Aug 222017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Today (8/22) marks the 53rd anniversary of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” making its first appearance on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. First recorded in 1963 as an unreleased demo sung by 22-year-old Dionne Warwick, a soon-to-be Bacharach protégé, it’s been covered well over 150 times since, with at least a half dozen of those achieving varying degrees of Billboard chart success. It continues to be a goldmine for its authors, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It’s not just popular to record, either – add in commercial uses of the song, from TV ads to Xena: Warrior Princess to Mad Men, and you’ll see another huge revenue stream from a song that’s become totally ingrained in modern day popular culture.

With so many versions released over such a long period of time, we found it impossible to narrow the entire list of covers down to only three standouts. So we’ve listened to every version we could find, and in a Cover Me first, we’ll give you the bottom line by decade by decade, starting today with the Sixties. We’ll even throw in some honorable and noteworthy mentions too!
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Aug 222017
 
joan osborne dylan

Judging by album sales, more people have probably heard Joan Osborne’s cover of “Man in the Long Black Coat” – on her 1995 triple-platinum debut Relish, aka the album with “One of Us” – than ever heard Bob Dylan’s original (Oh Mercy hasn’t even gone Gold after almost 30 years). And though she gets tarred with the one-hit-wonder brush due to plaintively wondering what if God was one of us (a song whose history we dug into recently), she’s always been a fine song interpreter even when flying farther under the industry radar. Now, after a strong soul-covers album in 2008’s Bring It On Home, she’s bringing it all back home with a full-length Dylan tribute: Songs of Bob Dylan.

Like “Man in the Long Black Coat,” deep cuts and newer songs make up a number of the albums songs (“Tryin’ to Get to Heaven,” “High Water (For Charley Patton)”). But the first single is a classic, “Tangled Up in Blue.” Continue reading »

Aug 212017
 
eclipse cover songs

As the entire country prepares for a seriously dramatic celestial event, you might be thinking about the ideal playlist for the moment. You could always turn to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, “Black Hole Sun”, or “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Certainly worthy contenders, but for a rare occurrence, consider a few brand-new covers to add to your mood music. Continue reading »

Aug 182017
 

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

long distance salvation

Nebraska is the Bruce Springsteen album that it’s cool to like. Springsteen’s previous album, The River, had his biggest hit in “Hungry Heart,” and he was ready to break huge. Instead, he released an album that was literally a demo on a cassette, with all the intimacy and intensity that that entails. “I was interested in writing kind of smaller than I had been,” Springsteen said, and that’s what he did with Nebraska, focusing on individuals in trouble with an intensity that was more cathartic than a mostly-acoustic album would be expected to carry.

The respect that Nebraska has gained over the past three and a half decades has been equally split among fans, critics, and artists. The latter have saluted the album multiple ways, including a 2000 release from Sub Pop called Badlands, a full-album tribute that featured artists from Johnny Cash to Chrissie Hynde to Los Lobos. It had its moments, but a much smaller release called Long Distance Salvation did a much better job at conveying the original’s impact, even as it expanded on Springsteen’s work.
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Aug 162017
 
ramonda hammer

Los Angeles quartet Ramonda Hammer gets compared to vintage 120 Minutes-era grunge a lot. Rolling Stone even said they sound “like an alternate Nineties where L7 was the biggest band in the world.” So it’s appropriate that their new David Bowie tribute comes by way of Kurt Cobain.

“We’re all Bowie fans, and when he passed we wanted to cover one of his songs as a tribute to him,” frontwoman Devin Davis says. “I think ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was the obvious choice because 1) the lyrics are super powerful, and that has to resonate with me when singing a song, and 2) we’re also huge Nirvana fans, and their cover of that song for MTV Unplugged was mind-blowing. Since we’re a grunge band, we thought we’d try a heavy, fast-ish version of the song and make it our own, while paying homage to both David Bowie and Kurt Cobain.” Continue reading »

Aug 162017
 
rolling stones aftermath covers

Covering an entire Rolling Stones album in one go are no new phenomenon. Phish once covered the entire Exile on Main Street live. Mojo Magazine put out a great compilation of soul Sticky Fingers covers. We ourselves have posted full-album tributes to both Sticky Fingers and Beggars Banquet. But these are all classic albums, unquestioned masterpieces. Brooklyn musician Chris M. (who records as Sick to the Back Teeth) did something different. He covered an album few would deem a classic: 1966’s Aftermath.

True, Aftermath has some unquestionable hits: “Paint It Black,” “Under My Thumb, “Mother’s Little Helper.” But it predates the Stones really evolving into an album band. Just as with early Beatles LPs, the UK and US releases don’t even have the same songs on them. So we had to ask Chris, why Aftermath? Continue reading »