Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Mindful there has not been too much a pitter-PATter of posts arriving under this banner, time to think out of the box. And what could be better than a cake box, something that may have me awarding me a pat, SWIDT, on the back for inspiration. Of course, Cake are no strangers here, usually courtesy their way with quirky covers, enough to endear themselves to me bigtime. But they are more than just novelty revisionings, having a wealth of their own penned material on hand as well. As I have discovered.

With a modus operandi of always avoiding the obvious, this was apparent from the start by the prominence of trumpet, lead trumpet even, an instrument more reviled than revered in rock and pop, delegated, where I thought it should be, to old man's music like jazz or, within reason, the unison brass parts of soul music. I had utmost suspicion of the instrument, feeling it as uncool as short hair and straight trousers. Until then, just to damn my eyes, short hair and straight trousers came back in. My version of punk coasted into post-punk and an enduring love of Chumbawamba, another band with trumpet, forcing me to swallow my prejudice, luckily also coinciding with the astonishing discovery that jazz was OK too. (And that I preferred jazz trumpet solos to saxophone solos, despite sax being just about allowed a seat at the table of my earlier rockist tastes. And since you ask, Chet more than Miles.)

Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle/Motorcade of Generosity (1994)

Cake I first heard through their astonishing de- and reconstruction of I Will Survive, reeking so of mariachi I had to go and gather that whole style into my body of required and allowable listening. It has been touched on here. I bought the parent record. The second single from their second album, it came out in 1997 and made the indie charts at home, managing a 29 in the UK, and higher in some other european countries. Given their first album was all originals, and largely damned either by faint praise, or just plain damned, this left the band with a dilemma, one that never quite lost them, continuing arguably to be better known for their covers, despite barely doing any others over the next few records. (Having a self-penned song called Jolene on their debut arguably didn't help, allowing the lazy to make assumptions: I certainly downloaded the track on that basis!!) 

The Distance/Fashion Nugget (1996)

Never There/Prolonging the Magic (1998)

In researching this piece I was, therefore a little surprised to see their last record, 2011's Showroom of Compassion actually hit the coveted Billboard #1 slot, if only for a week, albeit based on the then lowest sales to attain that slot. And not a cover in sight. (Well, one, actually.) Also that all the four ahead of that had entirely satisfactory sales, with only the very first failing to make any splash, so bang goes my assertion. But maybe the fact they refused a greatest hits, and released instead the only other record of theirs I own, b-sides and Rarities, which is nearly all cover versions, explains my fallacy. 

Comfort Eagle/Comfort Eagle (2001) 

Sick of You/Showroom of Compassion (2011)

Scattered through this prose are a few of their finest. If you are unfamiliar, listen. If you know them, re-aquaint. The trumpet of Vince DeFiori is certainly not the only cause to celebrate, the caustic and conversational singing of John McCrea, also the main songwriter, being a joyful characteristic of the sound. These two are the sole permanently present members of the band, as they seemed to get through a slew of rhythm sections along the way. Just two lead guitarists, though, with a special mention for Greg Brown, no, not that one, there from the start, who left in 1997, if still making later guest appearances, his spiky playing adding to the overall counter-intuiveness of the whole. But for the last ten years there has been little sight or sound. There was promise of new material as far back as 2018, with only a single video, below, sneaking out. A demo leaked in January this year, so maybe we haven't quite had all our Cake yet. 

Sinking Ship (2018)

Eat some!

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