Muppets and Black Sabbath are as Delicious as Cake


I like Cake. Cake is a band that I like in small doses but when I do listen to them they are nothing but a load of fun. Somehow they make their quirky lyrics sung in John McCrea’s monotone voice into a delightful sweetness and Vince DiFore’s trumpet playing is the cream layer in the middle. Most people probably know this band for their hit single ”The Distance” off of their second album Fashion Nugget. They’ve released five other albums since this one and had a few other hits though none were as big as “The Distance”. They were pressured to put out a greatest hits album by their record label and instead responded with collection of recordings titled B-Sides & Rarities. This album is full of great covers as well as a few live renditions of their songs with the only hit on it being “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”.

This is a quirky fun fun album that I love to listen to on sunny summer days. The album has a lighthearted feel to it that is easy to get into on a lazy summer day. While it won’t ever be mistaken for a greatest hits album it is still a great album to listen to put on and enjoy when you are in the mood for some good old summer rock n roll fun. Most of the songs are covers with the two main covers being Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and “Mahna, Mahna” from the Muppets. There are actually two covers of “War Pigs” on this album. B-Sides & Rarities opens with a studio cover of the song and ends with a live cover of the song with Steven Drozd from The Flaming Lips as a guest.  Both of these versions are fairly similar to each other so I am a little surprised they included both of them. Regardless of their similarity they are both good covers.  They give the song a more modern slightly funky driving feel. McCrea’s monotone voice does a good job of covering Ozzie’s monotone voice and the contribution of Vince DiFore’s trumpet playing is the icing on the cake.  If there was a band as quirky as the Muppets it would have to be Cake. You can’t but have a good time cruising down the freeway blaring “Mahna, Mahna”. This song was originally recorded for VH1’s For the Kids, an album of children songs recorded by modern rock bands. “Mahna, Mahna” pretty much summarizes the feel of the album to me. It’s just a fun song that is not to be taken seriously, much like this album.

In addition to these songs this album collects the random covers that Cake has contributed to various projects. It has a great cover of Barry White’s “Never Never Gonna Give You Up” which appeared in the movie An American Werewolf in Paris. Their cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” was in the video game Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel without a Pulse. While this is a good cover I don’t think McCrea is going to be quitting this band anytime soon to become a crooner.  Like their namesake, I don’t have Cake too often but every time I do I enjoy it and B-Sides & Rarities is probably the album of theirs I mostly put on when I am in the mood for something not serious that is fun and enjoyable to listen to.

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