Sep 032010
 

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

You think Vermont music, you might think flanneled hippies strumming mandolins. Not Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They may come from the great wooded north, but their big soul sound comes straight from Dixie with a side of south-side Chicago. Potter is a vocal tour de force, a skinny white girl with an enormous voice. She can do a two-hour show without fading a bit and her hot four-piece band keeps right in step. Searing guitar solos abound, but nothing can upstage that voice.

Through years of near-constant touring, the band has amassed quite a stack of covers. In our latest Live Collection, we collect every concert cover we could find (thanks archive.org!). That includes blasts through Blondie, My Morning Jacket, and a whole lot of Neil Young – including a 14-minute “Cortez the Killer” that should be required listening for any rock band. Josh Ritter joins the band on John Prine’s “Pretty Good,” but otherwise they don’t need any help in blowing the roof off any building they play.

As a special bonus, below the main set we have the thematic new covers from their 2009 New Year’s Eve show. The band had clearly been spinning the Top Gun soundtrack a lot; they cover seven songs from the darn thing! And not just the original soundtrack either. The band apparently took to the 1999 Special Edition CD, cause they run through three of the four old-school bonus tracks as well. In between ’80s classics like “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone,” the band throws out Top Gun lines as a wink to clued-in audience members. “This is Ghost Rider requesting permission for a flyby!” Permission granted. Continue reading »

Aug 252010
 

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

In 2007 Prince William and Prince Harry held a concert commemorating the tenth anniversary of their mother (Prince Diana)’s death. What could have been an endless stream of moribund sap became something else entirely. Something far stranger.

The boys booked a who’s-who of popular stars to play, but apparently forgot to inform the stars of the cause. As a result the performances seemed completely irrelevant to the occasion. How Rod Stewart singing “Maggie May” or Pharrell rapping “Drop It Like It’s Hot” commemorates the Princess remains unclear. Perhaps the high point of inappropriateness came in the form of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” Diana wasn’t born a princess after all…

Next to that, why shouldn’t Tom Jones and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry cover current “it band” Arctic Monkeys? And why shouldn’t it steal the show when said show that was so ill-conceived to begin with? Tom rips open “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” like it’s 1965 all over again, hollering along with backup singers, a horn section, and Perry’s killer guitar solo. Jones never recorded his version, but that’s okay. No way it would have matched up to this. Continue reading »

Mar 292010
 

In the past few years much ink has been spilt discussing “mashups,” the process of remixing two or more songs together. The weirder the combination, the more impressive the feat. DJs like Girl Talk lead the charge, but due to differing keys and tempos the pairings sometimes sound forced. Mashup covers, on the other hand, have more freedom. Here are ten odd couples and unchained medleys that, defying all probably, kind of work.


Touching Earth Made of Steel – Party in the Spirit World (Miley Cyrus / Daniel Johnston)
Yes, that’s “Party in the U.S.A.” paired with “Spirit World,” from the latest CokeMachineGlow covers mix. Dear Mr. Johnston: I’m sure they didn’t mean it. [Buy]

Keller Williams – My Sisters and Brothers / Boob Job (Charles Johnson / David Wilcox)
There’s something wonderfully irreverent about pairing a hopeful gospel song with a song called “Boob Job.” Jerry Garcia covered the first a few times, but died before he could have a go at the second. [Buy]

Saint Bernadette – Owner Things (Yes / Howard Jones)
“Owner of a Lonely Heart” + “Things Can Only Get Better” = an inspired duo. Though I’m not sure Jones deserves the honor — a few years ago he translated his hit to “Simlish” for The Sims 2. Embarrassing. [Buy]

Kenny Mellman – The Gambler / Poker Face (Kenny Rogers / Lady Gaga)
The man behind the Our Hit Parade pop cover series decided that lyrical theme is enough to tie two songs together. How right he was. [Buy]

Jacqui Naylor – Summertime / Whipping Post (George Gershwin / The Allman Brothers)
Jazz vocalist Naylor is known for her “acoustic smashes,” putting the lyrics to one song atop the melody of a second. Here she sings “Summertime” while the band plays “Whipping Post.” Sneak peek: Look for another even less likely pairing next week. [Buy]

The Afghan Whigs – My World Is Empty Without You / Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang (The Supremes / Dr. Dre)
In this live jam from 1994, the quartet tosses in the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s first single so soulfully you might not notice anything amiss. Check out more at our recent Dre feature. [Buy]

The Spinto Band – Give Me Just a Little More Time / The Sweet Escape / The Boys Are Back in Town (Chairmen of the Board / Gwen Stefani / Thin Lizzy)
This song eschews the normal approach of moving from one song to the next, instead splicing some Gwen and Lizzy into the Detroit soul. It took me a couple listens to figure out where “The Sweet Escape” appeared. [Buy]

Paddy Casey with the Dublin Gospel Choir – Grandma’s Hands / No Diggity (Bill Withers / Blackstreet)
What seems a truly bizarre combination is actually an homage to the original “No Diggity,” which contained a “Grandma’s Hands” sample. This cover pushes that fun bit of trivia to the extreme. If someone covered Girl Talk this way each song would become a thirty-minute ordeal. [Buy]

Tenacious D – More Than a Feeling / Just What I Needed / Dream On (Boston / The Cars / Aerosmith)
The best part of this Boston-band medley that the D performed in 2001 is that three times they build to an epic chorus, then switch songs just before it arrives. Hilariously unsatisfying. [Buy]

Allred – Cover Medley (Various Artists)
Ok, here we go: Tonic, “If You Could Only See” — Howie Day, “Secret” — Guster, “Demons” — Better Than Ezra, “Desperately Wanting” — Michelle Branch, “All You Wanted” — Avril Lavigne, “Complicated” — Eagle Eye Cherry, “Save Tonight” — Boys Like Girls, “Hero/Heroine” — Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” — Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — Rihanna, “Umbrella” — The Eagles, “Hotel California” — Panic! At the Disco, “Nine in the Afternoon” — Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” — Chris Brown, “With You” — OneRepublic, “Apologize” — Uncle Kracker, “Drift Away.” 17 songs, 7 minutes. Whew! [Buy]

Bonus: The Bloodhound Gang’s mashup of Wu Tang Clan and Weezer just feels right.

Hair Metal

 Posted by at 2:00 pm  4 Responses »
Mar 152010
 

When The Darkness hit the scene in the 2003, critics began braying about the “hair metal revival.” Well, as it turned out that “revival” was pretty much confined to one band and, really, to one song. Once college kids got sick of shredding their vocal chords trying to hit the “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” high notes, hair metal slunk back to 1984. This is probably a good thing, though it did produce some memorable songs the first time around.


Bran Van 3000 – Cum on Feel the Noize (Slade / Quiet Riot)
[Buy]
Slade had a hit in the U.K. with this rock and roll tribute to poor spelling, but it took Quiet Riot’s glammed-up cover to bring it stateside. Sadly, the subdued dance version by Montreal electronica collective Bran Van 3000 (best known for “Drinking in L.A.) didn’t have the same impact.

My Morning Jacket – Home Sweet Home (Mötley Crüe) [Buy]
After three hours of heavy rain, it was 3 a.m. and all but the most devoted fans had left My Morning Jacket’s epic Bonnaroo 2008 set. Those who remained were treated to this one-time-only Crüe cöver, with a special appearance by Zach Galfianakis (dressed as Little Orphan Annie).

The Swirling Eddies – Sing Along Song (Stryper) [Buy]
When Christian music apes a popular trend, it tends to be accused (fairly) of presenting a watered-down version of the real thing. Not Stryper. If anything, they made hair metal more outrageous with yellow and black spandex, extra makeup, and songs about Jesus. [more Christian rock covers]

The Diamond Family Archive – Here I Go Again (Whitesnake) [Buy]
DFA’s Laurence Collyer says a friend described this song as the soundtrack of his life. A lingerie-clad model splayed across a Jaguar? I wish this was what my life sounded like! [more Diamond Family Archive covers]

The Breeders – Lord of the Thighs (Aerosmith) [Buy]
In their “60 Cover Versions That Rattle the State of Song” article, The Wire wrote, “As sung by Josephine Wiggs, The Breeders’ version of Aerosmith’s ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ did as much to upend 1970s and 80s cock rock as anything in the grunge era.” A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but still, good song.

Reel Big Fish – Nothin’ But a Good Time (Poison) [Buy]
Reel Big Fish’s 2009 covers album Fame, Fortune and Fornication took on not one, but two Poison songs (the other was “Talk Dirty to Me”). The horn part reminds me of “Disco Inferno.” [more Poison covers]

Emm Gryner – Pour Some Sugar on Me (Def Leppard) [Buy]
Girl Versions finds Gryner putting here piano chick-pop spin on songs by male songwriters from Ozzy to Fugazi. Somehow even the most unlikely choices sound like lite radio staples. [more Def Leppard covers]

Pernilla Andersson – Don’t Let Me Down (Twisted Sister) [Buy]
White taking hair metal to its natural transgendered extreme, Twisted Sister created two of the most enduring headbangers in “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” (each featuring a fantastic Animal House-spoofing music video). Sweden’s Pernilla Andersson makes the quiet case for one of their lesser-known tunes.

Toy Dolls – The Final Countdown (Europe) [Buy]
Someday someone will find a way to cover this song that isn’t fantastic. From Laibach’s heavy industrial to these guys’ kazoos though, I haven’t heard it yet.

The Lost Fingers – You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi) [Buy]
In 2008 the Lost Fingers gave the world Lost in the 80s, a fantastic cover album that brought everyone from AC/DC to Technotronic to a funky bluegrass hoedown. The fact that the lead singer sounds like he’s losing his voice here only adds authenticity.