Apr 062018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

blondie hanging on the telephone

If you’re a fan of power pop – roughly speaking, the place where early rock n’ roll, ‘60s bubblegum, and the British Invasion converge – then Blondie probably ranks high on your list of faves. Refracting modern rock through multiple lenses – ’50s pop, ’60s girl groups and ’70s punk, to name a few – the band sucked you in with clever, poppy melodies while maintaining a distance sharpened by dark, ironic humor.

If it doesn’t quite represent their commercial peak, the band’s 1978 album Parallel Lines is without much doubt their finest work, crashing out of the gate with “Hanging on the Telephone,” a near-perfect snapshot of illicit romance and sexual frustration, come and gone in 2 minutes 17 seconds. Continue reading »

Jul 312017
 
dont stop believing covers

When people argue over the Worst Song of All Time, inevitably someone will mention Journey’s (in)famous “Don’t Stop Believin’.” If Starship had never built that city on rock and roll, it would probably take the crown.

Frankly, I like other Journey songs, but “Don’t Stop Believin'” deserves most of the hate it gets. Its ubiquity on class rock radio, bad karaoke stages, and every college a cappella group that ever donned bow ties has made in insufferable (thank the Glee cover inexplicably going to #4 on the charts for the last one). Even The Sopranos couldn’t give it a coolness bump. It is not only Journey’s biggest song by a mile, it’s one of the most well-known songs of the 1980s, period.

The funny thing is that when it came out, not only was it not Journey’s biggest hit, it wasn’t even the biggest hit on that same album. “Open Arms” off Escape went to #2. “Who’s Crying Now” went to #4. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” meanwhile, barely scraped its way into the top ten.

Escape turns 36 this week, which might occasion a Full Album if anyone ever covered any of the other songs off it. But they don’t. They only cover “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Continue reading »

Apr 292014
 

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

“Come Back Jonee” may not be the most memorable song from Devo’s 1978 debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, but even on an album with no weak cuts, it’s a standout track, headlong and hummable, and deservedly got released as a single. Sort of a new generation’s “Johnny B. Goode” crossed with JFK, it tells the tragic tale of a musician who died too young, but if Johnny’s life passed him by like a warm summer’s day in Bad Company’s “Shooting Star,” Jonee’s life passed him by like an out-of-control roller coaster.
Continue reading »

Mar 302012
 

There was a time when Los Angeles could boast housing some great punk bands. During the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, people were inspired by punk rock acts in England, and as that phenomena spread, bands like X, The Weirdos, and The Flesh Eaters emerged on the Southern California scene. It would have been a vibrant time to play in a band, and perhaps the ideal time to take large risks in sound, like combining punk rock with blues and country, which is what Jeffrey Lee Pierce did with The Gun Club. An upcoming tribute album called The Journey is Long will be released in honor of the late frontman, and features the Nick Cave and Debbie Harry cover of “The Breaking Hands.” Continue reading »

Apr 182011
 

This weekend’s Record Store Day brought a deluge of new covers, with some of the most hotly anticipated arriving on Franz Ferdinand’s 5-track Covers EP. The Scots teamed up with LCD Soundsystem to cover “All My Friends” for RSD 2009, and this year James Murphy returned the favor with his take on Franz’s “Live Alone.” Murphy’s previously-released cover is included on the EP along with offerings from Peaches, ESG, and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields, as well as a collaboration between Franz and Debbie Harry. Continue reading »

Feb 012011
 

Berlin-based Skin Diary has fired the first shot in the war for Cover Video of 2011 with their wild take on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” Supersaturated color, Peter Gabriel-style stop motion photography, and girls murdering angels all feature prominently in this story of a woman who ultimately finds true love with herself (when herself is Godzilla). Continue reading »