Mar 052014
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question comes from Cover Me staffer Mike Misch: What cover song shouldn’t work as well as it does?
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Jul 212013
 

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!

Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, was born Steven Georgiou 65 years ago today. His popularity exploded in the early-mid 1970s, and then, for all intents and purposes, he vanished from the music world for decades. Some of his disappearance can be attributed to changing musical tastes, but the main reason for the long disruption in his musical career was his conversion to Islam. Unlike his contemporary Richard Thompson, who converted to Islam a few years earlier, Stevens’ conversion not only led him to stop performing, but also embroiled him in controversy; his comments about the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989 caused a typical media overreaction, with calls for (and actual) destruction of Cat Stevens albums and the removal of a very good cover of “Peace Train” from later pressings of a 10,000 Maniacs album.

In the 1990s, Islam began a slow return to performing, initially focusing on Islamic music and issues; more recently, he has returned to secular music, often with charitable purposes. His appearances included performing at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s satirical pre-election “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” where he sang “Peace Train,” while Ozzy Osbourne sang “Crazy Train.”
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Mar 192012
 

When you want someone to pay tribute to Sam Cooke’s soaring soul sound, Lou Reed may not be the first voice to come to mind. For Hal Willner’s Freedom Rides tribute concert last fall though, Reed came out to deliver “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Now there’s a video that proves that, in his own way, he nailed it. Continue reading »

Apr 192011
 

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

Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.

The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.” Continue reading »

Apr 132011
 

Two new free mixtapes have hit the Internet in the past few weeks and they share a common sound: dream pop. The way they get there, though, couldn’t be more different.


Music Tumblrs Cactus Mouth and The Unholy Rhythm deliver a set of covers of songs from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. That means lots of proto-rock tunes from the likes of the Everly Brothers and Bo Diddley, given the indie sort of beach-haze vibe so popular these days. It’s not just a bunch of Best Coast wannabes though; more earnest acoustic material crops up every now and then. Continue reading »

Feb 162011
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.


Call me Esperanza Spalding, because I’m about to upset some Justin Bieber fans.

Earlier this season, when some press outlets reported rumors that Glee would spend an entire episode paying tribute to Justin Bieber, my heart sank a little. Fortunately, those rumors were blown out of proportion; instead of a whole episode, Glee gave over only a couple songs to the teenage sensation. Still, those 20 minutes or so when Bieber provided the central focus for the show’s plot created a pretty horrific viewing experience. Continue reading »