One of the hottest bands in the bluegrass and jamband scene, Greensky Bluegrass never seem to stop touring. As evidenced by their three appearances at last week’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the band is working hard in support of their latest release, Handguns.
Last week, William Shatner covered Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth.” Keeping the theme of earth-themed Le Bon & Co. songs, Brooklyn electro-rocker Cassettes Won’t Listen (Jason Drake) delivers a take on “Ordinary World.” His take flirts with chillwave and ambient, without losing the memorable melody (and a dreamy guitar solo).
It’s a rare enough thing to get a full covers album based on a conceptual theme. It is a once-in-a-lifetime cover album when that theme is space and the artist is the man who has boldly gone where no man has gone before. Canadian-born actor, musician, author, producer, and director, William Shatner, aka Captain James T. Kirk from the ’60s TV series Star Trek, is that man.
Set for release this Tuesday October 11, Shatner’s Seeking Major Tom will be available as a one volume digital download, two CDs and three vinyl LP set. The album is being released along with his new book Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
Hailing from Chicago, IL, the Smashing Pumpkins helped blaze a trail for the wave of apathy that infected most ’90s alternative rock. They also gave hip kids from the Midwest the first nationally-recognizable band they could take pride in since Cheap Trick. Formed in 1988, the Pumpkins enjoyed over a decade of fame and influence until noted in-fighting brought about their dissolution at the turn of the millennium. After numerous side-projects and member-shuffling, the Pumpkins have once again taken to the stage under the leadership of Billy Corgan, perhaps one of rock music’s true auteurs.
The Pumpkins have celebrated their diverse influences via cover songs throughout their career. A quick scan of their recorded catalog reveals studio takes of tracks originally by acts like the Cars, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, the Cure and Missing Persons. Their live shows are similarly peppered with covers that one might not expect to hear from these iconic slackers. Some of these do seem like a natural fit though: it’s not too hard to draw a line to the Pumpkins from Neil Young, Depeche Mode or Pink Floyd, for instance.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
The recent release of Easy Wonderful has given Guster fans reason to fall in love with them all over again. As their album title insinuates, they have an agreeable sound that resonates with you and has aged well over the past (almost) 20 years. If the Beach Boys went to college in the 90′s, added some bongos, and stayed out of the sun, Guster is what they would sound like.
Featured on soundtracks like Life as a House and Wedding Crashers, their songs can pull at the heartstrings as you croon along with them. On the other hand, they are better known for their laid-back, wisecracking personalities that beam from the stage and infect their fans. During their years of touring, they have taken on many cover songs with both their sensitive and playful dispositions (but mostly the latter). Typically at the end of a show, Guster will rile up the crowd with a number from Madonna, Talking Heads, or whoever sings the “Cheers” theme song (Portnoy) and get everyone involved. Most of the time, it’s just an excuse to get drummer Brian Rosenworcel out in front showing off his questionable vocals, calling in the crowd for backup. It’s just like being at a karaoke bar.
Cover News is a weekly feature keeping you up to date on the goings-on in the world of cover tunes, tribute albums, etc. Plus, at the bottom we post the array of cover tunes we’ve been sent in the past week. Have you recorded a cool cover? Send an mp3 to the address on the right! And as always, follow Cover Me on Twitter for the latest news.
This Week’s News
Another Commissions cover this week: California songwriter Brady Harris putting a ‘30s folk spin on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” [Cover Me]
The cover blog family just got one more member: Cover By Numbers. Welcome! [Cover By Numbers]
Will I stream a new Preservation Hall Jazz Band covers record, featuring guest appearances from Andrew Bird, Merle Haggard, Dr. John and Tom Waits? Why yes, I will! [Preservation Hall Jazz Band]
The message of “Everybody Hurts” is “Hey friend, sometimes life sucks for all of us.” Does that really make it an appropriate song to cover for Haitian relief? [YouTube]
“I Put a Spell on You” may be a better choice, simply because there’s zero “message.” And with the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan behind the wheel (with Nick Cave and Johnny Depp), it’s sure to get rowdy. [Pitchfork]
A football fight song redone. It’s no “Super Bowl Shuffle,” but really what is? Go Saints! [Team Glory Bound]
Attention Austria: Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu will be covering Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures in full at a Krems festival. Make the most of it. [Click Music]
Us folks stateside will just have to console ourselves with the Flaming Lips playing a 2am Dark Side of the Moon at Bonnaroo. And this is after two hours of their own material! [Spinner]
Peter Gabriel’s soft piano run through Bon Iver’s gorgeous “Flume” takes some getting used to. Once you wrap your mind around a harmony-free rendition though, it’s something special. [Stereogum]
While I like the idea of Roberta Flack doing a Beatles cover album, does the world really need another soul-tinged “Let It Be”? [Spinner]
Coming February 20: two-disc New Order tribute album dedicated to Factory Records bossman Tony Wilson. [New Order Tribute]
Also coming soon: A 21-song tribute to punk pioneers the Swingin’ Utters. Get a taste with Dropkick Murphys’ “Strongman.” [Alternative Press]
This Week’s Submissions
Send your cover to the email address on the right for inclusion in next week’s Cover News!
Shuffle Sundays is a weekly feature in which we feature a cover chosen at random by my iTunes shuffle. The songs will usually be good, occasionally be bad, always be interesting. All downloads will only be available for one week, so get them while you can.
Due to a desire to keep tribute albums complete, not every cover song in the old iTunes library is a gem. To its credit, the blandly-titled The Duran Duran Tribute Album has some good tunes. Eve’s Plum does a seductive “Save a Prayer” while Home Grown puts a smooth ska swing to “Planet Earth.” Unfortunately, it also contains Gob’s merciless assault on “A View to a Kill.”
The original “View to a Kill” holds several historical distinctions. It is the only James Bond theme to hit number one on the charts. It was the final song Duran Duran recorded with their original lineup before their 2001 reunion. Plus, the video features one of the cheesiest closing lines ever committed to tape.
If Gob’s cover never quite lifts off, it’s not for lack of trying. The British Columbia quartet put their three-chord punk spin on the ’80s anthem, changing what was a mediocre movie theme to something far more aggressive…and unpleasant.
The quickest way a cover song can fail is by imitating the original, so give Gob credit for avoiding that on this 87-second blast. In fact, they bastardize the song so thoroughly it’s unclear if they’ve even heard the original. M would not approve.
Gob – A View to a Kill (Duran Duran) [Buy]
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Discuss this song in the comments section below.
Halloween is still three weeks away, but everyone has already had it up to the neck with vampires (har!). Hopefully after the Twilight/Jennifer’s Body/True Blood fervor runs its course Dracula and his nocturnal ilk will slink off for a long sleep. When that happens, it’s the werewolf’s time to rise.
The Pluto Tapes – Wolf Like Me (TV on the Radio)
TV on the Radio pulled off the rare feat of scoring a mainstream hit with this one without selling their souls. Andy Hicks of the Pluto Tapes strips back the jagged funk of the original for some slow-burn harmonies and crunchy crooning. [Buy]
Adam Sandler – Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon)
Adam Sander’s music career is as bipolar as it is bizarre. He’s covered Bruce Springsteen, with predictably terrible results (watch the video and laugh), but then again he’s covered Neil Young with shocking decent results (watch the video and be surprised). Happily, this Zevon cover falls into the latter category. [Buy]
Jordan Galland – Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran)
This may be the most popular result from our monthly Cover Commissions, and it was only a bonus track! Still, it’s a killer. Which reminds me, October’s Cover Commissions coming soon! [Buy]
By a Girl – Furr (Blitzen Trapper)
The best wolf-song of the bunch. It’s the same old story: A guy wanders into the woods, spontaneously turns into a wolf, runs around for years that way, then sees a girl and becomes a man again. You know, the usual. [Buy]
Yann Gallice – A Wolf at the Door (Radiohead)
Hail to the Thief gets its share of ire from Radiohead fans. For goodness sakes, Pitchfork only gave it a 9.3! This gorgeous hum-happy cover may make you rethink. [Buy]
Joel Martin – Wolf Among Wolves (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy)
I’m not quite sure what Will Oldham did to deserve the thirty-track tribute album I Am a Cold Rock, I Am Dull Grass, but fellow freak-folkniks like Iron and Wine and Calexico understand. Joel Martin delivers a high point of an already soaring album. [Buy]
The Meteors – Little Red Riding Hood (Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs)
As a kid I always adored this tune on the rare occasions it graced oldies radio, but the Meteors amp it up another notch with a singer who actually sounds like the (sexually aggressive) wolf. [Buy]