Mar 282014
 

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

In honor of Eric Idle’s 71st birthday tomorrow, let’s pay tribute to his most famous song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Idle, of course, is best known as a comic actor and writer and a member of the Python troupe and not as a songwriter. However, this surprisingly happy tune, with deceptively dark lyrics, sung by Idle and a group of fellow crucifixion victims at the end of the film, has become remarkably popular. It was a parody of the peppy songs often featured in Disney movies, but over time its ironic underpinnings have been ignored in favor of its upbeat chorus and jaunty whistling (suggested by Neil Innes, who wrote most of the music associated with the Pythons).
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Dec 092013
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. – Unknown

Neil Innes turns 69 today. For more than forty years he has been acclaimed as a songwriter, musician, and performer, acclaimed by allmusic.com as “the most important figure in British musical comedy since the heyday of vaudeville.” He’s been on both sides of a plagiarism lawsuit – he has to credit John Lennon and Paul McCartney as co-writers of Rutles songs, while the Oasis song “Whatever” is now required by law to credit Innes due to lifting the opening of his “How Sweet To Be an Idiot.” So Innes has talent to burn and no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity to boot, but in the United States he remains relatively unknown. For all his accomplishments, Innes may be one of those whose peculiar talents simply aren’t appreciated as much on this side of the Atlantic. This is best described as “America’s loss.”
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Sep 062011
 

Had he lived, tomorrow would have been Buddy Holly’s 75th birthday, and today marks the release date of the second full-length Buddy Holly tribute of the past ten weeks. Due to the proximity of the release dates, the two collections are destined to be linked together and compared. On the surface, similarities abound: both Rave On Buddy Holly (review here) and Listen To Me: Buddy Holly feature big name stars and a bevy of classic rockers. Rave On boasts Paul McCartney, Nick Lowe, Patti Smith and Lou Reed while Listen To Me offers Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne and Ringo Starr. The differences lie in the roster of contemporary contributors. Where Rave On is stocked with indie cred, Listen To Me relies on a list of chart-topping pop stars.

Less innovative than its slightly older cousin, Listen To Me: Buddy Holly has a few oddities that tend to tarnish an otherwise pretty solid compilation. First on the list of disappointments is Linda Ronstadt’s 1976 Hasten Down The Wind version of “That’ll Be The Day.” Really? Does a 35 year-old song get a pass on an otherwise “new” collection simply because the legendary Peter Asher produced both projects? Did they think we wouldn’t notice? Continue reading »