The video for Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged” is often described as one of the most bloated of all time. Commonly cited in these critiques is the massive scene where Axl Rose jumps off an oil tanker and swims with the dolphins, like James Bond meets Flipper. “With a staggering $4,000,000 price tag and near ten-minute runtime, “Estranged” is an extravagant and thrillingly misguided monument to Axl Rose’s own persecution complex,” wrote Noisey.
Today is Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday and, if you follow us on social media (or just about any other music site), you know last week was the 50th birthday of his iconic album Blonde on Blonde. To celebrate, Mojo magazine’s new issue contains a tribute CD with covers of every song. Hear a selection of highlights below.
There’s always some song that’s getting a lot of cover attention at any given time. Whether ironic or sincere, there’s some intangible quality about certain songs that makes them supremely coverable. That song, at the moment, seems to be the theme from HBO’s Game of Thrones, and it’s easy to see why. A range of new covers – from Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band, Marissa Nadler, and Chvrches – have sprung up in the wake of the premier of the show’s third season, and display the vast possibilities of the song.
Last year, Boston singer-songwriter Marisa Nadler released Covers Volume I. We named it one of the best cover albums of the year, so needless to say, we’re excited to report she’s recorded a follow-up. Once again, it will be for sale exclusively through crafting online marketplace Etsy, but you can download three tracks now (and her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Winter Lady” here).
Last year, Marissa Nadler covered a bunch of her favorite songwriters on Cover CD. Townes Van Zandt, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell were all there, but she didn’t touch anything by Leonard Cohen. Perhaps that’s because she covered him before on an album a few years ago, doing “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Well, if you’ve been waiting for a sequel to that gorgeous performance, you’re in luck. Nadler just posted her version of “Winter Lady” as a free download promoting her upcoming U.K. tour.
When we think back to this year, we might remember 2011 as the year that the whole concept of the “cover album” became more fluid, and not always for the better. Thanks to the increased prominence of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, a cover album could be conceived, recorded, and shared in the space of a weekend. This didn’t necessarily lead to better cover albums, but it certainly led to more of them. They came in all formats – digital, CD, vinyl, and even cassette-only – and from all directions – labels, blogs, and even some magazines.
Which, we like to think, makes this list that much more helpful. In a year where the biggest single-artist cover album we got came from William Shatner, it proved a particular challenge to dig through the many obscure artists and assorted tributes and extract the gems. Gems there certainly were though, be they from newcomers making an impression with their favorite songs or old-timers honoring groups that influenced them decades ago. It may have taken a bit more work to find them, but the end result is as strong a selection as we’ve seen.
Continue to page 2 to read the list…