May 312009

Cover News is a weekly feature where I sum up the week’s cover-related news, whether it’s new to the world or just new to me. Anything that doesn’t fit in my regular thematic posts I think my readers would enjoy, be it a youtube video, a blog shout-out, or a cool-looking new release. I also post all the submissions I have gotten from record labels and artists. Send suggestions or submissions to the email address on the right.

This Week’s News

First and foremost, let me direct your attention to Thursday’s cover debut: Germany’s own derpferdheissthorst takes on David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” by popular demand here. Over 500 people have already downloaded it – what are you waiting for?

After you’ve given that a few listen, broaden your horizons with another great covers mixtape from Highly Rec’d A few of ’em come from yours truly, and you can get ’em all here.Get on the list for future tapes by emailing

Fleet Foxes fans will get a kick out of lead singer Robin Pecknold’s project White Antelope covering a few traditional songs and one Dylan classic. Aquarium Drunkard rounds ’em up here.

Robin covering Dylan may not be a shock (he’d done it previously on “I Shall Be Released” with Wilco), but when the chair of the Democratic National Committee takes on a tune, that’s worth a notice. CNN reports that, in his time off from running the nation’s majority party, Tim Kaine is a harmonica virtuoso, and recently teamed up with Boyd Tinsley of Dave Matthews Band to jam on a few tunes. Read about it here, then pray someone videotaped it.

Speaking of Wilco, they’ve got a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “The Jolly Banker” available for a download and donation pledge on their website. For more Guthrie, check out Bono and the U2 boys paying homage.

Wee Arlo Guthrie’s still kickin’ himself though and is the place to go for nasal-folk covers. Listen to a few from a recent live set here.

Regular readers here know that every month I post covers of every song on a given album (new one coming Monday!). Well music news blog Stereogum has taken up the idea, compiling a new version of every track on the Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin. Listen to everyone from Ben Folds to The Bad Plus thisaway.

A lot of blog talk celebrating Morrissey’s fiftieth birthday a few weeks back. The Music Slut put together a neat cover collection here or, if you want to go further back, you can check out a ton of covers of the Smiths “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” over at Chromewaves.

The only thing music fans love more than making lists is getting pissed off at other peoples’. Well prepare to be irked by the Denver Entertainment Examiner’s list of “10 Great Covers.” Jack Johnson WTF??

Trailing American Idol contestant Kris Allen pulled a surprising win last week. I like to think he was helped by this acoustic version of Kanye West’s “Heartless.” How does it compare to The Fray’s?

For those too good for A.I. check out some new indie-tastic covers, from The Hold Steady taking on Bryan Adams to Vampire Weekend’s Tom Petty. Then delve even deeper with this Bats For Lashes cover by Josh Reichmann.

The Mountain Goats cover of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” gets a lot of blog love, but a bigger full choral version has been uncovered by Music, Birds and Cheerios.

I’ve never thought of Jane’s Addiction as a cover band, but their new massive box set has takes on the Grateful Dead and Bob-Dylan-cum-Bauhaus (say what?). Read about this behemoth here.

Though your musical tastes may have moved on, perhaps Korn played a role in the adolescent angst of your preteen days. If so, relive the memories by anticipating their covers album. And have you heard, Limp Bizkit is back together!

Finally, we’re going to go back to a classic: Booker T. Jones. His new instrumental album finds him ditching the MG’s for alright replacements Neil Young and the Drive-By Truckers and features quite a few organ-tastic covers. Read a nicely done review of Booker’s “Hey Ya” over at CokeMachineGlow.

This Week’s Submissions

SWAK – Demolition Girl (The Saints)

May 292009

Cover Commissions is a monthly series in which a featured artist produces a special cover for this blog. The song to be covered is usually chosen by blog readers via a poll or suggestions form. Any artists interested in participating in a future installment, please email me at the address on the right.

Old dhh sent this one in a while back for April’s Cover Commissions, but due to my recent absence it’s been sitting unloved in my inbox. Apologies all around, as you shouldn’t have to wait to hear a tune this good! The good news is it’s gonna be a double shot, with Dan Eaton’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” on the way soon.

Martin Thielen has been kind enough to provide us with a little intro to his group’s take on Bowie, so I’ll let him tell you about it.

“To begin with, of course any David Bowie song has to be done with respect. This is not Dead Or Alive we’re talking about. When we first started working on Ziggy it was pretty close to the original and we were just letting the minimalist derpferdheissthorst sound make our version sound different. We weren’t too happy with the result though, so we got together in the rehearsal room and tried all kinds of styles with it. What you get to hear is what stuck and what we liked best.
Feel free to check our website regularly (English translation included, yay!). We hope to publish some more of our exploits there fairly soon. Up to then “derpferdheissthorst meet Ziggy Stardust” is world exclusive to Cover Me. Remember you heard it here first! Enjoy!”

Now onto the mp3! Check back here soon for lots more Cover Commissions excitement.

derpferdheissthorst – Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)

This mp3 may be freely shared with the artist’s blessing. Post it on your blog, send it to your friends, burn it for your office mates. When you do share this however, please include a link to this site. Cover Commissions is a monthly occurrence here, and the more traffic this project draws the more exciting we can make future installments.


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May 272009

Sorry I have been M.I.A. for the past few weeks. I have actually been in the hospital, since apparently 22 is the new 78. Lots of backlogged posting to get caught up on, so keep an eye here over the next week for some stuff, including the long-awaited debut of derpferdheisshorst’s “Ziggy Stardust” cover.

In honor of my days as the youngest person in the cardiac ward, this week’s theme is hearts. The medical accuracy of some of these songs may be suspect, but the sentiment rarely is.

Amilia K. Spicer – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young)
Hey Neil, fun medical fact: plenty of things besides love can break your heart. Myocarditis, for instance. A quick wikipedia search leads me to recomment the following title change: “Only Coronary Heart Disease, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiovascular Disease, Ischaemic Heart Disease, Heart Failure, and Hypertensive, Inflammatory, and Valvular Heart Diseases Can Break Your Heart.” Someone tell Ms. Spicer. [Buy]

The Fray – Heartless (Kanye West)
I’m one of the few defenders Kanye’s recent album has. Sure, the autotune gets annoying eventually, but tracks like this and “Love Lockdown” are classic pop singles. Check out his recent video with Rihanna for more gayfish action. [Buy]

Jesse Malin – Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen)
Like many of Bruce’s hits, the deceptive pop hooks of this one covered up the darker lyrics (another example: “Dancing In the Dark”). Fellow Jersey boy Malin’s slower fuzz-acoustic takes no such pains to disguise the sadness. [Buy]

Don Henley – Searching For a Heart (Warren Zevon)
I realize most of you don’t want to hear about my medical history, but given that the theme of this post is entirely self-indulgent to begin with, allow me to point out that at one point that least week the doctors were literally searching for a heart to replace my own. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but that changes the whole song’s meaning for me. [Buy]

Tom Waits – Young at Heart (Frank Sinatra)
With music by Johnny Richards and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, this pop standard is most often associate with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Tom’s deadbeat dog take blends country with gutter, an interesting interpretation from a guy’s who’s always professed to be old at heart. [Buy]

Guy Davis – Sweetheart Like You (Bob Dylan)
A Nod to Bob has to be one of my favorite cover compilations ever, not least because of this accordion-led blues gem of one of Dylan’s lesser-known pieces of misogyny. [Buy]

Novemthree – Un-Break My Heart (Toni Braxton)
The ‘80s always gets flak for being a terrible decade for popular music, but those songs were at least fun! In my book the ‘90s beats it for general awfulness (in other news, Third Eye Blind has a new album). Whether you agree or not, indulge in a little nostalgia with the free Roaring Nineties covers compilation over at CCLCT. [Buy]

We Versus the Shark – Dummy Discards a Heart (Deerhoof)
Spastic and punky, the flailing horns propel this blaring quickie through the root. Murmurmur has loads of rocking covers from these guys, including looks at Radiohead and Ben Folds Five. [Buy]

Lydia Lunch and Nels Cline – Heartattack and Vine (Tom Waits)
Slow grunge-blues backed by pounding drums and pre-Wilco Cline letting loose squalls of guitar shriek whenever he gets the opportunity. [Buy]

Blues Magoos – Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley)
Barelling barroom piano slams throughout this wail of a tune, wringing more emotion out of these simple lyrics than even the King himself. [Buy]

The Police

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May 142009

When The Police reunited in 2007, I was thrilled. I’d loved their two-disc live set ever since “borrowing it” from a friend in high school. To that I’d added their Greatest Hits, and that was basically all I needed. Though ticket prices were outrageous for that reunion tour, I managed to catch ‘em at Bonnaroo (read my review) and loved every minute of it. Only having the greatest hits and the live set, I knew all the songs but two. They did leave out a couple classics – where was “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”? – but not many. So here’s a chance to relisten to the tunes of Sting and co.

John Butler Trio – Message in a Bottle
They opened with this at the ‘Roo, so we’ll open with it here. Come to think of it, JBT was also at Bonnaroo that year. Wonder if they played this. Acoustic funk with plenty of guitar slapping and white-boy warble. [Buy]

Mika vs. Armand Van Helden – Can’t Stand Losing You
I never quite know what to make of this one. It’s a cover-cum-remix off of the great Radio 1 cover double-disc. Fun but dark, it kind of reminds me of that vampire dance scene in Blade. You know, the one where blood bursts from the showerheads as everyone raves on. Not sure what the connection is to this song. [Buy]

Uncle Earl – Canary in a Coalmine
I discovered Uncle Earl at the same Bonnaroo as the Police, and they busted out this cover – appropriate, as the Police passed it by four hours later. John Paul Jones’ favorite bluegrass group featuring Sara Watkins barely keep their harmonies ahead of the galloping mandolin and fiddle. This is a live version from I don’t know when. They need to record it. [Buy]

Limbeck – So Lonely
¡Policia!: A Tribute to the Police has the biggest names out there, from Fall Out Boy to Underoath. If you share my taste in music, you’ll understand why I think most of it is pretty terrible. Thank god for lesser-knowns Limbeck then for a thumping yet thoughtful take on my favorite Police tune. [Buy]

David Lamotte – Walking In Your Footsteps
Backed by slow tribal drumming, this sparse arrangements really highlights “Hey Mr. Dinosaur, you really you couldn’t ask for more / You were God’s favorite creature, but you didn’t have a future.” Not sure what sting was going for with this one, but Barney approves. [Buy]

Rabbit Junk – Walking On the Moon
Hey Sting, you know who else takes giant steps? Dinosaurs. Just sayin’. [Buy]

Artgeko – The Bed’s Too Big Without You
Finally, a more straightforward rock song. The crunchy guitar riffs are nice, but nothing compared to the echo-harmony breakdown of the title line. Short but sweet, and you don’t see it coming. [Buy]

Frankmuzik – Every Breath You Take
Spastic dance music about stalking. You can get it along with dozens more original covers in the first volume of Buffetlibre’s Rewind series. [Buy]

Rosetta Stone – Synchronicity II
I did a post long ago with lots of gothic covers, so add this to the list. Rosetta Stone has a whole disc of goth-tastic covers of eighties tunes. It’s called Unerotica, and worth a snatch for when you’re feeling dark. [Buy]

Alanis Morissette – King of Pain
I’d hoped to never have Alanis on my iPod, but here we go. This comes from her MTV Unplugged set, before her career was relegated to ironic Black-Eyed Peas covers. If you can handle her voice – a lot to ask I know – it’s a nice stripped down take. And props to her for not changing it to “Queen of Pain.” [Buy]

May 052009

Plenty has already been said about Highway 61 Revisited. Rolling Stone named the album the fourth best of all time, while Mojo was a little more stingy, giving it fifth. The leadoff track is frequently given the purely objective label the “Best Song Ever,” though some would argue for the closer. It’s an album whose songs cannot be bettered, so I went looking for versions that didn’t try, artists not trying to improve the songs but letting the songs improve them. And where better to witness acts playing around with these classic tracks than straight from the stage. So this set of covers has a special hitch: they’re all live, many unreleased.

Jimi Hendrix – Like a Rolling Stone
Bruce Springsteen has described the opening to this tune as the “snare shot that sounded like somebody had kicked open the door to your mind.” Hendrix continues, explaining “It made me feel that I wasn’t the only one who’d ever felt so low.” It’s a song that resonates with many, so perfect in the original in lends itself to lame copycat cover versions. Hendrix hinted at the glory that would be his “All Along the Watchtower” in this live take from the legendary Monterey Festival (this performance presumably coming before he lit his guitar on fire). In Jimi’s voice it sounds like both diss and come-on, seductive in a way that belies that snarl. [Buy]

The Walkabouts – Tombstone Blues
Richie Havens country soul version was a highlight of I’m Not There (watch it here), but the Walkabouts go all cowboy country on this take, sneering and sashaying and the drums trample along. Then guitar solo’s a little low in the mix, but the outlaw rhythm is enjoyable enough you’ll forgive the sound guy. [Buy]

Levon Helm Band – It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
I’ve never heard a compelling explanation for what the hell this title means, but Levon rocks so hard it doesn’t matter. Figures that one of Bob’s first drummer from The Hawks (later The Band) should take on this one last year, with full horn section and New Orleans boppin’ piano. [Buy]

Chuck Prophet – From a Buick 6
“All right Mr. Soundman, faders up.” A drum machine is all the background Prophet needs for his drawled baritone and funky blues guitar. He sings that his woman walks like Bo Diddley, but it sounds like Chuck’s mastered that strut himself. [Buy]

Elliott Smith – Ballad of a Thin Man
The original’s got one of the best organ parts of all time, so what does Smith do? Gets rid of it completely. It’s more of a slow-grunge sound, Smith smoothly running through the lyrics like they’re second-nature. His understated delivery emphasizes the tumbling cascade of images, perhaps lost on the perpetually screaming crowd. [Buy]

Mojave 3 – Queen Jane Approximately
The addition of a female voice adds a sensitivity to the pleading-boy aesthetic. Accompanied by softly tinkling piano, it evokes a pastoral feel for an actual queen. [Buy]

Johnny Winter – Highway 61 Revisited
Take your favorite guitar performance of all time. Now imagine how you would feel if it was bumped down to number two. Once you’ve mentally prepared yourself for that possibility, come back and listen to this. [Buy]

Neil Young – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Bob described his experience at his high-profile 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration as like attending your own funeral. Hell of a funeral if Uncle Neil makes the scene though, stomping his way through a characteristically ragged performance backed by Booker T. and the MG’s. Neil just soloed all over Booker’s recent Potato Hole incidentally, so you should check that cover-fest out too. [Buy]

The Grateful Dead – Desolation Row
Though “Desolation Row” is one of Bob’s most well-known songs, artists seem to think it too sacred to even try (or maybe they can’t learn all the words). Ignoring of My Chemical Romance’s embarrassing take from a few months back (youtube if you dare), the Dead’s version is the one to keep, bumping along pleasantly in this take from 1990 released on their Dylan covers comp Postcards of the Hanging. [Buy]

May 042009

Cover News is a weekly feature where I sum up the week’s cover-related news, whether it’s new to the world or just new to me. Anything that doesn’t fit in my regular thematic posts I think my readers would enjoy, be it a youtube video, a blog shout-out, or a cool-looking new release. I also post all the submissions I have gotten from record labels and artists. Send suggestions or submissions to the email address on the right.

This Week’s News

Sorry for the delay on our weekly update. Been sick. The first announcement is the most important: Only two days left to vote on which song Dan Eaton covers! You can read about it here, and then vote in the poll on the left. So hop to it! Then check back Thursday for the results of April’s Cover Commissions!

Now onto the covers! I normally don’t publicize the other cover blogs in these posts, since you should be checking them yourselves, but Cover Lay Down’s got a nice tribute to Pete Seeger on his ninetieth birthday that’s worth a listen. The guy gets forgotten sometimes, but he’s a legend, and deserves to be remembered as he continues performing even at this advanced age.

Speaking of old folkniks, Wilco has put up a new Woody Guthrie cover that you can snag over at their website. It’s for a good cause too, so hit them up and drop as many hints about Mermaid Avenue III as possible.

More Guthrie fun at last night’s Dark Was the Night tribute concert, with a grand singalong of “This Land Is Your Land,” featuring Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Watch the video and be amazed. Plenty of other covers that night too, which you can read about here.

The blogs are buzzing about Hatebreed’s new cover album. A certain subsection of blogs that is. So any Hatebreed fans out there, you can listen to the entire thing over at their myspace page. No Pete Seeger covers though, sorry.

Last week we saw the American Idol crew cover Lykke Li in some attempt to become relevant to the blogosphere. Well that trend continues today as they take on The Apples in Stereo for another Ford commercial. Even more fun: check out the band’s response.

Continuing the trend of Artists I Don’t Like Covering People, Macy Gray has heard of this new group Radiohead. They’ve got this great song called “Creep” that she’s helping promote with a cover of her own. Who knows, these guys may hit it big some day!

I’m seeing Leonard Cohen this month (feel free to be jealous). For those not as fortunate, console yourselves with Lewis & Clarke’s sublime “Chelsea Hotel #2.” Then go grab one of my favorite tribute discs of all time, Tower of Song. Who knew I would ever like something by Don Henley?

In a cover band? is looking for America’s Best Cover Band, so work up your best “Hallelujah” and submit it here.

In Leonard Cohen-related news number three, get psyched for the Lemonheads’ upcoming covers album, featuring “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” Get the details and tour dates over at Brooklyn Vegan.

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m an avid Dylan fan (You are too? Check back later today for something you’ll like). In the early 90’s his original output wasn’t so much happening, but he was dropping brilliant acoustic covers live. Ryan’s Smashing Life is hosting a full concert from ’92 which features his traditional “Little Moses.”

This Week’s Submissions

Learning Music – My Country, ‘Tis of Thee (Smith)