Oct 272017

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!

The paths of songwriter Graham Gouldman and all-time greats The Yardbirds are forever linked in rock and roll history, but not inextricably. In 1965, a nineteen-year-old Gouldman had the good fortune to begin his career by penning the iconic Yardbirds hits “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” and “Evil Hearted You.” The songs helped establish the now-legendary group as they transitioned from one eventual rock guitar god (Eric Clapton) to another (Jeff Beck), but the hits wouldn’t define Gouldman’s career.

Gouldman, a musician in his own right, neither performed with the band (that we’re aware), nor wrote any further hits for them. However, his career was just getting started. The ‘60s saw him writing additional hits for The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, and the aforementioned Jeff Beck, along with songs recorded by Cher, Wayne Fontana, and Ohio Express. The ‘70s brought hits with his own band 10cc. Additionally, Joe Cocker, Paul Carrack, Gary Wright, and Kirsty MacColl all recorded Gouldman tracks over the ensuing decades.

Today, the 71-year-old consummate troubadour is still at it; he just finished up his appropriately-named “Heart Full of Songs” tour in the UK before he rolls back out to Europe with 10cc in November. Let’s take a look at some standout covers of songs written by Gouldman from the major eras of a career that’s now spanned over fifty years…

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Mar 292011

Oftentimes, the difference between a good cover and a great cover can be boiled down to a simple question: does the artist make the song their own? This writer figured out the difference at a young age thanks to Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends” at the beginning of The Wonder Years every week. Good covers are simply covers; great covers are reimaginings.

This distinction is captured beautifully in Seven Swans Reimagined, and the title is a perfectly accurate one. This various-artists project from On Joyful Wings is not merely a tribute to the Sufjan Stevens album, but a complete redirection of all the beauty that Stevens imbued it with in the first place. The artists include a few Cover Me favorites like Wakey!Wakey! and Bonnie “Prince” Billy and some of Stevens’ labelmates from Asthmatic Kitty (Shannon Stephens, Half-Handed Cloud). Continue reading »