In high school, a friend and I drove two hours to a blues festival in rural Maine one Saturday. When we got to the gate we found tickets to be well outside of our meager budget, but there was only one artist we’d wanted to see anyway: Johnny Winter. So we found a low fence we could peer over, and sat, and waited.
I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.
What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
(His strings) were like fucking telephone wires. Just a little bit bigger piece of wood and you’d have a fuckin’ piano. – Robert “Cutter” Brandenburg, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s friend and roadie, on Vaughan’s guitar
He just sort of kicked everyone’s ass and no one seemed to fight back. – Jimmie Vaughan, on his brother outplaying him, Robert Cray, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy at his final performance in East Troy, Wisconsin
I’m just asking y’all to take care of yourself so you can be there for the ones that love you and need you the most. And they need you all the time. I know I do. – Stevie Ray Vaughan preaching a little grace to a Denver audience, November 1989
As tapes from the era can attest to, in 1991 you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing the Spin Doctors’ two mega hits, “Two Princes,” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” Shockingly, these guys are still making music together, and have been, off and on, since those early days. In support of the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Pocket Full of Kryptonite, they dropped by Rolling Stone to perform those two hits as well as a cover of Robert Johnson‘s “Stop Breaking Down.”
Live Collection brings together every live cover version we can find from a prolific artist.
Warren Zevon had paid his dues for years before his self-titled 1976 release would finally get him a fair amount of critical attention and a modest amount of airplay. In his first pass through L.A. he was a session musician and jingle writer, penned a few songs for the Turtles and released a forgettable solo debut in 1970. Then he spent a couple years on the road with the Everly Brothers, both together with Phil and Don and then with each of them solo, like a child of a divorce custody battle, as the brothers were beginning their estrangement. A self-imposed exile in Spain would follow and when Zevon returned to L.A. in late 1975, his pal Jackson Browne was there to help him get a record deal. Zevon had some things in common with his laid-back Asylum label contemporaries, but what separated his music from Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles was his ability to write caustic and satirical songs about unconventional people often in awkward situations.
Our White Stripes tribute continues today with a massive live collection. The Stripes were known for their concert presence as much as anything and, with the freedom that only a two-person band can bring, they frequently performed covers both expected (delta blues) and not (Mazzy Star). Some songs appeared frequently over the years, others popped up for one night only. Sometimes they were planned performances, other times Jack White just started singing some lyrics.
Below, we give you a collection of cover songs the band performed on their 2005 Get Behind Me Satan tour. The set was originally compiled by a user over at the Little Room forum and his/her efforts amaze us to this day. Thirty-three songs, all available as MP3 downloads below. The audio quality ranges from pretty-good to fantastic. Download them individually or as a full set.