It’s always a bit weird for me to hear a Hall & Oates cover not recorded live in Daryl Hall’s living room. But Lonely Benson, a Nashville-based one-man “bandless band” powered by Daniel Young, decided to give it a try, cranking out an electronic cover of “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” He released the song in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a full-length album on vinyl. “These days, even the news is enough to give you a nervous breakdown,” Benson writes on his site. “That’s why I’ve set out to create music that helps people CHILL.”
Long before the Internet treated us to daily doses of celebrities behaving oddly, William Shatner released his infamous spoken-word cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Included on his 1968 camp classic The Transformed Man, the song has set a high-water mark for low culture, routinely appearing on “worst of” lists. Though to be fair to the Captain, it’s not as weird as Leonard Nimoy’s ode to Middle Earth, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.”
The man who was Kirk (and to a lesser extent T.J. Hooker) adds another chapter to his way-out-there-in-the-blue singing career with a cover of the Cramps’ 1980 song “Garbageman.” The track will be included on a forthcoming 64-track compilation from the novelty-record king Dr. Demento, entitled Covered In Punk. The two-CD/three-vinyl set will include punk rock-flavored covers from a wide variety of artists, including Elvira, Moon Unit Zappa, “Weird Al” Yankovic and the original Batman himself, Adam West.
My Morning Jacket has turned cover songs and tribute-album appearances into a cottage industry, playing tunes by everyone from Buddy Holly to the Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug Band. So it comes as no surprise that frontman Jim James will drop an album of covers on December 8 called Tribute to 2.
James recently released the lead track from the album, a cover of the Beach Boys’ majestic “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” from their 1966 magnum opus Pet Sounds. The tune was co-written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher and sung by Wilson. The moody song, with its dark, introspective lyrics, signalled a stark change for the band from its happy blend of Chuck Berry and doo-wop inspired surf-pop. James channels Wilson’s falsetto in such a way that he almost sounds like a lost Wilson brother.
There’s a new word buzzing around the Internet to describe those unfortunate souls who were born between 1977 and 1983: Xennials. It’s a term for those who do not quite fit into Generation X or Generation Y. Born in 1981, The Killers lead vocalist Brandon Flowers falls squarely into this category.
During a recent performance at the New Orleans Voodoo Music + Arts Experience festival, Flowers described a musical induction ritual widely shared by members of his generation. As he introduced a tribute to the Crescent City’s recently departed rock ‘n’ roll founding father Fats Domino, Flowers described how he, and perhaps every other Xennial, first heard Domino’s music while driving in the car with his father. “The station was always set to the oldies,” he told the crowd. “And when Fats Domino came on, we always turned it up.”
The histories of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band have long been intertwined. The two bands shared the stage numerous times in the 1970s. They covered some of the same songs over the years. Heck, they even shared members, with singer/guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Oteil Burbridge both playing with the Allmans and various latter-day Dead spinoffs.
Gregg Allman adds a new chapter to this legacy with his cover of the Dead’s “Black Muddy River” on his posthumous studio album Southern Blood. Written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, the history of “Black Muddy River” runs deep through Deadhead lore. The tune is a dark elegy, filled with longing for times past, but with maybe a bit of hope in the end. In Blair Jackson’s 1995 biography Garcia: An American Life, Hunter said that the song “is about the perspective of age and making a decision about the necessity of living in spite of a rough time and the ravages of anything else that’s going to come at you.”
Few would label St. Vincent’s eclectic brand of music as anything resembling country or western. No matter, she still channeled the ghosts of country music’s past with a stunning performance of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” during a recent appearance on the British music showcase Later… With Jools Holland.
On the show, St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) told Holland that growing up in Texas she listened to a lot of country music by artists such as Cline and George Strait. One can actually hear elements of this on her new album Masseduction. Stuck between her hard-pulsing electro pop, there’s a melancholy track, “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” containing a pedal-steel guitar interlude that sounds as if it could have been on one of Strait’s albums in the ‘80s.