Aug 242010
 

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

Now, there’s nothing inherently difficult about getting through 32 songs in eight minutes. Try this: “Hey Jude, please please please roll over the rainbow and turn on the 4th red brick in the wall. Rattle and roll a muzzle of cheeseburger puppets to Alice’s house of the rising sonic exploder and sedate my shame and fortune to the blue suede siren. Small and humble homies gonna cut your hair down to the crossroads, but only the funk soul dandy compares 2 losing my rock lobster. No ‘G’ thang, no cry.”

There’s, that’s 32 songs and it took about twenty seconds [side challenge: how many can you identify?]. Getting through 32 songs and making it sound good though…well, that’s something else entirely. Fredrik Larsson aka. Freddegredde pulls it off in a speedy YouTube medley, nodding at viral videos alongside the rock and pop. View the video below, then peruse the full list of songs below the clip. Continue reading »

Nov 182008
 

For many bands, rocking you hard isn’t enough. They feel the need to tell you how hard they’re rocking you. So as a tribute to the many groups too insecure to let the music speak for itself…let there be rock.

Ludwig Van 88 – We Will Rock You (Queen)
I don’t know when Ludwig plans on rocking me, but until then I’ll settle for being pleasantly reggaeed. [Buy]

Patti Smith – So You Want to Be (A Rock’n’Roll Star) (The Byrds)
Having established herself as cover artist extraordinaire with “Gloria,” Patti’s fourth album threw in this Byrds tune. It hews a little closer to the original, but Smith’s punk spitting strips aways the polish of the original to show what being a rock star is really about. [Buy]

Roxanne Morgens – Rock’n’Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution (AC/DC)
Half of the AC/DC catalogue could be used here; those boys love to talk about how hard they rock (more evidence here). Morgens rocks a lot more quietly though, proving that sensitive folk music isn’t noise pollution either. [Buy]

We Are Scientists – Bang Bang Rock and Roll (Art Brut)
For a co-headlining tour with Art Brut a few years ago, the pair put out a tour-only EP that featured them covering each others songs. Art Brut tackled “The Great Escape,” but did a far worse job. [Buy]

Bruce Springsteen – Rockin’ All Over the World (John Fogerty)
Though Bruce deals with more original subjects for his own material, his live covers tend to have a theme. Seven Nights to Rock, Good Rockin’ Tonight, I Don’t Want to Hang Up My Rock’n’Roll Shoes, etc. His focus on rocking is justified by the exuberance of the performances. [Buy]

Twisted Sister – It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) (The Rolling Stones)
Oh Twisted Sister, you can’t possibly take yourselves seriously. They stretch it out for over ten minutes in this live raver that features plenty of aggressive crowd participation. [Buy]

Hayseed Dixie – I Love Rock’n’Roll (The Arrows)
This bluegrass cover band got their start doing AC/DC tunes (hence the name), but have since taken on from The Cars to Spinal Tap. Here they do Joan Jett – wait, I mean The Arrows. That’s right, Joan’s huge hit was in fact a cover, and not a very creative one. I’m sure the royalties have been keeping those Arrows boys in gold-plated diapers for years now. [Buy]

Rasputina – Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)
Cello goth lends itself to covers far better than one would imagine. Sounds like it’s been a very long time since she’s rocked and rolled – centuries, perhaps. [Buy]

Laptop – It’s Still Rock’n’Roll to Me (Billy Joel)
Billy Joel is criminally under-covered, but this group does it right, turning one of his biggest hits into a weird electronic dirge. [Buy]

The Alarm – Rocking in the Free World (Neil Young)
This cover doesn’t veer very far from the original, but when the original’s so good, does it need to? For a more adventurous take though, check out this post. [Buy]

Jul 152008
 

There’s just something about the 80’s that inspires great cover songs. So great, in fact, that this series is gonna be a two-parter. First up: Rock. All the excesses of the 80’s – big hair, ten-minute guitar solos, and Jon Bon Jovi – are all well represented below by artists who aren’t afraid to find the good songs amidst the novelty. And stay tuned for some 80’s pop next week.

Jessica Will – For Those About to Rock (AC/DC)
When AC/DC titled this song, they clearly weren’t singing to Will. Her light acoustic take packs a punch, attitude and intensity making up for lack of distortion. And if you want more acoustic female covers of AC/DC, there’s a whole disc of ‘em: Backed in Black.

M. Ward – Let’s Dance (David Bowie)
Indie posterboy, most recently of She & Him fame, does a quiet take kind of like how you would expect and indi posterboy covering Bowie to sound

Jon Regen – Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)
Another ironic Journey cover…yech. This one’s a keeper though, not too mellow and keeping the strong melody of the original. Bonus points for rocking out the guitar fills on the keys!

Anberlin – Love Song (The Cure)
So far in today’s 80’s rock theme, we’ve yet to have any real rocking covers. This should change that though, an aggressive rock band from Florida that does a loud and intense take, with a singing voice that melts in your mouth.

Grizzly Bear – Owner of a Lonely Heart (Yes)
The Bear made the blog rounds a year or so ago with their “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)” cover (download it here), and this takes a similar approach, a slow builder that never explodes.

The Whip – White Wedding (Billy Idol)
When the banjo leads this one in, you know you’re in for something special. And are you ever. This one’s off a charity comp of Portland covers called Bridging the Distance. Yes, the Decemberists are on it.

Scott D. Davis – The Final Countdown (Europe)
I posted Laibach’s cover of this one a few weeks back, but this piano take is fun and bouncy – way more than Laibach’s death-goth. Davis has a whole album of these instrumental takes on classic rock, Rockfluence, and it’s fabulous.

Mary Lou Lord – Jump (Van Halen)
Cover girl extraordinaire, Lord does a song so sincere here you wonder whether she realizes exactly what band she’s covering. It’s beautiful though, and as she draws you in you forget the original even exists.

Damien Rice – When Doves Cry (Prince)
One of those songs that seems to inspire great covers, I can’t decide if I like this or Patti Smith’s version more. It’s solo acoustic here, with Rice sounding so delicate that if you do touch his stomach, he might break.

Philmore – Livin’ On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
It seems appropriate to end on some more rock, so here you go. Even louder and more aggressive than the original, but just as sing-along-able.

Streets

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Mar 112008
 

It’s been a little while since we had a strictly thematic post, so here we are with streets, both specific and general.

I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business – Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)
The organ-fueled rant of the vitriolic original has been taken down to a light folk-rock take that, though the sound seems superficial, keeps the fury intact in a more passive-aggressive mode. Probably a bad choice to start this set with though, as other than the title the song actually has nothing to do with streets. Oh well.

Abbie Gardner – Hit the Road Jack (Ray Charles)
Gardner takes a Joan Osborne-esq approach, stripping the soul classic down to some slapped guitar and understated vocals.

Patty – Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
Off of the pretty good Backed In Black tribute album, it sounds about what you would expect the track to sound like on an acoustic guitar. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Marah – Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce has got a lot of street songs: Thunder Road, The E Street Shuffle, Tenth-Avenue Freeze-Out, Streets of Fire, Incident on 57th Street, etc. Only one of them has won him an Oscar however. So, though it’s far from one of my favorite Springsteen songs, it’s hard to knock it. Fellow Jersey boy Marah gives it a little more life in an uptemp country take that replaces the synths with banjos.

Al Jarreau – (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (Bobby Troup)
A bop-jazz instrument-less version of this rock standard stands out from the competition, most of which all sound identical (though Depeche Mode does a decent take too). The sounds of a Beat coffee shop.

Anti-Nowhere League – Streets of London (Ralph McTell)
Though not in the same league fame-wise as the Sex Pistols or The Clash, they certainly have the sound down on this punked updated of the folk standard, off-key nasal drawl and all. Fast and straight-ahead, with no fucking around.

Brandi Carlisle and A Fine Frenzy – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Two great indie-fabulous female vocalists combine for this live duet

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)
These guys only do one thing, but they do it well. So here’s one of dozens of their non-rock songs turned into pop-punk. Sounds exactly like you’d expect.

John Hammond – Fannin Street (Tom Waits)
It’s a cover, but Hammond (the producer’s son) released it years before Tom released his own. Named after a Leadbelly song, John’s version is much smoother, slow country-blues in this live take from an ’01 show.

Tenacious D – Abbey Road Medley (The Beatles)
Jack Black and Kyle Gass, known mostly for songs about slow sex and farting, occasionally do a cover…and are surprisingly adept at it. Here’s Side B of Abbey Road, minus the Ringo drum solo. That famous side can’t be discussed, however, without a link to Chris Bliss juggling to it.