Fifty years ago in the summer of 1969, an event occurred that changed the face of American popular music forever. As swarms of baby boomers were heading to and from Bethel, N.Y., their older siblings – and possibly their parents – made pilgrimages to the desert to see the King. On July 31, Elvis Presley returned to the stage for a month-long series of concerts at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, his first live performances since 1961.
Country supergroup The Highwomen are wielding some killer harmonies and fierce lyrics as they tour in support of their upcoming self titled album due out September 6th. For the soundtrack for the movie The Kitchen, a high stakes drama about an all female gangster organization, the quartet performed a powerful rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. They’ve since covered it a couple times live: at a recent visit to Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show and again sitting in a circle backstage at Jimmy Fallon’s show a few days ago – with Fallon himself. Both live versions also feature an uncredited Jason Isbell on guitar.
You know the story – on August 15, 1969, an estimated 400,000 people coalesced on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in upstate Bethel, New York, for “3 days of Peace & Music” at a music and art fair that ultimately defined a generation. Today marks the golden fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock, and to celebrate the occasion, the staff at Cover Me are going “back to the garden” to wrap you in the Top 50 covers performed by the legendary artists who graced the stage during that long weekend.
Nine years after The Bird and the Bee’s first cover album, Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, Volume 2 has arrived, and let me tell you, it is worth the wait. The duo had me when they released “Ain’t Talking ’bout Love” as a single. (If you haven’t seen the live version with Dave Grohl on drums, stop everything and watch it here.) With “Ain’t Talking ’bout Love” released ahead of the album, along with “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher,” I was worried that we had already heard the juiciest covers from the album, but the rest of the songs do not disappoint.
Why would the jazz-based electro-pop duo choose Van Halen for their latest tribute? Well, they already made a shout-out to David Lee Roth in their song “Diamond Dave,” from their 2009 album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future album. They bring it back here, covering their own song to round out their tribute album. Plus, it helps that The Bird and the Bee, of Los Angeles, are practically neighbors of Van Halen, originally from Pasadena.
Since the cover-ers and the cover-ees come from very different musical genres, the pairing is a compelling one. Replacing Van Halen’s heavy electric guitar with a mixture of synths and more traditional piano, and changing the original vocal style from gravelly rock, to a smoother and sultry jazz vibe, The Bird and the Bee create another instant classic tribute album.
Is Blink-182 getting – dare I speak the word – cool?
They’ve always been popular, of course – and appear to have remained so even after co-founder Tom DeLonge left to hunt aliens – but hardly something you would bring up around your hipper friends. But we’ve now seen two tribute albums in as many years. The first came from avant-garde bass player B.E.N. in 2017. And now rising indie singer-songwriter Colleen Green has released another, the literally-titled Blink 182’s “Dude Ranch” as played by Colleen Green. And get this: It’s also played entirely on bass. Bass players really love Mark Hoppus, I guess.
One of the more surprising cover projects released in 2018 was Juliana Hatfield’s gloriously sprawling Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John. As tribute albums go, it was a complete love fest, honoring its subject’s perfect pop radio confections with enormous reverence and heart. It also seemed to come out of nowhere. For all the inveterate melodicism Juliana has displayed over her 30-plus-year career, you’d have been hard pressed to make any connection between her extraordinarily personal, lo-fi, dirty guitar anthems and Olivia’s light-as-air pop.
As it turns out, she is not finished paying homage to the music that’s inspired her, and she’s about to unleash yet another surprise. November sees the release of her second in what now is officially a series of tribute albums, Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police.