Not only does one-man blues punk The Legendary Tigerman regularly get compared to Tom Waits; he gets compared to the artists Tom Waits himself once got compared to: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, etc. A long line of gruff and gritty bluesmen. This one just comes with a Portuguese accent. So it’s only fitting that on his new EP Misfit Ballads – a companion to new album Misfit, about to be released in the US and UK – the Legendary Tigerman tackled Waits himself.
If the only “Kiss” cover you know is that Tom Jones one, get ready for something new, pussycat. On her upcoming album Don’t Call Me Angel (out October 12), Washington state singer-songwriter Hilary Scott turns the Prince classic into a smoky blues ballad. She starts out sounding like the Mississippi Delta before the song gradually builds into a blast of Bonnie Raitt soul. It’s unlike any “Kiss” cover we’ve ever heard, and one of the best Prince homages to come out since his passing.
Bluegrass is a genre big on covers, with any fiddler worth his strings able to whip out old mountain songs, folk traditionals, and anything Bill Monroe or John Hartford ever wrote. On their upcoming album Cover Story, though, Charlottesville bluegrass quintet Love Canon take on more novel source material: pop hits of the 1980s. In fact, they gravitated towards the least acoustic sounds around, pickin’ through electronic dance songs by the likes of Mr. Mister, Peter Gabriel, and the song we’re premiering below: Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” And we thought last year’s bluegrass Radiohead cover was inventive!
We have yet to hear a Land Below cover that didn’t surprise us. Though he’s only been at it a couple years, Sweden’s Erik Lindestad has developed something of a cover speciality: Taking a song with one instantly recognizable element, and stripping it away. For instance, on our tenth birthday he covered “Hooked on a Feeling” without a single “ooga chaka.” When he tackled Moby’s ubiquitous “Porcelain,” he ditched the string sample melody that soundtracked all those commercials. And his new cover of Blur’s “Song 2” walks the same path.
“Song 2” is best known for two words, instantly recognizable to soccer fans everywhere: “Woo hoo!” Most people would build their covers around that holler, since it’s the only part many people recognize. For Lindestad, they’re an afterthought. On his mellow electronic cover, he croons the words over a soft synth bed.
We’ve heard a lot of “Jolene” covers over the years. It’s a country staple, of course, and it’s also earned its fair share of great genre-crossing versions, from the White Stripes’ roaring classic to 48 Cameras’ Lynch-ian spook song. But we’ve never heard a cover quite like this.
Death By Piano are a new Brooklyn duo who describe themselves as “electro-pop-noir,” which is a pretty good genre tag for this cover. Bathed in echoing synths, haunting percussion, and far-off background vocals, it reinvents a song you might have thought past reinvention. And the reason it doesn’t much sound like a “Jolene” cover is that, as it turns out, it wasn’t supposed to be.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Today we conclude our series of posts about The Yardbirds.
“But wait!” you exclaim. “The headline says ‘Led Zeppelin‘. Aren’t we talking about the folk-rock ballad that originally appeared in 1970 on the softer acoustic second side of Led Zeppelin III?”
Indeed we are, and “Tangerine” has been mentioned once or twice before on these pages. But a recent re-release, widely anticipated by fans of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, The Yardbirds, has re-opened the discussion about the songs’ origins. Is “Tangerine” really a Led Zeppelin song?
When it comes to songwriting credits, things aren’t always cut and dried with Jimmy Page. As it were, this particular instance follows suit. Around the time of last year’s “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism lawsuit – won by Led Zeppelin – Rolling Stone cited 10 other Zep tunes with cloudy origins. The article mentioned “Dazed And Confused” – a song with ties to Page’s stint in The Yardbirds – but made no mention of “Tangerine” a song sharing similar ties. Both songs were the only two non-instrumental Led Zeppelin tracks to carry a songwriting credit attributed solely to Jimmy Page. The writing credit on “Dazed” was later amended in 2012 (singer-songwriter Jake Holmes was added as Page’s inspiration), but a cloud continues to hang over “Tangerine.”
Why the fuss? Cover Me readers might be interested in some of the forensics. Two years prior to the release of Led Zeppelin III, The Yardbirds, with Page as a member, recorded a demo for a song titled “Knowing That I’m Losing You” which was never officially released. Thirty-two years later, “Knowing” was scheduled to be included on The Yardbirds’ 2000 album Cumular Limit with other live and unreleased material, but the track was pulled. Seventeen years after that, Page, as producer, included an authorized re-mastered instrumental version, with the modified title “Knowing That I’m Losing You (Tangerine)” on the new Yardbirds ’68 compilation.