In late 1997, a Michigan trio of teenagers calling themselves 400 Pounds of Punk released their only album, a five-song cassette called He Once Ate A Small Child. Calling it obscure puts it mildly; until today, there was no mention of this release anywhere on the internet. “I doubt more than a half-dozen people even knew about it,” writes Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell (that’s him on the left in the photo) on Discogs. Blackwell has changed that, posting a track from it in honor of Cassette Week. That track, a raw and rocking cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another,” features a young Jack White on vocals.
Arctic Monkeys – Lipstick Vogue (Elvis Costello cover)
Arctic Monkeys got a lot of attention covering the Strokes last week (especially because on his new album, Alex Turner sings: “I just want to be one of the Strokes”). But I preferred their wonderfully sleazy “Lipstick Vogue” cover, played in honor of Costello as he recovered from cancer surgery. Turner’s a product of his influences; in addition to the Strokes and Elvis, he appears to have his Nick Cave snake slither down cold.
Long-running British synth-pop duo Erasure completed their “World” trilogy of albums with last month’s release of World Be Live. The 24-track live album was recorded earlier this year in London, where the band was touring in support of the outfit’s seventeenth studio album, 2017’s World Be Gone.
With a deep catalog of originals and hits stretching over three decades, singer Andy Bell and founder/keyboardist Vince Clarke have plenty of crowd-pleasing material from which to choose. So choosing the Blondie song “Atomic” as the sole cover performed on the current tour says a lot about Bell’s admitted affection for the iconic 80s new wave band.
Andrew Combs – Reptila (The Strokes cover)
The Strokes’ Is This It songs have been covered to death, so musicians are digging deeper. We heard a killer Angles cover in April from Billie Eilish (more on her in a minute), and now singer-songwriter Andrew Combs takes on this Room on Fire track. His own music leans Nashville Americana, but from the crazy horns here, sounds like he’s been spending time in New Orleans.
Welcome to the third installment in our Best Cover Songs of Yesteryear countdown, where we act like we were compiling our usual year-end list from a year before we – or the internet – existed. Compared to the first two, this one has significantly less grunge than 1996 and less post-punk than 1987. It’s hard to have post-punk, after all, before you have punk, a new genre starting to hit its peak in 1978. And don’t forget the other big late-’70s sound: disco. Both genres were relatively new, and super divisive among music fans. Lucky for us, both genres were also big on covers.
Disco, in particular, generated some hilariously ill-advised cover songs. We won’t list them all here – this is the Best 1978 covers, not the Most 1978 covers. If you want a taste (and think carefully about whether you really do), this bonkers take on a Yardbirds classic serves as a perfect example of what a good portion of the year’s cover songs looked and sounded like:
In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Beloved power-pop stalwarts The Posies turn 30 this year, and are celebrating with an ambitious round of reissues of their first three major-label albums: 1990’s Dear 23 (out this Friday), 1993’s Frosting on the Beater (out August 3), and 1996’s Amazing Disgrace (out October 28). All feature new remasters from the original tapes and unheard bonus tracks. While we wait, relive the original version of one of their biggest hits, “Dream All Day.”
The band is currently on a lengthy 30th anniversary tour (upcoming dates at the bottom, and also here), but founding members Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer took some downtime in the van to tell us about their favorite cover songs. As will not surprise anyone who’s heard their music, they really like Elvis Costello! Also not surprising: These two guys know their stuff, digging deep into the crates of soul, college-rock, and beyond.
And now, join Ken and Jon as they lead you on a guided tour through their cover-song collections…