Tell two indie artists, both very different from one another, to record two songs for a record release, and it’s not a problem. Tell those bands that they will be doing cover versions, and it may get them excited to enter the studio. Now tell those two bands that they will be covering Charles Manson songs.
For the outsider, the idea of a tribute to Manson may be as psychotic as the man himself. However, if you know his history, Manson was someone who roamed the streets of Hollywood in the mid-60’s, recording his own songs and demos in the hopes of being a pop sensation. He made an impact on the Beach Boys and his notoriety made people believe he had auditioned for The Monkees. Had things been not so evil for him, Manson could have been a major influence on pop and rock music, but because of his actions, Manson makes Wild Man Fischer seem like Justin Bieber.
Unearthly Trance and Wooden Wand are the artists who recorded Manson songs for this tribute record. If you are a fan of either, you may be thinking “yes, this is going to be brutal” but in fact it’s not brutal. Now, instead of calling this a tribute record, which is to say that it is “in honor of”, to be nice let me say that it’s two bands covering the musical works of Manson. To hear these songs in the way they are presented here may make you think this is the work of Brian Wilson, Todd Rundgren, or Gram Parsons, and I’m not being sarcastic in anyway. Then to have these bands record them in a way that is unlike their own known sounds is a trip, because these could be given a good amount of airplay if radio stations were more open to playing music of integrity. In fact, play these songs to someone who may love the inner juices of indie rock and pop, and they may say “wow, maybe these bands should open up for Coldplay or Radiohead. As you’re listening to these songs (Unearthly Trance covers “People Say I’m No Good” in a dirge fashion while Wooden Wand handle “Get On Home” as if it was a folk/pop anthem-to-be), keep in mind the man who wrote them is the man on the cover with the crazy eyes, the same man who once told an interviewer “I know, God knows, and the holy spirit knows”. Manson is not a part of any holy trinity, but he actually recorded some very good songs. Listening to them will make you think how someone who wrote them could have done what he did. Then again, fans of Unearthly Trance and Wooden Wand will not second guess them recording Manson, but they may ask how someone like them could record something like… that. Unearthly Trance fans may find a new reason to enjoy their favorite group, while “Get On Home” is simply a continuation of the music James Jackson Toth seems to never stop doing.
It’s a twisted record project, but one that works beautifully, if not beautifully wrong. But it’s wrong in the sense that it’s crazy, but someone was crazy and bold enough to record one of the more interesting records of the year. Thank you Unearthly Trance, Wooden Wand, and Chrome Peeler.
(The split 7″ can be ordered from Chrome Peeler while supplies last.)