Jul 292016

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!


Geddy Lee turns 63 today. As the bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist for Canadian power trio Rush, he makes up one-third of one of guydom’s most beloved bands. That “Rush fans are the Trekkies of rock” factor has become a running joke of sorts, in real life and in movie life. It may have kept them out of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame for WAY too long, but when that wrong was righted in 2013, and Jann Wenner announced, “And from Toronto…”, the explosion of cheering that followed was one of the great moments in RRHOF history. The fact remains that the band’s instrumental prowess and willingness to explore new territory has won them intense loyalty for a reason, and Geddy Lee’s wailing, both vocally and instrumentally, was a major part of that perfect puzzle.
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Oct 102012

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 importance of Neil Young‘s 1977 career retrospective Decade, released thirty-five years ago this month, cannot be overstated. It served to establish Young as a major artist in the canon of rock, and was so full of transcendent moments that it needed three albums to hold them all. It offered unreleased tracks at a time when that Just Wasn’t Done, and the quality of those tracks conveyed the impression that Young wrote so many masterpieces he could afford to keep most of them locked away. It gave real insight to the creative process, with Young’s handwritten liner notes saying more in three lines than his critics could in three paragraphs. Its summing up a career with hits, rarities, and deep cuts selected by Young himself made it a sort of Mesozoic box set, one whose template wouldn’t be followed for years but is now de rigueur. Most of all, it’s a way to get some of the greatest music of the ’60s and ’70s in one place – and since Young’s range is so great, there’s always something on it that you’re in the mood to hear. Continue reading »

Feb 112011

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

Hailing from Chicago, IL, the Smashing Pumpkins helped blaze a trail for the wave of apathy that infected most ’90s alternative rock. They also gave hip kids from the Midwest the first nationally-recognizable band they could take pride in since Cheap Trick. Formed in 1988, the Pumpkins enjoyed over a decade of fame and influence until noted in-fighting brought about their dissolution at the turn of the millennium. After numerous side-projects and member-shuffling, the Pumpkins have once again taken to the stage under the leadership of Billy Corgan, perhaps one of rock music’s true auteurs.

The Pumpkins have celebrated their diverse influences via cover songs throughout their career. A quick scan of their recorded catalog reveals studio takes of tracks originally by acts like the Cars, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, the Cure and Missing Persons. Their live shows are similarly peppered with covers that one might not expect to hear from these iconic slackers. Some of these do seem like a natural fit though: it’s not too hard to draw a line to the Pumpkins from Neil Young, Depeche Mode or Pink Floyd, for instance. Continue reading »

Radio Radio

 Posted by at 12:00 pm  1 Response »
Sep 292009

One of my friends recently moved to Chicago and complained to me about the lack of good radio stations. This puzzled me, as it seemed to imply that there were good stations anywhere anymore. If there are, I don’t know ‘em, which leads me to ask this question:

Jesse Malin – Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio? (The Ramones)
Joey and the gang predicted the demise of radio by a good twenty years. Ironically, Malin seems to be making a pitch for mid-tempo “alternative” stations with this one. [Buy]

Town Bike – Radio Nowhere (Bruce Springsteen)
Last Friday I had the privilege of attending a taping of Elvis Costello’s Spectacle show featuring Springsteen (my review). They chatted and played for four straight hours, wrapping things up with a radio medley. It started with this… [Buy]

Dustin Kensrue – Radio Radio (Elvis Costello)
…and finished with this, Bruce taking Costello’s part from the classic Saturday Night Live debacle. Hard to find interesting covers of this, but here’s Thrice’s lead singer breaking it down acoustically at an Apple in-store performance. Fun fact: Whenever his equipment broke down on his last tour, “Weird Al” Yankovic went into a cover (not parody). Watch. [Buy]

Ted Leo – The Spirit of Radio (Rush)
Indie-punk Leo seems like an odd person to cover prog giants Rush, but his guitar chops are up to stuff. A good thing, ‘cause that’s all there is. [Buy]

Josh Millard – Radio Cure (Wilco)
After the bizarre faux-jazz version we heard from the Bad Plus a few months back, here’s a more straight-forward acoustic take. If you like this stripped-back approach, check out James Eric and Erin Vogel covering the whole Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album last month. [Buy]

Matthew Show – Mohammed’s Radio (Warren Zevon)
Zevon is blessed with two excellent tribute albums. Enjoy Every Sandwich features an A-list group of musicians and peers, but the lesser-known Hurry Home Early features some true gems. This is one. [Buy]

Amanda Palmer – On the Radio (Regina Spektor)
Now I love Amanda Palmer, but this one seems almost TOO easy. Spektor and Palmer share the same eastern-European oddball appeal like cabaret-pop twins separated at birth. When I saw Spektor do this one live, she was too drunk to do it justice. Palmer gets it right. [Buy]

Masters of Reality – Devil’s Radio (George Harrison)
The radio intro here includes everything you might hear, from music to war, new cars to pop stars. Harrison included this on his 1987 comeback album Cloud Nine that itself featured a hit cover, of Got My Mind Set on You (great video too). [Buy]

Bruce Lash – Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo)
Is this jazz or folk? Sincere or ironic? All I know it’s off Lash’s second Prozak for Lovers all-covers album, which is worth getting your hands on. [Buy]

The Wrong Trousers – Video Killed the Radio Star (The Buggles)
Fun fact: This was the first music video ever played on MTV. Maybe it was the last too; the age of the music video came in with a boom and went out with a whimper. Prepare for the upcoming sequel: “MTV’s Relentless Obsession with Crappy Reality Television Killed the Video Star.” [Buy]