Fleshtones drummer Bill Milhizer once defined his band's patented Super Rock as "taking the best, most exciting elements of rock and roll, and exaggerating and amplifying them beyond proportion, with no apology whatsoever." Crucial ingredients in that wacky stew are cover songs. One of the great pleasures I experienced while writing Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band was compiling the list of songs that the Fleshtones have covered since forming in 1976. (The list is featured as one of the appendixes at the back Sweat.) One of the ways I attempted to understand what made the Fleshtones tick was by identifying the diverse musical and inspirational currents that they've plugged themselves into over the decades. Avid vinyl fans and collectors, the guys in the Fleshtones—especially Peter Zaremba and Keith Streng, and earlier on sax player Gordon Spaeth and his brother Brian—have always turned to obscure singles, scratchy b-sides, and deep album cuts to find songs to cover and reasons to live.
Naming and finding these tunes, plenty of which I hadn't heard, was a tremendous and joyous education for me as I researched the book. The band adds to the list every other month, it seems. Here are some of my favorite songs that the Fleshtones have covered, in no particular order:
Rock Starve, 1987
War & Peace, 1970