Dec 122014
 

Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

Back when we redesigned the site in 2010, we created basic star icons to represent the ratings we’d give an album when we reviewed it. 2 stars, 3.5 stars, etc. When we posted an album review, we’d find the corresponding icon where we last uploaded it. However, earlier this year we couldn’t find one of the icons we were looking for. Why? It turns out we’d never used it. We’d never before given an album a perfect five stars.

This year, for the first time, we did. Which should suffice to say it’s been an excellent year for cover albums. True, a few of the marquee tributes we most eagerly anticipated fell flat, either too formulaic (The Art of McCartney) or too out-there (that Flaming Lips’ Sgt. Peppers tribute we’ll never speak of again). But in the cracks and under the radar, cover and tribute albums thrived.

In our list of the twenty best, we’ve got everything from big names on major labels to DIY projects thrown up on Bandcamp. We’ve got New Orleans jazz, Parisian dub reggae, and songs that were popular when your great-great-great-great grandfather was calling town dances. Something for everyone, I guess. Something for all our fwends (sorry, that was the last time, promise).

Start the countdown on Page 2…

Aug 052014
 

The late JJ Cale had a distinctive, laid back sound to his music that was difficult to replicate. Long time fan and friend Eric Clapton recorded several of Cale’s songs over the years – royalties from “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” probably paid Cale’s mortgage for many years – while never straying far from Cale’s basic approach. Continue reading »

Aug 302013
 

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

Jimi Hendrix was only 27 when he died in 1970. Stop and ponder that for a second. An immense talent whose career was tragically cut short more than four decades ago, Hendrix continues to interest and influence musicians and music lovers, and for good reason. Although Hendrix was primarily a rocker, his music was really a fusion of rock, blues, soul, funk and jazz, and probably some other things, too.

“Little Wing” is a concise masterpiece, lasting less than two and a half minutes in its original studio version, which infuriatingly fades out during a guitar solo. It contains a few unmistakable guitar riffs, with a distinctive tone that Hendrix described as sounding like “jelly bread,” achieved by running the guitar through the Leslie speaker of an organ. The song is intense without being frantic, and at the same time is also ethereal and seductive. It also is very much of its time, with lyrics about “butterflies and zebras, and moonbeams and fairy tales.”
Continue reading »

Aug 272013
 

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

(His strings) were like fucking telephone wires. Just a little bit bigger piece of wood and you’d have a fuckin’ piano. – Robert “Cutter” Brandenburg, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s friend and roadie, on Vaughan’s guitar

He just sort of kicked everyone’s ass and no one seemed to fight back. – Jimmie Vaughan, on his brother outplaying him, Robert Cray, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy at his final performance in East Troy, Wisconsin

I’m just asking y’all to take care of yourself so you can be there for the ones that love you and need you the most. And they need you all the time. I know I do. – Stevie Ray Vaughan preaching a little grace to a Denver audience, November 1989


Continue reading »

Nov 302012
 

The Wikipedia entry for “Layla” notes that “Covers have been fairly rare” and for once the site is right. Though it’s one of the most classic rock songs in the classic rock cannon, most of the few covers that exist are either speed-riff ripoffs or smooth jazz grooves inspired by Eric Clapton’s MTV Unplugged version. A few do, however, bridge the gap – or go in a different direction entirely. Download the five best below. Continue reading »

May 252011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

Sure, Bob Dylan’s birthday may technically be over, but Bob Dylan’s birthweek is still going strong. So we continue our five-part series showcasing covers of every Dylan song today with the biggest installment yet. A full 60 covers await on the following pages, with heavyweights like the Isley Brothers and the Clash and newcomers like Adele and the Morning Benders. The latest chunk spans the letters K (Guns n’ Roses’ “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) through O (Crooked Still’s “Oxford Town”) and features some of Bob’s best known songs. “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “Like a Rolling Stone.” “Masters of War.” “Lay, Lady, Lay.” The list goes on.

Click the page numbers down below to start listening. If you’re just joining us, here’s where we are so far:

Part 1: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – “Everything Is Broken”
Part 2: “Father of Night” – “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
Part 3: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – “Oxford Town”
Part 4: “Peggy Day” – “Sweetheart Like You” [Coming Thursday]
Part 5: “T.V Talkin’ Song” – “4th Time Around” [Coming Friday]

Continued on Page 2…