Certain Songs #1169: The Miss Alans – “Save It For Later (Wild Blue 03-30-1991)”

Album: Outtake from All Hail Discordia
Year: 1991

Throughout their entire career — though, naturally, more earlier than later — The Miss Alans sprinkled in a few covers during their live shows.

Obviously, doing covers is a really fun thing for a band that relies upon original material: you can break up your set with a somebody else’s song that shows where you’re coming from. Or maybe learn something for a special occasion, like Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day, for which The Miss Alans once played “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” at the Blue, with Jay on banjo. I don’t remember that at all, so it must have been a really good St. Patrick’s Day.

Then during the period where they were in L.A. trying to get a record deal and only had a single set of material worked up for the showcase gigs Kirk was getting them, they did an entire set of Neil Young covers — all of the usual suspects, which they then turned into long jams — which reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Then there were the one-offs: “What Goes On,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “For What It’s Worth,” and the studio version of Big Star’s “Kangaroo” that ended up as a b-side of “The Sad Last Days of Elvis Aron Presley” single.

But I think this is the list of the covers that they played over multiple shows:

XTC – “Earn Enough For Us”
Them – “Gloria” (a hangover from the Wayne Foundation days)
James – “What’s The World?
Hoodoo Gurus – “Like Wow-Wipeout
Lou Reed (via Tommy Keene) – “Kill Your Sons”
Led Zeppelin – “Dancing Days
David Bowie – Suffragette City
Ted Nugent – “Great White Buffalo”
The English Beat – “Save it For Later
Neil Young – “Cortez The Killer”

And of course, this doesn’t take into account the many times Ron and Manny started playing the “2112 Overture” opening riff, and I probably shouldn’t ignore their hilarious free jazz take on “Happy Birthday,” which I was once lucky enough to get serenaded with the year I turned 25. That was the beginning of one hell of a birthday weekend, as that night was followed with an epic roadtrip that involved seeing R.E.M. (w/ the dBs) and U2 (w/ the Pretenders)(who had Johnny Marr on lead guitar!) over the next two nights.

ANYWAYS, out of all of these, my very favorite was their reworking of “Save it For Later,” a song so beautiful and primal it just lends itself to reinterpretation. So taking the opposite tack from Pete Townshend, who recorded a gentle, acoustic version on his Deep End Live video, The Miss Alans turned “Save It For Later” into a gigantic rock song.

With Manny Diez spiraling leads out of the center of the Jay’s bassline, and Ron playing a tumbling, crashing beat, “Save It For Later” comes roaring out of the gate, with Scott playing around with the phrasing on the verses, while Manny supports him on the stop-time chorus. And it’s fun and it’s cool. At the end it gets fucking insane.

You know the coda of the original song, right? The amazing part where Dave Wakeling is just kinda singing random sounds to the melody and Ranking Roger slides in quietly singing “runaway” and Wakeling joins him and it is beautiful and sad beyond all measure?

The Miss Alans take that part and blow it into a million gorgeous smithereens.

After the last of three increasingly louder choruses, Manny turns his guitar into a tornado and Ron Woods gets sucked into the middle of it while unleashing a torrent of drum rolls, tilting the song on its axis. Then also sucked into the vortex is Scott, coming in with the “runaway runaway” as Manny joins him, only they’re modulating, and their harmonies of “runaway runaway” are getting wilder and wilder “runaway runaway runaway runaway” way way way out of their vocal ranges, and then after one last furious drum roll that somehow rights the world & extinguishes the tornado, Scott screams with joy:

Let me downnnnnnnnnnn!
Let me downnnnnnnnnnn!
Let me downnnnnnnnnnn!
Let me downnnnnnnnnnn!

It is fucking transcendent: one moment the whole song is completely out of control, and the next moment it’s completely on track, with Manny singing “la da da” in triumph.

I always always loved seeing them play this, and while I understand why they used “Great White Buffalo” as the cover song on All Hail Discordia (maybe just for Scott’s hilarious “lookouuuuuuut!!” at the end), I’ve always wanted the world to hear this raggedy, glorious take on “Save it For Later.”

“Save It For Later (Wild Blue 03-30-1991)”

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