Hamilton Leithauser has graced the Undercover stage (well, not this one, the other one) twice before, with The Walkmen. His on-extreme-hiatus band covered R.E.M.’s “Driver 8” in season one, and “Holiday Road” for our first Holiday Undercover series. Now he’s back with an excellent solo album, Black Hours, and a fully functioning cover of John Cougar’s “I Need A Lover.” (You’ll also notice Walkmen guitarist Paul Maroon rocking out while sitting down.) The song was Cougar’s first American hit, way back in 1979, and it was released after he stopped using the name Johnny Cougar, but before he went with John Cougar Mellencamp and, at long last, simply John Mellencamp. Leithauser and his band took the song as a challenge, working up a cover that includes its full-length instrumental opening passage, not just copping out with the much shorter radio edit. It’s aces.
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