May 122017
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Blood on the Tracks

Tired of hearing hoary old crooners covering hoary deceased crooners? Try this as an antidote. 1975’s Blood on the Tracks was Bob Dylan’s fifteenth studio album, and is usually in the critical running for his best, vying with the earlier Blonde on Blonde (covered here). (Of course, whenever a new Dylan record is released, it is compulsory to be proclaimed as a “return to form,” that status seldom lasting until the ink dries and Blonde or Blood regains its rightful pole position.) Let me go on record here: Blonde is a bit meh, with rather too much filler for my tastes, so it is always Blood for me.

Blood on the Tracks was also my first full immersion in Bob, Greatest Hits not quite counting. See, a pal o’mine had access to discounted CBS recordings, half price if I recall. I had my eye on a witchy boho girl, like me newly arrived at University. She had her eye on my discount and, beyond a serious 40 minutes of otherwise silence, as we listened to my purchase of Blood, a prompted and suggested gift for her, that was that. She thanked me, apologized for giving me the bum’s rush, but she had to go out, you see, with the flash harry further along the corridor. I was so hurt, my emotions imbued by and immersed in Bob’s own heartbreak, that I bought a second copy. Probably full price, too.
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Jun 032011
 

Cover by Cover takes you on a journey through the cover progression of a classic song.

It’s hard to precisely trace the genesis of “Because the Night,” a song made famous by punk rock progenitor Patti Smith but written, at least in part, by the inimitable Bruce Springsteen. Here’s what’s known for sure: Springsteen concocted some rendition of Because the Night for inclusion on his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town. However, he decided to keep the song off the record; he wasn’t comfortable with including a love ballad amongst its darker pieces. Not wanting the tune to go to waste, producer Jimmy Iovine took it to another one of his clients, Patti Smith, and suggested she put it on her forthcoming Easter record. He insisted it’d give her a hit. Smith resisted at first but eventually gave in, and indeed “Because the Night” became the most commercially successful song of her career. It sounded like this:

Although he gave the song up on record, Springsteen often performed the tune himself in concert with altered lyrics. This started as early as the Darkness tour in 1978. The Boss officially released a version of the song on his Live/1975-85 box set which many probably thought was a cover. In reality, it’s tough to call either Patti or Bruce’s version the cover; both artists can make claim to originating aspects of the song. What is clear, though: lots and lots of other artists have taken a crack at “Because the Night” over the past 30 years. Let’s take a look at the song’s development through its most noted and interesting versions.

To begin, continue to Page 2.

Radiohead

 Posted by at 11:16 pm  No Responses »
Aug 112008
 

I’m seeing Radiohead on Wednesday night, and that seemed as good an excuse as any for this week’s theme.
EDIT: My review of the concert here.

Easy Star All-Stars – Let Down
From the people who brought you Dub Side of the Moon, it’s Radiodread! You can probably guess the musical genre, but they’re surprisingly adept at bringing the Jamaican flavor to the music, throwing in horns and a big chorus on top of the backbeat guitar.

Jorge Drexler – High and Dry
You may not know the name of this Latin guitar master, but Oscar does. In 2004 his song from The Motorcycle Diaries made him the first person from Uruguay to win an Academy Award. Throw this cover in a film, and I’d vote for a second.

Nickel Creek – Just
Fast-paced bluegrass is what Nickel Creek does, and they do it well.

John Mayer – Kid A
This is Mayer in his acoustic “Your Body Is a Wonderland” guise, not the blues guitar god, but don’t hold that against this simple power-chord ballad.

Northern Kings – Creep
Wikipedia calls them a “Finnish symphonic metal cover band,” following in the footsteps of Lordi but with less elaborate costumes. They do everyone from Lionel Ritchie to Jethro Tull on their album Reborn and here they bring their epic goth to Radiohead. You may well hate it, but for a song that’s been covered a billion times, at least it’s different.

Christopher O’Riley – Arpeggi
A classical pianist, O’Riley has a whole series of Yorke songs in his repertoire, many of which can be downloaded at his website. This is a cover of the early live version of a song that would be revised for In Rainbows as “Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.” O’Riley says he prefers the early version for “the more minimalist/tone generative aspects inherent in the song structure.” Okay.

John Vanderslice – Karma Police
A few years ago Stereogum commissioned covers of every song off OK Computer to celebrate its tenth anniversary. The whole thing is downloadable here (track-by-track notes here), but this off-beat drum machine take is a highlight, with some of the hardest-rocking acoustic guitar you’re likely to hear this side of the D coming in halfway through.

Gnarls Barkley – Reckoner
Cee-Lo’s voice is perfect for this song, which they’ve been doing in their sets as of late. A higher quality source (soundboard) than most others circulating.

KT Tunstall – Fake Plastic Trees
The introspective quiet-but-whiney female thing got real old after Vanessa Carlton and Alanis Morisette in the 90’s, but this song works well in the style.

Gillian Welch – Black Star
Country songwriter Welch makes brings sweet harmonies and guitar work to this one, avoiding any temptation to make it all Nashville honky-tonk.

Sa-Ra – In Limbo
From the electronic-ey tribute album Exit Music: Songs for Radioheads, Sa-Ra brings a funk element to all the synthesizers. More fun in one song than all of Kid A.

Calico Horse – Idioteque
I would have thought this song was uncoverable. I would have been wrong. It sounds perfectly natural in this quiet, drum machine free guise.