Nov 152019
 

JHsingsThePoliceJuliana Hatfield Sings the PoliceJuliana Hatfield Sings the Police is the latest (second) in, now, what must be a series of such projects, her JH Sings Olivia Newton-John being released barely 18 months ago. Eclecticism clearly a calling card, the sweepstakes on whomsoever is next in line must have long odds: Metallica? The Beach Boys? Putting such thoughts aside, Hatfield has always had a way with covers, quirky versions of songs peppered throughout her long and varied career. We’ve commented upon this here many a time; I even gave her a grudging shout-out in a recent Led Zeppelin Five Good Covers piece on “Rock and Roll.”

I have always considered her together with Evan Dando, either the mythology or my imagination suggesting she perpetually the good girl to his bad boy, just saying no to anything other than close musical collaboration. It’s a good story oft played, bringing each a shared notoriety, fueled by their somehow always seeming to find themselves together on a stage, whether planned or otherwise. A child of the late 70’s, she purportedly acquired her love of music from a babysitter, who introduced her to the works of L.A. punks X. Kicking off her career in 1992, with the eponymous Juliana Hatfield, guess who was already alongside, as one of the guitarists and singers (Hatfield’s main instrument being the bass guitar)? If you guessed Evin Dandow, you really need to work on your spelling.

Whilst he didn’t appear on the follow-up, the debut by the Juliana Hatfield Three, or the subsequent eight albums, credited solely in her name, Hatfield cropped up a fair bit on or in Dando’s releases, notably the two biggest and most influential of his Lemonheads releases, It’s a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel the Lemonheads, in 2002 and 2003 respectively. 2012 saw another record, called merely Juliana Hatfield (confusingly, as that was her debut’s name too), which was all covers, from which the aforementioned “Rock and Roll” hailed, along with staples from Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Who, as well as lesser known fare from Teenage Fanclub and Liz Phair. A couple more solo efforts and the second JH3 record dropped 22 years after the first, followed by the ONJ tribute. And yet another solo release, so she can never be accused of being idle. In her spare time she has also been part of other bands and collaborations, notably the Blake Babies and Some Girls. Phew!
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Nov 132019
 
lisa bastoni

Bob Dylan has been a source of inspiration for singer/songwriter Lisa Bastoni ever since she first picked up a guitar. In 1999, she won first place at a Bob Dylan Karaoke contest at the Newport Folk Festival, singing the song “Isis.” For her seventeenth birthday, she received a copy of Dylan’s book Lyrics:1962-1985 that, according to her, is now, “Velveteen Rabbit-level falling apart from love.” About ten years ago, she started making miniature painted cardboard dioramas with scenes based on Dylan’s songs. “I realized I might be verging into the category of a little too weird as far as Dylan fandom goes, and had to dial it back a little,” she told Cover Me in an email. Continue reading »

Nov 122019
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

REM Covers

Last week, R.E.M. released a 25th anniversary expanded reissue of their 1994 album Monster. Unlike many of their albums, Monster was not an obvious candidate for a splashy box set. Practically every new review has noted that Monster was, as Salon succinctly put it, “a notorious staple of dollar bins everywhere.” But, as tends to happen with such reissues, the celebrated albums get celebrated again and the less-loved albums get a critical reappraisal. Sure enough, everyone loves Monster all of a sudden.

So perhaps an avalanche of Monster covers is forthcoming – because there certainly aren’t many now. Despite that being the ostensible news peg for this list, no songs from that album appear on it. But, in a band with as rich a discography as R.E.M.’s, there was a lot of competition. Sure, the obvious hits get covered as much as you think, but many artists delve deeper. The song at the very top of the list, for instance, originally appeared on 1998’s Up, an album that might have an even worse reputation than Monster.

Luckily we don’t need to wait four more years for the reappraisal of that, or of any of the other songs on our list. These 25 covers reappraise R.E.M. deep cuts you didn’t know and reimagine the hits you’ve heard a million times.

The list starts on Page 2.

Nov 112019
 

“Mah Nà Mah Nà” is an unlikely children’s song. It was originally written by Italian composer Piero Umiliani for the 1968 film Sweden: Heaven and Hell. The London Institute of Contemporary Arts described the film as “an Italian shockumentary depicting the strange customs of the natives of Sweden in the ‘60s. It’s an archetypal mondo movie, with scenes of lesbian nightclubs, nasty bikers, teenage sex education, drugs, topless girl-bands and suicide.” The song appears during a scene where a bunch of young girls, wearing only towels, soak in a sauna. Continue reading »

Nov 082019
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

at last cover

Released in 1960, “At Last” was Etta James’s second hit single from and the title track of her debut album. It crossed over from the R&B charts to the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

From commercials to the first dance at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural balll. (covered by none other than Beyoncé), the song permeates our culture. According to IMDb, James’s “At Last” appeared in 64 television show episodes or movies. From classics like Rain Man to unexpected venues like Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary, the song has celebrated victory in love (finally!). However, James was almost twenty years too late to claim this song as her own.

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Nov 062019
 
whole of the moon covers

It’s not often two exceptionally fine covers of the same song appear during the same week but clearly some pop loving spirit is feeling generous right now.

The Waterboys “The Whole Of The Moon”, originally released in 1985, has proven to be an enduring anthem of wonderment and longing. Yet the physical subject of the song, the actual person it’s inspired by, has been a source of debate for years. It was speculatively suggested that frontman Mike Scott was talking about Prince; he had mentioned him in interviews around that time and had spoken passionately about being blown away by “Purple Rain.”* It was then said to be about author C.S. Lewis, one of Scott’s admittedly eternal influences. And at some point later on cult singer Nikki Sudden (Swell Maps), a friend of Scott’s, alleged it was actually about him. Continue reading »