Jan 122016
 

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

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Sam Cooke  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“Summertime,” one of the most covered songs in music history (just ask The Summertime Connection), has always inspired masterful performances. The song weaves simple yet potent lyrics with a slow, steady harmonic progression, paving the way for poised renditions, yet its strengths allow the artists to freely improvise this musical masterpiece to make it distinctly their own. Covers range from chilling and ominous to sultry and even joyous, always maintaining the song’s soulful cool. Most importantly, “Summertime”‘s depth provides a canvas for inspired artists to create breathtakingly beautiful art.
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Jun 102015
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question, from Cover Me staffer Raphael Camara: What’s a song that’s been covered too many times?
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Apr 242013
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Today marks the debut of a new feature at Cover Me, called Cover Me Q&A. We’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

For our first Cover Me Q&A question, we thought we’d pick one both basic and complex, too easy and too hard, that anyone who regularly visits this site has more than likely contemplated: What’s your favorite cover song? Here are our answers; we welcome yours in the comments section below… Continue reading »

One Year!

 Posted by at 4:39 am  No Responses »
Oct 212008
 

It’s a big week here at Cover Me: our one-year birthday. Not only that, but today is yours truly’s birthday (though I’m older than one). So though it’s been a rough week for cover bloggers, with bowhowdy getting his files taken down and Fong getting a cease-and-desist letter, let’s celebrate these two birthdays with some tunes. I was going to do a theme on birthdays or celebrations, but thought, this is a special week that deserves special treatment. So for the first time ever, I’m saying to hell with a theme. I’m going to post what I want. Many of these are among my favorite covers ever; others are just some I’m into right now. Enjoy all of ‘em, and here’s to another good year of music!
-Ray

Billy Stewart – Summertime (Gershwin Brothers)
If you held a gun to my head (please don’t) and made me choose my favorite cover ever, I’d probably mutter something about this one. The song’s an old classic, a beautiful song, but one I often find rather dreary. As people drone on and on, you wonder if they enjoy the summertime so much, why do they sound so depressed? Not the case with Stewart, who bebops his way through shrieks, scat vocals, and false endings to blast the sound of summer right into your eardrums. And this version has Bob Dylan introing the song too – bonus! [Buy]

Jamelia – Numb (Linkin Park)
I originally discovered this tune on the sadly-defunct Copy, Right, the blog that pioneered the cover tune before any other. This song was huge for a while, and then quickly forgotten as a relic of our angsty middle school years. Jamelia breathes a second life in it, keeping the energy but bringing out a tune buried deep in the faux-anger of the original. [Buy]

We Are Scientists – Sie Hat Was Vermisst (Bela B.)
Love them though I do, in many way We Are Scientists is a predictable brand, jaunty rock with pop hooks in the vein of Franz Ferdinand. On their cover choices, however, they take elaborate risks, having improbably successes with everything from Boyz II Men to Sigur Rós. The most risky must be this, an obscure song by a solo album of the popular German punk group Die Ärzte. How these scientists even discovered this tune is a mystery itself, but you don’t need to understand the words to hear the dark tension. [Buy]

Jars of Clay – All My Tears (Julie Miller)
Now here’s something a little more uplifting, a gospel tune by these Christian rockers that, if you believe this stuff, might bring tears itself. [Buy]

R.E.M. – First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
My favorite Leonard Cohen song, I posted Kid Harpoon’s riotous cover in this blog’s infancy (this post, though the link’s dead), but this one is a slow-builder, taking six minutes to pound away at your resistance. It sounds so much like an R.E.M. song I’m wondering if Cohen plagiarized. [Buy]

Patti Smith – Gloria (Van Morrison)
Smith adds enough of her own words that it’s practically an original, but her version’s true heart still lies in its punk take on Van the Man. Hers is a sneer for the ages, a sound of its time and above it that sound fresh and vibrant today. [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell (Bob Dylan)
Live covers are a risky business. When an artist goes to the effort to record a cover on an album, it usually shows that they have something new to bring to it. In a live show, however, people can play whatever the hell they want. Of Montreal’s much-talked about take on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” must have been a blast for everyone there, but for those of us that missed it, it just sounds like another boring cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Exceptions like this make live covers worth seeking out yet. One of my favorite Dylan covers ever, this acoustic duet features fabulous fretwork that perfectly matches Murphy and his unnamed companion’s crescendoing voices. [Buy]

Sharif – Disturbia (Rihanna)
Sure, saying this is one of my favorite covers of all time may be a bit of a stretch, but like many I haven’t been able to get this tune out of my head for weeks. I posted a cover of it last week. Here’s another. [Buy]

Everything But The Girl – Downtown Train (Tom Waits)
Rod Stewart’s version makes you vomit. This one may make you weep. [Buy]

Bruce Springsteen – Detroit Medley (Mitch Ryder, et al.)
Let’s bring in the new year of blogging on a hard-rocking note. Springsteen is unmatched at 50’s covers, and this live favorite never fails to get me dancing. Good golly, miss Molly! [Buy]

Summer

 Posted by at 9:05 pm  No Responses »
Jul 112008
 

-This post’s a few days late cause I realized I accidentally posted it at my other blog Monday. Whoops!-

As the weather’s heating up, it seemed about time for a seasonal post.

Billy Stewart – Summertime (George Gershwin)
Stewart’s version of this classic – wikipedia says there are more than 2,600 known covers – is always in the running as one of my favorite covers ever. If you haven’t heard it yet, this version trumps other excellent renditions by everyone from Janis Joplin to Angelique Kidjo. And even if you had, check out this mp3 – it features introductory notes from Bob Dylan!

TEA – Summer in the City (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
A lost treasure from the psychedelic era, this ’75 single adds some funk guitar to horn swagger that keeps the original’s attitude but updates the sound (though by doing so, it ironically sounds even more dated).

Bruce Springsteen – Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran)
Bruce and the E Street Band just played this one for the first time in 27 years. It used to be a concert staple though, so here’s an older version, from Cleveland ’78.

Wakey! Wakey! – California Girls (The Beach Boys)
No band has encapsulated summer more than Brian Wilson and co. Wakey’s little toy piano version plunks along almost enough to compensate for the missing harmonies.

The Ramones – Surf City (Jan & Dean)
Off their covers album Acid Eaters, this shows the late-period Ramones having a bit of fun, punking out this Beach Boys-wannabe classic with tongues firmly in cheek.

Dartmouth Aires – The Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
A Capella. You either love it or hate.

Steve Wynn Quintet – Summer Wine (Nancy Sinatra / Lee Hazelwood)
I can’t claim to be familiar with the original, but this haunting cover combines some Johnny Cash outlaw bounce with Emmylou Harris sass.

PYT – Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams)
When I hear the original, I think about the 80’s more than the 60’s, and all the obnoxiousness of the overblown rawk sound. Stripping it back to some indie-electro is an interesting touch that, whether you think it works or not, makes you hear the song anew.

Little Richard – Dancing in the Street (Martha Reeve and the Vandellas)
It sounds like a regular studio jam session, with Richard shouting out instructions to the musicians and screeching over his backing singers. Almost as fun as that Jagger/Bowie 80’s-tastic video.

Ray Pasnen – Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)
I hate this song with a burning passion, and finding a cover without some ear-bleeding-inducing steel drums was damn near impossible. This one is interesting though, an acoustic guitar version where he sings it to the tune of Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”