A-list treatment for the B-sides too

Special to The Times

Music-mad clubgoers can get the hits from any ol' cover band.

But what about other album tracks? After all, we've all bought a record for the big hit and subsequently ended up preferring another, less obvious track. Or we've ended up believing that, because of context, content or the manner the songs are sequenced, the whole album stands as its own work of art.

Two different Southland music gatherings regularly celebrate that concept with live performances of entire albums. And it's no surprise that the men behind both projects -- Jason Moore and Jason Thomas Gordon -- are record collectors and musicians.

You're more likely to see Moore behind the counter (buying your unwanted swag at Amoeba Records) or behind the decks (DJing at watering holes including Beauty Bar and the Vine). But this wax-wielder is also an accomplished musician who's been playing drums for more than half his life, with the likes of singer-songwriter Mike Stinson and hard rockers Dura-Delinquent.

On a whim six months ago, Moore gathered up some of his musician friends to perform a song-by-song rendition of one of his favorite Rolling Stones releases, "Sticky Fingers." A couple of short rehearsals later, Moore and friends -- including Stinson -- were busting out "Brown Sugar" all the way through to "Moonlight Mile" at the Scene Bar in Glendale. It wasn't hard to pack the tiny spot, what with friends of the band (some of whom took the stage to sing a couple numbers) and Amoeba staffers (whose sheer numbers can fill a venue all by themselves) turning up.

Moore decided to keep the night, called Longplayer, going on a twice-monthly basis, inviting friends to cover the album of their choice every second and fourth Monday. It's since moved to the second and fourth Fridays, with a different lineup choosing what they'll play every couple of weeks.

The only rules: no best-of compilations and no live discs. It's been an impressive list so far, with a mixture of obvious classics and fairly unpredictable titles, including the Doors' "L.A. Woman," T-Rex's "Electric Warrior," Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee," Cream's "Disraeli Gears," Black Flag's "Jealous Again" and Judas Priest's "British Steel," to name a few.

On a recent Friday, singer-bassist Laurie ES and friends performed the self-titled debut of the somewhat obscure early '70s U.K. metal trio Budgie, credited with having influenced Metallica. Though not as packed as it might have been for a better-known album, the night had an energy and enthusiastic vibe. As the set progressed and the band tackled each subsequent tune, the crowd cheered louder and seemed to get rowdier, fueling the lineup's riotous reproduction of some arduous and complex cuts.

It's what Moore enjoys most about the evening. "The hits are cool," he says. "But it's really fun to watch the players try to pull off the harder ones, like the weird filler songs."

On other side of town, Gordon, the drummer for 50 Cent Haircut, has co-promoted a similar effort. This monthly event, called Album Night, has been going off at Room 5 above Amalfi Restaurant (adjoining spaces that many might remember as Farfalla and F2). Album Night's choices have included the Beatles' "Let It Be," Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Led Zeppelin III." The setup here is a bit different, with the lineup swiftly changing for each song and a musical emphasis on reinterpretation rather than skilled emulation.

Still, the two nights do have a lot in common. Album Night's inaugural event also featured a Stones classic, "Beggars Banquet."

"We don't take the idea too seriously," says Gordon, whose next event, on Oct. 30, will feature a Halloween-appropriate rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

"We just try to have fun with the music."

Moore, whose next Longplayer gathering on Oct. 29 gets even more sinister with Alice Cooper's "Love It to Death," echoes the sentiment. "I like the musicians to be really psyched about the record they choose to play," he says. "If they are, then the crowd will be too."


Live albums

Longplayer -- Second and fourth Fridays of the month, the Scene Bar, 806 E. Colorado St., Glendale. (818) 241-7029. www.thescenebar.com.

Album Night -- Monthly (day varies), Room 5, 143 N. LaBrea Ave., Hollywood. (323) 938-2504.

Lina Lecaro can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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