Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul. Her legacy speaks for itself: 18 Grammy Awards, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the creator of one of the greatest covers of all time with her version of Otis Redding’s “Respect.” At age 72, and despite recent health issues, she’s still an amazing vocalist. So anticipation for her first album in 3 years, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics due out October 21st, is understandably high. The album will cover classics by Etta James, The Supremes, and Gladys Night, as well as newer tracks by Alicia Keys and the first released single, Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep.”
Alt-rock heavyweights The Afghan Whigs, who released their first studio album in 16 years this April, have never shied away from covering a song. Finding a mildly sinister way to do it is nothing new either. But The Police‘s 1981 smash hit “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” with its reggae-tinged, new-wave pick-me-up appeal, seems at first to be an unlikely candidate for a Whigs cover.
Sam Amidon has built a career out of taking traditional folk, blues and Appalachian tunes and modernizing them. Although he occasionally strays into pop culture (his version of R. Kelly’s “Relief” was Cover Me’s 2nd favorite cover song of 2010) he can typically be found playing some obscure tune of long-forgotten origin. The first release from his upcoming album, Lily-O, fits the bill.
Pat Benatar‘s “Love is a Battlefield” is indelibly linked to the ’80s, both because anyone who grew up in that era couldn’t escape its broad reach and because of the decade’s stereotypical flourishes found throughout the song: synths, reverb, and melodrama. Despite the fact that it hasn’t aged particularly well, Benatar’s powerful and emotive voice is enough to make it worth keeping on your iPod, even if you only listen sparingly. It’s the sound of young love and desperation. Although the new version by Wrongchilde is very different in sound, that essence of desperation remains.
Covers albums are commonly filled with songs that have special meaning to the band and often had an impact on the members. “Break-Up album” usually refers to a collection of songs dedicated to the end of a recent, often painful, relationship. Brooklyn band Quiet Loudly missed both of those memos. Their album is filled with songs chosen at the whim of a few fans who pledged a certain amount on the previous album’s Kickstarter, and the “Break Up” referred to is the band itself.
Now in its fifth series, A.V. Undercover from the A.V. Club has churned out some memorable performances over the years. Although the break was a little longer than usual this time, this next batch of songs should add plenty more to a growing list of interesting combinations. There’s some low-hanging fruit out there, with oft-covered greats like TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” and Mountain Goats’ “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”, but there are going to be some tricky ones too, like Arrested Development’s seminal “Tennessee,” and the Go-Go’s dated “We Got the Beat”.
If you are a casual classic rock fan, there are two little-known facts about Southern rock pioneers Creedence Clearwater Revival worth mentioning. First, the band was only together as CCR for five years; for as many instantly recognizable classics as they produced, that’s an incredibly short time span. Second, the band doesn’t hail from the swamps of Louisiana, or anywhere else south of the Mason-Dixon for that matter. They grew up outside of San Francisco.
1994 was 20 years ago. That may not be news to many of our readers, but there is a certain 30-something subset of you who just sprayed your screen with water in a hilarious spit-take that would not be at all out of place on the show Friends (also 20 years old this year, by the way).