cultural capital

What’s New, Pussy Cat?

With this week’s release of Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen, the New York warble rockers have breathed new life into Harry Nilsson’s 1974 original Pussy Cats, an odd album produced by John Lennon in the midst of his “lost weekend” debauchery. The Walkmen faithfully and completely re-create the pop gem, a bewildering mix of classics and originals recorded while Lennon and his drinking buddy Nilsson were tearing through L.A.’s bar scene.

The release also reanimates an almost-forgotten strand of creative gimmickry: the full-length cover. Past reimaginings have run the gamut from genre makeovers (Booker T. & The MGs’ McElmore Avenue was a funky Abbey Road) to hipster novelties (Pussy Galore’s Exile on Main Street, a cassette-only limited edition) to theatrical nerdiness (Rufus Wainwright’s recent restaging of Judy Garland’s classic 1961 Carnegie Hall performance). Some hit and some miss, but that’s no reason to give up on the genre all together. Now the Walkmen have us thinking about some other bands we’d like to see paired with classic LPs.

The Hold Steady do the Killers’ Sams Town. If Brandon Flowers wants to do Bruce right, he should just let Craig Finn do it for him.

• Diddy Does Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury. The fastest way to bring New York City rap back to prominence is to have Diddy purchase it wholesale from the Virginia Beach crack-rap duo.

• The Streets do Brett Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero. Mike Skinner reading Ellis’s rambling tales of drugs and infidelity in his lazy Cockney patois? It’d be the audiobook of the year.

• Tom Waits does Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele. Two surrealist wordsmiths clash, with a result sounding something like this, garbled out in Wait’s whiskey-scarred rasp: “She has that razor sadness that only gets worse and she says / base that, throw what’s in your mouth, don’t waste that / See Tom lampin in the throne with King Tut.”

• 30 Seconds to Mars do Bruce Willis’s Return of Bruno. Jared Leto’s goth-rock vanity project covers Willis’s more lame-than-strange blues alter ego? Two wrongs make very right, a mindfuck of decrepitude.

TV on the Radio do Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Tunde Abedimpe drops vocal skitters all over a catchy-as-hell backdrop. This one might just rule.

Amos Barshad

What’s New, Pussy Cat?