The Band Of Heathens Invite All-star Guests to Tackle Covers on ‘Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

To help fill the void of canceled shows during the global pandemic, the Band of Heathens took full advantage of modern technology and hours and hours of free time and launched the Good Time Supper Club.

For 52-weeks, every Tuesday night, the band – instruments and presumably drinks within arms-reach – logged into Zoom from their homes in California, Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina to put on the 90-minute variety show. Part of that weekly program was a segment called Remote Transmissions, where the band would jam on a slew of covers, usually with a special guest (also armed with a strong Internet connection and nothing but time on their hands). The end result is Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1 (and hopefully as the title alludes to, the first of several), a mostly great collection of 10 covers from Americana and Country to Soul and Rock with guests sitting in on each track.

“I think our survival instinct just kicked in,” says guitarist-vocalist Ed Jurdi. “There was a calling for connection and return to some kind of normalcy, which meant getting together with the guys in the band and collaborating, finding a medium to be creative. The onset of the pandemic made us say, ‘How do we create things and share them with our audience?’ It was nice to be able to use music as a connective thread and something that’s healing. We were doing it for ourselves, but the greatest benefit was how it created this community for us to hang out with our fans.” 

The collection kicks off with a fantastic cover of Little Feat’s “Rock And Roll Doctor” with White Denim’s James Petralli sitting in and giving an inspired rendition. Between his raspy vocals and the deep organ throughout, the cover is pure swamp blues nirvana. Elsewhere, Todd Snider’s laidback delivery on “LA Freeway” offers one of the best versions since Guy Clark’s original. Butch Walker’s “Nigh Moves” and Nicki Bluhm’s take on “Tumbling Dice” are also inspiring moments of pure unfettered rock and roll joy. The only real down moment in the collection is Ray Wylie Hubbard sitting in on “Papa was A Rolling Stone”. Maybe it’s the fact that the song has been covered ad nauseam or maybe the almost always brilliant Hubbard was just a little off that night, the song just comes off as a bit bland.

The collection as a whole is remarkably inspired and one of the best examples in recent history of taking a shitty situation and making the best of it. Here’s hoping Vol. 2 is set to come out soon.

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One Response

  1. I’m not a huge Ray Wylie fan but he means a lot to the band. What I dig about that cover of Papa Was a Rolling Stone is how funky it is.

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