The noise deity delivers a strange, compelling tribute to a little-known micro-genre: “sound-a-like” rip-off records.
Aaron Dilloway has been a hero of experimental music for over 20 years now, beloved for his work in noise greats Wolf Eyes and for his long-running label, Hanson Records.
Over the last decade, he’s shifted into solo work, offering some of the most vivid (and occasionally terrifying) tape loop-based music around. His 2012 album Modern Jester was an instant modern noise classic, and after many long years he’s finally followed it up with The Gag File, a shorter but even more potent dose of looping mayhem and one of our favorites of the year.
For his FACT mix, one we’ve been hoping to make happen for years, Dilloway has delivered something we didn’t see coming. Inspired by cheap “sound-a-like” records designed to trick people thinking they were buying compilations from popular bands, it’s like tuning into a classic radio station from an alternate reality.
Presented without any tracklist, Dilloway’s mix unearths everything from baffling versions of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin classics to Hawkwind remade as easy listening. Oh, and there’s a high school chorus version of Foreigner’s ‘Cold As Ice’ thrown in for good measure.
Check it out below, then scroll down to read Dilloway’s own words about falling in love with a form of music that history has largely forgotten. After listening to this mix, maybe you’ll fall in love with it too.
“About 10 or so years ago, I came across a “fake” Beatles 8-track tape on Pickwick titled The Tribe Sing And Play The Hits Of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. I remember coming across these budget “sound-a-like” tapes and records quite often at record shops and thrift stores for years. They are basically collections of cover versions of hit songs quickly recorded by random session musicians and designed to kind of trick people into buying them, thinking they are getting the “original artist.” Like, the cover would say, in real large print, “HITS OF THE ROLLING STONES,” then in real small type, “performed by The Current Event.”
Anyway, back to this “Beatles” tape… these sound-a-likes always gave me a laugh, but I was quite shocked to see that this one also included a sound-a-like version of Yoko Ono’s song “Why” from her Plastic Ono Band LP. Now this was a song I LOVE, but never in a million years would I think this song would be a candidate for a “sound-a-like”! It’s actually noisier and wilder than her version! So over the years, I have been picking up as many of these sound-a-like and early cover version LPs as I can. I’ve collected some of my favorites here for ya’ll to check out… I included a couple extra “cover versions” that blow my mind as well…these weren’t recorded as sound-a-likes, but just wild cover versions by some ‘70s high school bands, and even stuff like Hawkwind done by easy listening king James Last!
So here it is… Some of the craziest and weirdest from my collection… Easy Listening Hawkwind! High School Foreigner! Disco Pink Floyd! Fake Bowie! Fake Zeppelin! Fake Wendy Carlos! Fake Jean-Michel Jarre! And even Fake Public Image Ltd!!! And MORE!!! Thanks to my pals Steve Kenney and Greg Baise for always keeping their eyes peeled for these kinds of recordings for me! Cheers! ENJOY! AND TURN UP THAT GREAT SONG!!!”