Genuine Leather breathes new life old classic
Austin, Texas rockers Genuine Leather breathes new life and adds shimmer to its cover of the Tom Waits 1973 track, “Ol’ 55”. While Genuine Leather is certainly not the first to cover the song, bands like the Eagles, Gov’t Mule, K’s Choice and even Sarah McLachlan have their own renditions, what makes Genuine Leather stand out? The genuine nod to cool harmonies and bold directives, that’s what.
Led by Chris Galis, Genuine Leather pulls with all its might an interesting mix of lush guitar sweetness with broad strokes of echoing vocals and pesky percussion. At exactly two-and-a-half minutes, this song keeps it together tightly and keeps the listener right where they need to be – digging the vibe and wandering into the landscape tipping its hat to 70s rock harmonies. Not only does Genuine Leather live in the now, they have a supersonic way of moving a seemingly beat-up song, rusty from years of running through different circles, into a shiny, embellished track. While others might have pantomimed or go the folksy route, Genuine Leather transforms.
The vocals are really fun – there’s a sense that Genuine Leather truly honors Wait’s song, but of course puts its own stamp on it. The verdict might still be out on whether or not Wait himself approves, but fans of David Bowie, Roxy Music, Faces, The Darkness (“I Believe In A Thing Called Love”) or even Borns (“Electric Love”) will dig into this deliciously fun rendition. As Wait’s cemented lyrics “And now the sun’s coming up / I’m riding with Lady Luck, freeway cars and trucks /Stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade/Just a-wishing I’d stayed a little longer/ Lord, let me tell you that the feeling’s getting stronger” create an instant image, it’s Genuine Leather that takes the reins and drives an impenetrable wedge between rock and folk; Genuine Leather truly flavors this song into an edgier, yet brighter rock tune. It doesn’t fall into the blues or roots universe, rather, it stretches into that glam rock realm. Galis’ vocals are lofty and at the same time, grounded in a fun, relatable connection. While Waits’ version is a slow build, and a sense of a beaten down artist, Genuine Leather seem to create an airy, rocking’ fun journey.
Fans hoping for original music will still really bite into Genuine Leather’s version as it’s so refreshed and revamped. Traditionalists might find the cover a bit too modern – but nonetheless the words and feelings are still intact. More of a compliment to Waits, “Ol’ 55” resonates in the year 2019 and reminds the listener to feel that even though one might be stuck in reverse, that joy, fear, sadness, exuberating senses after a date is still a universal moment. One can still feel this song in one’s gut. The stuck in reverse – well, one might always feel like things are going backwards, and it might just take a song to get back on track. Genuine Leather certainly takes “Ol’ 55” forward and into-the-now and gets the listener off in the right direction.