Tune du Jour: “The Freshmen” – The Verve Pipe
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Bronson Arroyo vs. Mustard Plug
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
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I Won’t Be Held Responsible…

Man, the successful marketing of this song was truly an exercise in perseverance! The Freshmen was originally released in 1992 in an acoustic format on The Verve Pipe’s first album, I’ve Suffered A Head Injury. For some strange reason the world did not love it. So The Verve Pipe gave us all a second chance, rerecording it as more of a rocker and re-releasing it in 1996 on their third album, Villians. Now we were starting to get it, but not as reverently as a song like The Freshmen so richly deserves. So the band released it as a single…just not the album version. Nope, instead The Verve Pipe enlisted the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Jack Joseph Puig and recorded the song a third time. And you know something? That one was just right! In fact, it was so right that on subsequent pressings of Villians, the original album cut of The Freshmen was expunged and replaced with the Puig-engineered “single” version. The album version was gone, as if it never existed! And it was thusly proclaimed that hence forth, the mere mention of a first and second version of The Freshmen would cause the offending party to be dubbed an Enemy of the State and, as such, summarily banished to the Pointless Forrest… 

The singles rendition of The Freshmen peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, thereby proving the age-old adage: If at first you don’t succeed, then try again, and if that doesn’t work then have Jack Joseph Puig do it for you.

The Original

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The Verve Pipe: I’ve Suffered A Head Injury

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The Next Original

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The Verve Pipe: Villians (at least for awhile)

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The Most Popular

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The Verve Pipe: Single

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Bronson Arroyo vs. Mustard Plug

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Bronson Arroyo:

Yes that Bronson Arroyo! Before tonight I had no idea what a Renaissance man Bronson Arroyo was/is. World Series’ pitcher, nutritionist, studly musician, charter member of the Eddie Vedder Buddyroo Club and world-renowned physicist. Okay, I made the last one up. But I betcha he could be if he wanted to…

Mustard Plug:

I’m fairly certain that the name of this band refers to something disgusting. But I couldn’t tell you why or what it is.

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Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

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Votes can be cast up to three months from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. RDubbs says:

    Okay a few disclaimers and admissions:

    The Bronson Arroyo sound is not very good and I could not find a clip or mp3 of his studio version of The Freshmen. (Yes, he has a studio version. It appears on his landmark album “Covering the Bases”. Nope, not a joke.) But Arroyo’s particular cover version is moot in that I don’t think anyone with at least one working ear drum would consider his interpretation to be anywhere near as swell as Mustard Plug’s fantastic rendering.

    The Bronson Arroyo clip throws us a little curve ball in that he slips in a second song, Slide, a Goo Goo Dolls’ cover. (Like I said, a Renaissance Man).

    Jay Brannan also does a cover of The Freshman, which is superior to Arroyo’s effort. But the allure of having a major league pitcher’s cover was too great for me to withstand. So I readily admit, Surreal over Quality ruled the day.

    I discovered that the name Mustard Plug was actually inspired by the hard, discolored mustard-crust that forms at the top of a mustard squeeze bottle once it has been refrigerated. Admittedly I am relieved that the name has nothing to do with anyone’s anus…

    If you have not ascertained it by now then I will spell it out clearly, I V-O-T-E-D F-O-R M-U-S-T-A-R-D P-L-U-G. Despite the lack of competition, Mustard Plug brought its A-game, kicking out a high-octane, tremendous cover. Compared to Bronson Arroyo, once might conclude that Mustard Plug knocked it out of the park. Ba-dum-bum…

    In fact, Mustard Plug’s cover of The Freshmen is such an unmitigated delight that I will probably bring it back again sometime in the future to thrash poor ole Jay Brannan’s slow, sensitive, adequate cover!

    One more plug for Team Mustard. These guys have done a lot of touring in their 20+ years, which is something I respect in a band of limited of resources. In 2005 they reluctantly had to sell their touring van to a junkyard…it had 317,116 miles on it.

    And finally, why did I put all three of The Verve Pipe’s versions of The Freshmen on the blog? Well…I don’t know! Why ask these questions? Just deal with it!!!

  2. Arnie Plotnick says:

    I listened to all five versions and I hereby declare that I found all five irritating. Mustard Plug’s version was the least irritating. I’m sorry that I do not share Wich Rinston’s sheer delight with Mustard Plug’s version. I do not mean to impugn the band. I merely hate this fucking song and would probably hate it even if Stiff Little Fingers covered it right in my fucking living room.

  3. Lucky H says:

    I’m not voting for anyone who looks like Brad Pitt … and MP does put a nice bouncy spin on random-guys’ tragedy, wtf that was … easy call, bring that pig Brannan on to the slaughter

  4. Pete Black says:

    Oh, the earnestness of Bronson! Where is a line drive when you need one? A plug here for mousse tard.

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