Goddamn, it is always a pleasure listening to Tony Sly’s voice. As you may or may not already know, Fat Wreck Chords released a 7-inch of two No Use For A Name demos earlier this year in May. Now we get to celebrate the end of summer with the release of Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers.
Fat Wreck is obviously a big fan of well-done cover songs, with the success of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and the new album of covers released this year by Teenage Bottlerocket. A great cover song is no easy feat. There’s a delicate balance that must be found between giving a song some new personality while remaining a recognizable, sing-a-long-able tune. As a collection of every non-album cover that No Use For A Name has recorded, this record found that delicate balance and is a fun addition to the No Use discography. Although these songs may not be new per se (they were all recorded from 1996 to 2005), I’m sure most folks listening will discover at least a couple covers they hadn’t heard previously, as many of these were pretty rare. Since losing Tony Sly on July 31st, 2012, Fat Wreck has done an incredible job at honoring his memory and making sure we never forget him.
“Turning Japanese” is a song that just compels you to dance, and the No Use cover only amplifies this. I’ve already played this track on repeat so many times that it brought back memories of stealing my mom’s ‘80s compilation CD and playing The Vapors’ version on a loop. Except I’m much cooler now… Right? In any case, listening to No Use always makes me feel cool because I’ve found my way to such a rad band. Their cover of The Misfits’ “Hybrid Moments” is no exception. Listening to the difference in Tony Sly’s voice between these two tracks is incredible. He’s able to adopt identifying qualities of the original singer’s voices for each track, yet his voice remains undeniably his own.
“I’ve Heard” and “Selwyn’s Got a Problem” are fun head-bangers that add to the excellence. The latter of which is actually sung by Matt Riddle (bass). “Selwyn’s Got a Problem” is a modified cover of “Johnny’s Got a Problem” by D.I. and was recorded for the film Cake Boy, a film produced and directed by Joe Escalante of The Vandals. “Enjoy the Silence” is a perfectly sped-up rendition of one of Depeche Mode’s most successful hits. The updated tempo breathes some fresh, pop-punk air into the hit single from 1990.
Rory Koff, longtime drummer of No Use For A Name, stated on the Fat Wreck Chords website, “After Bradley Nowell of Sublime passed away, we were asked to do a cover for a tribute comp honoring him. We had a long history of touring and friendship with Sublime and were honored to do the classic song, ‘Badfish.’” This cover starts out in the same super chill tempo that we’re familiar with but transitions to a speed that makes you want to dance around while you smoke two joints.
The Fast Times at Ridgemont High quote at the beginning of “Dream Police” is absolutely brilliant. I recognized this cover from the Fat Music Vol. 7: Harder, Fatter, & Louder compilation as it’s already been on high rotation in my driving playlist. Try it out. It’ll make your commute better, I promise. “Fairytale of New York” features Meegan Lair (singer of San Jose band Soda) on guest vocals, which was their original version. As you may remember, Cinder Block from Tilt sang the guest vocals on the version that was released on No Use’s album, More Betterness! I did a quick YouTube search for the original to compare/contrast the two versions and the top comment on the top video hit was actually from longtime drummer Rory Koff left two years ago. He wrote, “I played drums in this band for 27 years. This video was forwarded to me to enjoy. As I watched a lot of great memories came over me. First that I really miss Tony. I also cherish the time that I was lucky enough to make great music with Tony, Dave, and Matt. This song was a favorite cover to play. We always had great guest singers join us. Tony absolutely loved The Pogues and this song was done with the upmost (sic) respect. For all the haters… Auto Tune was not used here and was never used by Tony”. I think this cover is excellent, but I have to be honest by saying I liked the More Betterness! version better due to my love for Cinder.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8! When I listen to No Use’s cover of “Making Our Dreams Come True” all I can picture is Tony Sly and Fat Mike recreating the Laverne & Shirley opening ala Wayne’s World. Excellent. No Use’s take on “1945” is better than the original Social Distortion version. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is pretty similar to Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s take on this song, but a bit slower. “The Munsters’ Theme” is a super fun 40-second punk update of the classic theme. This track definitely needs to be added to your Halloween playlist ASAP. The record concludes with a one-take cover of “Beth” originally performed by KISS. No Use was able to take the 1976 ballad and add their signature flavor of pop-punk seamlessly, as evidenced by how the cover transitions into “Soulmate” off the No Use For A Name album Leche Con Carne. The track then transitions into “Gene and Paul, I Hate You Most of All, and Ace, You’re the Ace, and Peter” off their Live in a Dive album. The album ends in a playful tone, which just feels right.