May 212014
 

If you are a casual classic rock fan, there are two little-known facts about Southern rock pioneers Creedence Clearwater Revival worth mentioning. First, the band was only together as CCR for five years; for as many instantly recognizable classics as they produced, that’s an incredibly short time span. Second, the band doesn’t hail from the swamps of Louisiana, or anywhere else south of the Mason-Dixon for that matter. They grew up outside of San Francisco. Continue reading »

Jan 282014
 

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!

In their, yes, 40 years as a band, Los Lobos have demonstrated that not only can they play pretty much any style of music, they can play it very well. They have excelled with albums that have included blues, rock, R&B, experimental sounds, numerous styles of Mexican folk music, American folk music, Americana, and Tex-Mex, all performed and played brilliantly. They play acoustically and electrically. Their songs can be simple rockers, sinuous jams, complex sound collages, or heartbreaking stories of life on the margins. They tour regularly, with different sets each night. The core members of the band – David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Pérez and Conrad Lozano – have been together from the start. Sax player Steve Berlin joined in the early 1980s, and they have had a few different drummers (though not quite to Spinal Tap levels of turnover), with the excellent Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez currently occupying the stool. Considering their longevity, the breadth of their output, and the quality of their songwriting and musicianship, they should be in contention for the mythical title of Greatest American Band, and it’s sinful that they’re not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Jan 102014
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Rasputina are number one in a field of one (unless you know of other steampunk cellist trios), but the territory they carved out for themselves has proven to be a touchstone for any artists who want to marry goth to chamber-pop. Melora Creager is the band’s sole constant, and she and her compatriots have been donning Victorian duds and partying like it’s 1799 for over two decades now.
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Apr 012013
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

D. Boon was the energetic front man and guitarist for the highly influential Southern California punk band The Minutemen. If you watch videos of any of the Minutemen’s live shows, you’ll immediately notice the amount of energy that D. Boon exhibits as he bounces around the stage while belting out his politically infused lyrics. His funk- and blues-inspired guitar playing really opened up boundaries in an era of punk rock that was focused on two- and three-chord progressions. Unfortunately, he passed away at the too-young age of 27 in a tragic automobile accident, and the Minutemen called it quits immediately afterward. Continue reading »

Sep 212012
 

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

In 1970, with the Beatles broken up, Creedence Clearwater Revival was poised to take their place on the top of the musical world. But within the band, tension was coming to a head; John Fogerty had too tight a hold on the reins, as far as the others were concerned, and John’s brother Tom decided to leave the band and pursue a solo career. John’s response was to write “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” a song that obliquely addressed Tom’s departure (“the rain coming down”) at the group’s commercial apex (“on a sunny day”). Of course, you didn’t have to know the back story to love the song, and CCR found themselves with another top ten hit and FM radio staple. Continue reading »

May 112012
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Come September, John Fogerty will be touring in Canada and performing Creedence Clearwater Revival albums in their entirety. It’s a long way from the days when he vowed he’d never play CCR songs again, but in the end his songs proved just as irresistible to him as they are to his listeners. The album that’s arguably gotten the least resistance, and one that Fogerty and his little traveling band will be presenting on alternate nights this fall, is 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory. Continue reading »