ANNOUNCEMENT: You may have noticed the new “Donate” button off to your right. I hate to ask for hand-outs, but my old free server cut off my access, so I have to use a paid one. It’s cheap, but I’m poor, so just a few bucks will go a long way! This is the last time I’ll advertise it though, promise. On the plus side, all links should last for much longer than they used to. They are all up to date.
With that out of the way, it’s been a tradition at this blog to have the first post each month be covers of a full album…but we’re going to push it back a week for an extra-special contribution to this month’s album. Don’t want to give away what it is, but here’s a clue: horse waits.
This week’s post, however, is no last-minute substitution. It’s a look at a group huge in its time, but obscured in history by bigger vocal groups like Simon and Garfunkel: The Everly Brothers. Sure, Paul Simon’s a hell of a songwriter, but in my book you can’t beat the harmonies of Don and Phil. They may hate each other, but I saw them perform a couple years ago, and they still got it.
The Ditty Bops – Bye Bye Love
A cutesy, folksy cover that keeps the original’s basic feel, but sounds a little more organic. If Don and Phil had been a couple of granola girls in Birkenstocks, they’d have sounded like this.
Bob Dylan – Take a Message to Mary
“What is this shit?” So opened Greil Marcus’ famous review of this album, Dylan’s 1970 Self Portrait. Mostly covers or crappy live versions of older hits, I can see why people were pissed. It sounds a lot better with the passage of time though, country bumpkin songs like this being trite but fun. Bet you didn’t know Bob’s voice ever sounded this good.
A-Ha – Crying in the Rain
It’s no “Take On Me,” but A-Ha still managed to pull of a minor hit with this harmony-filled builder. The 80’s production is atmospheric without being obnoxious and makes me think maybe there’s more to this band than the one big hit.
Pearl Jam with Beck – Sleepless Nights
A live one from ‘02, I cannot believe Eddie Vedder’s voice gets this melodic. It blends perfectly with Beck’s on a straight-forward acoustic cover that bring the pain to the fore.
Cat Power – Dream
An outtake from her indie hit The Greatest, she jazzes up the tune and rhythm so that it takes you a few bars to realize it’s the same song.
Elliott Murphy & Ernie Brooks – Cathy’s Clown
Regular readers of this blog will know that Murphy is one of my favorite cover artists, and his duet version of this one hints at why. The vocals on the verge of breaking down makes a sad song sound even sadder.
John Kincade – Till I Kissed You
Now we’re talking, an Everly cover with some balls. Fuzz guitar and thumping drums clash beautifully with the sugar-sweet lyrics.
Zoey Deschanel and Samantha Shelton – Walk Right Back
Thanks to Jamie over at Fong Songs for this one, it’s a little clap-along a cappella version, bouncy in a barbershop quartet sort of way.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Stick With Me Baby
The guys seem to like the Everlys, tackling two of their songs on their debut album Raising Sand. One became the single (see the surprisingly good video here), but that one rocks a little harder than the rest of the album. This is representative of everything this pair has to offer, beautifully understated harmonies, wavering guitars and laid-back swampy production. If Plant keeps churning out songs like this, I couldn’t care less about a Zeppelin reunion.
Rosie Thomas – Let It Be Me
If this song doesn’t get it you, either the original or this cover, you’ve got a heart of stone.