacy. I love how he falters behind the beat, tentative, testing the waters. The fade-and-repeat ending drifts into a subtle rendition of "Taps" -- nuance, nuance, nuance.

A cover that transforms the original? Turn me on, dead man.