Fudge Sandwich is a fun 40 minutes that takes us through Segallâs psychic jukebox.
Covers albums are tricky business. On one hand, are they needed? There is an argument that the best version of a song, is the version by the songwriter. They had the original idea in their head and know how it should sound and feel. There is another argument, that just because someone wrote a song, it doesnât mean that it should be the definitive version. Changing the vocals or arrangement can give it a whole different feel and vibe. Jeff Buckleyâs version of âHalleluiahâ has been hailed as surpassing the original. The Cowboy Junkies take on âSweet Janeâ includes rejected verses and takes on a different meaning because of it. But there are covers that are too close to the original. Oasisâ take on âMy Generationâ comes to mind. If you arenât going to change things, why bother covering it in the first place?
This is the dilemma that Ty Segall finds himself in with latest album Fudge Sandwich. Luckily the songs he picked, offer room for Seagall to stamp his own fuzzy, lo-fi charm to them. âLowriderâ (War), âIâm a Manâ (Spencer Davis Group), âIsolationâ (John Lennon), âHit It and Quit itâ (Funkadelic), âClass Warâ (The Dils), âThe Lonerâ (Neil Young), âPretty Miss Tittyâ (Gong), âArchangel Thunderbirdâ (Amon DÃ¼Ã¼l II), âRotten to the Coreâ (Rudimentary Peni), âSt. Stephenâ (Grateful Dead) and âSlowboatâ (Sparks). The fact that Segall has picked these 11 songs says more about him as a person than as a musician. If this was a mixtape or compilation, it would be pretty eclectic and sound great on a road trip or party.
What Fudge Sandwich does really well is make you forget that these are covers. âLowriderâ is a slow sludgy affair, compared to the upbeat original. This change in tempo is a masterstroke. No one really wants to hear Segall cover âLowriderâ as it was, apart from a few diehards, instead, by warping it into an undulating mess heâs given it new meaning and a new lease of life. The same can be said for âThe Lonerâ. In his hands, it becomes the psychotic garage stomper it always should have. He takes Neil Youngâs killer melodies and stories of outsiders and turns it into something far more menacing. If this is how Young had originally conceived the song, it would have appeared on countless Nuggets compilations. The only songs where things donât go to plan is âClass Warâ by the Dils and âRotten to the Coreâ but Rudimentary Peni. This is because Segallâs versions are far too close to the originals, so there isnât really anywhere he can take them. The real fun comes when Segall just cuts loose and doesnât care, âIsolationâ and âArchangel Thunderbirdâ being prime examples of this.
Fudge Sandwich is a fun 40 minutes that takes us through Segallâs psychic jukebox. It shows that you shouldnât judge a musician by the music they make. But a few of the songs donât really work and possibly an EP/mini album might have suited these songs better. Maybe this should have stayed as a sandwich rather than the main course.