Jul 312015
 

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

babyheadphones

When it comes to parenting, there are really only two rules you need to follow:

1) Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

2) Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to listen to bad music.

I’m sure there’s something else in there about head injuries and not touching the stove, but I don’t have kids so that’s not really my area of expertise.
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Mar 132015
 

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!

When you consider their longevity, the sheer number and variety of their live performances, and influences as diverse as bluegrass, country, soul, rock, psychedelia, blues, and jazz, it is likely that the Grateful Dead may have recorded and/or performed more covers than any other band that is best known for its original songs. (There’s probably a wedding band out there that has a bigger songbook, but that’s not really the point.) Grateful Dead fans have been trading and cataloging their favorite band’s performances since long before the idea of digital music and the Internet even existed, and now there are numerous databases available online — one of which shows 343 separate covers performed by the band (and solo projects and offshoots), including soundchecks and performances with guests.

Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that Cover Me has never turned its lovelight directly on the Grateful Dead. We have written numerous times about covers of Dead songs, but a quick review of the archives indicates that only three covers by the band have been featured—Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mama Tried.” So, that leaves us a mere 340 to choose from today. To make this project (inspired in part by Phil Lesh’s 75th birthday this Sunday and by the recent announcement of the band’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago this summer) somewhat less insane, we will limit ourselves only to recordings or performances by the Grateful Dead, proper — no solo projects or anything from after the death of Jerry Garcia.
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Jul 112014
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

 
“Baby Don’t You Do It” was written by the premier Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. As with other Motown songs, it got passed around the stable a bit; originally meant for the Supremes, it wound up going to Marvin Gaye, who had a minor hit with it, and Stevie Wonder and the Isley Brothers recorded it as well. It also got a toehold across the pond, showing up in setlists of the Small Faces and the Who, among others. And let’s not forget other forgotten versions, like those by the Wailers and Barbara Randolph (well worth an exploratory visit to YouTube). In other words, for a song that’s not often mentioned as one of Motown’s greatest hits, it’s made a deep, deep impression.
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Sep 282011
 

Two free new cover EPs to direct you to today. The first comes from Roberts & Lord, a duo that met by trolling Myspace. Ex-Simian singer Simon Lord (the voice of that “We Are You Friends” song) stumbled across California producer Rafter Roberts while looking for a collaborator online and they decided to work together. The electronic experimenters soon found themselves a home on Asthmatic Kitty – aka Sufjan Stevens’ record label – and released full-lengthy debut Eponymous and this free COVERS EP. Download two tracks below (including a must-hear “Because”), then grab the full thing here. Continue reading »

Sep 022011
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” can legitimately lay claim to having three different artists record the original version. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded it before anybody else, but Motown president Berry Gordy vetoed its release. Gladys Knight and the Pips got their faster, sassier version released first – again, Gordy didn’t want it to leave the studio – and took it to number one. But the version Gordy fought hardest against putting out, recorded two months before Knight’s and released eighteen months after its recording, was Marvin Gaye’s. Continue reading »