Jan 152016

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


“Angel from Montgomery” is one of those songs that’s probably best known from a cover—Bonnie Raitt’s iconic 1974 version (and the many live recordings that have followed). In fact, this article was inspired by hearing Joan Osborne say that for years she was basically intimidated by the Raitt cover from ever performing it herself—until she heard Susan Tedeschi sing it, decided Raitt didn’t own the song, and started including it in her set.
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Apr 052013

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

We’re going to take it down a notch today with an artist known more for her songs than her performances. While some would say this is a dream come true for songwriters who also perform, for Patty Griffin it’s been both a curse and a blessing. Griffin’s “Let Him Fly” and “Top of the World” are more known by their Dixie Chicks covers; “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)” is known for being American Idol-ized – in fact, four performers on American Idol have sung “Up to the Mountain,” turning it almost into a karaoke contest. Miranda Lambert, Jessica Simpson, and a cast of thousands just can’t stop singing Patty Griffin songs, and their covers have become wildly popular. But Griffin herself is much less known, and even though she’s won Grammys, the public at large often thinks that her songs belong to someone else. Continue reading »

Dec 172012

This year’s cover albums offered ambition on a scale we’ve never seen before. Moving beyond the normal “cover a bunch of random songs we like” tossoff, 2012 offered deeply thought-out conceptual collections. One updated kiddie folk songs for raved-out rockers, others reworked complete albums to their own ends. Even the all-star tributes that pop up every year aimed higher – one of the year’s most high-profile had 70+ tracks! So today we count down the best of the bunch, the ones that swung for the fences and got there. With every passing year there seems to be less sigma attached to the phrase “cover album,” and these sets move that needle even farther forward. Continue reading »

May 252011

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

Sure, Bob Dylan’s birthday may technically be over, but Bob Dylan’s birthweek is still going strong. So we continue our five-part series showcasing covers of every Dylan song today with the biggest installment yet. A full 60 covers await on the following pages, with heavyweights like the Isley Brothers and the Clash and newcomers like Adele and the Morning Benders. The latest chunk spans the letters K (Guns n’ Roses’ “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) through O (Crooked Still’s “Oxford Town”) and features some of Bob’s best known songs. “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “Like a Rolling Stone.” “Masters of War.” “Lay, Lady, Lay.” The list goes on.

Click the page numbers down below to start listening. If you’re just joining us, here’s where we are so far:

Part 1: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – “Everything Is Broken”
Part 2: “Father of Night” – “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
Part 3: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – “Oxford Town”
Part 4: “Peggy Day” – “Sweetheart Like You” [Coming Thursday]
Part 5: “T.V Talkin’ Song” – “4th Time Around” [Coming Friday]

Continued on Page 2…

Oct 062010

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

Why do a feature on Glee?

Well, for one, it’s an insanely popular show. Second, and more importantly, Glee is pop culture’s number one source for cover music right now. It’s kind of sneaky about that fact; few people, if any, talk about the music of Glee as cover tunes, but that’s precisely what they are. Often the show’s performances don’t do much in the way of altering the original song as covers typically do, but sometimes they can surprise us. Regardless, I think it’s interesting to look at those performances: why the show chooses a particular song, how the arrangement differs (if at all), etc.

So it is that each Wednesday I’ll be doing a rundown of every track Glee covered that week, delving a little into the history of the original track and talking about how the Glee version relates. I suspect a lot of people who watch the show are introduced to a few new songs every episode (even a music nerd like me had never heard “Papa Can You Hear Me?” prior to last night — a crime, I know), but I also think that people really into music but not big Glee fans might enjoy seeing some fresh performances and reinterpretations of favorite songs. In short, I think this feature has something for everyone, and I hope you agree! Continue reading »

Dec 302007

I was planning on doing some sort of “Best Covers of 2007” retrospective or something, but I’m sure you’re already as sick of those lists as I am, so instead of looking back this week, I’m gonna look forward, to 2008. Lord knows I’m not the only one hoping that year brings some major changes in the world and this country in, oh let’s say, November. So in hopes of that today’s theme is revolution at its most extreme, social change at its least. This country’s direction needs to change fast for a litany of reasons you can I’m sure come up with yourself. And first one to figure out where the post’s title comes from gets a virtual pat on the back.

Thompson Twins – Revolution (The Beatles)
The most obvious song to fit this theme, I had a bit of trouble finding an interesting cover. This one’s pretty good though, an 80’s version of the hard-driving classic. I particularly like the bomb-sounding drum after “destruction”.

Kevin Davis – Paths of Victory (Bob Dylan)
One of Dylan’s many unreleased 60’s songs (well, unreleased at the time), it shows where he got the “protest singer” label that he so resented later. It’s more fun than many of them though, with a bouncy tune brought forth in Davis’ joyous version, highlighted by Jason Lamb’s harmonica.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem– When the Ship Comes In (Bob Dylan)
I tried to limit myself to one Dylan tune, but there are just so many that fit the theme I had to throw both of these in there. And who better to do this one than one of the groups that inspired Dylan originally, Liam and co. Their harmonies are as tight as ever at this performance at the ’92 Dylan 30th Anniversary Tribute Concert.

Joan Osborne – Why Can’t We Live Together (Timmy Thomas)
Thomas was a one-hit wonder with this reggae-flavored number about holding hands round the globe and all that. Osborne is also a bit of a one-hit wonder, with her cringe-inducing song about God being a stranger on the bus and all that. However, she’s a great cover artist as she takes on soul and motown classics like these on her ’02 disc How Sweet It Is.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)
Jones and her band (the group that backed Amy Winehouse on her recent smash album) are being talked about more and more since their new album came out in October, and for good reason. There hasn’t been soul this exciting since Stax went under. And Guthrie works surprisingly well in this context, a refreshing break from the dozens of acoustic guitar-strummed versions out there.

Jack Johnson – Imagine (John Lennon)
If you do like solo acoustic songs however, here you go. No piano, no elaborate string arrangements, just some nice finger-picking by Johnson on a laid-back rendition.

Merry Clayton – Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones)
This one blurs the boundaries of the cover a little bit, as Clayton was the memorable backing singer on the original. As she’s not a member of the Stones though, and her own version is markedly different, I let it slide. Markedly different and, dare I say it, markedly better (credit tavorus dresshead support). She’s got a vocal power Mick could only dream of, and lets it blast one this horn-infused rave-up.

Bruce Springsteen – This Little Light of Mine (Trad.)
From his ’06 tour with the 12-piece Seeger Sessions Band, it’s got wild horns, backing singers, accordion, banjo, and probably the kitchen sink in there somewhere too. Back-porch hootenanny at its best.

Mavis Staples – Eyes on the Prize (Trad./Alice Wine)
I could have just posted this whole album as this week’s post, a selection of spirituals and hope songs on Mavis’ We’ll Never Turn Back from earlier this year. Producer Ry Cooder is as much the star as she is, backing her low and restrained singing with dirty guitar and thumping drums to give it a grit that few gospel albums can match.

The Wave Pictures – A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
I can’t find much information about this group other than their webpage (which has a few other nice covers), but they sure know how to sing Sam. Slowly thudding drums and wavering guitar gently nudge the gorgeous vocals forward. Another good cover of this one is Bob Dylan’s live version. After his Blowin’ in the Wind inspired this song, it all comes full circle. Here’s the video.