Curtis Zimmermann

Curtis Zimmermann works as an advertising sales executive for an academic publisher in Philadelphia. He’s been a music critic, news reporter, financial fraud investigator and spent many years in corporate sales, all the while maintaining a healthy obsession with music history. He first became intrigued with genre-bending covers in college when he stumbled across a used copy of Ray Charles’ box set “The Complete Country & Western Recordings 1959 - 1986.”

Jul 162018
 
kamasi washington covers

Despite reports to the contrary, jazz is still not dead. Leading the genre well into the 21st century is saxophonist Kamasi Washington, whose experimental, freeform playing style has earned him comparisons to jazz legends from John Coltrane to Pharoah Sanders. Washington recently released a double-album Heaven and Earth and an EP The Choice that included covers of the Fist of Fury movie theme, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “O-o-h Child.”

The theme to the 1972 Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury is like a snapshot of Hollywood themes of old, somewhere between the majestic sounds that defined old Westerns and the soundtracks to early James Bond films. Washington transforms the cover, which he renamed “Fists of Fury,” into a nine-minute experimental protest anthem. With the song, he merges the orchestral soul that defined the spirit of ‘70s blaxploitation flicks with fusion jazz.

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Jul 112018
 
guns roses heartbreak hotel

In the ‘50s when Elvis Presley shook his pelvis and sang his rowdy brand of rock n’ roll, America exploded. Kids loved it, parents hated it, religious nuts denounced it and racists accused him of infecting white America with black culture.

By the late ’80s, he was practically considered wholesome, harmless entertainment when Guns N’ Roses came along. They were loud, dirty, drunken buffoons, who dressed like slobs and played fast, dirty, misogynistic music. The MTV generation went wild, while their parents, who grew up on Elvis, naturally freaked. One of my fifth-grade classmates’ moms actually mailed copies of the group’s lyrics around to all of our parents warning them of the music’s dangers.

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Jul 052018
 
lera lynn john paul white

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus once said that “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Well, the classic “Almost Persuaded” would disagree, arguing one can come out spiritually unscathed if contemplate breaking one’s marriage vows. The rare song about almost cheating was a massive hit for singer David Houston in the late ‘60s, and has been covered extensively across genders and genres, with versions by the likes of Merle Haggard and Tammy Wynette as well as a gut-wrenching R&B rendition by Etta James.

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Jun 252018
 
mad caddies nofx cover

The Mad Caddies, who first surfaced during ska’s third wave in the 1990s, are still going strong in 2018, having put out a new covers album called Punk Rocksteady. On the record, they pay tribute to their punk heroes of yesteryear with ska versions of songs by the likes of Green Day, Bad Religion, the Descendants, Operation Ivy and the Misfits. The band even pays homage to their label boss, and the album’s producer, Michael Burkett (aka Fat Mike) by covering his band NOFX.

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Jun 122018
 
monty python covers

Whether the famed British comedy troupe was singing about cross-dressing lumberjacks, the religious significance of ejaculation or a knight fleeing from battle, Monty Python‘s music makes you just want to sway and sing along even all these years later. A perfect example is “Galaxy Song,” the Python’s infinitely catchy ode to the joys of space. Written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez and introduced to the world 1983’s The Meaning of Life, “Galaxy Song” explores both the metaphysics and astrophysics of humanity’s place among the stars: Continue reading »

Jun 112018
 
gnarls barkley crazy covers

In 2006, everyone was losing their mind over Gnarls Barkley’s breakout single “Crazy.” The song appealed to just about everyone: young/old, black/white, people who dug Motown and people who dug hip-hop. I was working at a record shop at the time, and music lovers turned out in droves to buy the duo’s debut album on CD, even in a era when most listeners were downloading iTunes singles en masse. Like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” the song blends dark, paranoid lyrics with a danceable groove. Continue reading »