Jun 242020
 

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

Nina Revisited

Nina Simone, the “High Priestess of Soul,” had a storied career, producing over 40 albums throughout her life. She gained popularity with her original music as well as through reinventions of standards (including a Hall and Oates tune later in her career). She was formally trained on the piano from a young age, and although she never reached her dream of being the first African-American classical pianist, she did become the first African-American woman to play piano at Carnegie Hall (even if she wasn’t playing classical tunes). Simone went to Julliard, but she was denied entrance to the Curtis Institute of Music, which she suspected was due to her race. She had the last laugh, though; a couple of days before she died, she was awarded an honorary degree by this institute.

Simone was active in the civil rights movement (she even performed at the Selma march), and she wasn’t afraid to speak (or sing) her mind despite how this affected her career. She was more in the Malcolm X school of thought (and was his literal neighbor) than in Martin Luther King Jr.’s, but King’s death still affected her and led to a tribute song.

Simone’s accolades are many. She has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame, and her legacy lives on. Her songs remain in the public ear, including being sampled in modern hip-hop and rap songs by Kanye West, Jay-Z, Timbaland, and Lil’ Wayne, among others.

To coincide with the release of the original Netflix documentary about her life, What Happened, Miss Simone?, in 2015 this tribute album was released with liner notes by Angela Davis. Let’s listen to some reinterpretations of some of her most iconic songs.

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Jul 022018
 
cover songs june
Andrew Combs – Reptila (The Strokes cover)


The Strokes’ Is This It songs have been covered to death, so musicians are digging deeper. We heard a killer Angles cover in April from Billie Eilish (more on her in a minute), and now singer-songwriter Andrew Combs takes on this Room on Fire track. His own music leans Nashville Americana, but from the crazy horns here, sounds like he’s been spending time in New Orleans. Continue reading »

Jul 302015
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

JJ-001-Web

It is easy to understand how someone could find a pre-school appropriate cover of “Big Pimpin” musically lacking. By stripping all lyrical content from hip-hop and infusing a heavy dose of xylophone, artistic value becomes shaky. While this style of cover might fit well in a high school talent show, superficially they offer little more than a tight chuckle and warrant slightly more than a participatory prize.

So, why are these covers being defended?
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Jun 052015
 

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

bobmarley

His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation. – Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga, in his eulogy to Bob Marley

Maybe it’s a cheat to include a greatest hits album in the Full Album Covers category, but when the suggestion of Legend was put forward, I was intrigued. Only as I started searching did I perhaps discover why this best-of was the album suggested, instead of Catch a Fire, say, or Natty Dread. One of Bob Marley’s “normal” studio, or even live, albums might have been, well, a much duller choice, actually. If not dull, then uninnovative and samey, because anyone can do karaoke, and by golly, there are a lot of copycat Marley covers out there! By focusing on Legend, at least there is  opportunity to steer a little clearer of identikit versions.
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Feb 142012
 

Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.

The sister of the Yours Truly founder passed away recently, and L.A. indie pop artist Nite Jewel recorded this gorgeous cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Visions” in her memory. It’s just a keyboard and that voice, which is all you need.
MP3: Nite Jewel – Visions (Stevie Wonder cover) Continue reading »

Jun 272011
 

Near the end of Bob Marley‘s life when cancer had begun to take it’s course he wrote “Redemption Song.”  In a song that gives a glimpse into his dealing with mortality, he delivered one of the more widely covered acoustic spiritual ballads today. Some of the versions that ring true to the soul of the song include a haunting rendition by Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer and a live tribute by Lauryn Hill with Ziggy Marley. Continue reading »