Hear Animal Collective’s Wild Cover Of Motown Classic “Jimmy Mack”

Animal Collective is a band that’s hard to pin down, which is a good thing. If you’re a band that’s difficult to pigeonhole, that means you’re working outside the box, exploring new sounds and musical directions, and that is all true of these guys.

The Baltimore-based keyboard quartet plays too loose with song structures and time signatures to qualify as dance music. They are too intelligent and too unconventional melodically to qualify as pop music. So without a bass or drums in sight, and very little guitar, I’ve still got no qualms putting them in the dog pound of unclassifiable, energetic and/or experimental music with attitude, the dog pound we call Rock.

Animal Collective has built a dedicated following since its inception in 2000, through nine albums of distinctive sonic meanderings. So committed are their fans that last year’s album Painting With was met with some grumbling because the song structures and treatments were too conventional. Of course this was just another experiment for the band, who called it ironically their “Ramones” record.

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Well all their fans seem to be onboard with their new EP release The Painters, which hit the shelves this week. From it, this track really caught my ear, a reworking of Martha And The Vandellas’ 1966 Motown classic “Jimmy Mack”. At first blush it seems like an awfully strange song for AC to cover, but somehow it makes sense and I really can’t explain why. You really should listen to it a couple of times to really get what is going on here.

The first time through I couldn’t really hear the song amid the gurgling, bubbling, groaning accompaniment, but after a couple of listens I really came to appreciate it as a loving, thoroughly contemporary tribute to the original. I was completely sold by the all-in lead vocals and the deceptively layered backing vocals, you can tell it’s a song the band loves playing regularly in its live concerts.

And although it’s not for everybody, this track reflects 2017 in the same way that the original had 1966 written all over it. It’s amazing how a simple song can be robust enough to be reborn in dramatically different form 50 years later.

Photo credit: By adrigu [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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