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…

Nov 042008
 

—Note: This is a repost. In their recent wave of attacks on music bloggers, the RIAA finally found me, prompting blogger to delete the original post with no notification of any kind. Maybe the industry was pissed that I talked shit about it in the original post. This attack on the music blogging community seems to me a situation of that cliched shirt, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Anyway, here is the text of the removed post, but the links are gone. That includes the buy links, incidentally – look what happened RIAA, now no one will buy any of these albums at all. I will be making a new Full Album cover post later tonight but if these take-downs become a recurring pattern, I cannot say what my future as a music blogger will be.—

Halloween is this Friday, and it’s certainly a scary time for us bloggers. In the past couple weeks everyone has been getting posts pulled, cease-and-desist letters, and file hosting privileges revoked out of the blue. Who knows what instituted the crack-down, but I’ll take vampires over the RIAA any day. Here at Cover Me we’re gonna press on, celebrating the fun side of being scared with some Halloween covers.

Marilyn Manson – This Is Halloween (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Tim Burton’s holiday classic wouldn’t be complete without Danny Elfman’s spooky soundtrack, pop songs about bleeding eyes and deadly poxes. Some songs are just so perfectly chosen to cover, and this would be one of them, Manson relishing the change to parody himself as he exhorts you to scream. Off of the recently-released Nightmare Revisited covers collection. [Buy]

Lou Rawls – Season of the Witch (Donovan)
Because nothing says Halloween like a lot of organ. And nothing says “Alright, I’ve had enough of the damn organ” like a sax blaring through at halfway point. [Buy]

Denison Witmer – Is There a Ghost? (Band of Horses)
To promote his upcoming release Carry the Weight, Witmer has been releasing a series of covers on his MySpace page of everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Red House Painters. Needless to say, the blogosphere has been eating up (free music, woohoo!), but his nuanced and forceful acoustic takes warrant the hype. [Buy]

The Mighty Echoes – Monster Mash (Bobby “Boris” Pickett)
No cover of this could possibly live up to the original, with Pickett’s eerie Boris Karloff-channeling vocal performance, but this a capella doo wop take is fun. [Buy]

Boyce Avenue – Disturbia (Rihanna)
“Really, Ray, the third week in a row with a Disturbia cover?” That’s right. They just never get old, and the video is an S&M Halloween classic. [Buy]

Barenaked Ladies – Grim Grinning Ghosts (Buddy Baker)
Baker wrote the music for dozens of obscure Disney movies, and this one he came up with as the theme for the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney world. It’s used in a billion different ways, meticulously cataloged at the tune’s wikipedia page, but none can be better than this super-jolly BNL take. [Buy]

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Whistling Past the Graveyard (Tom Waits)
With his well-known “I Put a Spell On You” and classic album covers like this one, Screamin’ Jay could have a whole Halloween post by himself. And maybe he will next year. Until then, here’s one of his many classic Tom Waits covers, a big funk number with a growl and swagger. [Buy]

Petra Hayden – Thriller (Michael Jackson)
I posted Ben Gibbard’s cover of this in my full album cover post here, which I personally prefer, but this one has gotten a lot of blog hype. It’s a little too close to the original for my taste, but demand was high, so have at it. [Buy]

Alkaline Trio – Over at the Frankenstein Place (Rocky Horror Picture Show)
No Halloween is complete without some Rocky Horror excitement, and if your Halloween plans include Brad and Janet this year, check out this site to truly be prepared. And then go buy the full disc of covers, The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show, that includes this fuzzed-out gem of one of the musical’s more obscure tunes. [Buy]

Michael Derning & Mia Arends – Vampire (Michael Smith)
It’s difficult to research someone with the name Michael Smith. I’m guessing this songwriter is not the ex-singer of the Dave Clark Five, but he’s probably not the Limp Bizkit guitarist either. I like this song though, so if anyone has any insight as to its origins, let me know! [Buy]

Hexnut – What’s He Building? (Tom Waits)
Two Tom Waits songs for a Halloween theme strikes me as entirely appropriate, and no song is more apropos to the occasion than this. I use the term “song” loosely of course, as this spooky spoken-word narrative sounds straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I don’t know what he’s building, and I don’t intend to find out. [Buy]