Aug 192016

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.


With Out of Time, R.E.M. completed their transition from college band to global stardom, and they wanted their next album to move away from Time‘s gentle lushness and move into harder-rocking territory, more suited to the grunge-y times. But when the band members reconvened, they found they were no longer of a mind to write loud ‘n’ angry. Result: Automatic for the People, a meditation on loss that’s downbeat without being depressing, from a band turning away from a world begging to be conquered so it could consider its disquiet. The record wasn’t what they originally promised, but it didn’t disappoint either – it went top-five worldwide, and today it’s considered the band’s masterpiece, the kind of album you put on and then you just lie down and you let it engulf you (or so it is said).

“Every one of its 12 songs is worthy of attention,” MOJO said, and in 2007 the website Stereogum proved it with their tribute album Drive XV: A Tribute to Automatic for the People. A celebration of Automatic‘s 15th anniversary, the tribute featured artists who grew up with R.E.M. as a constant in their lives, and hearing that familiar band speaking with a new voice clearly made an impression on these musicians who were still discovering their own voices and the ways they could be raised.
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Nov 182011

Thanksgiving is still a week away, but Christmas songs and albums have already begun swamping the shelves. You’ve got your usual holiday shlockfest from industry heavy-hitters like Justin Bieber and Michael Bublé, but there are a lot of indie acts and label comps floating around too. We’ll have several more Christmas-cover rundowns as the holiday season approaches, but today we’re just tossing together some of the early Christmas covers we’ve come across so far. Continue reading »

Sep 242011

After weeks of buildup, today we finally hit the big day: the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind. The only fitting culmination of all the related stories we’ve been seeing recently is a regular Full Album feature. Only problem? We did one already. In fact, it was one of the very first posts we did, over three years ago. The MP3s have been gone for two-plus years though, so we thought, what better way to celebrate the anniversary than by bringing that post back from the dead? For a limited time, we’ve re-posted the covers of every song on Nevermind. Happy 20th, Nevermind. See you in 2021.

Download covers of every song on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ here.

Mar 212011

For the first time, Cover Me attended SXSW and we return with a ton of new favorites. Over the next couple days, we’ll tell you what we found. None of these artists have appeared on the site before, but you can rest assured you’ll be hearing from them again soon. Continue reading »

Jun 022009

Some Pixies fans will tell you this album invented alternative rock. Others will say it invented indie. Regardless, what remains clear is that Doolittle helped is still revered by musicians today. Every indie band seems to have a Pixies cover up their sleeve, if their original songs don’t already sound like Pixies covers in the first place. From the opening riff of “Debaser” through the loud-soft “Gouge Away,” it’s a classic for anyone who wants to understand the past twenty years of music.

Rogue Wave – Debaser
The guys substitute a riff of their own in the intro and continue reworking things throughout, from the tune to the harmonies. It takes a bit of getting used to if you know the original, but they manage to make it a completely new song valid in its own right. [Buy]

Local H – Tame
Scott Lucas talk-sings over a thumping bass line until the primal freak-out over the chorus, showing these guys to be anything but tame. [Buy]

The Arcade Fire – Wave of Mutilation
A little mini-song here, Win and the gang got a little audience sing-along going on this tune last year. It sounds spontaneous until the instruments quietly come in and you realize the band knows this song backwards and forwards. [Buy]

PC Munez – I Bleed
If you think you can’t dance to Doolittle, you’d be wrong. Electro blips and thumps ignite the singing duet, threatening to explode but barely staying bottled. The air raid siren sound seems apocalypticly appropriate. [Buy]

Lerkruka – Here Comes Your Man
For some reason I think Frank Black would approve of a Swedish-language cover, reasonably close to the original if you ignore the lyrics. [Buy]

Radio Active – Dead
Off of a Japanese tribute to Pixies, the lyrics are in…oh, I guess that’s English. Strong accent, but the roaring guitars come so close to drowning out the lyrics it doesn’t matter. These cries of agony cross continents. [Buy]

Far – Monkey Gone To Heaven
Making the verses sound like radio-transmitted chatter about seems a perfectly nonsensical way to approach this one matter-of-factly talking about “ten million pounds of sludge” and burning the ground. Next to that, the chorus almost makes sense. [Buy]

TV on the Radio – Mr. Grieves
I have yet to discover the story behind this a cappela gem, but thank god for Tunde nd the boys. It’s rich and beautifully world, making me think these guys should have auditioned for Ben Folds recent CD. [Buy]

Venus Imperium – Crackity Jones
With so many bizarre and processed covers, sometimes a simple acoustic take is refreshing. It’s light, bringing out both the lyrics and melody as simply as possible. [Buy]

Weston – La La Love You
“Shake your butt.” “Not too hard.” Has there ever been a better intro to a song ever? Add in some whistling and you’ve got gold. [Buy]

Elk City – No. 13 Baby
The recent Dig For Fire Pixies tribute album is worth a listen or ten, not least for this falsetto-swoon that almost makes it sound like a bluesy Tom Waits cover. [Buy]

Asterid – There Goes My Gun
Frank Black’s website forum facilitate a fan-based tribute album that the band’s manager said had as good covers as he’d ever heard. The toy piano tinkles an intro for a tune that gets louder fast with horns and yells. [Buy]

Eskimo Joe – Hey
A little acoustic jive here, bumping along slowly like a funkier Ben Harper. [Buy]

Bluebottle Kiss – Silver
Quiet brushed drums provide all the rhythm this slow-burn needs to stay focus as it inches forward, molasses-slow but keeping you along for the whole ride. [Buy]

Andrew McCubbin – Gouge Away
Absurd number of covers of this one, but Andrew’s voice does it for me. Organ, bass and guitar is all the backing this singing needs. [Buy]

Jan 092008

Sorry this post is a couple of days late. The good news, though, is that I’m starting a new series. On the first Monday of every month, I’ll be posting covers of every song from an album. I’ve already done Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man, and today we go to a very different genre than the singer-songwriter, Nirvana, the creators of grunge. Hearing how people reinterpret his work, though, it’s clear Kurt Cobain has more in common with the previous generation of songwriters than the noise in his work might originally suggest. So here it is, Nevermind from beginning to end.

-Update 1/14/07: That great cover to the write is courtesy of reader Garrison, who found us through a nice shout-out over at Berkeley Place. If you want a high-res version, click here.

-Update 3/10/07: New download link at bottom.

-Update 9/23/11: And we’re back, for the 20th anniversary of Nevermind!

Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit
One of the best new covers of ’07, she infused banjo, brushed drums, and an unprecedented attention to lyrical clarity in her singing that makes it seem like a singer-songwriter number instead of a grunge rave-up.

Gringo Floyd – In Bloom
Off one of those lame “The [Insert Random Musical Genre] Tribute to [Insert Band of a Very Different Genre]” albums, this cocktail instrumental mixes horns with some weird synthesizer riffs and the occasional breathy sigh to get your head bobbing.

Caetano Veloso – Come As You Are
Keeping the sassy swing going, Brazil’s Veloso infuses a smooth latin feel into this one, slowing it down a bit and bringing out a new guitar line only implied in the original.

Steve Earle – Breed
Recorded for the B-Sides album Side Tracks, he keeps the same general feel using his own gruff snarl.

The Polyphonic Spree – Lithium
A bouncy, pretty version that keeps the levity going even through the loud chorus, aided by the girl’s backing vocals halfway through each verse. The happiest song ever with lyrics like “I’m so lonely” and “Maybe I’m to blame for all I’ve heard”.

Animal Collective – Polly
Fast strumming behind molasses-slow vocals, this is a radio version of a vinyl-only cover that’s been making the blog circuit. Good by itself, better on acid.

Ill Nino – Territorial Pissings
Similar to the original, but even harder, with a metal voice yelling the “Gotta run away” but keeping the tune for the rest. Nothing revelatory, but decent. If anyone has a better cover of this one, let me know.

Coco – Drain You
Thought I’d never find an interesting cover of this, until a discovered this Asian electro-pop version on their myspace page. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it genre, but I enjoy it in small doses.

The Retroliners – Lounge Act
A surf instrumental of this one, these vocal-free takes show just how good Cobain was at crafting a tune…which he could then all-but bury under waves of distortion.

UK Subs – Stay Away
If the Sex Pistols had covered Nirvana.

Rogue Wave – On a Plain
A strummed indie version, it sounds both wistful and hopeful at the same time.

Tricky – Something In the Way
Taking samples from here and there, underground DJ Tricky does a funky hip-hop sort of cover using Hawkman on vocals. Very interesting, very cool, and almost unrecognizable from the original.

Download the full set: