Superheavy (I’m already tired of typing that) is a supergroup with the following super members:

Joss Stone – English soul singer with super hair.
Damian Marley – Reggae musician and son of Bob Marley. Also has super hair.
Dave Stewart – With Annie Lennox, he was The Eurythmics.
A.R. Rahman – Indian composer of film and orchestral music.
Mick Jagger – Whoever this guy is, he does a pretty good impersonation of Mick Jagger, even better than Billy Idol’s impersonation of Billy Idol in The Wedding Singer.

This cross-pollinization of cultures and genres fails to germinate, except for the track “I Can’t Take It No More,” which is almost bearable. The other songs fade from memory while you’re listening to them. Despite its super-heavy origins, Superheavy is nowhere near as good as Soundgarden’s Superunknown, Wayne Shorter’s Super Nova, or Rick James’ “Super Freak.” I’m willing to bet it’s inferior to Liberace’s Super Hits, but I’m unwilling to do the research to find out.

Cover of the Week
Eels is a one-name underground indie god best known for “Novacaine for the Soul.” I was surprised to discover his cover of The Left Banke’s “Pretty Ballerina,” but I guess you’re never too cool for ’60s pop. Eels retains The Left Banke’s baroque string flourishes, but he speeds things up (his version is about 15 seconds shorter) while plinking away on what sounds like Schroeder’s toy piano. The original featured a male falsetto; Eels is quite hoarse. He sings “Pretty Ballerina” to a crowd that not only doesn’t laugh him off the stage, they cheer. I did too.

“Pretty Ballerina” was released in 1967 when I was a dreamy 12-year-old who didn’t know the difference between love and lust. It took me decades to figure that one out. Hearing the original always zaps me back to junior high, so I’m relieved to have Eels’ tough-love interpretation to drag me home.

The Left Banke had another, even bigger hit with “Walk Away, Renee.” The Four Tops covered this one, though on the chorus they sound like they’re channeling the Baha Men (“Who Let the Dogs Out?”). Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy on Adieu False Heart combined their beautiful voices on “Walk Away, Renee.” It’s too gorgeous – as much as I love this song, I have to say that The Left Banke don’t deserve it!

Fans of ridiculous pop bands that experiment with classical music are asking themselves right now, Should I go back to The Left Banke’s catalog and see what I missed all those years ago? No you should not. This time I did do the research. I can report that “Barterers and Their Wives” is a mildly entertaining juxtaposition of classical music and psychedelia. One song will surprise you: “What Do You Know.” It’s country, there are two guys singing instead of the usual high-pitched male lead, and they’re both slightly flat. I can’t tell if this was meant as a joke.

Steve of the Week
I forgot to list my latest post at The Nervous Breakdown! I write about typewriters, mimeos, and other machines that once decided the fate of empires. I hope they are not coming back.

Kristin of the Week
My friend Kristin Thiel is reading with two other writers on Friday, October 7 at Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, here in Portland (our fair city). This event is part of Wordstock, you philistines. Kristin and her colleagues all have stories in a new anthology I can’t wait to read, Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience. I’m certainly going to be at Powell’s on October 7. I’m hoping Kristin can clear up a few issues for me.


  1. Run-DMSteve says:

    I found a version of “Walk Away, Renee” by Billy Bragg. He picks out the tune on his acoustic guitar while he talks about a girl he loved when he was young, how she left him, and how he tried to get her back. Killer last line: “And then one day it happened. She cut her hair and I stopped loving her.” He fallss quiet and you get 40 seconds of guitar heartbreak. Fade out. Omitting the lyrics — what an idea! You can find it on the album Do I Have to Paint You a Picture?

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