Unless you are a fan of his band Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies back in the day, you might not know the name, Mike Farris. A Grammy winner in the Gospel category for his 2014 album Shine For All The People, Farris takes a more secular approach on his latest record, Silver & Stone. Full of soulful songs in the mold of Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ Paul Janeway, the album includes a couple of top-notch cover songs including a version of Sam Cooke’s “I’ll Be Coming Running Back To You.”
It feels good to think about Jim Croce. His short, mercurial career consisted of just three records, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Life and Times, and the posthumously released I Got A Name, which was completed just a week before Croce’s death in a plane crash on September 20, 1973. At the time of his death, he was right up there with fellow singer-songwriters Jackson Browne and James Taylor, and his trajectory was clearly on the rise.
The original “I Got A Name” single was released the day after the plane crash and hit number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The song, along with being the theme for the movie The Last American Hero, was also featured prominently in the movies Django Unchained, The Ice Storm, and Invincible. Now, Jim’s son A.J. Croce has released his cover of “I Got a Name” to honor his father.
Having been working for a mind-boggling six decades, Cher is set to release an album of ABBA covers called Dancing Queen in September. The ear-worm classics “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” and “Fernando” are all present and accounted for, along with some deeper cuts like “One of Us” and “Chiquitita.” It’s a quick and canny follow-up to her appearance in the sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. In the movie, Cher appears as the mother of Donna, the matriarch played by Meryl Streep where she sings “Fernando” to Andy Garcia and pops up again with the entire ensemble on “Super Trouper.”
The Depeche Mode song “Personal Jesus” was originally recorded and released on their 1990 album Violator. Although it was a mid-level hit, reaching number 13 on the Billboard 200, the bluesy rhythm of the song was a bit of a departure for the die-hard fans. The Mona Lisa of cover versions of the song is, of course, the Johnny Cash rendition that appeared on the Rick Ruben produced American IV: The Man Comes Around, and Sammy Hagar then gave the tune some rock&soul on 2013’s Sammy Hagar and Friends. A personal favorite, the surf guitar version by Los Banditos could fit in quite nicely in any Quentin Tarantino movie.
Cover Me’s top-ten covers of 2017 featured everyone from Chance the Rapper to Bob Weir. But scroll all the way down the #1 and you’ll see an unexpected combo: Lucinda Williams and jazz sax virtuoso Charles Lloyd, covering “Masters of War.” Now they’ve collaborated on an entire album – and the first single is another cover.
Williams has never been one to be pigeonholed into one genre or another. Whether she is turning her car wheels down the gravel road of blues, rock, or folk, everything she touches seems to turn into eclectic gold. And now, with the upcoming Vanished Gardens, a collaboration with Lloyd and his band The Marvels, Williams expands the jazz section of her genre-spanning resume.
With the upcoming release of his album, Out of the Blue, Boz Scaggs, the artist that taught you how to do the “Lido Shuffle” on Silk Degrees and then took you Down Two, Then Left on his next album, is back. The album completes the soul/blues/rock trilogy mixing eclectically cool cover songs and soulful originals that began with Memphis in 2013 (which includes perfectly executed versions of the Mink DeVille classics “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” and “Cadillac Walk”) and was followed up with 2015’s A Fool to Care (master-class covers of Al Green’s “Full of Fire” and Curtis Mayfield’s “I’m So Proud”).