Apr 192013
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Fans of Gram Parsons are generally divided into three camps over 1999’s Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. The first thinks it’s brilliant, a reverent homage to a great songwriter and a testament to the weight of his country rock influence. The second likes the raw sound of another tribute album better: 1993’s Conmemorativo: A Tribute to Gram Parsons, featuring the likes of Bob Mould and The Mekons. And the third camp feels that the only person that can sing Gram Parsons songs is Parsons himself.

If we took the philosophy of the last opinion to heart, this site wouldn’t even exist. While the so-called purists would deny any version other than the one by the original artist as being legitimate, it certainly would be a dull world if all musicians were content to color within the lines without recognizing that someone else before them drew those lines. While Conmemorativo does contain some gems, there are two reasons why Return of the Grievous Angel is better: great production values, and the guiding hand of Emmylou Harris, who worked so closely with Parsons and who served as executive producer of the compilation. So count us among the members of that first camp. Now let’s meet the man who inspired the album. Continue reading »

Apr 192012
 

When a band hasn’t released a studio album of new music in four years, and then puts out an album made up entirely of cover songs, you might expect their fans to get restless. For Counting Crows fans, though, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) is no less sweet because the band didn’t write the songs. Lead singer Adam Duritz and the gang have been doing covers, in full or sneakily added as bridges in live shows, since their inception. And, as Duritz says in the liner notes, “I’ve never stopped being a fan” of other people’s music. Continue reading »

Feb 082012
 

Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows has long worn his influences on his sleeve, and the band often does live covers of their favorite artists. If you are an aspiring artist, head over to Indabamusic where you have until March 1st to submit your own Counting Crows cover for the chance at a signed Squier guitar, $600 to Guitar Center, and inclusion of your song on an EP. If you’re not into making music, you can head over and start listening to the submissions. Cover Me veteran Allison Crowe has already submitted a stunning version of “Raining in Baltimore. Continue reading »

May 132011
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

Remarkably prolific by today’s standards,  Ryan Adams has released 12 albums (some solo and some with The Cardinals) since the breakup of his seminal alt-country band Whiskeytown in 2000. Not like your typical modern artist with three or four year gaps between releases. He’s also made friends in high places, including Elton John, Willie Nelson and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. Not just a hard-working studio musician, Adams also tours extensively, with an upcoming European tour marking his return to the stage after his 2009 ‘retirement.’

Never one to hide his influences, Adams regularly includes cover songs as part of his live show. We’ve compiled a selection of his covers for our latest Live Collection. Remember this is no one-album artist. Given his back catalog, Adams chooses covers that, for the most part, really mean something to him. Country and ‘70s rock figure heavily in his choices: five songs associated with Gram Parsons, three classics by The Rolling Stones, and the obligatory Neil Young nod. Continue reading »

Apr 062011
 

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!

Thirty-eight number one country hits, numerous Academy of Country Music awards, three Grammy Awards and somewhere around 10 billion studio and live albums (give or take): Merle Haggard has accomplished a good deal in his 74 years on this planet. He has experienced his share of hardships as well – “hard living,” four marriages, heart problems and recent lung cancer – but he still continues to release albums and tour constantly. As an originator of both the Bakersfield sound and outlaw country, Haggard came upon the scene at a time when country music had drifted far from its roots, with overwrought, schmaltzy ballads dominating the charts. Along with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, he helped inject a much-needed dose of reality, likely rescuing the genre from a permanent descent into the adult contemporary wilderness. Continue reading »

Oct 142010
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

It was almost 17 years ago now that frontman Jay Farrar split ways with his alt-country group Uncle Tupelo due to differences with bassist Jeff Tweedy, leaving Tweedy and the rest of the band in the dust. Since that time, Farrar’s career has skyrocketed, and Tweedy and the boys haven’t done anything.

Wait. I’m wrong. They formed a band called Wilco, which continues to prosper as one of the most important and influential bands in indie music.

To conclude that Wilco’s longevity is due to some sort of a constant and timeless sound would be dead wrong, however, as our latest Live Collection shows. The covers below, which include romps through the works of David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, the Ramones, and even a few half-hearted attempts at tracks by one of Farrar’s subsequent projects, Son Volt, show just how much Wilco has changed through the years. The Wilco who covers “Organ Blues” in 2000 sounds little like the one who does Tom Petty’s “Listen to Her Heart” in 1995. Sure, their 2002 cover of The Stooges’ “TV Eye” anticipates the pulsating pianos and dissonant guitars that would not truly define their albums until years later, but as a general rule, you can follow the arc of the band’s sound through the years pretty closely via the covers below. Continue reading »