Apr 282010

It seems every week a new “Best Dylan Covers Ever” article surfaces, but each new list reads much like the last.  Hendrix tops it (fair enough) and Peter, Paul and Mary and the Byrds follow behind (really?).  At Cover Me we like to break out of the mold though, so let us present the second and final installment of The Best Dylan Covers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard.  This week we tackle songs Dylan recorded after his fabled 1966 motorcycle crash.

Barb Jungr – Things Have Changed

Dylan’s past few albums signaled a comeback, the legendary songwriter finally matching his sharp songwriting with smart production.  His greatest song since the ‘70s can’t be found on them though, but rather as an Oscar-winning one-off for the Wonder Boys soundtrack.  [Buy]

World Wide Message Tribe – Precious Angel

True, Dylan’s widely reviled born-again period inspired a lot of Armageddon preaching from the stage, but it also sewed the seeds of the most successful dance cover of a Dylan tune to date.  [Buy]

Giant Sand – All Along the Watchtower

Once the most recognizable three chords in rock hit, Giant Sand deliver a somewhat conventional cover.  But it takes sixty seconds of cello feedback to get there.  [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell

Mark this one as one of the best live covers of all time.  Discoveries like this utterly brilliant acoustic duet reward obsessive bootleg collectors.  [Buy]

The Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love

Dylan recorded this song in 1975, but it didn’t see official release until a mediocre studio recording on 1985’s Biograph collection (track down his 1975 live version at the Bitter End for the definitive reading).  That fantastic chord progression makes it a cover favorite, with everyone from George Harrison to Chuck Prophet having a go.  [Buy]

Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names to All the Animals

Many fans would rank this song up with the worst songs Dylan has ever written.  And it would be, except for that final line that turns all the nursery rhyme verses on their head.  Dylan’s least ambitious Christian song may just be his most powerful.  [Buy]

Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

Gilmore turns up on just about every covers CD Britain’s Uncut magazine compiles, delivering superb performances of The Clash and the Boss.  This artist boasts some serious folk cred though; Joan Baez hand-picked her to open a tour and covered Gilmore’s “The Lower Road” on her latest album.  [Buy]

Delta Cross Band – Legionnaire’s Disease

What, you don’t know “Legionnaire’s Disease”?  Well, a recording of Dylan performing it has never surfaced.  Written after a 1976 outbreak of the infectious bacteria known technically as Legionellosis, Dylan handed it off to Billy Cross, his guitar player from 1977-79.  [Buy]

Richie Havens – License to Kill

Havens has spent his career covering Dylan — witness his cameo in I’m Not There.  His signature guitar tuning and strumming pattern takes the fore, laying the weight of the world upon a mediocre lyric.  [Buy]

Tim O’Brien – Father of Night

O’Brien’s Red on Blonde covers album is one of the best out there, giving tunes from the famous (“Forever Young”) to the obscure (“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”) jaunty bluegrass rhythms.  [Buy]

Read Part 1: Before the Crash.

Apr 092008

I’ve talked smack about Beatles covers several times on this blog, finding many that either try to ape the original and of course fail, or try to be different but just make you want to listen to the originals. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I prefer any of these to the originals, I’m glad I’ve discovered each one of them. As with most of the Beatles’ earlier albums, the track list is a little fuzzy, being different on the British and American versions. In this case though, they just cropped a couple songs off of the US album. What, are we not good enough for Doctor Robert or I’m Only Sleeping? So we went with the original tracklist, giving you a little extra bang for your proverbial buck.

Nickel Creek – Taxman
Of all the Beatles songs to turn into bluegrass, Taxman doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice, but Chris Thille and co. make it work with lots of rapid-fire mandolin and a fiddle solo.

Richie Havens – Eleanor Rigby
As he often does, Havens changes the rhythm on the vocals a bit, with a voice you can’t tune out. More unusual for him is the jazz phrasing and heavy production.

Suggs – I’m Only Sleeping
Horn-infused neo-reggae, it eclipses the more straightforward covers of this one with an African sound and funky drumming

Ronnie Montrose – Love You To
Slow and spacey at the beginning, echoey sitar soon combines with 80’s drumming and screaming electric guitar solos (what Montrose is known for).

Marina V – Here, There and Everywhere
The opera voice can be a little much at first, but once you get used to it the plunky piano suits the melody quite well. I wish that unmemorable string section wasn’t there to clutter things up though.

Sebadoh – Yellow Submarine
Nothing if not interesting, this one opens with a quote about a “psychiatric disorder” that is surprisingly apropos. It sounds like an insane asylum, where the inmates got a hold of a couple drum kits and a drunk fourteen-year old. It might give you a headache, but so would any of the dozens of for-children covers I could have posted too.

The Livid Kittens – She Said She Said
Another loud one here, it’s a little more traditionally “music” as a kind of punk take with electro overtones. Definitely the best band name I’ve heard in a while too.

Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine
Redmond does his best Wilson Pickett impersonation here, and that’s in no way a bad thing. Blaring horns, belting background singers, and voice-cracking screaming by Redmond takes the soul all the way.

The Charles River Valley Boys – And Your Bird Can Sing
Off one of the earliest Beatles tribute albums, Beatle Country is also one of the best, adding slide guitar, banjo and everything without losing the heart of the originals as so often happens with genre-themed tribute discs. These boys got on their game fast, releasing this song the same year the original came out.

Elliott Smith – For No One
Smith has done a shitload of live Beatles cover, but his voice is perfect for this one, mourning and resigned. Strummed acoustic is all this song really needs, those his little scat singing halfway through is a nice touch.

Dr. Sin – Doctor Robert
Billed as Brazilian’s best hard rock band, in honor of their name these guys did a whole album of doctor-themed songs, Listen to the Doctors. It’s more interesting than I would expect a metal cover of the Beatles to be, with punchy drums and yes, a lengthy guitar solo.

Doug Kilishek – I Want to Tell You
Thanks to Brian from Coverville for cluing me into this one, it’s a hard-driving rocker that makes its punches then gets out, clocking it at just over two minutes.

Ryan Montbeau Band – Got to Get You Into My Life
Never heard of these guys, but I like their sound, jammy without making me fall asleep like most jam bands. It’s plows right ahead, never losing it’s energy with long musical “exploration” that so often kills potentially good songs live. Download the full show here.

Stereo MC’s – Tomorrow Never Knows
Another one that gets the “interesting” classification, it’s a electro-dance remix-like version (though not actually a remix, as the vocals are not the original). Loads of nice covers of this one abound, but this is by far the most unique.