Jul 262018
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

rolling stones covers

Mick Jagger turns 75 today, three decades past his famous 1975 benchmark: “I’d rather be dead than sing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.” Mick’s still singing “Satisfaction” today – and so are a lot of other people. So what better way to celebrate his birthday than with a countdown of the best covers of Rolling Stones songs of all time?

It’s not that we haven’t posted plenty before. They’re actually our fifth most-posted band, after Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young (a little surprised about that one, but as of this post, Neil’s only ahead by one). We’ve shared our favorite covers of “Ruby Tuesday,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Wild Horses,” “Paint It Black,” and “Back Street Girl.” We’ve posted covers of every track on Sticky Fingers, Beggars Banquet, and – in case those weren’t long enough – Exile on Main St. And it’s not just covers of the band we adore either; the Stones’ recent album of blues covers ascended to the very short list of albums we’ve awarded five stars.

But we’ve never pulled it all in one place until today. Just as we did for Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Beyoncé, and Talking Heads, we’re counting down the best covers of Rolling Stones songs ever. The length beats Floyd’s forty-song record; we’ve got fifty Stones covers, from A (Albert King) to Z (Zydeco, Buckwheat). The Stones have been covered in all eras, all genres, and by all sorts of people. By the time you read this, the next all-time-great Stones cover might well have landed.

You can’t always get what you want, as the man once said – but if you click on, you just might get what you need.

Jul 172018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

nicki bluhm cover songs

Singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm boasts a lot of experience with collaboration. Her new album To Rise You Gotta Fall (hear a track below) features two co-writes with her friend Ryan Adams, and in recent years she’s toured in Phil Lesh’s band and as part of the Incredible Stringdusters. When last I saw her live, she was singing “The Weight” in Levon’s barn as part of Amy Helm’s female-musicians collective Skylark.

So as someone who knows how different musicians and genres can blend to create unexpected classics, it’s no surprise she’s a fan of cover songs. She used to record amazing covers with her band while driving the van, and her new album includes a powerful blast through Dan Penn’s “I Hate You” (appropriate for a divorce record). And she digs deep in her cover recommendations below, going from a certain song you might remember from last month’s Best Beyoncé Covers countdown to a nod to a Grateful Dead song she has sung with Lesh himself. Check out Nicki’s picks below. Continue reading »

Dec 022014
 

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

Defense? I never knew Linda Ronstadt was under attack. OK, not true, I’ve known she tends to get many a sneery put-down from “real” musos, dissing both her voice and her choices of material, citing that “real” artists have way more credibility (and way fewer sales.) Beautiful but soulless, they call her and her voice, short on originality and innovation. A famous early putdown was around her being merely a competent backing singer, the irony being that ability potentially defines far greater technique than the relative ease of a solo performance, as those who have sung with her (Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and legions more) have been more than happy to testify. I guess it stems down to generalizations around any successful artist, particularly if blessed also with photogenicity and famous boyfriends.
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Jun 232014
 

Virtually, every one of Linda Ronstadt’s hits were cover songs. A few of the genres she not only covered, but immersed herself in, during her extensive musical career include country, rock, jazz and traditional Mexican music. Though recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sadly, due to Parkinson’s disease, Ronstadt is no longer able to sing. Continue reading »

Jun 112013
 

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

The common wisdom is that Elvis Costello’s debut My Aim is True was an “angry young man” album, a blast of punk and new wave, and that Costello’s music matured and diversified as he aged. Like much conventional wisdom, it is wrong. To the contrary, the 12 (or 13 — see below) songs on the album are wildly diverse, and in addition to the punkier rockers, the songs foreshadow many of the stylistic experiments that Costello has engaged in over his long and distinguished career.
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Apr 232013
 

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!

Evan Dando gets a lot of flack for being the poster boy of college-friendly rock in the early- to mid-’90s. He was the subject of focus to Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill/Le Tigre/wife of Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys), who wrote a particularly intense zine piece about him, and he was also the target of Steve Albini and Nirvana, who pranked him pretty good. However, his choice of covers as a solo artist and as lead Lemonhead reveal that behind his good looks, he also has a deep appreciation of crafty songwriting, as well as a good-natured and self-deprecating sense of humor. Continue reading »