Could the cover album possibly be returning to prominence? After Insecure Men’s Karaoke for One, released a few weeks back, prolific artist Ty Segall has returned with one of his own. Fudge Sandwich, a record that sees the Californian cover the Grateful Dead, Funkadelic and even John Lennon, is Segall’s third record of the year so far. Seemingly looking to take the psych-crown of Aussie’s King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Segall’s latest record is another notch under the inventive artist’s oeuvre. Contorted, manic and feverish, Fudge Sandwich truly shows that Ty Segall can do no wrong. Cover albums, collaborations, or albums in his own right, he’s simply got the whole package and, if there’s any justice, will go down as one of the finest musicians of his generation.
We should have guessed from his excellently scuzzy reimagining of Hot Chocolate’s iconic disco track ‘Every 1’s a Winner’ from this year’s Freedom’s Goblin, that Segall has a unique way of taking on classic songs. Fudge Sandwich is no different, with each and every cover devised and conjured into Segall’s own fuzzy, distorted world. At just under 40 minutes, the record is an intense burst of energy. No matter the genre, or classic nature of the track, each is taken at face value, and shown the respect it’s deserved without watering-down the final results.
While opening two songs ‘Low Rider’ and ‘I’m a Man’, by War and The Spencer Davis Group respectively, provide a thrilling insight into how the record will take shape with crazed guitar noises and Jack White-esque vocals, it’s not until the beautiful one-two of John Lennon’s ‘Isolation’ and Funkadelic’s ‘Hit It and Quit It’ where the promise of Fudge Sandwich comes to fruition. As an artist that has consistently been compared to the nasally tones of Lennon, taking on ‘Isolation’ was a risk but it’s a beautiful reimagining of the classic number. Setting it next to ‘Hit it and Quit It’, however, is the real stroke of genius. Providing his now iconic voice, with the excellent guitar riffs of Eddie Hazel, it’s almost the perfect exhibition of Segall’s talents – and a wiley look into his headspace.
Fudge Sandwich isn’t all high-octane, riff-heavy thunder, however, as the record has its quieter moments too. ‘Pretty Miss Titty’, a cover of obscure prog-rock band Gong’s 1969 single, sees Segall strum along on an acoustic guitar while spouting out nursery rhyme-esque lyrics in his husky drawl. Likewise, a cover of iconic American rock band the Grateful Dead’s ‘St Stephen’ starts off with a slow, meandering guitar riff before kicking into a punk-ish take on the track. Segall very cleverly plays with pacing and time on all of his records and Fudge Sandwich is no different.
It’s testament to Segall’s dynamic creativity that Fudge Sandwich, his 12th album in total and third this year, still sounds so fresh. There’s certainly a groundwork to his catalogue, with raucous guitar riffs and loud noise-rock always at the forefront, but every time he strays in a different direction that makes his music feel renewed, rejuvenated and immensely fun. Fudge Sandwich is certainly not the most important record in Segall’s body of work, but it’s a whole load of fun in its own right.