Whenever a former R.E.M. member plays a gig in Athens, Georgia, there is unspoken anticipation that, perhaps, there will be some sort of R.E.M. reunion. With The Baseball Project, which includes Peter Buck and Mike Mills, scheduled to close the 2015 edition of Athfest, an annual festival that benefits music education, how can local residents not dream of seeing all four guys together onstage?
Some cover songs you know are going to fall short. However good the attempt is, all it’s going to do is remind you how good the original was. Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” is one of those songs that, generally speaking, shouldn’t be covered. There are a handful out there, but the only cover truly worth noting is one by The Del McCoury Band. Their version is a bluegrass foot-tapper that fits the song perfectly.
Stark’s cover of “Death Letter” begins at a whisper. The video is black and white with scratches like an old newsreel, matching the historic treatment of this old Son House blues song, just vocals and resonator guitar with a slide. At one minute in, with a couple of drum beats for punctuation, the rest of the band kicks in, and the video changes to color. It’s an effective approach, mixing the old and the new, acknowledging your roots, and then going somewhere else.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from The Cure, but Paul McCartney, in a manner of speaking, has brought them back together. An upcoming Sir Paul mega-tribute (42 tracks!) album includes The Cure’s version of “Hello, Goodbye.” Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Roger Daltrey, Smokey Robinson and many more have contributed to the record, which is set for a November 18, 2014, release.
For a debut solo effort, the new record by singer songwriter Kevin Lee Florence has attracted some heavy hitters, including Garth Hudson, who rose to fame as a member of The Band. Hudson’s imprint is all over Florence’s cover of Paul Simon’s “Peace Like a River.” His organ playing drifts in and out, both bluesy and ethereal, before hovering in the background for the final “Four in the morning I woke up from out of my dreams” verse.
Kathleen Edwards has covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch” live a number of times, usually with the assistance of Jenn Grant, a frequent touring companion. The online YouTube versions are okay, but suffer from less than stellar performances or shaky recording. Apparently, that almost perfect performance has been tucked away in the record vaults. Edwards recently decided to share it with her fans via a Facebook post.