Hot on the heels of her much-acclaimed boygenius trio last year, buzzy singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has teamed up with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst for yet another supergroup. Calling themselves Better Oblivion Community Center, the pair just kicked off a tour supporting their self-titled album. They debuted a couple killer (no pun intended) covers at their first shows, tackling the Replacement’s “Can’t Hardly Wait” and the Killers’ “Human.”
When Jason Isbell was asked to contribute a song to A Star is Born, after reading the screenplay he dug deep into his well of past demons to guess the struggles Bradley Cooper’s character Jackson Maine might have been going through. Drawing on his own path to becoming sober with help from his wife Amanda Shires, Isbell sums up the journey perfectly in 2:40 of near-perfect song: “I’m glad I can’t go back to where I came from / I’m glad those days are gone, gone for good.”
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Wikipedia reports that Imaginary Records, an indie label founded 1985 in Manchester, England, specialized in indie rock and post-punk. What it really specialized in, though, was tribute albums. Roughly a third of their album catalog saluted other artists. These ranged from the usual suspects (Dylan, the Stones) to decidedly unusual ones (Captain Beefheart, Syd Barrett).
In 1992, they released Brittle Days: A Tribute to Nick Drake. This was at a time when Drake was still more a cult favorite than a favorite. Anyone who bought the album was as likely to be being introduced to Drake as to the artists singing his songs therein. These artists were themselves destined to remain cult favorites; no future jackpots here like there were on Imaginary Records’ first Velvet Underground tribute. Instead, devotees expressed their devotion to other devotees, resulting in an album that was quiet, reverent, and more than a little haunting.
In 2010, LA indie-pop duo The Bird and the Bee released the terrific Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. Sadly, a Volume 2 never arrived. But perhaps their very unexpected new Van Halen cover could point the way forward. The pair turn “Panama” from a huge ’80s rocker into a cute dance-pop song that somehow recalls both Michael Jackson and Imogen Heap.
Last year, we ranked the top 30 Fleetwood Mac covers ever. Well in the past week along, two more contenders have emerged should we ever update that list.
The first comes from Iowa singer-songwriter Lissie. She in fact made that initial list, with a stunning “Go Your Own Way.” Well now she’s covered another Rumours classic: “Dreams.” Where she did “Go Your Own Way” with a full band, “Dreams” comes much stripped-down. Appropriate, given that it previews her album When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective (out April 9). With a voice as powerful as hers, you don’t need much in the way of ornamentation.
That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.
The term “groupie” was just starting to get a toehold in the American vernacular in the late ’60s. Groupies were written about in lengthy articles in Rolling Stone and Time magazines. They were the subject of a 1969 book (Groupie) and a 1970 documentary (Groupies). They were, in the words of Hall of Fame groupie Pamela Des Barres, the Mary Magdalenes to any and all Jesuses in the rock bands that came through town. And Rita Coolidge thought they would make an ideal subject for a song.