Appropriately enough for a man whose concerts routinely top three hours, this list is long. Fifty covers long, and even then we still found ourselves left with dozens of killer bonus tracks for our Patreon supporters. The hits are all here, of course, but Bruce’s catalog runs deep. This list includes many covers of lesser-known cuts and more recent songs – even one from his just-released solo album Western Stars. Though he turns 70 today, the man is not slowing down, and neither are the artists paying tribute to him. As Bruce famously sang, he learned more from a three-minute record than ever learned in school. Well, here are fifty artists who learned something from his three-minute records.
When delivered with passion and a reverence for the record being covered, a track-for-track covers album reimagining an iconic album by someone’s musical heroes can result in an intoxicating listen. Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong mined this territory on 2013’s Foreverly, an album paying tribute to the Everly Brothers’ Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. The Walkmen took the format to the next level, inhabiting the very essence of the John Lennon-produced Harry Nilsson cult classic Pussycats with Pussycats Starring The Walkmen. And now, in 2018, the Austin-based Americana group The Band of Heathens have delivered A Message from the People Revisited, a timely tribute to the Ray Charles record A Message from the People, originally released in 1972.Continue reading »
Cover Classics takes a look at great covers albums of the past, their genesis and their legacies.
“Why now,” you ask. “Why focus on this album in 2018, more than 20 years since it was made and getting on 30 since the recipient of the tribute died? And who he anyway? He didn’t have any hits.”
Well, that’s where you are wrong. Doc Pomus wrote many of the 1950s songs we now see as standards – standards across many genres, encompassing blues through rock (and roll), with a hefty side influence into country and soul. Few people won’t have at least a whistling memory of at least one of these songs, probably more, in versions played by artists as diverse as ZZ Top, Engelbert Humperdinck and the Searchers.Continue reading »
We at Cover Me get excited when a musician finds a genre twist that transforms a cover song’s meaning. Previously, we mentioned Laurence Collyer as the one-man-band member of The Diamond Family Archive who excels in doing just that. This Brighton-based musician takes generally upbeat pop songs and twists them into sad and lonely little folk and acoustic numbers. In his latest set, Collyer was kind enough to indulge us with an exclusive EP of outtakes from his brilliant 2009 cover album, The Wanderer. Some are alternative performances of album tracks; others are never-before-heard covers.Continue reading »
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.
Although The Diamond Family Archive may sound like the name of a big band, it consists only of one man, by the name of Laurence Collyer. Settled on the south coast of England in Brighton, this ZZ-Top-bearded singer is a veritable jack of all trades in the music business. Along with writing, recording and producing his own songs through his own label, he also drops in to play with other local British bands and occasionally records EPs on friends’ labels. It’s near impossible to know how many albums Collyer has put out between his own projects and colleagues’ and he often limits printed album copies to less than 100 (including hand drawn artwork and other treasures). Despite being this busy, The Diamond Family Archive’s website labels him “reclusive.”Continue reading »
Omigod, you just have to hear this new Bob Dylan cover. You know that folksy ballad, “All Along the Watchtower”? Well some afro-headscarf weirdnik named Jimi rocked it so hard that… What’s that? You’ve already heard it? You say it tops every single list of the best Dylan covers that has ever been made with absolutely no exceptions so don’t bother looking to try to prove me wrong? Ah. Well, Mr. Music Snob, try these ten lesser-known covers on for size, spanning from Bob’s folk origins until his post-Blonde on Blonde motorcycle crash.
Grand Panda ft. Dawn – Ballad of a Thin Man
This grinding synth slow-burn comes via comp curator extraordinaire Béatrice Ardisson, whose Dylan Mania contains sixteen of the most fantastically weird covers you’re likely to hear. [Buy]
Mobius Band – I’ll Keep It With Mine
Though Dylan wrote this song in 1964, his own version didn’t see the light of day until 1985’s Biograph compilation. It indicates he was experimenting with what he called “that thin, wild mercury music” several years before Blonde on Blonde. [Buy]
The Roots – Masters of War
Outside of free jazz and the Dead, there aren’t many songs where a blogger must decide whether to post the ten-minute version or the twenty. I went with the conservative length, but I’ll probably post the longer one on Twitter this week. Now with extra ?uestlove drum solo! [Buy]
Dion – Spanish Harlem Incident
When Dion opened Dylan’s New York concerts last fall, he missed an opportunity to deliver this swinging gem to an appreciative audience. It’s not like he had to worry about stepping on Bob’s toes; the man has only performed it one time himself. [Buy]
40 Thieves – Subterranean Homesick Blues
“Subterranean” has been described as the first rap song. 40 Thieves make the argument by ripping through the lyrics over a funky Public Enemy-esq beat. [Buy]
Martin Simpson – Boots of Spanish Leather
Dylan’s finger-picking from the early days should get more credit than it does (see “Don’t Think Twice”), but even at his best he had nothing on this guy. Listen those funky bass note slaps. [Buy]
I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business – Positively 4th Street
This song seems even angrier in a polite acoustic guise. By the time singer Arthur “Ace” Enders makes it to that cutting last line, you wonder what he’s capable of. [Buy]
Mike Ness – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
Putting Dylan’s acoustic songs to a heavy rock beat is not a novel concept, but the Social Distortion frontman handles it particularly well. What song doesn’t improve with a little growl? [Buy]
The Magokoro Brothers – My Back Pages
Even for critics underwhelmed by the incoherent storyline of Dylan’s 2003 film Masked and Anonymous (people, plot is so twentieth century), few could object to the cover-heavy soundtrack. The Magokoro Bros’ translation of “My Back Pages” into Japanese works because it doesn’t. Each line has three times as many syllables as will fit, so the singer always seems to be playing catch-up. [Buy]
Douglas September – Girl from the North Country
The word haunting gets overused, but it has never been more appropriate. September’s hoarse whisper is devastating and that gusting wind raises the hairs on your neck. [Buy]