Patrick Robbins

Patrick Robbins lives in Maine, where he moves through life with the secure knowledge that, as Penn Jillette said, "In all of art, it's the singer, not the song," On Wednesdays he goes shopping, and has buttered scones for tea. He is the author of the novel To Make Others Happy.

Nov 132015

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!


When Led Zeppelin III was released 45 years ago, it seemed destined to disappoint both the fans who wanted “Whole Lotta More Love” and the critics who weren’t all that keen on the band to begin with. Oh, sure, “Immigrant Song” was an instant hard-rock classic, and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was blues as slow and heavy as you could hope for, but this album’s heart and soul lay with its acoustic numbers on what was then called Side Two. This wouldn’t do – hadn’t these guys already set up camp in the heavy metal slums? How dare they pretend to be other than what they were?

Of course, time has proven Zeppelin the wiser. III proved them capable of expanding their palette, showing more sides and more shades than the wannabes who were only capable of following one set of Zep’s footprints. The critics have come around, taking note of the bucolic dimension Jimmy Page and Robert Plant brought to their songwriting after a recharging stay in a quiet cottage in Wales named Bron-Yr-Aur. And the fans? Well, Led Zeppelin was never going to lose their fans.
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Nov 042015
Bond Week

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

double o heaven

With James Bond Part XXIV being released this week, the time seemed right to take a look at some Bond-related covers. Tune in tomorrow for some of the best ever made; for today, we’re whetting your appetite with a look at an all-Bond cover album that’s not like all the others.
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Oct 302015

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.


Bruce Springsteen may not be rock ‘n’ roll’s future anymore, but he’s been so prolific – by 1998, three-quarters of his catalog consisted of unreleased songs – that we could very well see new albums coming out from him long after he’s gone. That abundance of gifts he’s given have not only made him a natural for the tribute album treatment, they’ve also given the covering artists a lot to work with – top-ten hits stand shoulder to shoulder with the barely bootlegged, and with no loss in song quality. The 2003 tribute album Light of Day: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen showcased the breadth of Springsteen’s catalog – two and a half hours long, holding over three dozen songs – just as surely as it showcased the depth of his songwriting.
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Oct 092015

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

beatles umbrellas

“Rain,” the B-side to “Paperback Writer,” showcases all four Beatles at the peak of their creative powers; it promised that the album soon to follow in its wake would be a quantum leap from what was being done in rock ‘n’ roll, a promise kept with the release of Revolver. To this day Beatle fans consider it one of their great accomplishments. The frustrating thing is that, being a B-side only collected on hodgepodges like Hey Jude and Past Masters V.2, its place in the rock ‘n’ roll universe will never be as prominent as it is in the Beatles’ universe. On the other hand, that means that, nearly half a century after its recording, young music fans are still discovering it on a daily basis.
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Sep 112015

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!


Ever since September 11 joined November 22 and December 7 as being among the darkest dates in American history, it’s been difficult to associate anything celebratory with it. But if we can’t find it in ourselves to wish acoustic virtuoso Leo Kottke a happy 70th birthday, then the terrorists win.
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Sep 042015

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.


These days the Magnetic Fields, Stephin Merritt’s means of distribution for some of the cleverest old-school songwriting around, is arguably best known for the 69 Love Songs box set (if you don’t yet have it, there are half a dozen songs on it you’ll fall in love with), but they’ve come up with winners right from the start. “100,000 Fireflies” was their first single on their first album, Distant Plastic Trees, back when Merritt was letting Susan Anway handle all the vocals and he handled all the instruments. Anway sings of shrieking and suicide, over a simple backing just this side of rinky-dink, but what comes across is a devastating lilt of loneliness, made all the more painful by its catchiness.
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Aug 282015

YouTube is filled with amateur cover artists. Most stink. On The ‘Tube extracts the exceptions.


Ethan Gold’s got smarts – he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Ethan Gold’s got genes – his father Herbert is a novelist, and his twin brother Ari is a student-Oscar-winning director who plays ukulele in their band, the Gold Brothers. Ethan Gold’s got serious music credentials – aside from scoring his brother’s films, he’s released 2011’s Songs from a Toxic Apartment (Gold’s residence had enough mold and asbestos that when the Department of Public Health condemned it, he needed a gas mask to get his possessions), which won high praise from Pitchfork and others, and his new album Beings features fan favorite “Our Love is Beautiful.”

And Ethan Gold’s got a bedroom closet, where he sometimes goes to record some amazing covers.
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Aug 212015

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.


One of the perks of writing for Cover Me is the degree to which it gives you the chance to make discoveries. For instance, I was searching for some good Clash covers (more on why in a minute) and it led to find the 2006 album Stereo Also Playable Mono by MakroSoft. After listening to a few tracks, I got the impression that John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, and Ennio Morricone had gotten together, in a laboratory sponsored by Kraftwerk, and created film scores based on some of the immortal songs of the previous half century.
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