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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Nov 282015
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

randynewman

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 saw New Orleans receiving 15 inches of rain in 18 hours, with parts of it under four feet of water. Forty-seven years later, Randy Newman released “Louisiana 1927,” a lament about the devastation the disaster caused and the government’s callous response. Thirty-one years after that, Hurricane Katrina struck, and the song took on a new life. It takes a remarkable writer to compose a song about the long-ago past that can be relevant in the far-ahead future, and that’s just what Randy Newman is.

As he celebrates his 72nd birthday today, Newman can look back on a career of critically praised albums, memorable film scores, a couple of fluke hits, twenty Oscar nominations and two wins. He’s the absolute master of the unreliable narrator, which allows him to explore the uncomfortable side of humanity with dark humor. Journalist Paul Zollo writes, “There is no other songwriter who has shown us bigotry, ignorance, and human weakness as convincingly as Randy Newman.” People who only know him as the guy who writes for Pixar movies and gets mocked by Family Guy need to take a closer look; fortunately, many cover artists have been all too happy to take that closer look for us.
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Sep 042013
 

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

Welcome to part two of our all-cover collection of the Beatles’ self-titled epic. We’ve got nine covers here, done in styles ranging from blues and jazz to ska and country-rock to folk and indie-rock – in other words, a selection almost as varied as the White Album itself.
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May 032013
 

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!

Warren is a profoundly mysterious man, and I have learned not to argue with him, about hockey or anything else. —Hunter S. Thompson

The fact that Hunter S. Thompson was a friend of Warren Zevon’s really shouldn’t surprise anybody: his crazy songs of headless mercenaries and KGB waitresses sound like Fear and Loathing on vinyl. Starting out as a songwriter for groups such as the Turtles in the ’60s (he said that the B-side he wrote for “Happy Together” paid his rent for years), Zevon struggled with his own songwriting identity until releasing his Jackson Browne-produced eponymous album in 1976, and its follow-up, 1978’s Excitable Boy. Although never really recapturing the fire that those two albums kindled for him, he went on to have sporadic success between long bouts of drug and alcohol addiction, and became known for his rambunctious live shows attended by equally rambunctious fans. Continue reading »

Sep 212011
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Music’s poet laureate, author and Zen Buddhist monk, Leonard Cohen, turns 77 years old today. A product of Montreal, Cohen began his writing career while attending McGill University in the ’50s, achieving some critical acclaim but little financial success. Frustrated, he moved to New York City in his thirties and became a musician, releasing his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967. Continue reading »

Jul 202011
 

As part of the upcoming 2012 year-long 100th birthday celebration of Woody Guthrie comes Note of Hope, a twelve song covers tribute of mostly unreleased Guthrie songs. Woody’s daughter Nora Guthrie is at the helm producing the project which features bass player extraordinaire Rob Wasserman joining up with a fantastic selection of artists. The legendary American singer-songwriter and folk musician is getting the birthday party he deserves. Continue reading »