As a casual yet growing fan of Sky Ferreira, I was super interested to hear her take on one of my favorite bands of the 80s: ‘Til Tuesday. Ferreira performed “Voice Carry” live a few times earlier this year, and recently gave her fans a treat by posting the cover on SoundCloud. Which she almost couldn’t do, as her label reportedly blocked access to her SoundCloud account for a while. Nothing is ever easy (btw, she has an excellent cover of “Easy”). Hmmm, record labels giving an artist problems? Paging Aimee Mann.
Whatever your feelings about the music of the Cars, they were impossible to ignore. In the late-‘70s sea of muted earth-tones, the band’s retro-techno-geek look was a revelation. And in an era when the charts were dominated by soft rock, disco and 1950s nostalgia – the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, the Grease soundtrack – the Cars’ spiky, New Wave-inflected guitar pop signaled a coming sea change in popular music.
Of course popular taste didn’t change overnight and, in retrospect, it may not even have changed a great deal. If the wildfires of punk and art-rock had blazed through the underground music scene and left behind a very altered landscape, in the larger arena of the Billboard Top 100 it was a different story. In America at least, punk wasn’t quite ready for primetime (nor, it should be noted, were the Cars in any sense a punk band).
Today we continue the tradition we started way back one month ago. Since we’re still new at this, I’ll reiterate that our picks are unranked and semi-impulsive. Even the un-blurbed “Honorable Mentions” at the bottom aren’t necessarily worse than the rest; in many cases, we’ve just already written about them at length and have little else to say.
Okay, disclaimers behind us, let’s dive in.
The music gods are off to a good start for 2018. Aimee Mann wins a Grammy. The Cars get voted into the Rock Hall of Fame. And, combining the two, Mann has covered one of the Cars’ biggest hits: “Drive.”
The Cars recorded “Drive” for 1984’s Heartbeat City, the Mutt Lange-produced album that marked the height of the band’s commercial success. “Drive” is a beautiful soft-rock ballad that was accompanied by a heavy rotation MTV video. Remember Paulina Porizkova crying while marking on the wall?
Mann recorded her cover for the television series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (she also appears in an episode performing “Drive” in a bar). Mann has covered other songs before for tributes or a movie, and most of those efforts only get traction with her loyal fan base. Her take on Three Dog Night’s “One” (a cover of a cover) has broken out wider; she still performs it often on tour.
Over the weekend, Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show aired a massive set of 25 new David Bowie covers by big names across classic rock (Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren, Daryl Hall), 1990s alternative (Garbage, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor), and current indie favorites (Dawes, Car Seat Headrest, Sun Kil Moon). Gems abounded, but we’ve picked out the best eight covers of the bunch.
They are, not coincidentally, the songs that changed the most from the originals. David Bowie was constantly reinventing his sound, so it seems wrong to cover his songs too faithfully.
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Badfinger combined magic and tragic like no other band in rock history. They were one of the few bands signed to the Beatles’ Apple label who made an impact of their own, but the Fab Four’s blessing carried its own curse of people not taking them as more than clone wannabes. They scored multiple top 20 hits, but saw very little of the revenue they generated, due in no small part to their corrupt manager. Finally, two members of the band, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, were driven to suicide. Today, the sorrow of Badfinger’s fate remains – but so does the music. Some of the strongest power-pop songs came from the band, including “No Matter What” and “Day After Day,” and their song “Without You” became a worldwide smash when covered by Harry Nilsson and (more than twenty years later) Mariah Carey.