When bands record covers they have a tendency to "over do it" sometimes. But the Dead to me/The FlatlinersUnder Influence EP was done just right. In fact, this is a case where the bands did just a little bit less and the outcomes were great. If you read the small blurbs that Dead to Me and The Flatliners wrote on the sleeve of this E.P. about why they decided to cover the songs they chose, you can tell that a lot of heart and soul went into playing them.
On side A of this split Dead to Me covers "Five Corporations" by Fugazi, which is off their End Hits full length. On their side of the sleeve they wrote "Fugazi has always been a huge influence on Dead to Me" because of their "DIY ethics" and that "the lyrical content to this song has arguably almost even more meaning these days than when it was recorded originally." In comparison to the Fugazi's recording, Dead to Me seems to have cleaned up a fairly rough-sounding song. Granted that was probably Fugazi's intention, but its really interesting to listen to. Put it this way- this cover sounds as if it could have easily fit on Dead to Me's Cuban Ballerina, in that it leans a little more towards pop-punk than a hardcore song. Its tempo is a little bit faster and you can hear the main guitar riff a bit better, which they have made a few minor changes to. The bass takes a more prevalent role through out the song as well and you can understand the vocals a bit better than the original. Does this mean that Dead to Me have beat Fugazi at their own game? Absolutely not. That wasn't the point at all. This was a nod to Fugazi for clearly being such a big influence on Dead to Me. But for a cover, this was a fantastic choice for this band.
On side B The Flatliners cover Rocket From the Crypt's "Straight American Slave" originally off of their album Group Sounds. In the paragraph they wrote on the sleeve, The Flatliners make is extremely clear that to them "RFTC is the best sounding kick to the face the four of us have ever heard." The Flatliners also claim "this is [their] best attempt at sullying their name." This is not the case at all. The Flatliners actually recorded a very good cover here. The fact that they did less by taking to the horn section out of this song was probably a better idea. This cover is so guitar heavy (in a good way) that the horns and the guitars would have clashed with each other and chances are it would have sounded over-produced with too much going on. The Flatliners also added a cool prolonged outro, which you can tell they added because they were so into this song. You hear the band's enjoyment and excitement by just how hard they are playing their instruments.
But between the two covers which one is better? I have to say that Dead to Me truly killed it on this E.P. I'm not taking any credit away from The Flatliners. Both bands put in a magnificent effort, but Dead to Me "hit the nail on the head" with "Five Corporations." It was a great choice, perfectly played, and very well produced. Both bands need to play these covers live more often PLEASE!
Note to my fellow vinyl nerds: This 7-inch was pressed in three different colors for its first pressing - 300 in white, 700 in opaque yellow, and 1,000 in translucent green.