The Sadies: “Loved on Look”
Don’t hold me to it, but I had an idea that maybe I would do “Cover Fridays,” where each Friday the song of the day here at Reselect is a great cover, rather than the usual originals that I focus on. Somehow I doubt I’ll do this every week, but let’s just say for now that when I’ve got a cover to feature, I’ll do it on a Friday.
With that decided, let’s proceed to the followup to last Friday’s cover, The Detroit Cobras’ “Mean Man.” This week it’s The Sadies, from Canada, doing a cover of “Wearin’ That Loved on Look,” the lead track off of Elvis Presley’s 1969 “comeback” album, From Elvis in Memphis (although despite being a comeback, it’s also considered by many to be his best overall album). It’s a fine choice for a cover of a great but lesser-known Elvis song (“lesser-known” at least from the perspective of the more casual Elvis fan), written by Dallas Frazier and Al Owens (Frazier also wrote the classic 1960 Hollywood Argyles hit, “Alley Oop”). The Sadies, who also have served as Neko Case’s backing band in the past and have recorded albums with her backing them as well, fall somewhere along the spectrum between garage rock and Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti-western soundtracks, pulled out of that orbit by the gravitational pull of Gram Parsons. Their association with Neko Case gives them a leg up over other bands in their general musical vicinity — they work a similar vein of minimally produced, no-BS music as Case, and it results in a consistency to the quality of their albums very much like hers.
I first heard The Sadies do their cover of “Wearin’ That Loved on Look” (which you may have noticed they shorten simply to “Loved on Look”) at a Neko Case show in Seattle a few years back when they were both her opening act and her backing band. The song completely rocked the joint live, and upon follow-up investigation I found it on their 2001 album, Tremendous Efforts. If I can say this without offending too many diehard Elvis fans, I think they’ve actually recorded the definitive version of the song, turning it into a garage-country raveup. While Elvis’s version is by no means a slacker, The Sadies pump it up to a new level of energy, while stripping it down to its basics. The band is led by brothers Dallas and Travis Good, and while I admittedly am not sure which of them is singing on this track, whoever it is belts it out like he’s truly discovering for the first time that his beloved has come home looking like she’s been out having a good time with another man. The mix of hurt and anger in the vocals is truly palpable, giving this version an honesty that I don’t quite feel as clearly in Elvis’s version. It’s an astonishing feat . . . it’s rare to hear anyone beating The King at his own game.