Jan 122016
 

   Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Sam Cooke  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“Summertime,” one of the most covered songs in music history (just ask The Summertime Connection), has always inspired masterful performances. The song weaves simple yet potent lyrics with a slow, steady harmonic progression, paving the way for poised renditions, yet its strengths allow the artists to freely improvise this musical masterpiece to make it distinctly their own. Covers range from chilling and ominous to sultry and even joyous, always maintaining the song’s soulful cool. Most importantly, “Summertime”‘s depth provides a canvas for inspired artists to create breathtakingly beautiful art.
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Feb 082013
 

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.

Susanne Mohle and Pete Klein are Night Bird, a jazz-inflected Deutschland duo who take popular songs and transform them into tunes that fit right into any smoky basement with a cover charge. It’s not an uncommon approach, but the end results are a lot rarer – quality performances that don’t leave you pining for the original hits by the original artists.
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Aug 242012
 

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

It must have been a real drag to be young and watch the whole love and peace era go down the drain. JFK, dead. MLK, dead. Paul McCartney, dead. The music of the turn-on-tune-in-drop-out generation had become so absorbed with its own self-importance that the weight was too much to carry, especially with the early ’70s promising no bright future “comin’ up around the bend.” Bryan Ferry‘s These Foolish Things, one of two all-covers albums released in October 1973 (David Bowie‘s Pin-Ups was the other), served as a healthy reminder that these hippie anthems and cultural touchstones are, after all, pop songs. Continue reading »

Oct 292010
 

The following post first went up on October 29, 2007. To celebrate our third birthday, we are re-posting it for the first time with new MP3 links. These songs will only be live for 48 hours, so snag them now!

First off, welcome to Cover Me, my own foray into the world of cover blogs. I’ll be posting a new set of covers every week, usually on a theme, with other stuff probably cropping up. They will stay available to download for a month, at which point they will vanish like the wind. So keep this blog bookmarked, and also check out the other great blogs in the Links on the right. If you like what you see or have a suggestion, drop a comment or shoot me a line.

For the first segment, in honor of the soundtrack to the movie I’m Not There, which came out yesterday, we’re gonna hit you up with some Dylan covers. Specifically, every song from his return-to-roots ’67 album John Wesley Harding. The original shocked everyone with its acoustic instruments, Biblical imagery, straightforward story-songs, and lack of choruses. These short, spare songs have lent themselves to loads of covers over the years, many quite different from the originals. Continue reading »

Sep 032010
 

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

You think Vermont music, you might think flanneled hippies strumming mandolins. Not Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They may come from the great wooded north, but their big soul sound comes straight from Dixie with a side of south-side Chicago. Potter is a vocal tour de force, a skinny white girl with an enormous voice. She can do a two-hour show without fading a bit and her hot four-piece band keeps right in step. Searing guitar solos abound, but nothing can upstage that voice.

Through years of near-constant touring, the band has amassed quite a stack of covers. In our latest Live Collection, we collect every concert cover we could find (thanks archive.org!). That includes blasts through Blondie, My Morning Jacket, and a whole lot of Neil Young – including a 14-minute “Cortez the Killer” that should be required listening for any rock band. Josh Ritter joins the band on John Prine’s “Pretty Good,” but otherwise they don’t need any help in blowing the roof off any building they play.

As a special bonus, below the main set we have the thematic new covers from their 2009 New Year’s Eve show. The band had clearly been spinning the Top Gun soundtrack a lot; they cover seven songs from the darn thing! And not just the original soundtrack either. The band apparently took to the 1999 Special Edition CD, cause they run through three of the four old-school bonus tracks as well. In between ’80s classics like “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone,” the band throws out Top Gun lines as a wink to clued-in audience members. “This is Ghost Rider requesting permission for a flyby!” Permission granted. Continue reading »

Oct 292007
 

First off, welcome to Cover Me, my own foray into the world of cover blogs. I’ll be posting a new set of covers every week, usually on a theme, with other stuff probably cropping up. They will stay available to download for a month, at which point they will vanish like the wind. So keep this blog bookmarked, and also check out the other great blogs in the Links on the right. If you like what you or have a suggestion, drop a comment or shoot me a line.

For the first segment, in honor of the soundtrack to the movie I’m Not There that came out yesterday, we’re gonna hit you up with some Dylan covers. Specifically, every song from his return-to-roots ’67 album John Wesley Harding. The original shocked everyone with its acoustic instruments, Biblical imagery, straightforward story-songs, and lack of choruses. These short, spare songs have led themselves to loads of covers over the years, many quite different than the originals.
Jeff Tweedy – John Wesley Harding
The lead singer of Wilco performed this little ditty little ditty frequently on his solo tour in ’05. This faithful reading comes from his hometown concert at Chicago’s Vic Theater on March 4 of that year and features the same spastic, swirling harmonica playing that Dylan plays on the original.

Mira Billotte – As I Went Out One Morning
From the movie soundtrack mentioned above, this cut features the lead singer of folk band White Magic lending her alto to one of them album’s less-known tracks. The drums are more prominent than the original, and the acoustic guitar interludes are pretty enough, but something about her voice is perfect fore this song, melodic without being overpowering.

Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Off her ’02 album Songs From the Gutter (which, incidentally, featured a cover of the Springsteen song from which tis blog gets its name), another pretty female voice sings what some think of as the companion song to the previous. It’s certainly louder though, swathed in echoey guitar and waves of reverb.

Tom Landa and the Paperboys – All Along the Watchtower
Almost every cover of this song takes its cue from the famous Hendrix cover, so I tried to find a version that acted as if Jimi had never existed. And this Celtic jig version sure fits that mold.

David Grisman & Jerry Garcia – The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
Garcia’s mandolin partner-in-crime Grisman (the guy who played the instrument on Ripple) joins him here for a duet on the longest song of the album, clocking in at seven minutes. Garcia, incidentally, performed this song with Dylan himself when the Grateful Dead toured with him in ’87.

Jimi Hendrix – Drifter’s Escape
Yeah, he showed up, but not on the song you expected. Dylan’s certainly heard this version though, as he copped the style in recent years. And doesn’t that riff sound like Cream’s Crossroads…?

Janis Joplin – Dear Landlord
The phrase “powerhouse performance” was made for recordings like this. Horns and organ usher in her banshee wail as she tears this polite request for freedom apart.

Limestone and Joy – I Am a Lonesome Hobo
I can’t find much information about this group, but they take this dirge at double speed, harmonies and all. The question of whether the lyrics warrant a song that sounds so fun is another matter.

Joan Baez – I Pity the Poor Immigrant
Joan’s covered most of the songs here at one point or another, so she had to show up somewhere. With a piano backing instead of her normal fingerpicking, she seems to reign in her voice, keeping the lyrics at the fore.

Patti Smith – The Wicked Messenger
With her recent cover album, Patti’s talent for reinterpretation is finally being given its due. This is no Gloria, but it’s memorable anyway, as she ditches the riff that permeates the Dylan version in favor of noise and screaming.

Duane Allman & Johnny Jenkins – Down Along the CoveThis duo takes Bob’s blues song, and plays it like a blues songs, with bopping piano, and plenty of slide guitar and harmonica soloing.

Emmylou Harris – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
The bastard child of the album in its country tone, this one understandably lends itself to a lot of dribbly covers. Harris’ tricky guitar playing helps redeem the song from sentimental mush.