Today is Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday and, if you follow us on social media (or just about any other music site), you know last week was the 50th birthday of his iconic album Blonde on Blonde. To celebrate, Mojo magazine’s new issue contains a tribute CD with covers of every song. Hear a selection of highlights below.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
[A]nybody who hasn’t heard Judee Sill should really do themselves a favor and buy either Judee Sill or the follow-up, which I think is slightly preferable, Heart Food. And both those albums are… well, it’s been said many times before, but she is a female Brian Wilson or he is a male Judee Sill. They’re just stunningly beautiful. It’s J.S. Bach with a 12-string guitar and a ready tune on her lips. She’s really stunning, really stunning. Leagues away from all the other kind of corny bootheels-in-the-dust, denim-flares-California-West-Coast thing of the early ’70s. She just makes them eat cactus, as far as I’m concerned. She’s phenomenally good. – Andy Partridge, XTC
Judee Sill was jailed for robbing liquor stores, forging checks, prostitution, and possession of narcotics. The last would kill her in 1979, shortly after her 35th birthday. She recorded two albums for David Geffen before making a remark in a radio interview that ended her relationship with him, his label, and the music business. She had a prickly personality and the appearance of a severe librarian. And she claimed her biggest influences were “Pythagoras, Bach and Ray Charles.”
Admit it – you want to know more.
There’s always some song that’s getting a lot of cover attention at any given time. Whether ironic or sincere, there’s some intangible quality about certain songs that makes them supremely coverable. That song, at the moment, seems to be the theme from HBO’s Game of Thrones, and it’s easy to see why. A range of new covers – from Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band, Marissa Nadler, and Chvrches – have sprung up in the wake of the premier of the show’s third season, and display the vast possibilities of the song.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
On December 27, 1967, Columbia Records released an album by a folk musician and a true poet (not necessarily in that order). It was different than anything he’d released before, but there was an audience for this new/old sound of his, and over the years, as the mysterious yet straightforward lyrics were analyzed and treasured in equal measure, the critically acclaimed album grew to be understood as a genuine classic, one that new generations discover and longtime owners rediscover to this day.
That album is, of course, John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan. Funnily enough, you can describe Songs of Leonard Cohen exactly the same way, right down to the day it was released.
When we think back to this year, we might remember 2011 as the year that the whole concept of the “cover album” became more fluid, and not always for the better. Thanks to the increased prominence of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, a cover album could be conceived, recorded, and shared in the space of a weekend. This didn’t necessarily lead to better cover albums, but it certainly led to more of them. They came in all formats – digital, CD, vinyl, and even cassette-only – and from all directions – labels, blogs, and even some magazines.
Which, we like to think, makes this list that much more helpful. In a year where the biggest single-artist cover album we got came from William Shatner, it proved a particular challenge to dig through the many obscure artists and assorted tributes and extract the gems. Gems there certainly were though, be they from newcomers making an impression with their favorite songs or old-timers honoring groups that influenced them decades ago. It may have taken a bit more work to find them, but the end result is as strong a selection as we’ve seen.
Continue to page 2 to read the list…
Last year, Boston singer-songwriter Marisa Nadler released Covers Volume I. We named it one of the best cover albums of the year, so needless to say, we’re excited to report she’s recorded a follow-up. Once again, it will be for sale exclusively through crafting online marketplace Etsy, but you can download three tracks now (and her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Winter Lady” here).