Disclaimer: Our monthly “Best Cover Songs” aren’t ranked, and the “Honorable Mentions” aren’t necessarily worse than the others (they’re just the ones we had the least to say about).
Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches (Talking Heads cover)
Goddammit, Angelique. We spent weeks compiling our Best Talking Heads Covers post, and only days after we finish, you announce a full Remain in Light tribute album. Judging from this first single, it’s going to be pretty amazing too.Continue reading »
Buffalo Tom was an alternative rock bands always on the verge of mainstream success in the ‘90s, but who never even earned “oh-they-play-that-song” status. Though they’ve definitely got a strong cult following. The band appeared on the final episode of The Jon Stewart Show in 1995 and the comedian has cited them as one of his favorite artists. Their music even featured in a 1994 episode of the teen drama My So-Called Life during a Claire Danes/Jared Leto make-out montage (it’s about as disgusting as it sounds). These days the band has returned, having just released a new studio album, Quiet and Peace, which includes a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.”
The song originally appeared on the duo’s 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon wrote the tune about existential longing after Garfunkel jettisoned to Mexico to appear in the movie Catch-22, hence the opening lines: “Tom, get your plane right on time / I know your part’ll go fine / Fly down to Mexico.” While not quite as iconic as “Mrs. Robinson” or “The Sounds of Silence,” the track has seeped its way into pop culture over the decades.
Buffalo Tom shifts the song into the alternative-country universe, shaping it into an anthem to aimless wandering, especially when they hit the climactic chorus, “Half of the time we’re gone, but we don’t know where.” For the accompaniment, they blend acoustic and steel guitar and include a jammy electric guitar solo to amplify the finale. Though the track might not be as edgy as some of the group’s early work, it holds up well after a few listens. The band has clearly aged better than other relics from the ‘90s (especially YouTube clips of My So-Called Life).
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Heaven & Hell, Volume 1 was the first of three tributes to The Velvet Underground released by the Imaginary label. They regularly used tributes as a way to move product, averaging three a year and paying homage to cult artists like Syd Barrett, Captain Beefheart, and (unusually for 1992) Nick Drake. They were guaranteed sellers to tiny, rabid fanbases, and brought attention to the label’s own artists besides. But with H&HV1, they tapped into a richer vein than usual, and they landed one band that was ascloseasthis to superstardom.Continue reading »
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
In two years, the New Order classic Power, Corruption & Lies will be 30. New Wave synth often doesn’t stand the test of time, but many tracks on the album sound as great today as they did in 1983. The longevity of New Order’s sound is evidenced by the number of current bands who choose to cover their songs, particularly Power, Corruption & Lies‘ sprawling opener, “Age of Consent.”Continue reading »
For the last two years, Bill Janovitz, guitarist and vocalist from Buffalo Tom, has posted a cover a week (almost) on his blog “Part Time Man of Rock.” Last week he celebrated 100 covers with his version of Aztec Camera’s “The Bugle Sounds Again.” Where the original sounds like mid-‘80s British indie pop, Janovitz’s version could easily pass as an outtake from Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.Continue reading »