The Strokes’ Is This It songs have been covered to death, so musicians are digging deeper. We heard a killer Angles cover in April from Billie Eilish (more on her in a minute), and now singer-songwriter Andrew Combs takes on this Room on Fire track. His own music leans Nashville Americana, but from the crazy horns here, sounds like he’s been spending time in New Orleans.Continue reading »
Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
A newly elected, telegenic-but-polarizing, anti-establishment Republican president. A charged political climate on both sides of the Atlantic. A backlash from progressives in the music and entertainment community. Sound familiar? Yes, folks, we’ve seen this before!
As Ronald Reagan stepped on to the world stage in 1981, Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh, and Glenn Gregory were readying their eventual UK gold-selling debut album Penthouse and Pavement. Keyboardists Ware and Marsh, recently split co-founders of the Human League, joined with fellow Sheffield native and vocalist Gregory to form a new synth-pop outfit named for a fictional band from the novel A Clockwork Orange. Their first single, the frenetic “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” became a Top 30 US dance club hit in 1981, but not before being banned by the BBC in the UK over concerns of libel, in particular for the line “Reagan’s president-elect/Fascist god in motion.”
The classic track features Gregory’s velvety vocals over high beats-per-minute electronic percussion, combined with funky guitar, “slap” bass, sax, and synth effects. The still-active band’s website tells us that the song became NME’s record of the week while happening to mention, albeit as comic denunciations, the words “fascist,” “Hitler,” and “racist.”
Time has inspired a handful of musically evolved cover versions. The more recent attempts, if not (ironically) from Germany, do include some updated political sentiments. As it stands…
On Friday, we posted our tribute to Leonard Cohen, calling him maybe the greatest gift to cover songs ever. Many musicians agreed over the weekend, covering his songs across the world in live shows. We’ve rounded up a bunch below, from Coldplay, Norah Jones, Okkervil River, The Avett Brothers, Car Seat Headrest, and more.
The biggest surprise: Not many people picked the most obvious choice, “Hallelujah.” It seemed so perfect that I saw at least one person on Twitter begging musicians to pick something – anything – else to cover, and they listened. I figured it would dominate even more than “Purple Rain” did when Prince died, but perhaps many felt intimidated by the iconic Jeff Buckley and John Cale versions. It also might seem a daunting song to really sell, particularly if you just learned it in the tour bus (one of the only bands who did cover it: Styx).Continue reading »
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
The Ramones knew they were playing some of the best rock ‘n’ roll in the world, and by 1978, they were starting to grow aggravated about how few shared that knowledge. So, taking the if-Mohammad-won’t-come-to-the-mountain approach, they started making small concessions, in the hopes that these little changes would be the all they needed to get radio airplay. Road to Ruin, their fourth album, featured an occasional guitar solo here, an acoustic ballad there, even a couple of songs that lasted longer than three minutes. But the strain of being something other than their true selves was evident, and the record failed in its play for fame, charting outside the top 100. It shouldn’t have been a surprise – the Ramones’ reach was doomed to exceed the mainstream’s grasp – but it was a frustrating letdown all the same.
So what are we left with today when we listen to Road to Ruin? Well, it was a beat away from the first three albums – literally, as Marky Ramone had just taken over Tommy’s drum stool – and a little less cartoony. It was evident when da brudders were trying, but it was evident when they were succeeding as well. And in “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they came up with a song that has worked its way deep into popular culture. Final result: an album that can justifiably be called the fourth straight Ramones classic. Continue reading »