Nov 042013

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


Not much can be said about Lou Reed that hasn’t already been said. When he died on October 27 at age 71, Reed left behind an indisputable legacy of influence that dwarfs some of the biggest names in rock and roll. You can ignore him, hate his music or his voice, dislike his politics or his openness with drugs and sexuality, or downplay his role in rock and roll history — but none of that matters. If you chopped down the tree of influence that grew from the roots of Reed and the Velvet Underground, what would come crashing down would take out most of the house of rock and roll as we know it. The leaf you listen to seems to be all its own, but the branches that hold it up are massive.
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Oct 202013

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by. Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

This is a hybrid piece, melding together two Cover Me staples, “In Memoriam” and “Full Albums,” prompted by today’s anniversary of the plane crash that killed Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and his sister Cassie Gaines. We’re remembering them by giving the Full Album treatment to the band’s debut album, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd). While neither of the Gaines siblings appeared on it, they certainly played its classic songs in concert, and probably even some of the lesser-known ones. So this piece may lack a certain consistency, but if a band can tour as Lynyrd Skynyrd with only one original member, then we can still do this.
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Jun 282013

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Back in 2010, Cover Me posted a Live Collection of the Drive-By Truckers, the Athens, GA band led by Patterson Hood. It featured “every DBT concert cover we could get our hands on,” adding that “Hood’s vast solo repertoire will wait for a later date.” That’s an undertaking for another day, but today we can at least scratch the surface and share a few of Hood’s covers.
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May 172010

Dio has rocked for a long long time…

As you’ve probably heard, legendary metal singer Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer yesterday.  The man fronted a an impressive list of heavy metal bands, popularized the devil’s horns and inspired the Tenacious D song from which the above line comes (which he apparently took in good humor).  He rose to superstardom as Ozzy Osbourne’s replacement in Black Sabbath, so today we take a look at the Godfathers of Metal.  Technically Dio only sang one of the songs covered here, but is it our fault that “T.V. Crimes” didn’t have quite the impact of “Paranoid”?
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NYC (and SOS)

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Jun 182009

Edit: All files are back up for now.

It’s a time of transitions here at Cover Me. For one, is getting fed up with the bandwidth we’re using (though they advertised it as “unlimited), so I need to find another place to host the songs. Anyone with experience have any suggestions, either another hosting site or my own domain name? We’re going for cheap here, but with lots of bandwidth. If I could migrate everything over from that would be ideal; otherwise there will be a whole lot of dead links come July 1st. This thing’s not dead yet but readers, I need your help! Post a comment or email me at covers86{at}gmail{dot}com if you can offer assistance.

Also some personal transitions going on. For one, I graduated school on Sunday (hence my absence from here) and am headed to start interning for Spin music magazine in New York. To celebrate my new locale, here are some tunes about the city that swings.

Tea – Summer In the City (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
I guess there’s nothing in this song that makes it specifically about New York City, but could it really be anywhere else? One tune that never disappoints when it comes on oldies radio, Tea’s take amps up the funky swagger with plenty of horns and guitar-ing. [Buy]

Pete Yorn – New York City Serenade (Bruce Springsteen)
Pete Yorn is one of those musicians I’m not real familiar with, but about whom I just think “blech.” Associations with James Blunt or something. Which is probably unfair as this cover, the only thing I have by him, is excellent, breaking down one of Bruce’s most musically complex songs into a simple story. [Buy]

Gov’t Mule – Down and Out in New York City (James Brown)
A jam band for those who don’t like jam bands, Gov’t Mule grooves out on their excellent The Deep End Vol. 1. Screw Clapton; Warren Haynes is God. [Buy]

Kid Harpoon – First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
I posted this one in my very first post here, so needless to say it’s been unavailable for quite a while. The Kid busts out one of my favorite Lenny covers in this frenetic attack of an acoustic jam. [Buy]

Nekked – The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)
A little bit of laptop-funk from this well-named crew, adding in blips and thumps that never threaten to obscure the pretty harmonies. Very different than the original, yet totally true to it. [Buy]

Tufts Beelzebubs – City of Blinding Lights (U2)
I recognize that a cappella’s a love-it-or-hate-it genre, but if you have any inclination towards that collegiate sound you should snatch 2008’s Pandaemonium, which won basically every a cappella award there is to win (including best album). [Buy]

Waitswatcher – Bronx Lullaby (Tom Waits)
Tom at his jazziest, Pascal Fricke adds a sweet female voice to his usual instrument, baring the song’s soul with some nylon-stringed plucking. To quote from another of Waits’ songs, “a little trip to heaven.” Enjoy this take, then watch Tom himself do it. [Buy]

Razorlight – Englishman in New York (Sting)
Sting purportedly wrote this tune about gay icon Quentin Crisp. The rest of the story’s in the song. [Buy]

Dion – Spanish Harlem Incident (Bob Dylan)
You probably know this “…and the Belmonts” singer from ‘60s hits like “Runaround Sue” and “A Teenager in Love,” but this more obscure gem takes a simple Dylan acoustic number and really makes it feel like Spanish Harlem. Fun fact: on his 1999 co-headlining tour with Paul Simon, Dylan covered Dion’s “The Wanderer” eleven times with Paul. [Buy]

My Morning Jacket – Across 110th Street (Bobby Womack)
I missed Bonnaroo for the first time in a few years this past weekend (stupid graduation). Luckily I was there to catch this last year, busted out during the Jacket’s three-plus hour midnight set in the pouring rain. Epic. [Buy]

Brian Chartrand – New York State of Mind (Billy Joel)
Chartrand’s partial cover disc Sleeping With Giants proved tough to track down, but it was worth the wait. Instead of overly emoting this crooney number like so many schlock lounge singers do, he swings it along with some funky picking. And don’t say he’s not versatile; on this same album he also covers Justin Timberlake and Lauryn Hill. [Buy]


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Apr 042008

For the first time in this blog’s short history, I missed a week. Then another. Now a third Monday has passed and readers are rightly wondering where I’ve disappeared to. Well I’m back, and will try to keep on top of my game from now on! However, as penance for having shirked my responsibility, I’ve made that’s the theme for this week: failure, and by association, depression. As you might expect, the song themes are generally a little more serious than missing a few blog posts, but don’t worry, we’ll get more positive with next week’s full album.

Bonnie Raitt & Jackson Browne – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (Warren Zevon)
Not hugely different from the original, but with more of a country-blues swagger than Zevon’s straight-forward rock.

Gov’t Mule – The Shape I’m In (The Band)
Providing a highlight of the Band covers comp Endless Highway, the Mule doubles the length of the original here in funk strut. A jazzy trumpet solos throughout, behind which is organ worth of Garth Hudson himself. And Warren Haynes is a beast on guitar, though that should come as no surprise.

Rex Hobart – It’s Not Easy Being Green (Sesame Street)
Slide guitar backs Mr. Hobart singing a song as lonesome as anything Hank Williams ever penned. Who knew Kermit could be so profound?

Jeremy Smoking Jacket – No One Knows I’m Gone (Tom Waits)
One of the strangest covers I’ve ever heard, the first few listens might creep you out, as the backing is just, well, coughing. But it grows on you, a truly unnerving track to lay behind the soaring weeping vocals. Most Tom covers make the strange songs a little more accessible; this one took it even farther down the road of weird.

Arctic Monkeys – You Know I’m No Good (Amy Winehouse)
It’s amazing how quickly some high-profile Winehouse covers showed up, with everyone from Hot Hot Heat to Pablo Nutini jumping on the bandwagon. The Monkeys find a common ground between their sound and hers, giving it a rock backing but keeping the jazzy and arrhythmic melody.

Assemblage 23 – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)
One of those songs that there are really too many covers to even wade through, but when you find one that doesn’t even have the main guitar riff in it, you know it’s something different. African choir voices and drums give a soul vibe to it, though apparently this is all actually done by some synthpop DJ.

The White Stripes – Mr. Cellophane (Chicago)
When the Stripes hit Chicago in ’03, they busted out this location-appropriate cover, with some a capella rap by Jack for the verses until the keyboard comes in for the chorus.

Paul Westerberg – Nowhere Man (The Beatles)
Plucked guitar and a nasally voice gives it a more imperfect reading than the original, yearning and pointed.

Swingin’ Utters – Eddie’s Teddy (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
You’ve gotta know the Rocky Horror plot to understand why this one’s about failure, specifically the failure of his uncle to save him from gruesome demise. This comes off of the Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show comp, which sounds about as you’d expect.

Grateful Dead – Mama Tried (Merle Haggard)
A somewhat autobiographical tail of a son gone wrong, it’s a country classic about jail and why you gotta listen to your parents.

Carla Bozulich – On the Nickel (Tom Waits)
Until I typed this I didn’t realize I had two Tom Waits songs, but for a theme of sadness and failure, I suppose that’s justified. The violins, prominent enough in the original, are pushed even more to the fore here, with some steel guitar adding even more swoop and swirl. If you’re in LA, “on the nickel” is being down and out, not where you want to be.

We Are Scientists – Sie Hat Was Vermisst (Bela B.)
I tried to avoid standard heartbreak failure in this post, since that’s, well, a somewhat common topic theme for songs. This is anything but a common song. One of my favorite new bands takes on an obscure song by the side project of a member of German punks Die Ärzte. It’s haunting, about a broken man who’s not going to be cheering up anytime soon.