We first heard Alyson Greenfield last July, when she bowled us over with her glockenspiel-happy “Gangsta’s Paradise” video. That cover came from a covers EP (the second-best of 2011) that now has a follow-up video, for LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.”
I have no hard data to back this up, but I suspect that EPs play a larger role in the world of cover songs than they do elsewhere. In the wider world, EPs tend to be an afterthought, a set of rejects or remixes that may or may not be worthwhile. People pay little attention to EPs, and artists act accordingly, saving their real statements for the full-lengths. In our world, though, we see as many EPs as we do proper albums, and they’re every bit as good. An artist may hesitate to put out a “cover album” – still a loaded term in some circles – but in the age of Garageband and Bandcamp, it’s only too easy to record a half dozen covers and toss ‘em out between albums. Therefore, in honor of the EP’s prominence in our world, we present our favorite EPs of 2011 (with an MP3 from each).
While some cover artists re-interpret known songs, Alyson Greenfield is one who goes for full on re-inventions. Her new EP of glockenspiel and piano-centric hip hop covers, entitled Rock Out with Your Glockenspiel Out, offers exercises in juxtaposition that work on many levels. Not only is she using an instrument straight out of third grade music class to play songs with adult lyrical themes, but her shimmering, simple sound and inflected vocals oppose almost every convention of hip-hop. This version of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” shows her angle, putting such an unexpected twist on an otherwise fairly conventional track that it even transcends appeals to novelty.
Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.
The A-Team influenced a generation of pre-teen boys into believing that they should “Pity the Fool!” The B.A. Baracus Band take it a step further, creating the ultimate ’80s cover band named after everyone’s favorite butt kicker, B.A Baracus. Unfortunately, gold chains or mohawks do not make an appearance. Using only guitar, djembe and kazoos, the B.A. Baracus Band has created covers that require the listener to stand up and dance. If said listener has consumed mass quantities, so much the better.
The band recently focused their creativity on LL Cool J‘s “Mama Said Knock You Out” (by the way, who wouldn’t want to see LL Cool J take on B.A. in all his glory?). As the djembe kicks in, remind yourself this is not your mama’s LL Cool J, and certainly not Street Sweeper Social Club’s Cool J. Incredibly, the white guys can keep pace with Cool J’s flow, shout-outs and overall swagger. Unfortunately, no video of “Mama Said Knock You Out” can be found on YouTube, but watch the band tear into Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” here, then head over to the band’s website and download lots more ’80s cover goodness. First things first though, download The B.A. Baracus Band’s LL Cool J cover, fool!
In our post on Street Sweeper Social Club’s “Paper Planes” cover, we predicted their version of “Mama Said Knock You Out” would be “explode-your-face dynamite.” Call it prophesy or just an ear for the inevitable, but now we can hear that LL Cool J cover and confirm that it’s exactly as brain-shattering as expected. Tom Morello bursts forward with shrieking guitar while Boots Riley channels LL almost as well as Bob Dylan did.
The cut comes off their upcoming The Ghetto Blaster EP, due August 10th. Don’t call it a comeback! (via MissInfo)