Nov 062017
 

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.

The Yardbirds’ write-up in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame begins with an immediate reminder that the group started off as a blues cover band. Little did Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, Paul Samwell-Smith, and (probably) Jeff Beck know when they wrote their first band-written, non-cover hit in 1966, “Shapes of Things” would eventually be included in the Hall’s permanent exhibit of “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” Much has been written about its recording, composition, arrangement, and socially conscious lyrics. (A check of Wikipedia or SongFacts will suffice.) Cover Me readers might enjoy hearing the jazz bass line from Dave Brubeck’s “Pick Up Sticks” that influenced Samwell-Smith. Legions of rock guitarists have paid their respects to Jeff Beck’s groundbreaking, feedback-laden lead guitar work on the song. Like The Godfather film, the ingredients combined to become a commercially popular and artistically appealing hit; the song reached #11 in the US, #7 in Canada, and #3 in the UK.

When we looked at over 40 verified covers of the song, we could see they pretty much fell into three categories: versions by the original members of the band (“All In The Family”); versions by numerous guitar gods (“The Shredders”); and other rock versions that don’t fit in either of the two previous categories (“Rock of Ages”). So for this special edition of Good, Better, Best, we’ll take a look at the top three for each category…

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Sep 222017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

In early 1965, nineteen-year-old Graham Gouldman – then playing guitar and singing with his Manchester, England band mates in the Mockingbirds – fortuitously connected with another fowl-named rock band. The London-based Yardbirds, barely two years formed, decided to record three of Gouldman’s compositions. By year’s end, “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” and “Evil Hearted You,” had all become smash hits and contributed immensely to the bands’ early success.

Our featured song, the second single released by the burgeoning supergroup, was the first with Jeff Beck on lead guitar. Beck, who replaced Eric Clapton over creative and other differences, was credited with introducing Indian/Eastern stylings to rock music with his sitar-inspired lead guitar work on the track. His fuzzbox sound on the signature melody line would become a Beck trademark and helped usher in the psychedelic rock sound of the ‘60s. These key ingredients, combined with Gouldman’s arrangement and lyrics, made “Heart Full of Soul” a top 10 hit for the Yardbirds on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching as high as number 2 in the UK.

The song has inspired over 50 verified covers, including a version the multi-talented Gouldman included on his second solo album, which we featured in our review of The Yardbirds’ Greatest Hits.

Here’s a look at five more varieties along with some additional notables…

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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!

GeddyLee

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 »

Aug 302011
 

Until now, PS I Love You had a good trend going with their covers. First came a version of Robyn’s “Cry When You Get Older,” then a few months later they followed that with Madonna’s “Where the Party?” Their grungy, wailing performance flipped the female pop songs to the heartbroken cries of anguished men. 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 »