In her monthly EP series of “stripped-down, vocal-intensive” covers called OBSESSED, the Tony-winning and Grammy-nominated Lena Hall tackles a different artist every month. With August comes David Bowie, and she kicked things off with “Rebel Rebel.” When we interviewed her in June, she named Nirvana’s “The Man Who Sold the World” one of her favorite covers ever, and with five new Bowie covers coming this month she aims to live up to that high bar.
Ocean’s, the girl/buddy heist film starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina was spawned from the George Clooney – and before that, Frank Sinatra – series’ of similar name. The film opened on Nancy Sinatra’s birthday (June 8) with her iconic, Lee Hazelwood-penned 1966 #1 hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” featured predominantly in the trailer and the soundtrack. Both trailer and soundtrack include the original and an even more up-tempo cover version by electronic artist Nick West.
Long-running British synth-pop duo Erasure completed their “World” trilogy of albums with last month’s release of World Be Live. The 24-track live album was recorded earlier this year in London, where the band was touring in support of the outfit’s seventeenth studio album, 2017’s World Be Gone.
With a deep catalog of originals and hits stretching over three decades, singer Andy Bell and founder/keyboardist Vince Clarke have plenty of crowd-pleasing material from which to choose. So choosing the Blondie song “Atomic” as the sole cover performed on the current tour says a lot about Bell’s admitted affection for the iconic 80s new wave band.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
On this day 20 years ago, America lost its greatest entertainer when Francis Albert Sinatra passed away at the age of 82 after suffering a fatal heart attack. The renowned singer/actor/producer had been in ill health and out of the public eye for over a year following an earlier heart attack. While it’s appropriate to celebrate his amazing, resilient life, today marks the silver anniversary of a sad day. With that, we thought it would be just as appropriate to remember his talent for interpreting some of the sad songs that were often a source of comfort for many.
I was inspired to take this approach after reading an insightful thread in the popular Steve Hoffman music forum titled “Sinatra’s best sad songs.” There, one member astutely posted: “With Sinatra, there are sad songs, sadder songs, and ‘dark night of the soul’ sad songs.” Many have become pop/jazz standards and Sinatra is often credited with recording a definitive version. Here are covers of five songs that were mentioned frequently; we believe The Chairman would have smilingly approved.
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
Our casual Sex Pistols stroll down memory lane concludes today with a look at the covers they performed themselves. If you’ve been with us through the series, we’ve presented their one-and-only studio album Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols as a Full Album feature along with several single-artist tributes to the entire album. We’ve also covered the covers spawned from each of their four singles: “Anarchy In the U.K.,” “God Save The Queen,” “Pretty Vacant,” and “Holidays In The Sun.”
Covers performed by the band first started to appear on official commercial releases only after the Rotten/Jones/Cook/Vicious line-up imploded in January of 1978. However, like most new bands with limited original material, covers were part of their live sets from the start. And since the band’s break-up, several poorly recorded versions from those early shows have found their way to market. But the bulk of any discussion about cover versions performed by the punk icons will focus on The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, the early 1979 double soundtrack album from the “mockumentary” film about the band of the same name.
Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
Two weeks ahead of their much-hyped, one and only studio album in 1977, the Sex Pistols – for the last time as a complete unit – first chummed the water with the release of their fourth and final UK single following “Anarchy in the UK,” “God Save the Queen,” and “Pretty Vacant.” The iconic sound of marching boots from the introduction of “Holidays In The Sun” marked the beginning of the single and also the first track on Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols.
Lyrically, the song can be best described as John (Johnny Rotten) Lydon’s sarcastic observations about the band’s getaway from London and as a critique of consumer culture. To escape its pressures, an ill-fated trip to the Channel Islands (“They threw us out.” said Lydon.) gave way to a two-week blowout in Berlin. He likened it to the exchange of one “prison camp environment” for another. Musically, the song lifted its chord progression from the Jam’s “In The City” and the riff subsequently went on to become recognized as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. It was also the first Sex Pistols single to give a co-writing credit to John Simon Beverly – also known as – Sid Vicious. It’s not clear who came up with the repeating chant of “Reason! Reason! Reason!”
A deep look at the countless covers available turned up the widest variety of genres for any Sex Pistol single (nearly a dozen) but only a relatively small group of standouts. No “cheap holiday” here – so join us as we go over the Berlin Wall!