We watch a lot of radio session videos here, and they tend to be visually uninspired. They represent, after all, afterthoughts. A BBC Live Lounge or Triple J “Like a Version” session is intended for, primarily, the radio. Superorganism’s new cover for Triple J represents a wonderful exception to the norm, a zany and unexpected mashup as fun to watch as it is to hear.
Suicide singer Alan Vega died last week at age 78, and since then a whole host of artists have paid tribute by covering his songs. As was the case with “Purple Rain” when Prince died, one song has become the go-to tribute song for the occasion: the uplifting “Dream Baby Dream.”
Bruce Springsteen, who has regularly covered the song solo on piano over the past decade, delivered a full-band version to open his Denmark show. Pearl Jam did the same at a festival show in Canada, while Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler who tweeted a very laptop-dj take on the tune.
Fifty years ago, a covers album wasn’t called a “covers album.” It was called an album. Full stop.
Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Billie Holiday – most albums anyone bought were “covers albums” as we’d think of them today, but that’s not how folks thought of them then. Once the public began putting a premium on singers writing their own songs in the ’60s the concept of course shifted, so that an artist doing a covers album has to be like Michael Jordan playing baseball – an okay diversion but let’s get back to the main event please.
More so this year than ever before though, that pendulum seems to be swinging back in small but meaningful ways to what an album originally meant. More and more artists are releasing LPs saying, this is not my new quote-on-quote “covers album,” this is my new album (that happens to consist of covers). The attitude showcases a confidence and surety of purpose that shows they take performing other peoples songs every bit as seriously as they do their own.
That holds true for both of our top two covers albums this year, and plenty more sprinkled throughout. Which isn’t to knock anyone doing a covers album as a lark, novelty, tribute, or side project – you’ll see plenty of those here as well – but any blurred lines that put a “covers album” on the same level as a “normal” album have to be a good thing.
Start our countdown on Page 2…
A little over a month ago, we got a sneak peak at the new “Just Tell Me That You Want Me,” an all-star compilation paying tribute to the iconic Fleetwood Mac. We heard renditions of classics such as “Future Games” reinterpreted by MGMT and “Silver Springs” by Lykke Li. The album was officially released in Starbucks across the country on the 14th. If you haven’t had the chance to stop by one of the dozens of Starbucks within the five mile radius of your house (or if you’re not a resident of the U.S.), you’ve lucked out, as the entire album is now available for streaming.
It’s been several months since MGMT has hit the stage. Luckily for fans in Montreal, the band played a set at the Osheaga Festival a couple of weeks ago. Not only did they play a new-ish track that alludes to a new album in the near future, but they also took the time to pay homage to The Rolling Stones with a classic, “Angie.”
You know the soft rock/world music CDs you see at the check-out point of your local Starbucks? Turns out that these CDs aren’t entirely worth passing up. Starbucks’ label Hear Music/Concord has gathered some of the best and brightest musical talents for the Fleetwood Mac tribute compilation, Just Tell Me That You Want Me, and with producers Randall Poster and Gelya Robb, who were behind the grammy-nominated Rave On Buddy Holly, you know it’s going to be worth adding on to your $4.85 tall skinny vanilla latte.