Adam Schlesinger, best known to most music fans as a member of the power pop band, Fountains of Wayne lost his life on April 1st of this year at the age of 52. One of the first musicians taken from us by the Corona Virus pandemic, Adam’s death is an immeasurable loss. In addition to founding Fountains of Wayne with Chris Collingwood, Schlesinger was a gifted and prolific songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who also recorded with electro-pop trio Ivy and ‘supergroup’ Tinted Windows (with Bun E. Carlos, James Iha and Taylor Hanson). Offstage, he had an impressive career writing music for film and television. I first met Adam in 1995, when I interviewed Fountains of Wayne during the press cycle for its debut album, and over the years I would see him occasionally at parties and industry events. He was a nice guy and an unbelievable talent. Everybody loved Adam.
I rarely post cover tunes in this column, but this interpretation of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” — courtesy of Oakland, California-based cross-genre rockers Omnesia — is just too much of a good time to pass up. Calling themselves a Synth Dance Pop Rock Duo, Omnesia creates a lush, organic soundscape based around the significant talents of vocalist Medella Kingston and guitarist Matthias Miller (M2), and it is pretty mind-blowing.
Aurally, Omnesia’s arrangement of this sixties’ classic harnesses the menacing, dirge-y rythmic aspects of the original while revealing an engaging knack for experimentation with otherworldly horn accents. Visually, “Boots” is the perfect blend of artsy and amateurish: with vintage stills of Sinatra and her go-go booted dance posse, live performance clips of the duo onstage, and silly vignettes of Kingston and Miller demonstrating what has come to be known as The Madness Dance, as popularized in that band’s video for the song “One Step Beyond” — a hat tip to Omnesia’s deep-rooted and eclectic musical influences, perhaps. You can tell they had a blast making this video as well, and that makes it even more fun to watch.
“Boots” can be found on Omnesia’s upcoming 14-track release, World On Fire, due out shortly. In the meantime, why not check out their debut album, Painkiller, at This Link! Enjoy!
Album of The Year, 2006
I think David Bowie started it all in 1973 with Pin Ups, an album on which he performs some of his favorite songs by mid ’60s British groups. Since then, the name-act-pays-tribute-to-its-influences album has been done well by Duran Duran (Thank You) and less well by A Prefect Circle (eMOTIVe). But now I think Def Leppard has recorded possibly the best and most exciting album of covers ever with Yeah!, which was released last Tuesday. The most amazing thing about this record is not only how it makes painfully obvious how much most modern bands completely suck, but also how vibrant and authentic Def Leppard’s versions of these songs sound. I had no idea that Joe Elliott was such a vocal chameleon. I can, with no trace of irony, say that Yeah! is my favorite album of the year so far.
The track listing for YEAH! is as follows:
“20th Century Boy” (T. Rex, 1973)
“Rock On” (David Essex, 1973)
“Hanging On The Telephone” (originally recorded by The Nerves in 1977, and Blondie in 1978)
“Waterloo Sunset” (The Kinks, 1967)
“Hell Raiser” (Sweet, 1973: Listen to the opening guitar riff and tell me Nikki Sixx didn’t conveniently “borrow” that for “Kick Start My Heart”)
“10538 Overture” ( Electric Light Orchestra, 1972)
“Street Life” (Roxy Music, 1973: My favorite Roxy Music song ever)
“Drive-In Saturday” (David Bowie, 1973)
“Little Bit Of Love” (Free, 1972)
“The Golden Age Of Rock & Roll” (Mott the Hoople, 1974)
“No Matter What” (Badfinger, 1970)
“He’s Gonna Step On You Again” (originally recorded by John Kongos in 1971 but probably better known by the Happy Mondays’ version, “Step On,” released in 1990)
“Don’t Believe A Word (Thin Lizzy, 1976)
“Stay With Me” (Faces, 1971)
Regardless of how you feel about Def Leppard — who have been one of my favorite bands forever — if you love and miss the glory days of ’70s rock, Yeah! is absolutely essential listening. Great job guys!