Over the past decade Cobra Verde has been delighting fans all over America by joining punk and 70’s glam rock, gaining the attention of Guided By Voices’ Bob Pollard, who helped them gain a sustainable following throughout the years. In 1997 when he briefly split up the original GBV lineup, he even had Cobra Verde serve as the backup band on Mag Earwhig!. And, still going strong today, Cobra Verde offers up a new set of rocking cover tunes on Copycat Killers. Now I know cover albums are often considered cliché, passé, or any other kind of “é”, but lets face it, every and any kind of punk album that you’ve owned since you were an antisocial middle school student has at least a couple of covers on it whether the song itself is punk or not. While not as bitchin as 2003’s Easy Listening, most fans will be pleased. Copycat Killers is unique because Cobra Verde manages to do things their own way with each song.
The Verde have managed to take their own twist on dance music when they get the party started (literally) with Pink’s “Get the Party Started,” throwing in some jazz flute reminiscent of what Jethro Tull would sound like if they were a bunch of brash hipsters. Don’t be afraid to get out of your chair and gyrate with New Order’s “Temptation,” where singer John Petkovic sings in a half-assed Bono wail. A rendition of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” could quite possibly be my biggest guilty pleasure of 2005, blended with a squelching Moog, mariachi trumpet and a beat straight out of Miami Vice.
Of course, what would a cover album be without some unearthed punk tunes? The childish fun of Black Flag’s “TV Party” is shown on “Underpants,” where the band pays long overdue respect to their native Cleveland post-punk heroes Easter Monkeys, as well as fly off the handle on The Fall’s half-lullaby, half-psycho-babble jangle “Dice Man.” The Undertones “Teenage Kicks” sounds good and glam-laden like a Mott the Hoople, song when in fact they do a cover of Mott the Hoople’s “Rock and Roll Queen” that sound like it was recorded by NRBQ.
Even the most disdained legends of rock are shined upon with a version of the great Flamin Groovies’ “Yesterday’s Numbers” which is tantamount to the energy that the Groovies were known for playing with. Leonard Cohen’s “So Long Marianne” will conclude to mixed results and it seems oddly out of place on this album. The band then breezes into the tundra of some old-school Brit prog on Hawkwind’s banned tune “Urban Guerilla,” where Petkovic sings like Ian Astbury of the Cult mixed with cheesy Huey Lewis and the News yuppie rock.
These rowdy boys have obliviously been listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage, seeing as how they pull off The Trogg’s “I Want You,” complete with psychedelic tambourine and the overall industrious filth from the garages of Detroit, along with a sweet solo by guitarist Frank Vazzano that amounts to a fuzzy wail. The Stones’ “Play With Fire” is done with almost similar but slower bongo drum beats from “Sympathy for the Devil” and a hoodoo presence with lots of suspense which would amalgamate well with the heart-ripping scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Cobra Verde have shown once again that they are one of Americas best kept secrets in rock and makes me hope that after all the smoke has cleared from this onslaught of the New Wave revival, that the glam rock sound of the `70s will come back and reign supreme again.
Slade – Slayed?
Gun Club – Fire of Love
T. Rex – The Slider