Mar 092009
 

Fleetwood Mac’s songs sometimes get a bad rap from constant play in elevators, grocery stores, and on “lite rock” radio. Try to forget the soulless environments in which these tunes sometimes find themselves, and you’ll remember that each one is a pop gem, little nuggets from a band at their prime just as they were falling apart. Stevie Nicks hitting that bridge on “The Chain,” the mystical guitar plucking of “Never Going Back Again,” the pounding drums propelling “Go Your Own Way” into that furious crescendo of a guitar solo…the magical moments are just too many to name. The originals can’t be improved upon, but they can be reworked. See for yourself.

The Greencards – Second Hand News
One of Australia’s most acclaimed bluegrass groups, The ‘Cards make Fleetwood Mac sound shockingly logical as bluegrass and singer Carol Young has the voice to do Stevie Nicks/Christine McVie justice. It’s not til the fiddle breakdown at the end though that this group really bursts forth. [Buy]

The Morning Benders – Dreams
After releasing The Bedroom Covers as a freebie to promote their album Talking Through Tin Cans, these guys have showed up here a couple times already (click their name on the long list on the right to hear more). This Berkeley foursome’s breathy harmonies bring power to this slow burner. [Buy]

Grumpy Bear – Never Going Back Again
The Fleetwood original has one of the greatest finger picking pop lines ever, but Grumpy Bear counters with some new picking all their own. They rearrange the cadence, the lyrics, and the rhythm, but remain true to the essence. And if you hear this and think, the only thing that could make this better is a little Donovan…you just might be in luck. [Buy]

Darren Hanlon – Don’t Stop
Solo acoustic guitar…meh. Solo ukulele? Now that’s something I can get behind. Hanlon busted this out for an Australian radio station a few years back and it rocks…in a ukulele sort of way. [Buy]

Snow & Voices – Go Your Own Way
Most of these covers play with the instruments, the sound, the timbre, but keep the general melody and feel the same. Not so with Snow & Voices. They slow this pop song to a dirge-like crawl that brings out the heartbreak in the lyrics. The original sounded like someone trying to put on a positive face; in this one, the singer has succumbed to the despair of lost love. [Buy]

Denison Witmer – Songbird
Cover guru Witmer strips it down to some acoustic guitar, instrumental flourishes, and his Americana-sweet voice. Catch a few more covers of this one over at Cover Lay Down. [Buy]

Throwback – The Chain
A live one here, a loose rocker that doesn’t lose the classic harmonies of the original. It doesn’t really break out ‘til the funk guitar solo that builds right into the bridge. I wonder if the folks at Café Dekcuf appreciated what they were getting. [Buy]

Cyndi Lauper – You Make Loving Fun
God, it’s so 80’s! This was actually Lauper’s first single, a foreshadowing of the “fun” theme she would pursue down the road. The wall of synthesizers may be a little much, but I’m a big fan of that sax solo. [Buy]

Goo Goo Dolls – I Don’t Wanna Know
I’ll admit, the Goo Goo Dolls remind me of the worst of late 90’s rock radio. Their alt-rock-for-middle-schoolers sound works well enough with this tune, and makes for a nice change of pace from the many folk/jazz covers. [Buy]

Tallulah – Oh Daddy
I’ll admit it here: I’m not the first one to come up with this idea. Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours already exists and is, I must say, quite good. Even among such worthy competition as Elton John and The Cranberries, this space-echo throb of a plea shines forth as a unique interpretation that sounds not-quite pop, not-quite-gothic, not-quite-dance, and many other genres it almost fits. [Buy]

Waylon Jennings – Gold Dust Woman
It comes from 1978’s Waylon & Willie album, but this one’s all Jennings. Classic outlaw country, it’s manages to stay faithful to the original while sounding nothing like it. [Buy]

Best of 2008

 Posted by at 7:07 pm  No Responses »
Dec 182008
 

In the spirit of the flurry of year-end lists, here are some of the best covers of the year. Needless to say, too many great covers came out this year

The Gaslight Anthem – God’s Gonna Cut You Down (Johnny Cash)
Anchorless Records just released a set of quasi-punk Cash covers called All Aboard (get it on vinyl if you can) and, though some are generic, 2008 break-out artist The Gaslight Anthem takes Cash’s posthumous single and gives it a haunted vibe, like someone singing to you from far far away. [Buy]

Lily Allen – Womanizer (Britney Spears)
This one just came out a couple days ago, but it’s an instant ironic-pop classic. Britney’s first number one single since “Baby One More Time” (really) gets the strummed acoustic, soft piano treatment. Once you get past Mark Ronson’s obnoxious intro that is.

The Peptides – Major Tom (Peter Schilling)
When the band first sent this cover my way, I assumed it was a mislabeled “Space Oddity.” For those equally clueless, Schilling wrote a response to the classic David Bowie song (that I once had to lip-sync for five minutes in middle school in a poorly conceived outer space version of The Hobbit). Luckily The Peptides knew more than I did, as they tell the bizarre story with folksy harmonies and propelling rhythms. [Buy]

Mystery Jets – Bleeding Love (Leona Lewis)
God knows how many times I’ve listened to this one this year, but their beautiful Americana take on this admittedly catchy-as-hell pop hit never loses its charm. This comes from the always cover-friendly Radio 1 Live Lounge on the BBC. [Buy]

Southside Johnny and Labamba’s Big Band – Walk Away (Tom Waits)
Two big Tom Waits tribute discs came out this year. One, by Scarlet Johannson, induced spontaneous nausea in anyone who heard it. The other, Southside Johnny’s big band take on some Waits chestnuts achieved the shocking feat of making Tom danceable. It’s called Grapefruit Moon, and this cut is the best for a simple reason: it features Tom himself on guest vocals. [Buy]

Max Vernon – I Kissed a Girl (Katy Perry)
Vernon sent this one my way long ago and I’m embarrassed to say I never got a chance to post it before. Luckily others did, as it quickly made the blog rounds and even earned him a s lot on the Guilt By Association Vol. 2 comp alongside Kaki King and My Brightest Diamond. Dude’s even got a music video! [Buy]

Pat Buzzard – Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show)
This one hit the old inbox a couple weeks ago, and is an instantly catchy update on the OCMS/Bob Dylan (he wrote the chorus) semi-hit “Wagon Wheel.” It’s made for a campfire sing-along far cooler than any you had as a kid. [Buy]

Lowry – Africa (Toto)
This one comes off that same comp Vernon’s on. It’s a song you’ve forgotten how much you liked, made new in an electro-lounge duet. [Buy]

Denison Witmer – Is There a Ghost (Band of Horses)
I posted this one in the Halloween entry a few months back, but as that post got taken down, here it is again. Witmer’s had the ingenious idea of releasing a bunch of free covers to promote his upcoming full-length Carry the Weight, and while they’re all worth tracking down, I keep coming back to this one. [Buy]

Bob Dylan – Miss the Mississippi (Jimmie Rodgers)
Bob recorded this in ’92, but it got its first official release a few months ago on the top-notch Tell Tale Signs outtake collection. People criticize Bob’s voice, but this song wouldn’t work without the lived-in grizzle age provides. [Buy]

Nov 042008
 

—Note: This is a repost. In their recent wave of attacks on music bloggers, the RIAA finally found me, prompting blogger to delete the original post with no notification of any kind. Maybe the industry was pissed that I talked shit about it in the original post. This attack on the music blogging community seems to me a situation of that cliched shirt, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Anyway, here is the text of the removed post, but the links are gone. That includes the buy links, incidentally – look what happened RIAA, now no one will buy any of these albums at all. I will be making a new Full Album cover post later tonight but if these take-downs become a recurring pattern, I cannot say what my future as a music blogger will be.—

Halloween is this Friday, and it’s certainly a scary time for us bloggers. In the past couple weeks everyone has been getting posts pulled, cease-and-desist letters, and file hosting privileges revoked out of the blue. Who knows what instituted the crack-down, but I’ll take vampires over the RIAA any day. Here at Cover Me we’re gonna press on, celebrating the fun side of being scared with some Halloween covers.

Marilyn Manson – This Is Halloween (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Tim Burton’s holiday classic wouldn’t be complete without Danny Elfman’s spooky soundtrack, pop songs about bleeding eyes and deadly poxes. Some songs are just so perfectly chosen to cover, and this would be one of them, Manson relishing the change to parody himself as he exhorts you to scream. Off of the recently-released Nightmare Revisited covers collection. [Buy]

Lou Rawls – Season of the Witch (Donovan)
Because nothing says Halloween like a lot of organ. And nothing says “Alright, I’ve had enough of the damn organ” like a sax blaring through at halfway point. [Buy]

Denison Witmer – Is There a Ghost? (Band of Horses)
To promote his upcoming release Carry the Weight, Witmer has been releasing a series of covers on his MySpace page of everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Red House Painters. Needless to say, the blogosphere has been eating up (free music, woohoo!), but his nuanced and forceful acoustic takes warrant the hype. [Buy]

The Mighty Echoes – Monster Mash (Bobby “Boris” Pickett)
No cover of this could possibly live up to the original, with Pickett’s eerie Boris Karloff-channeling vocal performance, but this a capella doo wop take is fun. [Buy]

Boyce Avenue – Disturbia (Rihanna)
“Really, Ray, the third week in a row with a Disturbia cover?” That’s right. They just never get old, and the video is an S&M Halloween classic. [Buy]

Barenaked Ladies – Grim Grinning Ghosts (Buddy Baker)
Baker wrote the music for dozens of obscure Disney movies, and this one he came up with as the theme for the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney world. It’s used in a billion different ways, meticulously cataloged at the tune’s wikipedia page, but none can be better than this super-jolly BNL take. [Buy]

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Whistling Past the Graveyard (Tom Waits)
With his well-known “I Put a Spell On You” and classic album covers like this one, Screamin’ Jay could have a whole Halloween post by himself. And maybe he will next year. Until then, here’s one of his many classic Tom Waits covers, a big funk number with a growl and swagger. [Buy]

Petra Hayden – Thriller (Michael Jackson)
I posted Ben Gibbard’s cover of this in my full album cover post here, which I personally prefer, but this one has gotten a lot of blog hype. It’s a little too close to the original for my taste, but demand was high, so have at it. [Buy]

Alkaline Trio – Over at the Frankenstein Place (Rocky Horror Picture Show)
No Halloween is complete without some Rocky Horror excitement, and if your Halloween plans include Brad and Janet this year, check out this site to truly be prepared. And then go buy the full disc of covers, The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show, that includes this fuzzed-out gem of one of the musical’s more obscure tunes. [Buy]

Michael Derning & Mia Arends – Vampire (Michael Smith)
It’s difficult to research someone with the name Michael Smith. I’m guessing this songwriter is not the ex-singer of the Dave Clark Five, but he’s probably not the Limp Bizkit guitarist either. I like this song though, so if anyone has any insight as to its origins, let me know! [Buy]

Hexnut – What’s He Building? (Tom Waits)
Two Tom Waits songs for a Halloween theme strikes me as entirely appropriate, and no song is more apropos to the occasion than this. I use the term “song” loosely of course, as this spooky spoken-word narrative sounds straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I don’t know what he’s building, and I don’t intend to find out. [Buy]