Oct 252013
 

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

You kids today, with your Now That’s What I Call Music compilations – you don’t know how different it was back in the day. When K-Tel was in their ’70s prime, their ubiquitous commercials made them the “As Seen On TV” company and served to get the words and music on the street. They fit twenty or so songs on one album, making for tinny sound and many songs edited for single length. Not all the songs on them were hits; you bought them for the big names and sat through the one-hit wonders, novelties, and other filler. But for only $5.99 (8-track or cassette only $7.99!), you could get a wide-ranging look at a year in music, complete with packaging ugly as a burnt-orange couch, and somehow the experience wouldn’t have been the same if the treasures hadn’t been mixed in with the trash.
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Jun 072012
 

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

The tribute band. That staple of wedding receptions and all major birthday celebrations for those over 40. It’s hard to shake those memories of inebriated uncles dancing with drunken abandon to Guns N’ Roses songs being sung by an overweight, middle-aged, behandkerchiefed man who has yet to give up on his dreams of rock stardom. Or perhaps your mom is inspired to show everyone that she’s “still got it” by getting low to the Would-Bee Gees. Or maybe aged Auntie Brenda is making use of that new hip replacement by shaking it to “Twist and Shout.” The list of humiliations goes on. In fact, it sometimes seems that the psychological trauma inflicted on us at such events is so great that you could never embrace watching a tribute band as an enjoyable experience. You could never call it “fun.”

Well, that word never is exactly where you are wrong. Continue reading »

May 182012
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Camera Obscura have carved out a reputation as standard bearers of Scottish independent music, continuing the good work of the mighty Belle & Sebastian by flying the flag for Glaswegian culture since the late ‘90s. Renowned for their trademark tuneful indiepop, mixing lo-fi vocals and a dash of melancholy with retro flavours of ‘60s Motown and the occasional splash of country, it’s unsurprising that they are a goldmine for unexpectedly brilliant covers. Continue reading »

Apr 042012
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

The highest peak and the lowest valley in Sinead O’Connor’s professional career are linked to cover songs. In 1990, she had a worldwide number one hit with her version of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” written by Prince. Two years later, she performed a version of Bob Marley’s “War” before she ripped up a picture of the Pope; her career was never the same. Two decades have passed since that seminal moment, and in that time, O’Connor has quietly become one of the foremost musical interpreters of our time. Continue reading »

Nov 032011
 

The great thing about ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” is the juxtaposition of the sad and desperate lyrics begging for a man with the upbeat and undeniably catchy pop that is ABBA. Boy Friend recently covered the hit, bringing a more brooding dream pop sound that is a great match for the lonely lyrics. Continue reading »