I don't usually cross-post from Tumblr, but sometimes there is a thing that's SO HILARIOUSLY AND EMBARASSINGLY relevant to my interests that I pretty much can't help myself.
Today, it's Hussalonia's cover of Billy Joel's 1980 album Glass Houses, which has changed my life forever. (You can alo listen to the first track -- "You May Be Right" -- streaming on my original Tumblr post, if you like)
From their site:
“Pop does not mean popular” is the Hussalonia motto. But sometimes pop is popular. Really popular. Take Billy Joel for instance. I bet your mom loves Billy Joel. Why shouldn’t she? He was handsome and wrote dramatically sweet pop songs like “Piano Man” and “Just The Way You Are.” But popularity wasn’t enough for Joel; he was an angry and cynical guy like you. He was a pop music scholar, like you. He didn’t want your mom’s love, he wanted your love: you, the snobby rock-critic, with your punk and new wave records. Enter 1980’s Glass Houses. Influenced by The Jam, The Cars, Elvis Costello as well good old Paul McCartney (who just made his own “new wave” record: Back To The Egg), Joel was determined to roughen up his image and earn some street cred. Instead, he earned his first number one single and a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Sorry, Bill.
Today, Poor Billy Joel is pretty much retired. He gave up trying to please you fickle bastards. He caved in and spent the 90s pandering to the adult contemporary scene. And time hasn’t been kind to his street cred. It’s less cool now than it ever was to listen to Billy Joel. We here at Hussalonia Lo-Fi Solutions might be inclined to feel sorry him, if he weren’t so fucking rich and well loved by our moms. Nevertheless, we’re offering this: a song-for-song cover of Glass Houses. We feel that Glass Houses represents the struggle between low and high pop culture. And Hussalonia resents that struggle. We hate and love all pop music equally. So what can you expect from our version of Glass Houses? It’s lo-fi, raw, unhinged and full of musical in-jokes. Maybe it will inspire the kids to reassess Billy Joel’s career. Have we lost our minds? Is this a joke? A tribute? A parody? Are we going to get sued? Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe!
I was going to just post a little quote from that, but then I realized that it was all THE TRUTH as I would have written it, were I a talented young pair of musicians, and surrendered to the inevitable.
I grew up listening to Billy Joel. We played our cassette of Glass Houses in the car so many times that we wore it out, and had to buy another copy. I had every song on this album memorized before I knew what most of the lyrics were even talking about (I only figured out why a "walk through Bedford Stuy alone" was such a big deal a couple years ago.) Informed by a punk rock sensibility that I would otherwise never have encountered in elementary school, it directly shaped the musical tastes I would carry into adulthood. And now, covered in its entirety by a two-man rock band in 2006, it's transformed into an album that retains the excellent songwriting of the original but sheds the schlocky veneer that's made Joel so criminally uncool since the 1980s.
You can download the entire cover album (and donate, if you like it) here. You can preview snippets from (and buy) the original album here. Both are excellent and fill me with giddy, inarticulate joy.
My only complaint about Hussalonia's cover of Glass Houses is that it took me four years to find it.
(NOTE TO CLIO: the cover of "All for Leyna" is particularly great)