Rarely is the case where a cover is better than the original. But stranger things have happened and a great artist can make a great song legendary. That’s the case with Go Back Where They Came From, a 12-song collection of covers from songs that influenced the songwriting of Bozeman, Montana multi-genre band King Ropes. As wide as the state of Montana is, so are the genres and influences in this superb collection of covers.
The track listing for Go Back Where They Came From is “Tall Trees” (Matt Mays), “Take Me to The River” (Al Green), “Drugs” (Talking Heads), “Rocket Man” (Elton John), “Eisler On The Go” Billy Bragg & Wilco, “Girls Like Us” (Tandy), “Transcendental Blues” (Steve Earle), “Bloody Mary Morning” (Willie Nelson), “King Of The Road” (Roger Miller), “Neighborhood #4 (Seven Kettles)” (Arcade Fire), “Song For The Man” (Beastie Boys) and “The Danger Zone” (Ray Charles).
What gives King Ropes the edge in their songs is their endearing rock riffs, as well as the audacity in covering songs that listeners can often have a very narrowed vision of how the song should sound. In “Drugs” King Ropes move the listener with a lethargic percussion, paired with a gripping spy-like guitar. The pulsating, it feels more western, more raw than the mechanical or electronic original version. As the guitar rips, the chords flash as if it were an injection of electricity. Lead singer Dave Hollier adds a brighter disposition in his voice and enamors the listener with I’m charged up don’t put me down, don’t feel like talking don’t mess around, I feel mean I feel okay, I’m charged up electricity, sounding more like Wall of Voodoo’s Stan Ridgeway than David Byrne.
“Eisler On The Go”, one of the ballads on this collection, is just as stoic as the original version. King Ropes’ tangles the listener into a reflective lake, deep in thought and emotional connection. Hollier’s voice is edgy, but modest enough to feel as those the words were originally meant for him. This song, handed down from Woodie Guthrie, too, is a piece of Americana history. Hollier’s tribute is stunning.
“King Of The Road” is a fun ride. Vintage sounding, and heavy percussion that could just easily be the drumming of a marching parade; the military-drum like arrangement gives an added punch to Hollier’s slower tempo journey.
The last few songs, “Neighborhood #4 (Kettles)”, “Song For The Man” and “The Danger Zone” has King Ropes igniting a spark into these tracks. In “Danger Zone” Hollier matches the tempo and vibe to Charles’ classic. The trombone is sad, with a bit more bravado. This timeless song’s lyrics linger—just read your paper, and you’ll see
just exactly what keeps worryin’ me, yeah, you’ll see the world is in an uproar, the danger zone is everywhere.
Joining Hollier in King Ropes are players scattered throughout the United States, including Hollier’s son Sam in New Orleans, Louisiana, and daughter Lucy in Brooklyn, New York. The band’s discography began in 2016 with Dirt, followed by Gravity and Friction and the EP Green Wolverine.