If you don’t have Everything But the Girl’s quasi-covers album Acoustic, get it. In their day, Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt knew how to cut to the core of a cover song better than just about anyone. The pair parted ways in 2000, but have returned with a new cover of the xx’s “Night Time.”
Tracey Thorn, of Everything But the Girl fame, has had an up and down year in 2010. While she released a well-received solo album, Love And Its Opposite, she also had to endure the passing of her mother. Despite this, she soldiers on, releasing a special holiday album called Christmas Stocking for fans, available as a free download.
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!
Elvis Costello has achieved many things in his thirty-year career, but perhaps one tops them all. Thanks to Costello, when someone said the name “Elvis,” you have to ask “Which one?” That’s quite a feat, reclaiming that word from the guy who started rock and roll.*
From his (in)famous Saturday Night Live stunt in 1977 to his more pedestrian White House appearance last month, Costello has done it all. Punk rocker. Country crooner. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Talk show host. The man’s packed a lot into his 56 years, so on his birthday we’ll let him take it easy. Here’s five of our favorite covers.
It’s a good week to be a florist. Valentine’s Day is around the corner and roses are selling like a product that actually has some practical value. No, I never quite saw the romance in a present that will make you bleed if you hold it the wrong way. I think this is why no one ever gives me roses. That and the fact that I’m a guy.
Sexton Blake – Rose Parade (Elliott Smith)
You don’t forget the first time you hear Elliott Smith. I remember hearing the first notes of “Speed Trials,” the first track off Either/Or, and realizing I had some catching up to do. Covers of Elliott Smith songs are unusual in one regard: they tend to be better the less they change. [Buy]
Cassandra Wilson – For the Roses (Joni Mitchell)
Joni called this song her “first farewell to show business,” taking a leave of absence after putting out her 1972 album of the same name. It’s hard to imagine any record executive extracted the intended message from the dense imagery though. [Buy]
The Twilight Singers – Roses (Outkast)
One of the strangest pop hits of the last decade. André 3000 and Big Boi goof on golden calculators, support bras and boo-boo, yet it all takes an uncomfortable turn with that disturbingly detailed death fantasy. “Just playin’,” huh? I’m not sure you are… [Buy]
Joan Baez – Rose of Sharon (Eliza Gilkyson)
For decades Baez’s voice was a love-it-or-hate-it-instrument, but in her latter years that glass-shattering soprano has softened to a point that anyone would be moved. Baez opened with this when I saw her live a few years back, a few months before the album came out. [Buy]
Waitswatcher – Trampled Rose (Tom Waits)
Last year Robert Plant and Alison Krauss brought this 2004 Tom Waits song to a vast audience on their Grammy-winning Raising Sand. This instrumental recording may be more obscure, but it’s no less haunting. [Buy]
The Persuasions – It Must Have Been the Roses (Grateful Dead)
The Persuasions record for the Frankly A Cappella label, but that genre designation does not do justice to the deep gospel and soul flowing through their rich vocal arrangements. You might think the music Grateful Dead would be a poor fit, but after listening to Might As Well…The Persuasions Sing the Grateful Dead you’ll never hear the songs the same away again. [Buy]
Maleficent – Where the Wild Roses Grow (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
Who knew a duet between a young girl and her killer could be so romantic? A little less so when shouted perhaps, but the bat-out-of-hell guitar in the background keeps the mantra “All beauty must die” as chilling as ever. [Buy]
The Housewives – Rose Tint My World (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
The Housewives sound like early Blondie squalling out with Ray Manzarek backing on organ. [Buy]
Everything But the Girl – English Rose (The Jam)
Whatever song Everything But the Girl touches turns to cover gold. They seem to have gone on indefinite hiatus, but their Covers EP should keep you in good hands until they return. [Buy]
Rex Hobart – Every Rose Has Its Thorn (Poison)
Brett Michaels was a sensitive soul long before Rock of Love. [Buy]