Mar 212017
 
streets of philadelphia cover

“Streets of Philadelphia” is one of Bruce Springsteen’s best-known songs since his 1980s ubiquity, even winning him an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1994. But for whatever reason, the man himself doesn’t play it live very much. Since the 1990s, he’s only performed it twice outside the titular city (and even there he often skips it).

Luckily, other artists are filling the void. The past month has seen two terrific covers surface, one by Ryan Adams and the other by Berlin electronic duo Lea Porcelain. While Adams has a tendency to cover less obvious fare – think Danzig or Taylor Swift (for a full album no less) – Springsteen falls squarely in his wheelhouse. So his cover is about what you’d expect from a solo acoustic performance – but few artists put as much emotion into solo acoustic performances as Ryan Adams. Even if he’s not wildly rearranging it, his cover proves powerful in a quiet way. Continue reading »

Feb 132017
 
ryan-adams-20112-500x375

Ryan Adams has written some great original tunes over the years, and he certainly knows how to lay down an incredible cover. But on his recent appearance on BBC 2 Radio to promote his forthcoming sixteenth studio album, Prisoner, he didn’t try to do too much with a Radiohead tune, and it turns out that’s just fine. Continue reading »

Oct 112016
 
1989 is Hell

Last year, Ryan Adams shocked the music world with his earnest track-for-track cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Initially, news of the album was assumed to be either a joke or purely inspired by irony, but the finished product was strong enough to land a spot on our favorite cover albums of 2015. Swift responded favorably to Adams’ tribute, but as far as we know she hasn’t gone into the studio to cover any of his songs. Continue reading »

Apr 112016
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

MerleHaggard

Merle Haggard died on April 6th, his 79th birthday. On another April 6th, eleven years earlier, he celebrated his birthday in Chicago, opening the spring run of Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour.”

I don’t know what he did for most of that 66th birthday, but I do know how five minutes or so was spent. He was standing outside his tour bus, listening to a handful of Dylan obsessives sing “Happy Birthday” to him. I was one of them. Continue reading »

Dec 112015
 

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

BestCoverAlbums2015-575

Everywhere but here, the world of cover and tribute albums tends to be a sleepy one. Most years our “Best Cover Albums” list is composed of records that either flew totally under the radar or, at best, earned a few news posts on music blogs. There’s the “all star” tribute albums that make a brief mark before being largely forgotten. And there’s the big-name artists whose cover albums get seen as a side project before their next “real” albums. That’s just the lot you sign up for when you release an album of cover songs most years.

But most years don’t have Ryan Adams. Continue reading »

Sep 252015
 

1989Last year, when Ryan Adams released “Gimme Something Good,” the first single from his self-titled album, my first thought was this: That chorus sounds a LOT like “Mine” by Taylor Swift.

Even though they do sound similar, the thought of Ryan Adams – a guy known for intense genre-hopping, releasing albums like a song factory, and being an all around cool guy – being a Taylor Swift fan seemed unlikely.

Apparently, he’s a fan. Enough of a fan to cover her newest record, 1989, in its entirety.
Continue reading »