Ray Padgett

Ray Padgett founded the blog Cover Me in 2007 and has run it ever since, growing it into the largest blog devoted to cover songs on the web. His music writing has appeared in SPIN, MTV, Vice, Consequence of Sound, and more and he’s been interviewed as an expert on cover songs by the Wall Street Journal and the BBC. He lives in New York City and also works as a senior music publicist for Shore Fire Media. His book Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time comes out October 2017. Pre-order it at Amazon.

Jul 172017
 
shawn butzin

Covering one of the greatest and most distinctive vocalists of all time is a risky proposition. Many Roy Orbison covers deconstruct the songs so the new singer can tweak the melody, under-sing, or otherwise dodge away from head-to-head comparison with Roy. But on his beautiful new cover of “Blue Bayou,” Michigan’s Shawn Butzin faces the challenge directly. And, against all offs, he nails it.

Butzin brings a country twang to “Blue Bayou,” sounding closer to Roy’s Sun Records roots than the original did. He’s got the expressive voice to sell the melody, crooning over harmonica and subtle backing vocals. It’s a tribute, he says, to another Butzin with a golden voice. Continue reading »

Jul 132017
 
gavin castleton

We’ve written about Rhode Island songwriter/producer Gavin Castleton a few times over the years, spotlighting his airy and enjoyable covers of Peter Gabriel, Frank Ocean, and the Twin Peaks theme. But that didn’t prepare us for his newest, a hard-hitting and powerfully charged of Billie Holiday’s harrowing song about lynching, “Strange Fruit.”

One reason for our surprise is that Castleton recruited another Cover Me favorite to sing: Rescue of funk-rock band Bad Rabbits (hear them covering Smashing Pumpkins and Michael Jackson). Rescue delivers one of the most powerful vocals we’ve heard this year, lurching from aggressive pummel to wavering falsetto. And it blends perfectly with Castleton’s thudding electronic production, spare and unrelenting in a way that won’t let you turn away. Continue reading »

Jul 102017
 
chance the rapper covers

The last time we heard from Chance the Rapper, he was doing a weird and wonderful cover of Ziggy Marley’s Arthur theme song. So wonderful, in fact, that we named it our our favorite cover of that entire year. So needless to say, we were excited to see his new NPR Tiny Desk Concert featured another cover, of Stevie Wonder’s “They Won’t Go When I Go.”

“They Won’t Go When I Go” is a relative deep cut on Wonder’s 1974 masterpiece Fulfillingness’ First Finale, though more first heard it via George Michael’s popular cover. It’s no surprise Chance would know the original though: on The View earlier this year, he called Wonder “the greatest living artist.” Plus in that same interview, Chance said he considered Kanye West an inspiration, and Kanye himself covered this same song live way back in 2011. Continue reading »

Jun 282017
 
kevin morby covers

The Guardian once called punk quartet the Germs “the most outrageous band on the West Coast.” Often cited as one of the first hardcore bands, their influence far outpaces their discography (a single album before frontman Darby Crash overdosed on heroin). Guitarist Pat Smear achieved greater fame in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, but the Germs’ music today sounds as aggressive and vital as it did in the late 1970s.

Well, not in Kevin Morby’s hands it doesn’t. His cover of the Germs’ “Caught in My Eye” is one of those where you have to double check the original lyrics to make sure it’s even the same song. The laid-back acoustic picker gives the hardcore punk tune a very different tone. Shimmery steel guitar and lilting female backing vocals invoke Laurel Canyon a decade before punk even came along. It’s beautiful in a way the original most assuredly is not, a radical transformation that works against all odds. Continue reading »

Jun 232017
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

u2 joshua tree covers

There’s a cartoon circulating on social media mocking U2 for a penchant for nostalgia. And, on its face, it’s pretty funny:

It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, though. U2 is entirely the wrong group to pick for this joke. “World’s laziest band”? If anything, they have the opposite problem, endlessly hustling and trend-chasing in pursuit of their next hit. Their current Joshua Tree tour is just about the first nostalgia-trip moneygrab in a forty-year career. Unlike just about every other major band from the ’70s and ’80s, they generally avoid the greatest-hits summer tours and Oldchella combos the comic rightly lampoons.

The band is, however, indulging a rare back-pat on their current stadium tour by playing The Joshua Tree from start to finish. It’s one of the front-loaded albums of all time, an insane run of hits on side one followed by relative obscurities on the flip (including “Red Hill Mining Town,” which they’d never played live until this year). Which sounds like it might make for odd concert pacing, but early reviews have been great.

So if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. As U2 celebrates thirty years of The Joshua Tree, we will too, with covers of every song on the album. Continue reading »

Jun 212017
 
buddy guy mick jagger

Buddy Guy and the Rolling Stones have crossed paths many times over the years, regularly sitting in at each other’s concerts and paying mutual homage in interviews. But they haven’t actually recorded together much. That changes on a new tribute album.

On Chicago Plays the Stones, a host of Chicago blues vets cover classic Stones tracks for a fitting response to the Stones’ own recent blues album Blue & Lonesome. One name stands above the rest though: Buddy Guy’s. And he pulls in a special guest for his cover of Goats Head Soup rarity “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).”

As anyone who has seen Guy live recently can attest, the guitarist hasn’t lost a step at age 80. His solos on “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo” remain furious, and his singing as emotive as ever. Then, about halfway through, that special guest slips in: Mick Jagger himself, trading vocals with Buddy in a wonderful back-and-forth and wailing on some serious blues harmonica. It’s a fantastic duet that has somehow remained under the radar since its release last month, not appearing on Spotify or YouTube or anywhere else. Well, we’ve got it below. It was worth the wait. Continue reading »