Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Lemmy has admitted to being more of a slot machine man than a poker one, but the Motorhead bassist knew which topic would make a better lyric (“when it comes to that sort of thing… you can’t really sing about spinning fruit”). “Ace of Spades,” his paean to gambling that sure sounds like it’s about more than your typical deck of cards, is his band’s signature work and the proto-speed metal song. Anyone can perform it and sound dynamic – even a bunch of plastic dolls. Continue reading »
When I say, “Name a singer or band from Seattle”, I’m sure that bands like Heart, Modest Mouse, Nirvana or Pearl Jam might be the first to pop in your head. Some of you may even think Hendrix or Judy Collins. I will even give extra credit to anyone who first thought of Kenny G or Queensrÿche.
1983 was a great year for music. Michael Jackson was riding his album Thriller to levels never seen before or since. Men at Work was singing about Vegemite sandwiches. Even older bands like Toto, The Police, and Golden Earring were making a name for themselves. Again.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Elliott Smith’s songs are not easy to cover. This isn’t necessarily related to virtuosity, but might even be related to the exact opposite. Smith’s voice (squeaky, usually double-tracked, always on the verge of slipping off key) was something that he used as a weapon, tearing right into the heart of his music. Pairing that voice with soul-baring lyrics and melodies that never strayed too far from the Beatles and Beach Boys school of pop music, Smith carved out a segment of the singer-songwriter genre that was all his own.
That being said, Seth Avett (of the Avett Brothers) and Jessica Lea Mayfield have a decent go at it on the informatively titled Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith. Upon first listen, the album’s most glaring problem (for Smith fans, at least) becomes apparent: most of the selections fall very close the originals. “Between the Bars,” probably the most covered song of Smith’s songs (over-covered, if you ask this reviewer), hits all of the original’s beats. “Angeles,” too, is played (albeit a little slower) like a straight transfer of the Either/Or cut. Though, this does raise a question: what’s the alternative? How do you rearrange “Angeles” (perhaps the best candidate for the most wholly representative song in the Elliott Smith catalogue) without losing what makes it special? I imagine these are the questions that Avett and Mayfield asked themselves, too – presumably without finding any satisfactory answers. Continue reading »
Graduate of Chapman University’s Conservatory of Music and producer to such acts as SZE (TDE), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) and Kail (Hellfyre Club), Kate Ellwanger treats us to three strikingly chill covers via her About Us EP.Continue reading »
Audra Mae comes from a musical family line. Her great grandmother, Virginia “Jimmie” Gumm, was a member of the Gumm Sisters, which also included one Francis Gumm, better known as Judy Garland. And her uncle, session musician Michael Sherwood, wrote a song that was included on Michael Jackson’s Thriller 25th Anniversary.
So it comes as no surprise that this girl from Oklahoma is beginning to make a name for herself. She co-wrote the song “Who I Was Born to Be” along with Mark Linn-Baker (yes, the guy from TV’s Perfect Strangers), which was included on Susan Boyle’s debut album. Miranda Lambert is currently enjoying the success of the Mae-penned “Little Red Wagon”.Continue reading »
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
I guess I felt a little bad about by my recent damning by faint praise of Annie Lennox, so I’ve been feeling the need to redress with something topnotch. And I have it, with Relations, the 2004 LP by Kathryn Williams, silky-voiced folkish songstrel. I guess she isn’t well known outside her fan-base in the U.K., which is a shame because she damn well should be. Continue reading »
Johnny Marr has had quite the career. Besides being the guitarist for The Smiths, he has also been part of The The, Electronic, The Pretenders, The Cribs and Modest Mouse. He started a band with Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) called Johnny Marr and the Healers. He has worked with Paul McCartney, Talking Heads, Beck, Pet Shop Boys and a whole slew of other artists as a session musician.
Here, he takes on the 1993 Depeche Mode hit, “I Feel You”. To some of you, that may mean nothing. To a kid raised in the ’80s, though, this is the best of both worlds.
This limited edition 7″, released for Record Store Day 2015, will also include a B-side live performance of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”.
At first, it almost sounds like a George Thorogood tune with the drum and guitar, but then it quickly becomes the well-recognized song that I wore out on Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion album.