It’s been a while since we heard from Laurence Collyer aka The Diamond Family Archive, but his covers album The Wanderer is one of the best of the past decade. He’ll take songs by The Eagles, Billy Joel, and Dire Straits (a lot of Dire Straits) and warp these pop hits into fractured, fragile ballads. The results are mesmerizing every time, and that’s still true on his new covers EP, the November installment in a monthly EP series.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.
The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.”
Jack White knows how to keep busy. In the last 3 years he has released 5 albums with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather and toured with all 3 bands—including a monumental run through every province and territory of Canada. He produced albums by his wife, Karen Elson, and rockabilly goddess Wanda Jackson, in addition to writing and recording the theme for the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. To top it all off, he runs his own record label, Third Man Records, and yet still managed to find time to surface with an appearance as the first musical guest on Conan O’Brien’s new show. Feeling inadequate yet?
For the latest release in Third Man’s Blue Series of limited edition 7-inch singles, White produced U.K. indie-folk ingénue Laura Marling. Marling, who at the ripe old age of 20 has two Mercury Prize-nominated albums to her name, covers Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game”—a track most associated with Simon and Garfunkel—and Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done.” She sings with wisdom well beyond her years, and White complements her performances with superbly intimate production. Check them out below.