Welcome to Covid A Go Go, a music project I started in April 2020. The idea was to use my small home recording setup to produce tracks of cover tunes and get friends to sing and/or play on them. Initially it was a way for me to beat boredom during the COVID-19 lockdown and keep contact with my musician friends, but then I got the idea to call attention to organizations offering support to unemployed musicians and service workers. I hope you enjoy the music, and can donate even a little bit to help people who are struggling as the pandemic rages on.

And don’t mind the site title. I wanted to remember that music goes on no matter what else is going on in the world. Even with a pandemic at the door, we want to go all a go go anyway.

I’ve included links to all the players’ web sites – visit their sites, buy their merch or music if you can, and when we get back to having actual shows again go and see them. There’s a great music scene here on Long Island, and all of us are longing for the day that we can get back out there and entertain you. Hopefully this site will entertain you a little bit in the mean time.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the tunes. This is an ongoing thing, so check back for new tracks over the coming weeks. There’s some cool stuff in the pipeline.

– Don Waller

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PENNY LANE

When Tommy Dolan and I did ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ a few weeks ago, he raised the idea of doing the other side of that double-A Side single, so here it is. We got a little help on this one from Rich Forman on keyboards and Robert Sole on vocals.

This was another fun track to work on – it’s like a Swiss watch with hundreds of moving parts. After Rich played 4 or 5 different keyboard parts, I took a few hours and added all the little incidentals that you should be wearing headphones to hear. I think this one came out pretty well.

Penny Lane

by Robert Sole, Rich Forman & Tommy Dolan

OVER, UNDER, SIDEWAYS, DOWN

After doing ‘Better Man Than I’ with Scott Bittner, I got the idea in my head to do another Yardbirds song – the only question was which one? They had so many cool hits.

I finally opted for one from the 1966 album Roger The Engineer that featured Jeff Beck and his raga-like guitar (reproduced here with the help of a gadget called an E-Bow), but I kinda went for a bit more of a rockabilly feel for the verses – and added a Beck-ish solo at the end that recalls Beck’s time with the Big Town Playboys.

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER

My band Nurse Diesel is known for taking certain, umm, chances with our choices of material – we’re a three piece band, but we often do material that’s a lot more complex than guitar, bass and drums. So when Diesel bassist Tommy Dolan and I decided to do a song we figured we’d get, umm, ambitious. So we figured we’d do half of The Beatles‘ 1967 Double A Side single, and made plans to do the other half soon.

In terms of composition, this is an absolutely fearsome piece of music. It’s hard to believe that such a forward-leaning piece of music was a Top Ten single. It shows that The Beatles’ audience was ready for just about anything by this point of their career. Fun song to record.

WISH YOU WERE HERE

My friend Chris Antos has been known as the voice of AC/DC in the Northeast for over 20 years with his tribute bands Live Wire and Shoot2Thrill, so when I asked him what song he wanted to do with me, he immediately stepped outside his comfort zone and suggested this Pink Floyd classic. We stayed pretty close to the original, with the only point where we veered off was Gilmour’s slide solos – I opted more for his electric style than the acoustic slide on the original.

Very special thanks go out to Don Chaffin at DCity Studios for tracking Chris’ vocals on this one.

ALL MY LOVING

This one was a surprise. Bill Haney sent me this track yesterday, where he took one of The Beatles‘ early rockers and turned it into a gentle ballad. After listening to it a couple of times, I got the idea for a simple string arrangement, and after about an hour I had it pretty much done and mixed. Kind of a left-field idea for an arrangement, but it’s proof that this early MacLen tune can stand on its own without the traditional rock band arrangement.

ROCK ON

While updating my drum software a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the update included a new drum kit they called ‘Levee.’ And that reminded me of a mashup that my band Nurse Diesel used to do, using the music from ‘When The Levee Breaks’ and the lyrics from David Essex‘ 1973 hit ‘Rock On.’ I had a couple of hours to kill this afternoon, so I ducked into the studio and did a quick version of it.

What the hey, right? This one should piss of the purists, but I dig it.

NANTUCKET SLEIGHRIDE

Here’s a song from one of my favorite bands – the title track from Mountain‘s third album, 1971’s Nantucket Sleighride. This one was suggested a while ago by my long-time guitar tech Rodney ‘Rocky’ Arnhold, so i decided to finally give it a go.

I learned a couple of things about this song while researching – the song itself is based on a true story about whaling ships and cannibalism (story here). And Leslie West apparently hated the song and didn’t want to record it. Lucky for us, he did.

NEW SENSATION

After Mike Tirelli and I did ‘It’s No Good,’ we started talking about another song to do. We were talking about doing a song by INXS, and this one from the Kick album was what we landed on – but with a slight twist. It turns out that we’re both fans of an amazing performance that Terrence Trent D’Arby did with INXS at the Michael Hutchence tribute concert, and Mike went more in the TTD style than that of Hutchence. Nailed it, too.

Mike got his Holy Mother band mate Jim Harris to do the backup vocals – with a special cameo appearance by Mike’s daughter Violet as well. Thanks to all. Crank it.

New Sensation

by Mike Tirelli, Jim Harris and Violet Tirelli

NEBRASKA

When I posted that Yardbirds tune last week, I struck up a conversation with Bill Hafener (Finn & His Rustkickers) about doing a song. Bill suggested that he bring in the band and do a revved-up take on Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘Nebraska,’ done in the style of Social Distortion. So we completely flipped the script on how it’s usually done here – the band recorded a blistering live version of the track, and I took a guest turn on the first solo. This track kicks a whole lot of butt. Turn it up.

There are tentative plans for The Rustkickers to put out a slightly different version of this track as a future single, and if things go right I may do a slightly different guest shot on that one…

A GIRL LIKE YOU

New Jersey Power Pop pioneers The Smithereens are one of the most overlooked American bands ever for my money, and this song from their debut album is one of their best. This track has been sitting around for a while, mainly because I was a little skittish about cutting the vocals. I finally overcame my apprehension and laid it down in a couple of takes. A little rough around the edges, but that’s kinda how I roll vocally (in case you haven’t noticed).

This makes a total of 30 songs so far on the site! I figured best to make it a rocker.

MR. SPACEMAN

Here’s another quick track, because this site needs a little country! This track from The Byrds’ 1966 album Fifth Dimension is arguably the very first country-rock song. I kept the arrangement pretty bare-bones to match the original, although I did allow myself a more ‘modern’ Telecaster tone for the solo, as opposed to McGuinn’s Rickenbacker 12 string on the original. Pretty fun song to do.

NO MYTH

This one was a lot of fun to put together. This was the hit single from Michael Penn‘s 1989 debut album March, and you can classify this one as a guilty pleasure. There is so much detail in this song, and I tried to do as much of it as I could. It took 6 guitar tracks, 8 vocal tracks, a Hammond organ track and more than the usual amount of drum programming. But I got such a kick out of doing it, all that tracking was definitely worth it.

MISTER, YOU’RE A BETTER MAN THAN I

Scott Bittner suggested doing this 1965 track by The Yardbirds, but upon listening to it I thought the arrangement could use a little freshening up. I suggested styling it after 80s Power Pop, specifically a song called ‘A Million Miles Away’ by the Los Angeles band The Plimsouls.

Scott sings the lead vocal, and plays the first solo – which is a take on the solo from the Plimsouls tune. I did the second solo, and patterned it after the Yardbirds single ‘Shapes of Things’ (‘Better Man’ was the B side of the American single of ‘Shapes of Things’). I love it when musical worlds collide, and this one ended up being a pretty cool mix of Power Pop and Psychedelia.

Mister, You're A Better Man Than I

by Scott Bittner

PINCUSHION

Sure, ZZ Top went global in the Eliminator – Afterburner – Recycler era, but this song is from the Antenna album, one of the later records before they went back to more of the old school sound. This has always been one of my favorite Top tunes – still pretty heavy on the electronics, but all loaded up with BFG guitar tracks.

LET ME ROLL IT

Confucius once said ‘Many hands make light work.’ Sounds about right for this 1974 Paul McCartney & Wings tune – this one breaks the record for the sheer number of people involved!

I approached Tom Collier (formerly of Grimm Jack, presently a host of Musings, Rants & Guitars on Youtube) about doing a song and he suggested this one. I did the drum programming and bass and sent it to Tom for guitars. I also reached out to Macca fanRich Forman, who supplied the keyboard track, and contacted Billy Kohout (Grimm Jack) to do the lead vocals, which were engineered by Joey Masters (who also added background vocals). Then everything got sent back to me, and I added even more background vocals and did the mix. Here’s the end result, hope you like it.

Let Me Roll It

by Billy Kohout, Tom Collier, Rich Forman & Joey Masters

HEROIN GIRL

Some debut singles are a shot across the bow, and this one from Everclear‘s 1995 major-label debut Sparkle and Fade is exactly that – it goes from zero to ‘punch in the throat’ in the first 10 seconds and does not let up. This song has been on my to-do wish list forever (despite the near-impossible task of singing while playing that devastating riff), so I decided to give it a shot. After a couple of attempts that fell short, I asked Scott Bittner if he wanted to contribute a guitar track. Having a slightly different feel for the second rhythm guitar made all the difference in the world.

COMBINATION

This deep cut from Aerosmith’s Rocks album came about when I asked Joey Sykes (The Babys) to do a song. After briefly flirting with doing a Pink Floyd tune, we reconsidered and decided on this one instead. And when I mentioned that we were doing this tune to bassist and Aerosmith fan Anthony Lombardo (Gypsy, Fearless), he jumped at the chance to lay down the bass track.

Joey takes care of the rhythm guitars (left and right on your stereo, while my track is in the middle) and the first solo, and I do the whammy freakout at the end. Joey does the Tyler vocal bits, I do the Perry. This track was a lot of fun.

Combination

by Joey Sykes, Anthony Lombardo

PERFECTION

When Danny Calvagna and I did ‘No Matter What’ by Badfinger a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about doing another Badfinger song pretty much immediately. And rather than just do another one of their radio hits, we decided to go with a deeper cut off the Straight Up album.

This one was a lot of fun for me to put together, from building the percussion loop that runs throughout to playing Todd Rundgren‘s sweet guitar solo. Thanks to Danny for singing it.

SATURDAY SUPERHOUSE

Anyone who has spoken to me about music in the past few years is well aware of my love for Scottish trio Biffy Clyro. For my money, there are few bands on Earth who rock harder and still maintain a great sense of melody and humanity in their lyrics.

This song is from their 2007 album Puzzle, which was their breakthrough album in Europe. While they’ve gained popularity in the States over the past few years, my opinion is that they deserve to break through here and be as huge as they are everywhere else in the world.

DESERTED CITIES OF THE HEART

This track features an old friend and former bandmate from my home town of Philadelphia, Bill Haney. When I approached him to do a song for the project, I told him that ‘left-field’ tunes were more than okay with me – and he immediately picked this deep cut from Cream’s Wheels of Fire album.

Bill sings it and plays all the guitars, while I did the drums, synthesized cellos, and my best Jack Bruce on bass guitar.

CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE

This Queen track features members of my band Way Back WhenBobby D’Andrea on lead vocals and Gary Hyatt on bass, with Mike McKeon from the band Stagecoach on drums. We added it to our song list just before everything got locked down, so when we started talking about doing a song for the site this one was a natural.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

by Bobby D'Andrea, Gary Hyatt, Mike McKeon

I’M AN ADULT NOW

This song has been rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks, since I was cleaning out my office and found a promo button for the single.

This is the best-known song by a Canadian band called The Pursuit of Happiness, from their 1988 album Love Junk. It was the meeting of two of the most sardonic characters in rock – TPOH front man Moe Berg and producer Todd Rundgren. The result was a deadpan lament about being a grownup, and it’s one of my favorite songs. I got a new piece of equipment this week, and while testing it the intro beat to the song was played, and one thing led to another. Turn it up.

HEAD OVER HEELS

Doom Davis and I racked our brains for the better part of an hour deciding what to follow up ‘Golden Years’ with, and after calling out 20 or 30 songs we settled on this Tears For Fears track suggested by my wife. This one was actually a few weeks in the making, with Doom ultimately laying down 12 tracks between his bass and vocals and the programming I did for the basic track.

A few hours’ mixing to try and catch the cinematic quality of the original, and here we are. This track was a blast to put together, hope you guys enjoy it!

NEVER MY LOVE

I continue to be amazed at the song choices people are making for this project – songs that I’d never think of doing, but when I hear them I think ‘excellent choice.’

The choice of this 1967 hit by The Association was the idea of my old friend, ex-bandmate and guitarist for 70s Rock Parade, Rodney James. I added background vocals and keyboard orchestration, and along the way we were joined by John ‘Doom’ Davis on bass and more background vocals, and Rodney’s cousin Phil Tucciarone laid down the drum track. It’s a little far away from the original, but I think it stands on its own as a pretty cool cover.

Never My Love

by Rodney James, John Davis & Phil Tucciarone

SMILE A LITTLE SMILE FOR ME

Once we finished the track for ‘My Back Pages,’ I asked Robert Sole if he wanted to do another song, and we started throwing around ideas. We settled on something from the 60s, kinda left field, maybe a one-hit wonder – and this song checked all the boxes. Recorded by The Flying Machine and released in 1969, it was the only song by the band to chart here in the States.

Bob did all of the vocals, played bass, and even added the trademark trumpet part! We tacked a little a cappella harmony on the intro, but otherwise stayed true to the original arrangement.

VANILLA RADIO

After yesterday’s dive into Seventies mellowness, I figured we better roar back with a rocker.

One of the most criminally overlooked bands in the world (at least here in the States, in Europe they are gods) is a band called The Wildhearts. They’ve been churning out hook-filled rock for years, and this is one of their coolest songs. Scott Bittner did most of the work on this one, including the drum programming , guitars, bass and vocals. I threw in a guitar part, some harmonies and did the mix. Turn this one all the way up.

WICHITA LINEMAN

While I was waiting to get more tracks back for a few other songs, I thought I’d take a swing at Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman.’ I wanted to stay close to the original, so I plugged in the keyboard and did some horn and string parts. The intro and solo are played on a 7 string guitar, and I tried to remember as much of the arrangement as I could.

As gentle as the song is, it’s not an easy song to sing. My voice on it sure ain’t Glen, but I gave it my best.

NO MATTER WHAT

After Danny Calvagna and I finished ‘Do You Believe In Magic,’ I asked him if he wanted to do another one. He immediately said ‘No Matter What’ by Badfinger. This track came together quickly and I was able to get a mix back to him in a day. He did all the vocals and hand claps and sent me back a track, and it was mixed by this past Friday afternoon.

Then I got a slightly tweaked track on Saturday afternoon, and once I got that track into the mix I decided to re-cut the guitars. So this song has actually been done twice. I think we got a pretty good mix happening.

GOLDEN YEARS

John ‘Doom’ Davis plays bass and sings for 70s Rock Parade, a band known for their spot-on recreations of 70s rock hits. When I asked him what song he wanted to do, it didn’t take him long to pick this Bowie tune from the Station to Station album. And he brings his best Bowie to the table on this one. He also laid down the funky bass and some world-class whistling.

‘Golden Years’ is one of Bowie’s biggest hits, but it’s a pretty odd tune. We stuck pretty close to the original, but we used more ambience in the mix, unlike Bowie’s super-dry 1975 recording.

IT’S NO GOOD

This is the song that started the whole COVID A Go Go ball rolling in my head.

Around late March, I had one of those random memories – I thought back to a rehearsal for Snakebite, the Whitesnake tribute band I was playing in with Mike Tirelli (Holy Mother, Messiah’s Kiss, Rising Five) where Mike asked the band to do this Depeche Mode song. On a lark, I contacted Mike and asked him if I did a track for this song if he’d sing on it. He graciously said yes, and this snowball started rolling.

Mike did a version of this with Messiah’s Kiss last year, but we kinda took it in a different direction. I really enoyed putting this one together, and Mike is just insanely good on it.

BAKER STREET

This Gerry Rafferty classic was on my short list of songs to cover, and to get it done I enlisted two friends I’ve worked with extensively in the Neil Diamond tribute One Hot Night. The song would not work without the atmospheric keyboards, provided here by Rich Forman. And the calling card of this song is the alto sax, played to a tee by Adam Seely. I think they both knocked it out of the park!

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC

When I contacted Danny Calvagna (45 RPM) about doing a song, I had a darker tune in mind to kind of play against his band’s happy-go-lucky image. But in keeping with 45 RPM’s motto of ‘Come On, Get Happy!’, he said ‘How about something more positive?’ He suggested this Spoonful classic and we were off to the races.

Despite having a crew of workers hammering on his house, he came through with a great vocal track.

MY BACK PAGES

When I approached my friend John Genua (The Rustlers) about doing a song, he illustrated perfectly why it’s a good idea to let the guests pick the songs – he’s been doing a live stream every week and had just added ‘My Back Pages’ to his set list. I honestly never would have thought to do that song, but as soon as he mentioned it I was all in. We ended up alternating lead vocals on the verses.

In the course of recruiting other musicians, I mentioned to Robert Sole (Streetfighter) that I was doing this song, and he volunteered to play bass. I asked him if he could do some background harmonies, and he surprised me by delivering an absolutely gorgeous three piece background ensemble. The advantages of having talented friends.

MAMA WEER ALL CRAZEE NOW

The choice of a Slade tune came about because my wife and I always noticed that the only Slade tunes getting played on the radio are the ones that Quiet Riot covered. Those are fine, but Slade recorded a bunch of other really good tunes, this one among them.

This track features Scott Bittner (Heartless Devils, Kamikaze Choir) on guitar and background vocals. Scott plays the first half of the solo, D plays the second. We were aiming for a kind of Georgia Sattelites/Jason & The Scorchers feel. Intro nicked from Sex Pistols. And of course we dropped the key by a lot because there’s no way in the world I’m singing that in Noddy’s key.

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK

You knew there’d be a Beatles song in here (and there will probably be more before we’re done!). This track features my friend Bobby D’Andrea on lead vocals. I play with Bobby in a band called Way Back When. Like me, Bobby is a hard core Beatles fan, so when I asked him if he wanted to do a song for this project, he nominated two Beatles songs. We’ll probably do the other one in the near future.
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