Mar 172019
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

dick dale

Many of can say that rock and roll kept us alive and kept us going, but few meant it as literally as Dick Dale did. “I can’t stop touring because I will die,” he said in a 2015 interview, revealing that he needed to keep playing shows in order to raise the $3,000 a month he needed to treat his multiple health problems – rectal cancer, renal failure, diabetes, damaged vertebrae, and more. Four years after that interview, word came out that he’s played his last earthly concert, passing away at the age of 82.
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Mar 152019
 

Despite the controversy surrounding the Best Picture-winning film Green Book, the movie might actually be the best thing to ever happen to the legacy of pianist Don Shirley. Though Shirley’s relatives have objected to the way Shirley was portrayed in the film, before its release his life and music had been largely lost to history.

As of this writing, his biography on Allmusic.com is only one paragraph. Many of his albums don’t even have track listings on the site. The website AllAboutJazz.com lists him twice, both times in articles about the film. In the jazz and popular music encyclopedias at two local libraries, I only found one reference to him, a single small paragraph in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz.

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Mar 122019
 
Better Oblivion Community Center covers

Hot on the heels of her much-acclaimed boygenius trio last year, buzzy singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has teamed up with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst for yet another supergroup. Calling themselves Better Oblivion Community Center, the pair just kicked off a tour supporting their self-titled album. They debuted a couple killer (no pun intended) covers at their first shows, tackling the Replacement’s “Can’t Hardly Wait” and the Killers’ “Human.” Continue reading »

Mar 112019
 
dido a star is born

When Jason Isbell was asked to contribute a song to A Star is Born, after reading the screenplay he dug deep into his well of past demons to guess the struggles Bradley Cooper’s character Jackson Maine might have been going through. Drawing on his own path to becoming sober with help from his wife Amanda Shires, Isbell sums up the journey perfectly in 2:40 of near-perfect song: “I’m glad I can’t go back to where I came from / I’m glad those days are gone, gone for good.” Continue reading »

Mar 082019
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Wikipedia reports that Imaginary Records, an indie label founded 1985 in Manchester, England, specialized in indie rock and post-punk. What it really specialized in, though, was tribute albums. Roughly a third of their album catalog saluted other artists. These ranged from the usual suspects (Dylan, the Stones) to decidedly unusual ones (Captain Beefheart, Syd Barrett).

In 1992, they released Brittle Days: A Tribute to Nick Drake. This was at a time when Drake was still more a cult favorite than a favorite. Anyone who bought the album was as likely to be being introduced to Drake as to the artists singing his songs therein. These artists were themselves destined to remain cult favorites; no future jackpots here like there were on Imaginary Records’ first Velvet Underground tribute. Instead, devotees expressed their devotion to other devotees, resulting in an album that was quiet, reverent, and more than a little haunting.

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Mar 082019
 
the bird and the bee covers

In 2010, LA indie-pop duo The Bird and the Bee released the terrific Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. Sadly, a Volume 2 never arrived. But perhaps their very unexpected new Van Halen cover could point the way forward. The pair turn “Panama” from a huge ’80s rocker into a cute dance-pop song that somehow recalls both Michael Jackson and Imogen Heap. Continue reading »