When I saw Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” listed as the last song on Little Hurricane’s free download of covers entitled Stay Classy, I had to admit, I cringed. Lead singer/guitarist Tone and drummer C.C. ripping into ASmith’s “Mama Kin,” or taking a pass at “Back in the Saddle,” or even “Sweet Emotion,” made more musical sense. Three minutes and ten seconds later, after skipping over the other nine songs, I felt like I owed them an apology. By staging a haunting slow blues crawl that pulls every last bit of emotion from every line, the dirty blues twosome create a “how the hell did they just pull that off?” performance.
And that’s what I get for reading the end of the book first. Because if I started at the beginning with the knock out version of Percy Sledge’s “Dark End of the Street” and continued on in order, I would have built up enough momentum and trust in Little Hurricane that I wouldn’t have even blinked when I first saw the sappy Aerosmith song thrown in.
Stay Classy pulls the curtain back on the foundation of Little Hurricane. Though the dirty blues vibe is strong, and remains their calling card throughout , the covers give them a chance to dip their toes in some otherwise uncharted territory. From Pink Floyd’s “Money” with it’s trademark cash register cha-ching opening, to CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the band keeps the renditions close to their blues vest while twisting the covers to their liking.
The Elbow cover of “Grounds For Divorce” sounds like it could have been penned for their last album Homewrecker. It spawns some tasty slide guitar work and sports a similar feel to the atmosphere that their song “Fourth of July” works up. While on the subject of guitar, I haven’t heard Tone get so damn down and dirty than on the Bill Withers cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine.” A Hendrixy intro sets the stage for an all out blues storm half way through the cover. “Ain’t No Sunshine” gives a definitive snap shot of Tone’s bluesy pedigree along with his ability to track a hell of a solo.
Stay Classy‘s ten songs create an opportunity for the band to take mild liberty on a handful of diverse but also recognizable material. Fiona Apple’s “Shadowboxer” is the perfect example of Tone and C.C.’s blues temperament stamp placed on a well known single. Tone begins “Shadowboxer” mildly, picking out the melody before letting the song’s verse slip slowly off his lips. He builds its momentum cautiously, using just guitar and vocal to create a foggy atmosphere before C.C.’s drums clock the pace towards the chorus. The depth of the inner fight of Apple’s uber personal lyrics fits comfortably in the band’s hands and creates one of the collection’s many stand out moments.
The thick coat of dirty blues primer that Little Hurricane lays down within their collection serves as a familiar bedrock for the band. From a creative standpoint, it gives them a chance to hold momentary ownership of the ten covers carried out with convincing and confident performance–a classy move from one of San Diego’s classiest bands.