Dec 132013

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…

Nina Simone was a bold and original artist. She drew on jazz, gospel and popular music influences, developing a distinctive style and singing voice. Beginning in the late 1950s, Simone released a series of successful albums, but stayed indifferent to the music industry. Her songs were often political, addressing civil rights and feminist issues. Continue reading »

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!

Sunday is Elvis Costello’s birthday, an occasion where we usually feature covers of an artist’s songs. But seeing as the birthday boy is one of the hardest working songwriter/musicians in the music world, it would be a shame to give him a break now. So we’ll look at some of the covers he’s done and get his birthday weekend started tonight, like we all do when a good birthday falls on a Sunday.
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A little less than a year ago, we over here at Cover Me couldn’t help but gush over Catherine A.D.’s delicate, weep-inducing take on Bon Iver‘s “The Wolves (Act I and II).” Since then, Cover Me has stalked her page and covered five of her covers. Needless to say we’re fans and couldn’t be more excited for her next covers release. Between finishing up at university and her debut full length album that’s due out this winter, Catherine A.D. found some time to put together all of her reworkings and covers for her album Reprise. Continue reading »

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

Nina Simone brought the haves and have-nots together in 1968 when she released a medley of two songs from the musical Hair on her album ‘Nuff Said!. “Ain’t Got No” and “I Got Life” weren’t paired up in the original stage show, but Simone makes the combination natural, necessary, and irresistible, celebrating the self over the superfluous. Continue reading »

This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.

Today’s set brings us piano pomp for Empire of the Sun, bar band crunch for Nina Simone, psychedelic pop for the Smiths, spoken-word ambiance for David Bowie, and smooth soul for Sade. Download ‘em all below. Continue reading »

Red Band (also known as The Puppet Folk Revival) is indisputably the best Israeli puppet cover band on the Internet. To be fair, there isn’t much dispute over Israeli puppet cover bands. If there was any substantial amount of arguing going on, though, it’s likely that Red Band would win. Continue reading »

Certain records labels come to represent a sound as fully as the bands they represent. Sub Pop, Epitaph, Matador – all names that conjure up a particular aesthetic for those familiar with their roster. Anova Music may not boast the fame or history of the big labels, but with its small lineup it too represents a specific sound: Israeli indie. Genre-wise, it’s all over the board – from the EatLiz hard rockers to jazz singer Ruth Dolores Weiss – but the small community stays strong.

On a selfish note, we like Anova because of all the covers they send us. Whether generated by label policy or coincidental artist initiative, the songs always deliver. In September we posted Electra’s cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and we recently named Weiss’ Leonard Cohen cover one of the best of 2010. Continue reading »

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