Aug 142020
 

The late great guitarist Roy Buchanan, who died on this day in 1988, liked to say he was the son of a preacher man. And that as a boy he attended church revivals with Black congregations, where he first heard blues music. He was the first white guy to absorb the blues, he liked to say, and to build a career around the form.

These claims may not be the gospel truth–Buchanan also insisted he was “half-wolf.” His own brother denies that their father did any preaching at all. The truth is that Roy Buchanan was a dark and complicated man and artist.

What is also unmistakably true is that few have mastered their instrument to the depth Roy did. Buchanan’s close listeners praise his array of astonishing techniques, and how he used them to express uniquely emotive statements. As with a good Hendrix solo, you catch your breath at the sheer intensity of sound and soulfulness that Buchanan summons up when he’s running hot. His Fender Telecaster screams and cries, whistles and whines in ways are piercing in one second and tender in the next—Roy could recreate the human voice in uncanny ways. But then he’d spin into machine-like rapid-fire notes that make your teeth hurt. He didn’t need effect pedals to achieve this sonic richness—he was a purist in his way, defiantly old-school in a period that expected progressive experimentation.
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Jul 252019
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

McLemore Avenue

From their earliest records, The Beatles acknowledged their debt to the African-American artists who informed their sound. Much of their first two records were a tour through soul, R&B, and female vocal groups. By the end of the 1960s, as The Beatles were breaking up, African-American musicians were paying back the tribute by performing covers of the Fab Four.

One such notable cover was the entire album reinterpretation of Abbey Road by Booker T. & the MGs titled McLemore Avenue. The entire artistry of this album is an homage to Abbey Road. Released in April 1970 when The Beatles officially broke up, McLemore Avenue is like a musical funeral for the band and for the decade that they, in part, helped to define.
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Feb 052016
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

al-kooper

Dylan: “Turn the organ up.”

Wilson: “Hey, man, that cat’s not an organ player.”

Dylan: “Hey, now don’t tell me who’s an organ player and who’s not. Just turn the organ up.”

When Bob Dylan ordered producer Tom Wilson to bring up the organ in “Like a Rolling Stone,” it cemented the talents of a 21-year-old named Al Kooper into legend. (Kooper tells the whole story in his fantastic autobiography Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards.) Once serendipity has allowed you to put a trademark stamp on arguably the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time, there’s nowhere to go but down, right?

Wrong – in fact, Kooper was just getting started.
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Dec 042013
 

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: What’s your favorite holiday cover song?
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Apr 052011
 

This March, we pit 64 Beatles covers against each other in what we call Moptop Madness.

Yesterday’s winner: Booker T. and the M.G.s, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”

Well, here we are. On March 1st we presented you with 64 Beatles covers and asked you to vote for the best. In daily matches, 62 have been eliminated in battles that were often quite fierce. After the dust settled, only two songs remain: Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” and Booker T. and the M.G.s’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Now it’s time for you to determine the final winner.

We considered making the championship match longer, but that’s not how it works in sports and that’s not how it will work here. We know from the comments that folks have passionate opinions about these two songs, so you have exactly 24 hours to rally your troops. Tomorrow we’ll announce the Best Beatles Cover Ever, as chosen by Cover Me readers.

Listen to both songs below, then vote for your favorite. For added sway, try to convince others to vote your way in the comments. Voting closes in 24 hours. Continue reading »

Apr 042011
 

This March, we pit 64 Beatles covers against each other in what we call Moptop Madness.

Yesterday’s winner: Joe Cocker, “With a Little Help from My Friends”

Sixty-one matches down, two to go. Yesterday Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” became the first cover to reach the championship. Today we determine its competitor. Both today’s contestants had hard-fought battles to get here. Two days ago, Elliott Smith pulled ahead of José Feliciano at the last second and Booker T’s victory over Neil Young just prior was anything but overwhelming. This battle could prove the toughest yet though. Both these Abbey Road covers take worthy approaches, but in polar opposite directions. Smith leaves instrumentation behind for much of his a cappella “Because” while Booker T. and the M.G.s eschew vocals altogether on the instrumental “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” This one could be close, so start campaigning early. The winner of this match moves on to the Finals tomorrow.

Listen to both songs below, then vote for your favorite. For added sway, try to convince others to vote your way in the comments. Voting closes in 24 hours. Continue reading »