Nov 092017
 
jim james beach boys cover

My Morning Jacket has turned cover songs and tribute-album appearances into a cottage industry, playing tunes by everyone from Buddy Holly to the Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug Band. So it comes as no surprise that frontman Jim James will drop an album of covers on December 8 called Tribute to 2.   

James recently released the lead track from the album, a cover of the Beach Boys’ majestic “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” from their 1966 magnum opus Pet Sounds. The tune was co-written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher and sung by Wilson. The moody song, with its dark, introspective lyrics, signalled a stark change for the band from its happy blend of Chuck Berry and doo-wop inspired surf-pop. James channels Wilson’s falsetto in such a way that he almost sounds like a lost Wilson brother. Continue reading »

May 092014
 

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!

As of today, Billy Joel is eligible for Social Security. So, now that his money woes are assuredly a thing of the past, let’s get to celebrating his 65th birthday in the accomplished style he really and truly deserves.
Continue reading »

Sep 032012
 

Lyricist Hal David, best known for his songwriting partnership with Burt Bacharach, died of a stroke this past Saturday. He was 91 years old.

Bacharach was always the one who got the attention – debonair, handsome, jet-setter, married to Angie Dickinson, writer of melodic lines that were intricate yet hummable. But David was the one who provided the words that brought the melodies home. Without him, nobody could have asked Alfie what’s it all about, or asked a pussycat what’s new, or asked a Californian if they know the way to San Jose, or made any of those questions a part of our national fabric. David may never have been one to perform in an Austin Powers movie – it was rare enough that he performed on any stage – but he left an indelible mark on the industry, and it’s safe to ask how we could forget him when there is always something there to remind us of his accomplishments. Continue reading »

Sep 162010
 

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

Really, what more is there to say? It’s all there in the title. A bunch of British people play a blaxploitation classic on ukulele. However, this video is even more ridiculous than you might imagine. A few particularly oddball moments stand out:

• The fact that they seem to be performing before literally thousands of people.
• “You’re damn right” said in a heavy British accent.
• The camera zooming in on the only black guy in the audience.
• Coal miner jokes.
• The bass player. Do you think he feels like an outcast next to all those ukuleles? Do the others haze him? Does he dream of one day being promoted to ukulele? Continue reading »

At the Movies

 Posted by at 3:00 pm  3 Responses »
Mar 082010
 

The Academy Awards were last night. The competition was fierce, the dresses were stunning, the upsets were upsetting, the…alright, I admit, I tuned out after fifteen minutes. What I do know is that for the first time the Oscars removed the live musical performances from the show, killing the one enjoyable part about the whole thing. So instead we’ll bask in nostalgia with covers of ten classic movie themes.


Steve Tyrell w/ Dr. John – You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Randy Newman)
Randy Newman’s been nominated for an Oscar 19 times. That’s three more than Meryl Streep, who holds the acting record. The Academy always seems to figure they can give it to Randy next year though, since he’s only won once. Last night he lost. Again. Twice. Though it didn’t win in its day either, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story is surely Randy’s most enduring movie song, and the only one he ever touches in concert. [Buy]

Phish – Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Phish has done this one many times, its epic scope making it a good vehicle for extended jamming. This nine-minute version comes from Brooklyn’s Keyspan Park in 2004. Maybe someone who knows more about Phish than I do can tell us how it stacks up compared with other performances. [Buy]

Surf Champlers – “James Bond” Theme (Monty Norman)
Surf Champlers is a project by Kenji Yano, a Japanese musician who combines the traditional katcharsee style of music from his home of Okanawa with modern styles. Like surf. [Buy]

Kuricorder – The Imperial March (Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back)
This song make you wonder why they didn’t do the whole Star Wars soundtrack with a ukulele, tuba and recorder. Off the Ukulele Star Wars Aloha Force album, a comp I’m glad exists. [Buy]

Tito Rodriguez – Theme from “The Apartment” (Charles Williams)
Puerto Rican singer and bandleader Tito Rodriguez gives the theme from this 1960 Billy Wilder flick. Fun fact: Rodriguez has got to be the only non-rapping musician whose Wikipedia page includes a section titled “Feuds.” [Buy]

The Smithereens – Batman Theme (Neil Hefty)
I caught the Smithereens last week, but sadly it was a Who tribute show so no Batman (or Tommy, which is strange, since they dedicated their most recent album to Tommy covers). This Batman comes packing: with drum solo. [Buy]

Tenacious D – Flash’s Theme (Queen)
Posted this one back in our tribute to Queen, but the link’s down so no harm in another go. I still can’t believe they allowed such an absurdly theatrical song to soundtrack an action movie. The video’s even better. [Buy]

Van McCoy – Theme from “Shaft”/Lara’s Theme (Isaac Hayes/Maurice Jarre)
From 1962 through his death in ’79, Van McCoy penned hits for the Shirelles (“Stop the Music”), Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Giving Up”) and himself (“The Hustle”). An accomplished conducter, McCoy here leads some group billed as his “Magnificent Movie Machine” through disco-fied hits. [Buy]

Socci and Pency – Lux Aeterna (Requiem for the Dream)
No question, Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet’s soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream has to be on a shortlist for best film scores soundtracks of the past decade. It’s unsettling as hell, making you want to cry even as it sends shivers down your spine. This acoustic guitar duet does justice to several of the film’s motifs. [Buy]

Xentrix – Ghostbusters (Ray Parker, Jr.)
This thrash metal quartet’s take on the classic 1984 call and response is predictable loud. Who you gonna call? [Buy]