Jan 312019
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best neil young covers

Neil Young released his self-titled debut solo album on January 22, 1969. Well, technically he re-released it that day. It had initially landed without much fanfare the previous November, only for Young to quickly pull it from shelves due to what he deemed a subpar mix. Even in his professional infancy, decades before Pono and the Neil Young Archives, he was a stickler for quality control.

We hope this list would pass muster with him. At 50 songs, it’s our longest to date (tied only with The Rolling Stones) and still barely scratches the surface. We could have quite easily listed the best 50 covers of “Heart of Gold” or “Like a Hurricane” alone. He gets covered about as much as any songwriter alive, and about as well too.

Neil hasn’t slowed down in his own age, and neither has the flow of new covers. Some of the covers below came out near 50 years ago themselves. Others only landed in the last year or two. No doubt another contender will arrive tomorrow. Neil never stops, and, thankfully, neither do covers of his songs. Continue reading »

Jan 312019
 
best cover songs january
Beck – Tarantula (Colourbox cover)

Few expected the movie Roma to be as big a hit as it was (it’s tied for the most Oscar nominations). Even Sony must not have, as they’re just getting around to releasing a soundtrack two months after release – and as Music Inspired By The Film Roma, i.e. must that doesn’t actually appear in the film. But Beck’s beautiful cover of 4AD group Colourbox arrives better late than never. Accompanied by an orchestra and Leslie Feist on backing vocals, he’s never sounded more like Peter Gabriel. Continue reading »

Jan 252019
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

This is the year Roxy Music finally gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Babies have been born since they were first eligible who are now old enough to legally drink. Would that they were also being introduced to the stylings of Bryan Ferry and company, who married prog and glam and were New Romantic before New Romantic existed. How is it possible that a band had to get rid of Brian Eno because he was holding them back?

Eno was more than gracious about that – he’s declared Stranded, the first Roxy Music album without him, to be his favorite. His taste proves impeccable once again – Stranded has a (UK) hit single in “Street Life,” a perfect ode to heartbreak in “A Song for Europe,” and one of the greatest centerpieces of all ’70s rock albums, “Mother of Pearl.”
Continue reading »

Jan 182019
 

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

blue

At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either. – Joni Mitchell, 1979

As many a person has pointed out, Blue works really good if you’re really low. These five girls came up to me once in a bar and said, “Joni, before there was Prozac, there was you.” – Joni Mitchell, 1996

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Jan 182019
 
hozier say my name

Hozier just announced his first album in four years. To coincide with the news, he performed a highly unexpected cover for Spotify: Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” Needless to say, if you’ve ever heard a note of Hozier’s music, it sounds nothing like the original.

The sound actually recalls another artist he recently covered, Van Morrison. Hozier brings a heap of soul and passion to this slowgroove, complete with organ, horns, and backing singers (they’re about the only hint left at the original). It’s a radical reimagining of a silly song, and brings about as much profundity as one can to lyrics about runnin’ game and actin’ shady. We’d love to hear him tackle on of Beyoncé’s more serious songs next time. In the mean time, listen to it below, and his aforementioned Van Morrison cover too. Continue reading »

Jan 122019
 

The following is a chapter from my book ‘Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time’ that got left on the cutting room floor due to space. For 19 more stories like it, from Hendrix’s “Watchtower” to Devo’s “Satisfaction,” buy the book Variety called “a music snob’s dream come true” at Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, or anywhere else.

led zeppelin dazed and confused

It’s like if your baby is kidnapped at two-years-old and raised by another woman. All these years later, it’s her kid.
— Jake Holmes

Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album came out 50 years ago today. But if you’ve purchased it more recently, you might have seen the following writing credit under the song “Dazed and Confused”: “By Jimmy Page; Inspired by Jake Holmes.”

Those seven words may seem pretty innocuous on the page, but that phrase is the result of decades of controversy and litigation. Those words reveal questions of what counts as a cover song, how an artist needs to credit a songwriter from whom they draw material, and where the line lies between homage and theft.
Continue reading »