Though Bob Dylan moved away from his role as a ‘protest singer’ long ago — we saw Another Side by his fourth album — his name will forever be associated with social activism. The international human rights organization Amnesty International rose out of the same turbulent era as Dylan, forming in 1961, the year Dylan recorded his first album. Fitting, then, that in celebration of their 50th birthday, Amnesty would call on artists to contribute their Dylan covers to the massive four disc set Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
Under the Radar shines a light on a lesser-known cover artist. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should.
“How can a man who plays guitar for Bruce Springsteen and used to be in Crazy Horse be considered under the radar?” you may be asking. Fair question. Millions of people have watched Nils Lofgren spin and flip during his “Because the Night” solos, but how many of them own any of his solo records? I rest my case.
Out of all the E Street Band’s solo records, Lofgren’s may be the best. Originals like “No Mercy” and “Keith Don’t Go” became minor hits, but Lofgren sprinkles his albums liberally with covers. His most recent release is a disc of acoustic Neil Young songs titled, appropriately, The Loner: Nils Sings Neil. One of the songs he performs is “Like a Hurricane.” On the album it lasts 3 minutes and 59 seconds. An outtake he posted on his website jams past the nine minute mark. Needless to say, that’s the one we’re posting.
I’m in the midst of finals these days – hence the less frequent posting – but I’ll tide you over with some school and test themed covers. Now back to “Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in Contemporary American Society”. Woohoo!
Snatch – Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd)
Sometimes the most interesting cover is the best, sometimes it isn’t. I didn’t do enough research to know which is the case here, but the moment I heard this funk-disco version I knew it was too unique not to post. So love it or hate it, but at least it’s different.
Nils Lofgren – What a Wonderful World (Sam Cooke)
I saw Joan Baez bust this one out a month or so back (read my review here), but I think Lofgren’s cover has it beat. Nils, incidentally, is Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, but a phenomenal musician in his own right, with a voice way better than the Boss’s.
Bruce Springsteen – High School Confidential (Jerry Lee Lewis)
On energy though, Bruce has him beat. It’s been a while since I was in high school, but I don’t remember it being quite as fun as this live take from ’78.
Julie Doiron – Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard (Paul Simon)
Luckily, my high school career was also not as law-breaking as Paul Simon’s apparently. Doiron gives it a quiet and slow acoustic take. If she was a guy, this would be emo, but as it is it’s just pretty.
Bree Sharp – We’re Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes)
Looking up covers for this post, I discovered that over at Cover Lay Down bowhowdy had done a similar post last month! I limited myself to only stealing one song for this post, but the rest are all worth hearing, so head over here. Oh yeah, and this is way better than Jack Johnson’s version. Surprising? Didn’t think so.
Laibach – The Final Countdown (Europe)
I should have a gothic-techno themed post at some point, but until then this Europe cover will have to suffice. Sounds like the angriest rave ever. Oh, and it’s relevant to the theme cause I’m taking finals, see?
A-Teens – School’s Out (Alice Cooper)
Looking at the artist here, you might expect this to be awful. And you’d be right. But sometimes novelty is good enough, and if you need a pick-me-up from your own finals, this terrible cover (featuring Cooper himself…wtf?) should give you a laugh.