I just love that opening line to this #22 hit single from the autumn of 1996.

My first exposure to it was on Channel 4 which, at the time, occasionally aired music videos inbetween programmes. I’m almost certain this was shown immediately in advance of the main news show which has always been broadcast at 7pm.

Cake, as wiki informs us, are an alternative rock band from Sacramento, California. Consisting of singer John McCrea, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, guitarist Xan McCurdy, bassist Gabe Nelson and drummer Paulo Baldi, the band has been noted for McCrea’s sarcastic lyrics and monotone vocals, DiFiore’s trumpet parts, and their wide-ranging musical influences, including country music, Mariachi, rock, funk, Iranian folk music and hip hop.

They have enjoyed sporadic success in their home nation, including a #1 album as recently as 2011 but over here in the UK they have been very much an underground act and The Distance remains their highest charting 45 while the LP it was lifted from, Fashion Nugget, is the only one that has made it inside the Top 75.

I do like this single – the deadpan vocals and the trumpet solo help lift it above the norm.

mp3 : Cake – The Distance

The CD single had three other tracks on offer:-

mp3 : Cake – Multiply The Heartaches
mp3 : Cake – Jolene (live)
mp3 : Cake – It’s Coming Down

The first is very influenced by country music; bits of it remind me of Squeeze tacking the genre on Labelled With Love. There’s also a feeling of sounding, vocally, like Mark E Everett.

The second is NOT a cover of the song made famous by Dolly Parton and later recorded by Glasgow’s very own Strawberry Switchblade. It’s one of their own compositions and could be something out of the canon of Violent Femmes with added trumpet. Warning. It goes on for over 8 minutes and involves audience participation. I’m guessing it’s lifted from a radio show as the occasional swear word is bleeped out.

The final track is very much a b-side effort; it’s a bit laboured and repetitive. Not one that I’ll listen to again willingly – one for the ‘next’ button function on your listening device.




I’ve never hidden my love for cover versions having featured many hundreds of them over the years at this and the old blog. Here’s three of the more unusual examples of the genre that I’m fond of:-

mp3 : Black Box Recorder – Uptown Top Ranking

Yup, it is a cover of the #1 single by Althea & Donna back in February 1978… that takes what was a perfect pop/reggae single and turns it something quite disturbing and haunting. Not sure how many of you will actually like it, but there’s something quite erotic about the vocal delivery by Sarah Nixey ‘see me in my halter back, see me give you heart attack, give me little bass, let me wind up my waist…’

mp3 : Martin Gore – Loverman

Yup, it’s the fella out of a band that I was never that keen on after Vince Clarke left them….this takes something that was quite disturbing and haunting and turns into something quite poppy and disposable. Not sure how many of you will actually like it….I mean where Nick Cave sounded menacing and a danger to society, this could almost pass as a version you’d hear on Pop Idol or X-Factor.

mp3 : Cake – I Will Survive

The best cover versions are by those bands and singers that take something incredibly well-known and turn into something that something that sounds like one of their own originals (see The Wedding Present on just about every occasion). If you like the sort of stuff churned-out over the years by Californian alt-rock act Cake, then you’ll adore this. If you consider the disco-classic to be sacred, you’ll hate it. For the record, I adore the original, but I want to be counted in, if not quite a loverman of the cover, then an admirer.