May 232011
 

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

Bob Dylan turns 70 tomorrow. We pondered long and hard how to celebrate. This seemed to us deserving of more than the usual They Say It’s Your Birthday collection, and we knew we could do better than another Best Dylan Covers list. We wanted to do something truly special.

So we’re celebrating Dylan’s birthday this week by doing something no one’s ever done before: compiling covers of every single Bob Dylan song. If he released it on a regular studio album, we’ve got it, for a grand total of 279 songs.* Our entire staff has dug deep to find the hidden gems alongside the classics. We’ve got your “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Tangled Up in Blue,” sure, but we’ve also got your “Cat’s in the Well” and “Po’ Boy.” Heck – we’ve even got the Jesus stuff! Continue reading »

May 162011
 

In September 1973 a unique and mystical patch of Southern California was the site of a heroin overdose, a corpse-napping and a subsequent well-intended, but badly botched, cremation. The deceased was alt-country patron saint/ex-Byrd and Burrito Brother/friend of Keith Richards: Gram Parsons. Just as the Rolling Stones were initially inspired by the likes of Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Solomon Burke, there would be a period in the early 1970’s where Parsons would occupy Keith’s attention and briefly influence the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.

Given the broad sonic reach of the “alt-country” genre, one might expect that Paint It Black: An Alt Country Tribute to the Rolling Stones to be a fully plugged in, loud, proud and boisterous salute capturing all the sweat, swagger and energy of the group. But that would require leaning on the Mick Jagger side of the sound. Instead, producer Jim Sampas has chosen to throttle-down, and to lead with Keith (with the Grievous Angel as guardian). It results in an exceptionally cohesive and even-keeled album – a rarity among tribute compilations. That should come as no surprise, though, since we know Sampas for his work on other quality salutes: last year’s Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute to Bob Dylan’s ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, Badlands: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’, and This Bird Has Flown: A Tribute To The Beatles ‘Rubber Soul’. Continue reading »

Apr 282010
 

It seems every week a new “Best Dylan Covers Ever” article surfaces, but each new list reads much like the last.  Hendrix tops it (fair enough) and Peter, Paul and Mary and the Byrds follow behind (really?).  At Cover Me we like to break out of the mold though, so let us present the second and final installment of The Best Dylan Covers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard.  This week we tackle songs Dylan recorded after his fabled 1966 motorcycle crash.

Barb Jungr – Things Have Changed
Dylan’s past few albums signaled a comeback, the legendary songwriter finally matching his sharp songwriting with smart production.  His greatest song since the ‘70s can’t be found on them though, but rather as an Oscar-winning one-off for the Wonder Boys soundtrack.  [Buy]

World Wide Message Tribe – Precious Angel
True, Dylan’s widely reviled born-again period inspired a lot of Armageddon preaching from the stage, but it also sewed the seeds of the most successful dance cover of a Dylan tune to date.  [Buy]

Giant Sand – All Along the Watchtower
Once the most recognizable three chords in rock hit, Giant Sand deliver a somewhat conventional cover.  But it takes sixty seconds of cello feedback to get there.  [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell
Mark this one as one of the best live covers of all time.  Discoveries like this utterly brilliant acoustic duet reward obsessive bootleg collectors.  [Buy]

The Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love
Dylan recorded this song in 1975, but it didn’t see official release until a mediocre studio recording on 1985’s Biograph collection (track down his 1975 live version at the Bitter End for the definitive reading).  That fantastic chord progression makes it a cover favorite, with everyone from George Harrison to Chuck Prophet having a go.  [Buy]

Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Many fans would rank this song up with the worst songs Dylan has ever written.  And it would be, except for that final line that turns all the nursery rhyme verses on their head.  Dylan’s least ambitious Christian song may just be his most powerful.  [Buy]

Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Gilmore turns up on just about every covers CD Britain’s Uncut magazine compiles, delivering superb performances of The Clash and the Boss.  This artist boasts some serious folk cred though; Joan Baez hand-picked her to open a tour and covered Gilmore’s “The Lower Road” on her latest album.  [Buy]

Delta Cross Band – Legionnaire’s Disease
What, you don’t know “Legionnaire’s Disease”?  Well, a recording of Dylan performing it has never surfaced.  Written after a 1976 outbreak of the infectious bacteria known technically as Legionellosis, Dylan handed it off to Billy Cross, his guitar player from 1977-79.  [Buy]

Richie Havens – License to Kill
Havens has spent his career covering Dylan — witness his cameo in I’m Not There.  His signature guitar tuning and strumming pattern takes the fore, laying the weight of the world upon a mediocre lyric.  [Buy]

Tim O’Brien – Father of Night
O’Brien’s Red on Blonde covers album is one of the best out there, giving tunes from the famous (“Forever Young”) to the obscure (“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”) jaunty bluegrass rhythms.  [Buy]

Read Part 1: Before the Crash.

Jan 122010
 

The first post of the month features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!


In 1967 Jimi Hendrix exploded on the scene with his debut Are You Experienced. It only took about twenty seconds into “Purple Haze” to realize rock and roll wasn’t going to be the same. Though Hendrix covers tend to be an excuse for self-indulgent guitar wankery, approaching Jimi’s compositions from other angles reveals an underappreciated songwriting talent.

Edit 1/16: Links removed by request of the RIAA.

RDM – Purple Haze
If Hendrix had lived longer, maybe he would have experimented with mariachi. Since he didn’t, RDM explores the possibilities. [Buy]

Will Phalen – Manic Depression
The number one test of a good song: being able to withstand the transition to solo acoustic. [Buy]

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Hey Joe (Billy Roberts)
After he blew up in Britain, Jimi brought the Experience to perform on lame variety show It’s Lulu (hosted by the “To Sir With Love” singer). After her inane introduction, Hendrix dutifully makes it through about two minutes of the song before declaring “We’re going to stop playing this rubbish” and busting into Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” The show quickly pulls the plug, but the video lives on. [Buy]

Screaming Trees – Love or Confusion
Grunge pioneers Screaming Trees never achieved the fame of fellow Northwest residents Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but before the label blew up Sub Pop released this song on a 1988 compilation. The guitars are just as loud as ever, but crunch and noise take the place of soloing. [Buy]

Emmylou Harris – May This Be Love
When Emmylou Harris released her acclaimed Wrecking Ball in 1995, she brought her sound over to a new generation of alternative radio listeners with the help of a non-country producer (Daniel Lanous in this case). It set the prototype for Johnny Cash’s American Recordings. [Buy]

Beauty Pill – I Don’t Live Today
Some of Hendrix’s hardest rocking songs are also his saddest. [Buy]

Jamie Cullum – The Wind Cries Mary
Jazz-pop pianist Jamie Cullum’s 2003 album Twentysomething featured covers of “Singing in the Rain” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Needless to say, this swinging choice came out of left field. [Buy]

Joan As Police Woman – Fire
We named Joan As Police Woman’s simply-titled Cover the sixth-best cover album of the year. Here’s another reason why. [Buy]

Pat Metheny – Third Stone from the Sun
This song has a similar title as the awful ’90s television show 3rd Rock from the Sun (responsible for the cardinal sin of bringing French Stewart into our lives). Try not to hold that against it. [Buy]

Giant Sand – Foxy Lady
Attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary show in October (my review), I saw Jeff Beck bring out Billy Gibbons for a faithful version of this one (video). As anyone familiar with their work will guess, Giant Sand takes it in a different direction. Dissonance meets spoken-word recitation in this blast of atonal noise. [Buy]

Patti Smith – Are You Experienced?
Patti released this on her 2007 covers album Twelve. While good, it paled next to more ambitious takes on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Gimme Shelter.” In live performances like this one though, she stretched it out to a blistering twelve minutes complete with free-form poetry and dissonant clarinet solos. [Buy]