Oct 122018
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

alanis morissette

“You Oughta Know” represented a handful of firsts for Alanis Morissette. It was the first single off her 1995 Jagged Little Pill album and the first release based on her collaboration with Glen Ballard, who shares writing credit and produced the song. While it’s also technically her first public break from the pop-leaning sound she’d previously engaged, that Alanis – like Robin Scherbatsky’s “Robin Sparkles” days, for How I Met Your Mother fans – was really known only to her native Canada.

For most American listeners, “You Oughta Know” was the first time they’d heard Alanis Morissette, period – and a demure introduction it was not. The song also marked, for more than a few JNCO-clad girls in their teens and twenties, the first time that 1990s alternative rock seemed not just open to frustrated female energy but perfectly suited to it. Its combination of smartly conceived jabs and soaring emotion ensured the song would stay lodged in musical memory for a long time to come – and that many other artists would want to give it a try.
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Oct 122018
 

With his new album Lean on Me, Blue Note artist José James provides track-by-track recreations of soul master Bill Withers’ best-known hits. James has a phenomenal voice that captures the spirit of the originals and would make him an ideal frontman for a Withers tribute act. As a result, the album’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. James mirrors Withers’ sound so precisely that you have to give each track a close listen to discern any differences between his versions and the originals. Unfortunately, in the streaming era this presents a conundrum: why should one listen to the perfect tribute and not just click on Withers’ originals?
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Oct 112018
 
belle mare

In 1991, a mysterious singer calling herself Q Lazzarus made the sort of massive cultural imprint most musicians only dream of: having her song “Goodbye Horses” soundtrack the iconic Buffalo Bill mirror scene in Silence of the Lambts. And then, at the moment most musicians would capitalize on early success – she vanished.

After twenty-plus years of mystery, in August journalist Kelsey Zimmerman tracked her down driving a bus in Staten Island (it’s a long story, and worth reading). And her reemergence inspired a new cover by Brooklyn duo Belle Mare, a pop band whose haunted synthpop sound is clearly influenced by Q Lazzarus.

“‘Goodbye Horses’ has been a favorite of mine for some time now, as anyone who has ridden in my car can attest – I include it on just about every playlist I make and love listening to it on a long drive,” the band’s Thomas Servidone tells us. “It was such a revelation reading all the recent press surrounding this song and even more so, about the singer. It’s a rare but refreshing story in these times, for a talented person to be living a happy life of relative obscurity. A stark contrast to the way most of us live today, with the social media-fueled need for constant affirmation, endless self promotion, and the feeling of emptiness that arises as a consequence of these behaviors. Her story feels grounding, a reminder that confidence creates authenticity.”

Listen to Belle Mare’s “Goodbye Horses” exclusively below.

Check out more “Goodbye Horses” covers here.

Oct 112018
 
amy helm mandolin wind

Rod Stewart, one of the most prolific cover song performers around, is also an underrated songwriter. While his first two solo albums after departing The Faces included several cover songs – sterling versions of Dylan’s “Only A Hobo” and Tim Hardin’s “Reason To Believe” – his superior self-penned tunes including “Gasoline Alley” from his second proper release, and the beautiful “Mandolin Wind” from Every Picture Tells a Story are the songs that really cemented his legacy. Continue reading »

Oct 102018
 
jack white blondie

In late 1997, a Michigan trio of teenagers calling themselves 400 Pounds of Punk released their only album, a five-song cassette called He Once Ate A Small Child. Calling it obscure puts it mildly; until today, there was no mention of this release anywhere on the internet. “I doubt more than a half-dozen people even knew about it,” writes Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell (that’s him on the left in the photo) on Discogs. Blackwell has changed that, posting a track from it in honor of Cassette Week. That track, a raw and rocking cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another,” features a young Jack White on vocals. Continue reading »

Oct 092018
 
oates weir

History has been kind to the legacies of perceived second-bananas John Oates and Bob Weir. In a recent comedy special, Chris Rock noted how Oates deserves just as much credit as Daryl Hall for their long running partnership. “I don’t know what Oates does,” Rock quipped. “But Hall never had a hit record without him.” Similarly, Weir was always perceived to be second to Jerry Garcia during the lifespan of the the Grateful Dead. But in the two decades since Jerry’s death he has played an essential role in keeping the spirit of the band alive.

Oates and Weir recently teamed up during an Oates solo performance at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California. It was an encore of their previous pairing at the venue in 2015. Weir blends in so well with Oates’ band that one hopes they make a habit out of this.

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