Jul 132017
 
gavin castleton

We’ve written about Rhode Island songwriter/producer Gavin Castleton a few times over the years, spotlighting his airy and enjoyable covers of Peter Gabriel, Frank Ocean, and the Twin Peaks theme. But that didn’t prepare us for his newest, a hard-hitting and powerfully charged of Billie Holiday’s harrowing song about lynching, “Strange Fruit.”

One reason for our surprise is that Castleton recruited another Cover Me favorite to sing: Rescue of funk-rock band Bad Rabbits (hear them covering Smashing Pumpkins and Michael Jackson). Rescue delivers one of the most powerful vocals we’ve heard this year, lurching from aggressive pummel to wavering falsetto. And it blends perfectly with Castleton’s thudding electronic production, spare and unrelenting in a way that won’t let you turn away. Continue reading »

Jul 102017
 
chance the rapper covers

The last time we heard from Chance the Rapper, he was doing a weird and wonderful cover of Ziggy Marley’s Arthur theme song. So wonderful, in fact, that we named it our our favorite cover of that entire year. So needless to say, we were excited to see his new NPR Tiny Desk Concert featured another cover, of Stevie Wonder’s “They Won’t Go When I Go.”

“They Won’t Go When I Go” is a relative deep cut on Wonder’s 1974 masterpiece Fulfillingness’ First Finale, though more first heard it via George Michael’s popular cover. It’s no surprise Chance would know the original though: on The View earlier this year, he called Wonder “the greatest living artist.” Plus in that same interview, Chance said he considered Kanye West an inspiration, and Kanye himself covered this same song live way back in 2011. Continue reading »

Jul 072017
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

What’s a scruff like me doing with this lot? – Ringo Starr

Richard Starkey, MBE, has always been undervalued by the world, and even by himself. Seen as a happy-go-lucky guy who was himself lucky to fall in with three geniuses to form the most influential rock band of all time, Ringo has been disparaged for everything from his playing (SO undeserved) to his looks. The fact is, Ringo Starr was perfect for the Beatles, the Earth of their four-elements dynamic, and the fact that John, Paul, and George all continued to love him even as they slagged off on each other, in the band’s dying days and long after, shows that the only three people whose opinion of Ringo mattered knew how valuable he truly was.

Ringo celebrated his 77th birthday today by announcing the impending release of his 19th solo album; we’re celebrating it by looking at covers of four of his songs, plus one of the best covers he ever did.

Continue reading »

Jun 302017
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Wow,  that sounds naïve in today’s world, doesn’t it? Watch the news or go on social media and all we see are people screaming at each other, dividing each other and hating each other. Not to mention, why only smile on your brother? What about sisters? And the gender binary should be rejected anyway, right?

In any case, the Youngbloods‘ “Get Together” has become an easy soundtrack shorthand when referring to the optimism of the 1960s (much as Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s “Ohio” is used to illustrate the disillusionment and violence of that decade). You just have to hear the opening notes, and you are transported to a world of flower-festooned long hair, tie-dye, fringed vests and pot smoke. Thus, the song’s ubiquity in films, TV and advertising. 

Continue reading »

Jun 262017
 
jack white american epic

Every once and awhile, a musical project comes along that reminds us of the magnitude of talent and ingenuity many of our current musicians possess. The American Epic series by PBS is one such project. Directed by Bernard McMahon, American Epic re-imagines the music captured by record companies way back in the 1920’s. But not just any music. “Country singers in the Appalachians, blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians”. The record companies gave a musical voice to so many talented, undiscovered musicians at that time.

To make the project authentic, the American Epic team reassembled the very first electrical sound recording system which was used back in the 1920s. They then tasked executive producers Jack White and T Bone Burnett to create an album of recordings by twenty of today’s artists, all recorded on the only system of this kind in the world. The result is a fantastic throwback to long ago brought to us by some seriously talented and committed musicians. Continue reading »

Jun 232017
 

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

u2 joshua tree covers

There’s a cartoon circulating on social media mocking U2 for a penchant for nostalgia. And, on its face, it’s pretty funny:

It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, though. U2 is entirely the wrong group to pick for this joke. “World’s laziest band”? If anything, they have the opposite problem, endlessly hustling and trend-chasing in pursuit of their next hit. Their current Joshua Tree tour is just about the first nostalgia-trip moneygrab in a forty-year career. Unlike just about every other major band from the ’70s and ’80s, they generally avoid the greatest-hits summer tours and Oldchella combos the comic rightly lampoons.

The band is, however, indulging a rare back-pat on their current stadium tour by playing The Joshua Tree from start to finish. It’s one of the front-loaded albums of all time, an insane run of hits on side one followed by relative obscurities on the flip (including “Red Hill Mining Town,” which they’d never played live until this year). Which sounds like it might make for odd concert pacing, but early reviews have been great.

So if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. As U2 celebrates thirty years of The Joshua Tree, we will too, with covers of every song on the album. Continue reading »