Music : Virus 100 – in praise of covers

It seems to be all the rage to hate covers these days. I bloody love them. Or more specifically I love them when a band takes a song and warps its , molds it, transforms it to become something new. If no one hates it its probably not that good. In an age before digital music, covers also served the purpose of opening my ears to new music. Much like reading the bands thanked in the liner notes , a band covering another was a link that I would follow up by searching the cd racks at the library. Disks were booked out, cassette dubs were made. A spiderweb semi random curation that spread my musical awareness. Thanks WCC Library.

And so we come to Virus 100, one of the best cover albums ever made. Conceived to mark the 100th release by Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacle label , a diverse selection of AT and related artists came together to cover songs by San Fran punk pioneers The Dead Kennedys. I originally picked this up in the mid 90’s from the Wellington City Library . I was no doubt interested to hear it as I spied Neurosis and Sepultura were on it.
To say the album is diverse is an understatement, from the dark apocalyptica of Neurosis’ take on Saturday Night Holocaust, the a cappella of Nomeansno doing Forward to Death, the warped ambient musings of Kramer’s Insight to the genius of Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy’s take on California Uber Alles.
I recently used the evil empire of Amazon to source Virus 100 on cd, having long since lost my pirated cassette copy , and indeed any means to play cassettes. It can’t be said for all the music of my teens but Virus 100 still sounds as good to me at 40 as it did at 14.

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