Jan 082016

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


AC/DC was writing their first album after Bon Scott’s passing, and they wanted to remember him – not by mourning his death, but by celebrating his life. It was a tricky line to walk, but they made it look easy with “Back in Black,” the title cut from their landmark album. They may have dressed in dark clothes, but they wouldn’t bow their heads – not when there were mammoth riffs to rip through, or piledriving lyrics for new vocalist Brian Johnson to stomp about howling. The band paid their respects and got back to business in one fell swoop, creating a hard-rock anthem (or two) in the process.

The story goes that a journalist once griped about how AC/DC had made ten albums and they all sounded the same, and that Angus Young responded, “He’s a liar. We’ve made eleven albums and they all sound the same.” Here are five covers of “Back in Black”; rest assured that none of them sound the same.

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Nov 072011

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

AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a three-and-a-half minute clarion call about the joy of sex. No “take my heart” sentiments, no “our love’s gonna last” – just one loud, raunchy, glorious celebration of a one-night stand, bypassing the brain and going directly to the gut (and points lower). There’s something primal about it – the simple beat, the easy to remember words, the sheer volume of the performances – that gives the listener a feeling both of power and control over that power. Little wonder that the song is de rigueur for pole dancers: it empowers both the men and the women; its instant familiarity makes hearing the opening notes like welcoming back an old friend; and by God, it’s fun. Continue reading »

Sep 152011

Clearance Alert is a joint series with Limelight, “the simplest way to clear any cover song.” It spotlights new cover songs licensed through the company. Find out more at Limelight.

The inaugural post in our new series with our Limelight partners digs up a gem from a few months back. It’s Hawaii singer/songwriter Will Shine, who threw a left-field cover on his new album Here, There, and Everywhere in Between. Amidst the folk-rock wistfulness, one boisterous acoustafunk jam seems oddly familiar. After a minute or so, you realize, yes, it is indeed a horn-fueled AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” swaggering with a whole new attitude very different from the original’s. We’re talking horn solos, a backup chorus, and jammy acoustic rhythms. Continue reading »

Jun 032011

AC/DC as a smooth, sultry, Erykah Badu-inspired soul song? Believe it. Bon Scott already sings the lyrics at double-time, really rapping more than singing, so a transformation to R&B isn’t that outrageous. And Phil Rudd’s monstrous drumming could easily translate into the kick drum-clap of a soul stomp. Continue reading »

Feb 112011

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

Hailing from Chicago, IL, the Smashing Pumpkins helped blaze a trail for the wave of apathy that infected most ’90s alternative rock. They also gave hip kids from the Midwest the first nationally-recognizable band they could take pride in since Cheap Trick. Formed in 1988, the Pumpkins enjoyed over a decade of fame and influence until noted in-fighting brought about their dissolution at the turn of the millennium. After numerous side-projects and member-shuffling, the Pumpkins have once again taken to the stage under the leadership of Billy Corgan, perhaps one of rock music’s true auteurs.

The Pumpkins have celebrated their diverse influences via cover songs throughout their career. A quick scan of their recorded catalog reveals studio takes of tracks originally by acts like the Cars, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, the Cure and Missing Persons. Their live shows are similarly peppered with covers that one might not expect to hear from these iconic slackers. Some of these do seem like a natural fit though: it’s not too hard to draw a line to the Pumpkins from Neil Young, Depeche Mode or Pink Floyd, for instance. Continue reading »

Sep 162010

An album subtitled Santana Performs the Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time has the potential to be a truly limp affair, a guitarist’s version of Rod Stewart Sings the Great American Songbook. The album pairs him with the likes of Chris Cornell, Chris Daughtry, and “Smooth” buddy Rob Thomas, which seems even shakier. Can Santana Plays Nickelback be far behind?

Maybe it can. Our first taste of the album indicates there’s hope yet. On his version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Carlos Santana rocks harder than a 63-year old has any right to. This ain’t classic rock lite. It’s hard, it’s edgy, and it’s got Nas spitting some solid rhymes. Oh, and I guess there’s a guitar solo or two. Continue reading »