The year 2016 has not been very kind to aging influential musicians, as it seems every week or so another instrumental musical legend seems to pass away. He may not be as internationally prominent as the late David Bowie or Prince, but the recent passing of 78-year-old Alan Vega, the lead singer of the ‘70s New York City-based proto-punk outfit Suicide, is sure to impact the lives of many musicians and fans.
According to a statement by Vega’s family, which was released to the public via the website run by prominent punk musician Henry Rollins, best known for his role in the band Black Flag, the passing of Vega was reportedly peaceful. But while he was alive and playing, his art and performances were far from peaceful, as Vega would encourage his audience to be as rowdy as possible. Though his band Suicide strayed along the underground music scene, their confrontational live performances and unique music helped influenced the powerful era of punk rock that followed.
As time went on, Vega and his band’s influence became more and more widely respected by those in the music industry, and since his passing, many renowned artists have come out to pay respect and send condolences for the quintessential punk rock artist. One of the best homages thus far comes from the electro indie band MGMT, who recently decided to release a tasteful cover of Vega’s song “GOODBYE DARLING”, which was originally released on Vega’s 1983 solo record Saturn Strip.
After garnering critical acclaim in 2007 for their major label debut album Oracular Spectacular, the indie duo MGMT has been quite elusive, releasing just two additional albums, Congratulations in 2010 and MGMT in 2013. Since then, the band announced on their Twitter that 2016 would be the year that the band would “re-dominates your mind hole," and what better way to start than by covering a song from the late, great punk pioneer Vega.
Their cover of the song doesn’t stray too far from the original electro-punk-infused style, but at the same time, MGMT adds their unique spin to the track. By doing this, they seem to be both invoking the traditional electro-punk spirit of Alan Vega, while also showcasing how the artist has influenced both MGMT’s sound and many others as well. The MGMT version of the track gets a bit more experimental at times with the synth and vocals, but keeps true to the tradition in which Vega created the song.
Even for those unfamiliar with the work of Vega and his band Suicide, the track stands alone as a return to form for MGMT, who has been laying low since releasing their last album in 2013. The cover song essentially portrays two things. First, that the late Alan Vega will remain a critical influence in many musical cavities well after his passing, and secondly, MGMT looks like they will be back with their electro-indie charm sooner rather than later.
Listen to MGMT's cover of "GOODBYE DARLING" below.