Mar 202018
buffalo tom cover

Buffalo Tom was an alternative rock bands always on the verge of mainstream success in the ‘90s, but who never even earned “oh-they-play-that-song” status. Though they’ve definitely got a strong cult following. The band appeared on the final episode of The Jon Stewart Show in 1995 and the comedian has cited them as one of his favorite artists. Their music even featured in a 1994 episode of the teen drama My So-Called Life during a Claire Danes/Jared Leto make-out montage (it’s about as disgusting as it sounds). These days the band has returned, having just released a new studio album, Quiet and Peace, which includes a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.”

The song originally appeared on the duo’s 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon wrote the tune about existential longing after Garfunkel jettisoned to Mexico to appear in the movie Catch-22, hence the opening lines: “Tom, get your plane right on time / I know your part’ll go fine / Fly down to Mexico.” While not quite as iconic as “Mrs. Robinson” or “The Sounds of Silence,” the track has seeped its way into pop culture over the decades.

Buffalo Tom shifts the song into the alternative-country universe, shaping it into an anthem to aimless wandering, especially when they hit the climactic chorus, “Half of the time we’re gone, but we don’t know where.” For the accompaniment, they blend acoustic and steel guitar and include a jammy electric guitar solo to amplify the finale. Though the track might not be as edgy as some of the group’s early work, it holds up well after a few listens. The band has clearly aged better than other relics from the ‘90s (especially YouTube clips of My So-Called Life).

Click here to listen to more covers by Buffalo Tom.

Mar 182018

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

anarchy in the uk covers

With the release of over 70 SecondHandSongs-verified versions of the Sex Pistols’ debut single since 1976 (and many more informal covers), “Anarchy In The U.K.” takes the punk prize for being their most-covered song. The harsh rallying cry for Britain’s disaffected youth has generated over 10 million views on one YouTube post alone. As noted in our track-by-track covers review of Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, “Anarchy” kicked-off a cultural phenomenon and has garnered accolades from establishment icons like Rolling Stone magazine and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which, at the time, the band would have stood systematically against.

The original appeared as a single nearly a year before it was featured on the band’s one and only studio album. It opens with the crashing of guitars, drums and John Lydon’s shout of “Rrrright! Now!” followed by laughter. The sonic assault breaks for a fake belch before Lydon resumes his screeching diatribe that includes a laundry list of politically themed abbreviations (IRA, UDA, MPLA) and the recently-discontinued British music newsweekly NME.

Music writer Tim Sommer in The Observer had this to say in a great article about the song on its 40th anniversary:

But for a staggering, shattering few moments, “Anarchy in the U.K.” and the Sex Pistols shocked the world as no other artist ever has or ever will. We can never recreate that moment, the instant when a rock band from the wrong side of the socio-economic spectrum made a loud noise and shouted “Match!” while sitting on a pile of dynamite, but here’s hoping it can happen again.

We’ve rounded up a variety of styles of the iconic track worth sharing. John Lydon marked his final live performance as Johnny Rotten with the question, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” It’s safe to say that none of these covers will leave you feeling that way!

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Mar 152018

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty years.

Rich Girl covers

In 1960, Victor and Everett Walker opened the first Walker Bros. Original Pancake House in Wilmette, IL. By the end of the decade, Victor retired, having sold his restaurant and the 15 KFC franchises he owned. At age 50, he was fixed for life – as were his three sons. One of them, Victor Jr., dated a woman named Sara Allen for a while in college. She broke up with Victor Jr. (but remained friends) and began going out with Daryl Hall, who would write “Sara Smile” about her and write many other songs with her.

Hall knew the young Vic and later referred to him as a “burnout.” “He came to our apartment, and he was acting sort of strange,” Hall said in an interview. “I said, ‘This guy is out of his mind, but he doesn’t have to worry about it because his father’s gonna bail him out of any problems he gets in.'” That thought led to a song. “But you can’t write, ‘You’re a rich boy’ in a song,” Hall said, “so I changed it to a girl.” Continue reading »

Mar 142018
australian cover songs

Cover songs have become a battleground in the streaming era. On our best-of-the-month roundups (January’s, February’s), inevitably a sizeable number come from Spotify sessions. And Amazon is fighting back, regularly commissioning original covers for themed playlists exclusive to their own streaming service. The latest is called Made In Australia and includes 22 younger Australian bands covering their countrymen. We’ve rounded up some of the best below (though, sadly, many of the rest you can only hear in full as an Amazon Music subscriber). Continue reading »

Mar 132018
Jordan Mackampa

Already on the short list of my personal favorite cover songs of 2018, singer Jordan Mackampa’s take on Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” is a nuanced gem. From the acoustic guitar beginning on to the first lines, “Holly came from Miami F.L.A., Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A,” there is a mood-setting moment where you come to completely understand why you love music in general, and cover songs in particular.

The video itself is the first launching from COVERS, a new YouTube video series from the “Mahogany” sessions series. Mackampa starts things out sitting on a sparse office chair, guitar resting on his knee, slightly hunched over with a mood-setting backlight. At about the one minute mark, Georgia Mason and her autoharp make their appearance, and this is where the real magic begins. Continue reading »

Mar 122018

Cover Classics takes a look at great covers albums of the past, their genesis and their legacies.

never mind the bollocks tribute

Conspicuously absent from our recent Full Album deep dive into The Sex Pistols’ classic Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols were any of the artists who covered the album in its entirety. Which a number of very different acts have, tackling all twelve tracks themselves. Because it required an extra level of commitment, we thought it only fair to highlight their work separately. These are the best full-length tributes to Never Mind the Bollocks by a single artist.

I. The Bollock Brothers – ‘Never Mind The Bollocks 1983’

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