Mar 222013
 

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

In 1975, Neil Young released Zuma, one of several albums he recorded in the ’70s which contained a single song that pretty much eclipsed the rest of the album. In Zuma’s case, it was “Cortez the Killer,” a three-chorder rumored to have been written to make it easier for Crazy Horse guitarist Frank Sampredo to play along on rhythm guitar. Young hadn’t played with Crazy Horse for several years, and during that time Sampredo had taken the place of founding guitarist Danny Whitten, who had died of a drug and alcohol overdose. Clocking in at over seven minutes, “Cortez” was originally even longer — it famously had to be faded out because tape ran out during the session. (Upon learning the song’s last verse didn’t get recorded, Young shrugged and said, “I never liked that verse anyway.”) Bands who have covered the song have been been tacking minutes onto it ever since. Continue reading »

Jan 112013
 

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

“Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren had a very long gestation period. Originally recorded in 1968 and released as the B-side of the Nazz’s “Open My Eyes,” it was re-recorded in 1971 and released on 1972’s Something/Anything? album; a year later, it came out as a single, at which point it went top-five and became Rundgren’s biggest hit. The wait may have been prolonged and inexplicable, but that Carole King-with-soul sound made the wait totally worthwhile.
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Oct 062012
 

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!

Matthew Sweet turns 48 today. In a few weeks his signature album Girlfriend will be old enough to legally drink, but in a more important way, it will never grow old; Sweet’s masterpiece of love and loss is infinitely timeless, and we’re grateful for it permanently placing him in the power-pop pantheon.
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Jun 152012
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

It shouldn’t work. The whole concept of 1995’s Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits reeks of cynical marketing ploy. It’s so easy to imagine a label executive bellowing, “I’ve got it! Today’s hottest alternative rock favorites covering cartoon themes from their youth! The adults will want to buy it just as much as the kids!” His colleagues cackle, rub their sweaty hands with glee, and get to work on making a Marvel comic version and a TV version hosted by Drew Barrymore.

So how come it works? Continue reading »

Apr 172012
 

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!

The Buzzcocks were unique among British punk bands of the late seventies; not only were they more melodic (at a breakneck pace, granted) than most of their peers, they were prone to lead with their hearts. Pete Shelley, lead vocalist and chief songwriter, was the reason why; while other groups traded furor and phlegm gems with their audiences, Shelley yelped about love and lust, found and lost, in a way that girls and boys could both relate to, and he did it in perfect three-minute bursts. Shelley turns 57 today and is still going strong; we’re honoring him with these five covers from the first phase of the Buzzcocks’ career. Continue reading »

Dec 162011
 

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

In the week after John Lennon’s death, the universal outpouring of grief obscured a significant anniversary; his first post-Beatles album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, had been released on December 11, 1970 – ten years, almost to the day, before Mark David Chapman shot him. It was an anniversary rarely noted at the time; those who gathered outside the Dakota were more ready to sing of giving peace a chance and imagining all the people than they were to sing lines like “They hurt you at home and they hit you at school” or “The dream is over.” Continue reading »