I hadn’t heard of Volar Records until Maria (Bedroom Problems, Her Jazz on WPRB) mentioned Under the Covers vol 2 a couple of months ago and, honestly, if there’s one great way for a label to jump on my radar, it’s assembling an awesome combo of bands I love and bands I’ve never heard of to pay tribute to some of my favorite songwriters.
Under the Covers vol 2 brings a diverse group of artists together to recognize the work of Paul Collins, Peter Case, and Jack Lee, perhaps best known for their work together as The Nerves (though their post-Nerves projects, Paul Collins’ Beat, The Plimsouls, and more! were no slouches, as the songs on this compilation can demonstrate.)
Growing up, my dad played The Nerves’ first (and only) EP on a regular basis. Those four songs (Hanging on the Telephone, When You Find Out, Give Me Some Time, and Working Too Hard) were quickly embedded into my musical consciousness. The great thing about that EP is that even though it’s only four (perfect) songs, each member of the group is given a chance to showcase their talents and musical perspective — rather than letting a single member take the lead, the EP showcases songs written by all three members. Though the EP demonstrates a democratic approach to working as a group, it’s by no means fractured — the songs work together perfectly & the EP is singular in terms of perfect power pop brevity and sincerity.
Like the Nerves’ EP, Under the Covers vol 2 offers a diversity of musical styles, featuring contributions from Grass Widow (Captured Tracks, Kill Rock Stars), Neverever (Slumberland), Hunx and His Punx (True Panther Sounds, Hardly Art), & more. While some artists stick relatively close to the originals, others offer fresh and unexpected takes on familiar songs, helping to keep the tape fresh and vibrant.
Stand out tracks for me included Walking Out on Love by Grass Widow, Letter to G by White Wires, Gimme Some Time by White Fence, and Now by Neverever.
Grass Widow, Walking Out on Love (Paul Collins’ Beat cover)
- Walking Out on Love – Grass Widow
- Stand Back and Take a Good Look – Reading Rainbow
- Letter to G – White Wires
- When U Find Out – Hunx and His Punx
- A Million Miles Away – The Mantles
- Gimme Some Time – White Fence
- Why Am I Lonely – Audacity
- Any Day Now – Personal and the Pizzas
- Hanging on the Telephone – Davila 666
- One Way Ticket – Tijuana Panthers
- Now – Neverever
- Working Too Hard – So Cow
- I Need Your Love – The Moonhearts
- Paper Dolls – Le Face
- I Don’t Fit In – Shark Toys
- Are You Famous – Ratas del Vaticano
- You Won’t Be Happy – The Forgery Series
- Many Roads to Follow – Cowabunga Babes
Under the Covers vol 2 is available on both cassette ($5) and vinyl (limited color $14, black $13) from Volar Records. If you like what you hear you can support the contributing artists by checking out their additional work or you can seek out One Way Ticket, a more or less comprehensive collection of Nerves mastered recordings and demos, and Live at the Pirate’s Cove, of a 1977 live performance here in Cleveland. Though the Volar site still lists Under the Covers vol 2 as being a pre-order, it’s currently shipping (I got my tape in the mail awhile back and Drew received the LP he ordered fairly recently), so if you place an order, it should be shipped right away.
The Nerves, Hanging on the Telephone
The Plimsouls, A Million Miles Away
Paul Collins’ Beat, Rock ‘n Roll Girl