Jul 082019
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

dead mans town

Did you hear “Born in the U.S.A.” at your Fourth of July BBQ? Maybe a diehard Springsteen fan even played the full album. It certainly packs a punch; seven of the album’s twelve songs became top-10 hit singles. Taking patriotism to a whole new level, this album was even the first commercial CD made in the United States. 

Marking the 30th anniversary of the Born in the U.S.A. album, Dead Man’s Town was released in 2014 with the premise that the original album was so good that, as Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars states, “any of those songs could be played with acoustic guitar alone and still be great.”

Rolling Stone described the album as “reimagining Born in the U.S.A.… with a reduced approach more influenced by that of the acoustic Nebraska.” This cover album certainly would have followed Nebraska more congruously than the original Born in the U.S.A., which marked a departure from Springsteen’s earlier work yet brought him his greatest commercial success.

Dead Man’s Town captures the melancholy aspects of the Fourth of July, a holiday that marks the inflection point of the summer. Summer love is bending towards goodbye. Back to school advertisements abound. If you are looking for a soundtrack to summer’s end or a new take on your favorite Springsteen classics, this is the album for you. Here is a taste of what this album has to offer.

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Feb 222019
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

When David Bowie moved to Berlin, he took an apartment over an auto parts store. Iggy Pop shared a room with him. There were no chairs – they had decided chairs were unnatural. One night they were sitting on the floor waiting for Starsky and Hutch to start on the Armed Forces Network. The show started with a call signal – beep beep beep, beep beep beep beep, beep beep beep. Bowie picked up a ukulele (“it might have been his son’s,” Pop later remembered) and wrote out the chord progression. “Call it ‘Lust for Life,'” he told Pop. “Write something up.”

Describing their songwriting process, Bowie said, “I often gave him a few anchor images that I wanted him to play off, and he would take them away and start free-associating.” Pop later realized that Bowie’s title came from the Kirk Douglas film about Vincent van Gogh. “In the two albums we made,”said Pop, referring to Lust for Life and The Idiot, “I think Bowie wanted to make the comment that I was an idiot à la Dostoyevsky and insane à la van Gogh. Like, ‘Here I am producing albums for this insane idiot — let’s see what happens!'”

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Mar 122018
 
led zeppelin tribute concert

Last Wednesday night, City Winery and Knitting Factory founder Michael Dorf staged his 14th “Music Of” charity tribute show at Manhattan’s venerable Carnegie Hall. After similar tributes to everyone from Bruce Springsteen to R.E.M., this time the honoree was Led Zeppelin. Dorf’s formula involves bringing in a killer house band and complementing them with a mix of moderately-to-well known artists who are typically passionate about the honoree. The sold out show survived a nor’easter and it doesn’t get much better than sitting on the plush seats of the acoustically perfect hall listening to twenty great renditions from the Mighty Zep catalog.

Most of the performances have found their way to YouTube (in varying sound quality). Here’s a look at some of the highlights: Continue reading »

Dec 062017
 
shovels rope covers

Husband and wife team Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, better known as Shovels & Rope, know their way around a good cover song. We’ve shared a handful of their covers here at the site over the years, including a couple of cuts from their 2015 collection of covers, Busted Jukebox, Volume 1. From that title, it’s almost as if they knew they’d be releasing more covers at some point. Well, surprise! This week sees the release of Busted Jukebox, Volume 2, following the same format of Volume 1: a wide-range of source material reimagined with the help of some musician friends. Continue reading »

Feb 012013
 

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

The Doors are in the unfortunate position of being overwhelmed by their mystique. They were never a band that coasted on an image – they released eight albums (six studio, one live, one best-of) in the five years before Jim Morrison’s death, and two more studio albums afterward. Their dark voice was not always welcome in the peace ‘n’ love sixties, but they never stopped raising it. Some of their albums are spotty, but the best of their work has stood the test of time better than that of many if not most of their contemporaries. Alas, too many people today know them as nothing more than a vehicle for Morrison to wield the persona that famously led Rolling Stone to declare him hot, sexy, and dead. But in 1967, there was nobody like them, and their self-titled debut album proved them to be a cohesive unit with a vision only those four men could convey.
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Dec 052012
 

This year Petty Fest made the leap to a bi-coastal event. On November 14 & 15 at the El Rey in Los Angeles, the Tom Petty tribute brought the stars out in force to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims. Special guests included Johnny Depp, Sarah Silverman, Har Mar Superstar, Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes, Peter Ericsson Stakee of Alberta Cross, bassist from Kings of Leon, Ke$ha, Eagles of Death Metal, Karen Elson, Nicole Atkins, Patrick Carney from The Black Keys, Cory Chisel, Butch Walker, the lead singer from Guster, the drummer from Guns-n-Roses and more. All proceeds went to the victims of the storm via Sweet Relief Musicians Fund which provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Continue reading »