This one is for the guitar nerds as Marcus King and Stephen Campbell of the Marcus King Band stopped by Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville for a little guitar pull. The Marcus King Band is a blues-rock band in much the Stevie Ray Vaughan / Joe Bonamassa mold with shades of Jimi Hendrix. Here, Marcus King lays into “Swinging Doors” as if he has played it many times before. And he sure has, the song has become a staple in their live shows, so it’s nice to finally get a great video. This bluesy take on the classic honky tonk tune gives the song an entirely different character and somehow makes the song a bit more forlorn than the Mighty Merle Haggard original.
No stranger to an exquisitely crafted cover song, Kendra Morris is back with a nuanced version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” that was just released as the B-side of her new single “Playing Games.” With her cover song mettle already on display with her 2013 release Mockingbird, Morris ramps up her game even more on her new release.
Much like Prince, Leonard Cohen, and Dolores O’Riordan, David Bowie continues to ride the wave of excellent posthumous covers. Add a new “The Jean Genie” courtesy of The Reverend Shawn Amos to the list. He performed it on the “Jam in the Van” video series, which records live sessions in a solar-powered recording studio built into a bus.
By any measure, Don’t Let The Devil Ride, the new release by Paul Thorn, is a great album and should stand up for inclusion in many of the requisite year-end best-of lists. With guest appearances from The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Preservation Hall Jazz Horns, The McCrary Sisters, and Bonnie Bishop there really is some next level Gospel mojo going on here. Throw in the recording, knob turning, and board magic happening in places like Sam Phillips’ recording studio in Memphis, FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, and the Preservation Hall in New Orleans, and you have a true musical tour-de-force.
Thorn goes deep and way back in time on the album covering somewhat obscure Gospel and Blues songs including the Willie Davis Song “He’s a Battle Ax” accompanied by an old-school banjo and New Orleans horns, “You Got To Move,” a Fred McDowell tune, and “The Half Has Never Been Told,” a song that goes back to at least 1926.
Released in 1971 and peaking on the U.S. Billboard charts at number 24, the song “Levon” from Elton John’s Madman Across the Water album is extremely underrated and almost criminally under-covered. With the exception of the excellent Jon Bon Jovi rendition from the Two Rooms Elton John tribute album, you would have to go down a lot of YouTube rabbit holes to find another cover version of the song at all, let alone one that good. The more famous “Tiny Dancer,” another song from the same album, get’s all of the acclaim and a heck of a lot more cover song love despite finishing at 41 on the charts, 17 spots worse than “Levon.”
If you are a fan of Elton John and all of his many reinventions, this is the time of your life. It started in late 2017 when Elton along with Bernie Taupin sponsored a worldwide YouTube contest to reimage videos for three of Elton’s most popular songs, “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man,” and “Tiny Dancer,. It continued with his announcement that his upcoming three-year tour will be his last. Suffice to say, our eyes and ears will be treated to various projects with the volume turned up to “all Elton, all the time” for the foreseeable future.