Mar 242020
 
norah jones patience

Ah “Patience”. Duff gently counts us in, thereby triggering the most tolerable and endearing bit of whistling in the history of rock, courtesy of Axl Rose. Yes, if there is one Guns N’ Roses song can help provide a salve during tough times, slow things down if your brain is racing and set you to imagining you are sitting in a hotel with your pet snake watching Axl undulate during better times, it’s “Patience”. While the video is a total timepiece that verges on self-parody (yet remains completely, utterly awesome) it never overshadows the innate sweetness of the acoustic ballad from 1988’s eternal and infamous G N’ R Lies EP. Continue reading »

Mar 242020
 
vandoliers proclaimers cover

On the American side of the pond, The Proclaimers would widely be considered to be a one-hit-wonder after their catchy tune “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” peaked at number three on the charts in 1993 after being featured in the movie Benny and Joon. But the band that mostly consists of bespectacled twins Craig and Charlie Reid have been around since 1983 and sold over five million records worldwide. One-hit wonders they are not. Continue reading »

Mar 232020
 
quarantine covers

Many musicians, unable to go on the road, have taken to performing concerts in their home in the past week. Personally, I have spent a huge amount of time watching various these live streams. The performances have been moving and powerful, an unusually intimate way to see some of your favorite musicians.

Many such shows have included covers, songs that feel right to sing right now, like John Lennon’s “Isolation” or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” So I decided to round up some of my favorites below.

Unfortunately, many live stream platforms don’t archive the content, so if you miss it live, it’s gone (another reason to watch these streams!). But plenty of great covers have remained online. Check ’em out below, and let us know in the comments what others we shouldn’t miss. Continue reading »

Mar 232020
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Dylan is Bob Dylan‘s first break-up album. Out of print for decades before eventually being issued on CD in 2013, the LP was a result of Bob’s defection from Columbia Records to the fledgling Asylum Records in early 1973. While the split ultimately proved to be a temporary separation, it appeared at the time to be a permanent divorce.

The resulting album is often framed as an act of revenge on Columbia’s part, a collection of poor-quality outtakes specifically designed to reduce Dylan’s stock with record buyers. However, this theory doesn’t add up. Columbia still owned Bob’s valuable back catalogue, which they presumably intended to continue profiting from, and releasing an intentionally substandard Dylan album would have been counterproductive. What was probably going on, as Jon Landau suggested in his review for Rolling Stone, was that Dylan would have been the first in a series of “new” Bob Dylan albums comprised of outtakes from previous Columbia sessions. Decca Records was concurrently doing the same thing with their trove of unreleased recordings by The Rolling Stones.

But why these recordings? The track selection on Dylan is perplexing, especially since Columbia already possessed much of the material that would later surface on the successful Bootleg Series. A likely explanation is that whoever compiled the album (possibly Mark Spector, who assembled an abandoned early version) was under pressure to get the record out before Dylan’s first release for Asylum – which was being recorded at that very moment – and therefore had no choice but to simply grab some of the most recent tapes off the top of the pile. The tapes in question, as it happened, were from the sessions for Dylan’s 1970 albums Self Portrait and New Morning.

Columbia’s ploy worked. Dylan reached No.17 on the Billboard chart and was certified gold, despite overwhelmingly negative reviews. Were the critics right? Let’s take another look.
Continue reading »

Mar 232020
 
rachelle garniez

The era in German history known as the Weimar Republic lasted just a few years from 1918 to 1933, but it’s impact on world history and culture is still felt today. The unstable political situation, combined with rapid inflation, contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Amidst the political chaos, the arts flourished. The period saw the establishment of the Bauhaus and Dada artistic movements. Novelist Christopher Isherwood captured the underground nightlife scene in his famed The Berlin Stories, which would serve as the basis for the Cabaret musical and film. On the theater front, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill penned The Threepenny Opera. The musical introduced the standard “Mack the Knife” as well as “Pirate Jenny,” a song Bob Dylan cited in his memoir as an inspiration for his songwriting. Continue reading »

Mar 202020
 
sam pocker

Even 33 years later, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine)” remains one of R.E.M.‘s most iconic songs. From Michael Stipe’s rapid-fire, pop-culture reference-filled lyrics on the verses to the very catchy chorus, it’s instantly recognizable and fun song to (attempt to) sing along to. It has endured longer than any other of the band’s 80s hits, despite reaching only #69 on the Hot 100 on its initial release and it’s possible it’s more famous than any other song of theirs outside of maybe “Man on the Moon” or “Everybody Hurts”. It’s back in vogue with the pandemic, with Michael Stipe using the chorus to introduce his recent PSA about staying home and washing your hands. Continue reading »