Tim Edgeworth

Tim Edgeworth hails from Bedford, England: the town that brought you John Oliver. He does not know John Oliver. He loves many different types of music, but has a special place in his heart for Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and all things Americana. Tim’s dream is to travel back in time and attend a B.B. King concert. He writes about music, movies and much, much more on his blog, Tim’s Reviews.

Apr 042020
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

On the morning of  October 17, 1961, a skinny, scruffy-haired teen was standing on platform 2 of Dartford station, waiting for a train into London. He was holding a guitar case. Slightly further down the platform stood another, less scruffy teen. He clasped two vinyl records under his arms, held at just the right angle that the titles were visible. The scruffy-haired teen tilted his head to get a better look, his eyes widening as he read the large print emblazoned across the record covers. Chuck Berry Rockin’ At the Hops and – could it be? Yes! – The Best of Muddy Waters. Trying to act naturally, the scruffy teen took a step closer to to the young man with the records. Then another step. And another. Before long they were right next to each other. The scruffy teen cleared his throat. “Hello,” he said. “My name’s Keith.”

So there you have it: Muddy Waters was partially responsible for the first meeting of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger since primary school. It would not be his last contribution to their history. A few months later, Brian Jones was on the phone attempting to secure a booking for the newly formed group. The promoter asked for the band’s name. They didn’t have one. Jones’ eyes darted around the room and fell upon that  same fateful album, The Best of Muddy Waters – specifically, side one track 5: “Rollin’ Stone.” The Rolling Stones were now christened. Continue reading »

Mar 312020
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Everyone loves AC/DC. You love AC/DC. Maybe you haven’t yet realized that you love AC/DC, but don’t worry. It’s only a matter of time.

However you feel about the band, you’re probably at least partially familiar with Angus Young, the school uniform-clad lead guitarist who can generally be found soloing wildly while sprinting from one end of the stage to the other. Today is Angus’ 65th birthday, and we’re celebrating by gathering some of the finest AC/DC covers the internet has to offer.

The only problem is that AC/DC are notoriously hard to cover. The unique formula that Angus and his late brother Malcolm created in the ’70s has proved completely inimitable, to the point where even the best attempts to replicate it end up sounding weirdly off.

As it turns out, the only way to successfully cover AC/DC is to think outside the box, which is what the performers below have done – with intriguing results. Happy Birthday, Angus!

Orchestra of The Ministry of Interior of Slovak Republic – Highway To Hell (AC/DC cover)

This wordily-named orchestra has made a habit of adapting hard-rock anthems into classy big band numbers. AC/DC proves well suited to this approach; perhaps the massive sound of Angus and Malcolm’s guitars can only be recaptured by a full orchestra. Arranger/Conductor Oskar Rózsa looks like he’s having a whale of a time.

2CELLOS – Thunderstruck (AC/DC cover)

On the other hand, maybe less is more when it comes to covering AC/DC. Croatian-Slovenian cellist duo Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser have been adapting well-known pop and rock songs into cello throwdowns for nearly a decade, and their cover of the bombastic “Thunderstruck” is one of their most innovative.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)

AC/DC have stayed consistently true to their two guitars/drums/bass lineup over the years, with nary a stray horn or keyboard appearing on any of their albums. But what would AC/DC sound like with horns and keyboards? Brian Setzer has the answer. Appropriately, Setzer’s version of “Let There Be Rock” takes AC/DC’s beloved rock & roll back to its roots with a 1950s-style jump blues arrangement.

The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra – Back In Black (AC/DC cover)

Another orchestra now, with the Qatar Philharmonic’s take on “Back In Black.” Hearing such a large group of musicians crank out Malcolm Young’s iconic riff gives one a new respect for what AC/DC accomplished with two guitars. It’s not entirely clear why the drummer in the video appears to be playing from an entirely different location, but it doesn’t matter. This version rocks.

Check out Five Good Covers of “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” in our archives.

Mar 232020
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Dylan is Bob Dylan‘s first break-up album. Out of print for decades before eventually being issued on CD in 2013, the LP was a result of Bob’s defection from Columbia Records to the fledgling Asylum Records in early 1973. While the split ultimately proved to be a temporary separation, it appeared at the time to be a permanent divorce.

The resulting album is often framed as an act of revenge on Columbia’s part, a collection of poor-quality outtakes specifically designed to reduce Dylan’s stock with record buyers. However, this theory doesn’t add up. Columbia still owned Bob’s valuable back catalogue, which they presumably intended to continue profiting from, and releasing an intentionally substandard Dylan album would have been counterproductive. What was probably going on, as Jon Landau suggested in his review for Rolling Stone, was that Dylan would have been the first in a series of “new” Bob Dylan albums comprised of outtakes from previous Columbia sessions. Decca Records was concurrently doing the same thing with their trove of unreleased recordings by The Rolling Stones.

But why these recordings? The track selection on Dylan is perplexing, especially since Columbia already possessed much of the material that would later surface on the successful Bootleg Series. A likely explanation is that whoever compiled the album (possibly Mark Spector, who assembled an abandoned early version) was under pressure to get the record out before Dylan’s first release for Asylum – which was being recorded at that very moment – and therefore had no choice but to simply grab some of the most recent tapes off the top of the pile. The tapes in question, as it happened, were from the sessions for Dylan’s 1970 albums Self Portrait and New Morning.

Columbia’s ploy worked. Dylan reached No.17 on the Billboard chart and was certified gold, despite overwhelmingly negative reviews. Were the critics right? Let’s take another look.
Continue reading »

Mar 182020
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

Chuck Berry is universally acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll. By the 1980s, however, Berry’s status as a legend had almost been cancelled out by his infamous live performances.

This was the drill: having specified beforehand that the promoter would provide amplifiers and a local backing band, Berry would arrive alone and head straight for the promoter’s office to collect his cash. After counting the money, Berry would walk onstage, plug in his guitar and start playing, often without speaking to the band or advising them of the evening’s setlist. He was known to occasionally fire band members mid-song if they couldn’t keep up. Eventually, at the climax of the nights’ final number, Chuck would launch into his famous duck walk and disappear into the wings.  He would be in his car and speeding down the highway before the last guitar note had finished echoing around the room.

“I’ve been so disappointed in Chuck Berry’s live gigs for years and years and years,” said Keith Richards in the documentary Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987). “Because he didn’t give a damn. If he made a mistake he’d blame it on the band, and he’d just wing it and get through, and he’s got such a powerful personality that he’s managed to get away with it!”

It wasn’t always this way. Charles Edward Anderson Berry had established himself in the early 1950s as a member of pianist Johnnie Johnson’s Sir John Trio in St Louis, and shortly arrived at Chicago’s Chess Records via a personal recommendation from Muddy Waters. Here, Berry would cut the vast majority of his classic sides, backed by a rotating cast of first-rate musicians including Fred Below, Willie Dixon, Matt Murphy, Lafayette Leake, Otis Spann, and right-hand man Johnnie Johnson.
Continue reading »

Mar 062020
 

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

Moondog Matinee

Just five years on from the release of the rapturously-received Music From Big Pink album in 1968, simmering tension had already begun to erode The Band’s all-for-one-and-one-for-all dynamic. “We couldn’t get along… ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ and all that stuff was over,” drummer Levon Helm told GRITZ magazine in 2002.  The decision to record an album of covers appears to have been something of a tension-relieving exercise, a chance for The Band to let their hair down and remind themselves why they had started making music together in the first place. No Civil War epics or songs lamenting the plight of the American farmer to be found here: Moondog Matinee was designed to be nothing more than a straight-up party. Ironically, however, it’s the diversions into more sombre territory that provide some of the the album’s strongest moments.
Continue reading »