Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Fakebook Originals

A long time ago an obscure "band" from New Jersey recorded a wonderful little collection of obscure songs from an even longer time ago (with a few of their own compositions thrown in for good measure). That band grew up to be Yo La Tengo.

Yo La Tengo's wonderful little collection of tunes appeared on a gem of an album called Fakebook, which has long been a favorite of mine. This weeked I finally decided to dig up all of the original versions of the songs covered on Fakebook. Most of them I already had, but special thanks go out to Dean, Lance, and Robert for sending over that hard-to-find Escorts track. Thanks guys!

The eleven tracks lovingly covered on Fakebook are the kind of music known to cause giddiness among record store clerks. It's a veritable music nerd’s dream. The Fakebook liner notes (re-printed here along with a nice album review) confirm that Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley are avid fans of obscure pop, which explains why this collection so nice. Out of all the “original” album posts at STWOF, I think the “original” Fakebook probably stands up best, on its own terms, as a mixed collection. These songs, which span a two-decade period from 1963 to 1985, sound great together (even if you’ve never heard YLT's Fakebook).

So, without further ado, here are the Fakebook “originals.” (As usual, these aren’t all the very first versions of the songs, but we know from the liner notes that these are the versions which inspired Yo La Tengo):

1. The Unholy Modal Rounders - Griselda (buy). [Check out Brendan’s album review of the Have Moicy! LP over at The Rising Storm.]

2. The Tremeloes – Here Comes My Baby (buy) [Read the AMG band biography.]

3. The Scene Is Now – Yellow Sarong (buy) [Read the AMG album review.]

4. The Flamin’ Groovies – You Tore Me Down (buy) [Read the AMG album review about this power pop classic.]

5. Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers - Emulsified (Out Of Print). [Read more about Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers at Funky 16 Corners.]

6. Daniel Johnston – Speeding Motorcycle (buy) [Read the AMG artist biography.]

7. The Flying Burrito Brothers – Tried So Hard (buy) [While the original Gene Clark version (here) is the gold standard, the FBB version is really growing on me. It's nice and easy. Read the AMG album review.]

8. The Kinks – Oklahoma U.S.A. (buy) [Yay! As you may know, I love the Kinks best. Read the AMG album review.]

9. The Escorts – The One To Cry (buy) [As I mentioned, this one was hard to find. The Escorts get trashed pretty badly by AMG--and even in the Fakebook liner notes!--but I like this track.]

10. John Cale - Andalucia (buy) [Read the AMG album review.]

11. NRBQ – What Can I Say? (buy) [Read the AMG album review. This is a great end-of-the-night song.]

Now enjoy a couple of the original composition appearing on Fakebook:

Yo La Tengo – Can’t Forget
Yo La Tengo – The Summer

(buy Fakebook)


Robby said...

Paul, you and your blog are a treasure. I had never thought of wanting this, and then upon reading your post, I think "Of course! Who WOULDN'T want this stuff!"

Can't wait to hear these previous versions, 2/3 of which are new to me.


fantom said...

Inspired post! Good stuf...

brendan said...

ever since i saw them perform You Can Have It All live at conan o' brien, Yo La Tengo has always been my favorite modern band. their selections on this record confirm for me every reason they would be.

thanks stwof!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for putting this up - awesome and amazing!! (both the music and the blog)

Anonymous said...

This has always been my favourite
YLT album even though they never really made another album like it and the whole of their back catalogue is brilliant and covers
an adventurously broad scope of influences. They made more experimental and daring albums but none as timeless and undoubtedly Fakebook deserves to sit alongside the likes of Sweetheart and Gilded Palace Of Sin as an all time classic. By the way indie rock/country singer Mary Lou Lord also does a brilliant version of 'Speeding Motorcycle,' that's well worth checking out, specially if you would like to hear this classic sung from a female perspective.

Ted Barron said...

Hey Paul,

This is great. One question though - why not the originals of their own songs that they covered?


Paul said...

Thanks Ted,

I thought about doing that, but then I liked it better the way it fit together with only the "old" songs from the other artists. (I can picture them sitting around their house playing their old Kinks and Flamin' Groovies records, but I can't see them spinning their own YLT records.)

I stuck the two songs from Fakebook on at the end so folks could hear what the Fakebook-style YLT was all about.

Ramone666 said...

Thanks Paul, great stuff as usual. Had never heard the Scene Is Now, Escorts and Rex Garvin originals before.

frankenslade said...

Very cool, Paul! Thanks for gathering all those great originals.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought of doing an originals of the Beatles first album Please Please Me? Six out of fourteen were covers. I'm asking, really, because I don't have and have never heard any of them. Loved your Honky Tonk Heroes originals. Keep up the good work.

Paul said...

Thanks for the Beatles idea. I'll check it out. I doubt I have all the tracks.

swboy said...

I've really enjoyed your site.
Great music.
Here are a few updates for the
"Country Classics" list:
Wynn Stewart died 1985
Doug Sahm died 1999
Charlie Rich died 1995

Paul said...

Thanks swboy. I'm a bit sloppy.

Paul said...

I have all of the songs covered by the Beatles except these:

Mr. Moonlight by Dr. Feelgood & The Interns (Roy Lee Johnson/Piano Red)

A Taste Of Honey – Bobby Scott

Till There Was You – Peggy Lee

Devil In Her Heart – The Donays/Ricky Dee

Does anybody have them?

Anonymous said...

i feel a bit idiot-like. do you have these available for download via a link? If so, I can't find it, if not, that's too too bad. this is a perfect selection to me. last night at ukulele club, we sang a killer version of griselda.

Paul said...

Anon - They were available for a limited time but I have since removed the links. I don't want to keep things up for too long.

Sounds like a good time at the club!

Anonymous said...

Hell yeah i was just trying to look these up this weekend after seeing Adventureland.

Anonymous said...


Did I Tell You said...

I wonder if it's possible to compile a version of Fakebook from live renditions of the tunes?

You could probably get close to one. I've seen YLT perform Fakebook songs many a time.

Thanks for the post!

Bob said...

Could you please re-upload? I'll do anything...

Anonymous said...

Here it is again: http://www.box.net/shared/static/7uqostmxxh.zip