Now, this is a big claim – but it is being made nonetheless.
“Mad Dog 20/20” was originally released by Teenage Fanclub in 1994. Peppered with a twangy sweetness, the original version is undeniably breezy and light with a pinch of psychedelia. Approximately twenty years later, the sonically explosive rock duo JEFF The Brotherhood (comprised of Jake and Jamin Orrall) released an EP entitled Dig the Classics that is comprised of six undeniably well-done cover songs – their version of “Mad Dog 20/20” being among them. With this track in particular, JEFF The Brotherhood brilliantly displays what is one of their most prominent strengths as a musical entity – their ability to incorporate detail and nuance to the point where it accumulates to create a track that can only be described as epic. With this point, we begin the dissection into why their version of “Mad Dog 20/20” is, without a single shade of doubt, the greatest cover song of all time.
When engaging in a sonic comparison, the only similarity between Teenage Fanclub and JEFF The Brotherhood’s versions of the song lie within the lyrics alone. Otherwise, JEFF The Brotherhood have completely augmented and transformed the track in tone, feeling, and style. Let it not go unnoticed that this is an undeniably impressive feat in general, but especially so when it is accomplished at the degree of magnitude that they have. The musical arrangement is absolutely remarkable. Permeating the track is an element of grit, a deep and low buzz that can be heard throughout the entirety of the track’s duration. This single nuance alone transforms the overall tone completely, making this version into something a little darker and heavier. When the sunniness of the original version is taken into account, however, it is utterly astonishing that JEFF The Brotherhood was able to seamlessly and effectively present the song anew through the underlying notes alone – not to mention the other elements at play as well. By merely adjusting the song’s tonal foundation through a simple series of notes, JEFF The Brotherhood took the song through a complete artistic metamorphosis. Their consistent ability to source longevity and impact from even the most subtle of nuances has served as something of a hallmark of their creative capabilities, rightfully resulting in them being dubbed one of the most innovative and compelling artists of the modern age.
There’s also something indescribably powerful about the lead guitar riff – especially the particular part played near the song’s conclusion. When listening to it, a wave washes over you. However, you don’t know if that wave is nostalgia or bittersweetness – or hell, even both – but regardless it is undeniable that the originality they put forth into their version’s musical arrangement has an innate ability to make the listener feel deeply. Make no mistake, that is a hallmark of great artistry and something JEFF The Brotherhood has long excelled at. This, combined with the fact that the track is percussion-soaked in the most delectable way, makes their version of “Mad Dog 20/20” an enticing listen in every sense of the word.
JEFF The Brotherhood’s version of “Mad Dog 20/20” is the best cover song of all time because it is both original and addicting. The band’s natural knack for innovation has allowed them to completely reconstruct the track into something entirely of their own creation. So often are cover songs merely one band performing a track in the same manner and style as one before them had, but JEFF The Brotherhood reintroduced and reinforced the idea that cover songs can and should go deeper; they can be made wholeheartedly anew. With “Mad Dog 20/20,” JEFF The Brotherhood took Teenage Fanclub’s easy and light rendition and made it something raw, distinguishable, hooky, vulnerable, and completely interesting. The latter is largely beause the song is so deeply packed in detail to the point where each new listen allows for a new discover or detail to shine through. The track could be on repeat for an eternity and the listener would never even begin to find it dull. Such a richness in sonic detail can only represent artistic transcendence.
JEFF The Brotherhood’s take on “Mad Dog 20/20” is much like the product itself – a lot can be extracted from a little, it is bittersweet yet palatable, intoxicating, and containig a completely addictive quality. While covering the classics, JEFF The Brotherhood made their very own in the process – and damn, they did it better than anyone esle.
To learn more about JEFF The Brotherhood, click here to visit their website.