WATCH: Walker Brigade Punks Up Lily Von Shtupp
The video for the Los Angeles band’s revved up cover of Madeline Kahn classic pays homage to Blazing Saddles
Post-punk and the music of Mel Brooks come together at long last on the latest single from LA’s Walker Brigade.
The group’s latest album, If Only, finds them taking on songs that inspired their sound, including classic cuts by Wire, the Soft Boys and The Only Ones among others. But the obvious highlight of the LP is a punked up rendition of “I’m Tired,” the vampy Marlene Dietrich-inspired waltz sung by the iconic Madeline Kahn in Brooks’s 1974 comedy western Blazing Saddles.
Only the Walker Brigade tackle the tune with the same sense of amped up rebellion that Sid Vicious gave Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” in 1978.
“I loved the song as a kid, though I had no idea who Marlene Dietrich was, and didn’t think much about what it was about,” proclaims singer Tracy Walker. “It scarcely mattered since the one thing I knew was that Madeline Kahn as Lily Von Shtupp was incredible.
“My father was a big Mel Brooks fan, and I would walk around the house singing it much to the delight and occasional horror of everyone around me. The song has so much humor and pathos: ‘We all get ‘tired of playing the game.’ As a satirical torch song, it lends itself perfectly to Sex Pistols style vaudeville. I tried to cop the vocal style of a couple famous singers of that era, and it’s really fun to sing.”
AUDIO: Madeleine Kahn “I’m Tired”
“Tracy was singing the song one night at rehearsal and I recalled doing a punk version of Springtime for Hitler with a band in Philly,” adds guitarist Mark Fletcher. “We took it from there. Punk rock and Mel Brooks seem to be an oddly natural fit.”
“Originally Tracy sang it a cappella like Poly Styrene,” bassist Jef Charreaux interjects. “I said we should do it like Sid Vicious’ ‘My Way’ from The Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle movie. I’m sure that Rodney (legendary LA DJ Rodney Bingenheimer) recognized our template when he picked it for airplay last month. He had the Sex Pistols and Blondie interviewed on his Saturday KROQ show. And he played Black Flag on commercial radio, etc. so he’s one to recognize what we’re all about.”
The video, which Rock & Roll Globe is proud to premiere this morning, was shot on location by California’s Salton Sea with drag performer Abhora lip-synching to the song along the beach at the pace of a classic French New Wave film.
“I’m a fan of the show Dragula,” Walker explains when asked about the video’s premise. “On season 2 of the show there was this brilliant sinister character called Abhora who was like Frances Bacon meets Divine. When we first recorded the song I thought it would be perfect for a drag artist since it’s so camp and dramatic and tongue-in-cheek. That became the concept for the video. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when Abhora said she would do the video. Joe Forney the director brought us out to the Salton Sea. Me and Joe and the cinematographer went out a couple of weeks before the shoot and looked at locations. It was arid, scary and beautiful. We shot for two days out there in the heat. The whole thing was extremely surreal and dreamlike, the apex being when we were shooting Abhora on her stilts and garbage bag dress in a field of refuse. I’m a huge Fellini fan, and a film buff of sorts, and I nearly broke down in tears because we were filming this! I’m grateful for the work also of the photographer Joe Edelson, whose cinematography is amazing.”
Watch the video below.
If Only is available now at better record stores across America.
VIDEO: Walker Brigade “I’m Tired”
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