Apr 082019
 
allman betts purple rain

In another world, Prince could have been a long-haired Southern outlaw. In an oral history of the film Purple Rain, these were Prince’s then-drummer Bobby Z’s recollections of the first time he heard the title track: “My first reaction was, ‘Wow, this is almost a country song.’ It had a different feel than anything we’d been rehearsing for the rest of the album.”

Time has proven Bobby Z correct, as “Purple Rain” has been covered by the likes of Dwight Yoakam, LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, and Brad Paisley. The latest to give Prince’s masterwork a southern-fried makeover is the Allman Betts Band. During their tour opener on March 27 at the Brooklyn Bowl the band reinterpreted “Purple Rain” as a country-rock jam. Continue reading »

Mar 282019
 
best radiohead cover songs

All week we’ve been running features on every artist inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s unusually strong 2019 class. But the biggest tribute goes to the band least excited about the honor. And that’s maybe as it should be.

Their unenthusiastic reaction – as I write this, it’s not even clear if any of them will show up – reminds me of when Bob Dylan first played Obama’s White House. Bob didn’t come to his own rehearsal, or to the customary photo op with the president. He turned up at the last minute, played his songs, shook the President’s hand, and immediately left the building. And as Obama told Rolling Stone: “That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise.” Continue reading »

Dec 172018
 
best cover songs of 2018

Two things strike me as I scan through our list this year. This first is that many of the highest-ranking covers are tributes to recently-deceased icons. No surprise there, I suppose. But none actually pay tribute to artists that died in 2018. They honor those we’ve been honoring for two or three years now – your Pettys, your Princes, your Bowies. Hundreds of covers of each of these legends appeared in the first days after their deaths, but many of the best posthumous covers took longer to emerge.

Good covers take time. That principle – the cover-song equivalent of the slow food movement, perhaps – holds true throughout the list. Sure, a few here appear to have arisen from sudden moments of brilliance, flash-arranged for some concert or radio promo session. But many more reveal months or even years of painstaking work to nail every element. Making someone else’s song one’s own isn’t easy. These 50 covers took the time to get it right.

– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief

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Aug 132018
 
hilary scott kiss

If the only “Kiss” cover you know is that Tom Jones one, get ready for something new, pussycat. On her upcoming album Don’t Call Me Angel (out October 12), Washington state singer-songwriter Hilary Scott turns the Prince classic into a smoky blues ballad. She starts out sounding like the Mississippi Delta before the song gradually builds into a blast of Bonnie Raitt soul. It’s unlike any “Kiss” cover we’ve ever heard, and one of the best Prince homages to come out since his passing. Continue reading »

May 302018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

wax idols cover songs

Last month, we got cover picks from Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, a man with as much claim as anyone to founding the genre awkwardly labeled “post-punk.” And today we hear from one of the most prominent younger post-punk acolytes today: Wax Idols.

On their great new album Happy Ending, though, founder Hether Fortune broadens her sonic template beyond post-punk’s familiar tropes. On a dark yet melodic song suite, she and her bandmates bring in new wave, goth-rock, and even hints of straight-up pop music. For a taste, watch the VHS-ed out graveyard video for “Mausoleum”: Continue reading »

Jan 312018
 
best cover songs january

At the end of every year, we work for weeks curating our annual Best of the Year list (here’s last year’s). We’re monitoring what comes out all year though, so this month I thought: why wait? Here’s a more impulsive and spontaneous list, some songs we’ve written about already and others we didn’t get to. Just some great covers that stood out as the month comes to a close. Continue reading »