Jul 252017
 
linkin park covers

It’s sad that the incredible talent given to many musicians is burdened by demons such as addiction, anxiety, and depression. It’s sad that so much of the music that they give us is inspired by struggles that fuel those demons and can feel so unsurmountable. It’s sad to think of all of the people those musicians have helped with their music, only to succumb to the darkness themselves in the end.

We have lost another great musician with the passing of Chester Bennington. Bennington’s band Linkin Park realized the climax of the so-called nu-metal movement with their album Hybrid Theory, which successfully brought to the mainstream a combination of metal and pop (hence the “Hybrid”). The style that Linkin Park created resulted in accolades for the band and their albums as they continued to explore combining musical styles. Ultimately, though, it was the intensity, emotional depth, and point blank honesty in Bennington’s lyrics and delivery which resonated with so many.

A particularly gorgeous rendition of one of Linkin Park’s songs is Scott D. Davis‘s piano take on “In the End”. The melody is highly effective even without the support of a band. Continue reading »

Aug 212009
 

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When creating this post I wondered whether it was irresponsible to post songs about cocaine. Going through my list though, my worries faded. These songs are uniformly negative! One guy shoots his wife under the influence, another gets locked up in a room with padded walls, and a third wrecks a train. So no arguments about glorifying the rock and roll lifestyle please because, yeesh, sounds terrible.


The Loved Ones – Cocaine Blues (T.J. “Red” Arnall)
I always thought this was a Johnny Cash original. Its badass-itude rivals even “Folsom Prison Blues,” so it truly seems straight out of the darkest imaginings of the Man in Black himself. [Buy]

Sister Hazel – Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
A sitar intro marks this as memorable from the get-go, and it doesn’t disappoint. Doubly appropriate because the original album Rumours basically evolved from one big coke orgy. [Buy]

Ezra Kachi – Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
Don’t hate on Ozzy. This song has a great tune, some fun lyrics, and a pound-your-fist chorus. The sensitive acoustic take here keeps the first two at least. [Buy]

Bob Dylan – Cocaine Blues (Trad.)
This tune (not to be confused with the Arnall/Cash one above) is clearly a Dylan favorite. It appeared in his early sets, like this New Yoek take from 1962, then reappeared thirty-five years later with a full band arrangement and plenty of harmonies. You can’t beat the finger-plucking in this young-Bob version. [Buy]

Turin Brakes – Moonlight Mile (The Rolling Stones)
According the Robert Christgau this song “re-created all the paradoxical distances inherent in erotic love with a power worthy of Yeats, yet could also be interpreted as a cocaine song.” That’s a bit of a leap (though many have made it), but this lonesome duet is worth posting. [Buy]

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Casey Jones (Grateful Dead)
A live one from back in May, Franti makes Mountain Jam’s Deadheads wet themselves with a brief reggae-fied snipped of one of the Dead’s few actual hits. [Buy]

Minus 5 – That Smell (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
This one’s about just about every drug there is, and sounds like a D.A.R.E. ad campaign. The stripped-down slow burn highlights the almost comically serious lyrics. [Buy]

The Bobs – White Room (Cream)
For some reason an a cappella group singing a tune about a guy freaking out on cocaine and heading to an insane asylum (probably) strikes me as amusing. The fact that they knock it out of the park – complete with a “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” vocal solo – comes as a nice addition. [Buy]

Scott D. Davis – Master of Puppets (Metallica)
It’s instrumental cover-piano by the master of the genre (well, him and Christopher O’Riley) and as such you might miss the reference. So here it is. “Needlework the way, never you betray / Life of death becoming clearer / Pain monopoly, ritual misery / Chop your breakfast on a mirror.” [Buy]

Eric Ambel & the Roscoe Trio – Cocaine Eyes (Neil Young)
Ambel earned his keep shredding for Joan Jett’s Blackhearts Steve Earle’s Dukes , so it’s not surprising the man’s a Neil Young fan. He does grunge-blues as well as the Man in Flannel himself. This comes from the excellent More Barn tribute album. [Buy]

Apr 072009
 

I never listened to Metallica until Bonnaroo last year. I was among those most furious that they were on the lineup (as you can see here), and I made sure not to see their show. I could hear it from my campsite though, and ended up spending two hours lying in my tent listening to the music. This may not be the classic viewpoint, but to me these songs are just fun. Every time I listen to Master of Puppets a huge grin spreads across my face. I don’t know if I’m missing something or not, but what I do know is that these tunes make for great covers, particularly of the out-of-genre instrumental variety.

Lots of interesting stuff didn’t make it here, so if you want to jig check out the Celtic Tribute to Metallica or, when December rolls around, how about And Christmas for All! A Holiday Tribute to Metallica, featuring a very disgruntled looking Santa on the cover. Then drift off to sleep with Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Metallica. Each is shockingly good; I’ve loved listening to as many strange versions of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” as I can find. Hope you like listening too.

Van Canto – Battery
A German a cappella metal group? Where do I sign up? All these five singers need is someone holding down the drums; every other sound from that furious guitar line to the bass progressions is voices. Absurdly good voices. Watch the video here to see for yourself. [Buy]

Harptallica – Master of Puppets
Harptallica sounds like a gimmick, and of course it is. A harpist duo performing mini-concertos of everything from “Fade to Black” to “Enter Sandman.” The thing is though, the melodies in the songs are strong enough that it works, producing a very soothing result. Just don’t expect any “Master! Master!” shout-alongs. [Buy]

Primus – The Thing That Should Not Be
Frontman Les Claypool auditioned to take over bass duties for Metallica after Cliff Burton’s tragic death, but it didn’t go so well. Lars responded to his suggestion that the crew jam on some Isley Brothers tunes by asking incredulously if he knew what kind of music they played. James Hetfield later said they turned him down because “he was too good.” [Buy]

Scott Davis – Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
I’ve posted Davis’ solo piano covers before, but they never disappoint. Listening to them, I always begin each tune amused by the novelty of the familiar tunes arranged on the keys. However, I’m quickly so drawn in to his masterful playing I forget that these are covers at all. He did a whole Metallica tribute album well worth getting. [Buy]

Adam Selzer – Disposable Heroes
A little backwoods folk from Selzer, a violin underscores his joyful singing. It’s off a full Metallica covers EP he released years ago. The fact that it sounds like it was recorded in his living room is part of the charm. [Buy]

The Scorched Earth Orchestra – Leper Messiah
I can’t find any information on this metal tribute act, but they’ve released three records, tributes to Metallica (Masters itself in fact), Slipknot, and Cradle of Filth. They’re so unknown that the About the Artist description on Amazon is about Metallica themselves. However, that same page features four reviews, all of them five stars, all lengthy and written with passion. If people actually putting thought into an amazon review doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what does. [Buy]

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Orion
Rodrigo y Gabriela is a guitar duo without parallel, playing mostly original material of flamenco-tinged guitar influenced by Megadeath and Slayer. So a Metallica cover, of an instrumental no less, was perhaps not a surprise. What you may not expect is how truly phenomenal it is. [Buy]

Razed in Black – Damage Inc.
When I saw a cover by a group called “Razed in Black,” I thought “Oh God, tribute band.” Metallica released The Black Album once upon a time you see, and razing seems like one of those things they’d sing about. I’m glad I looked deeper, to discover that Razed is a gothic electronic act that has been featured in shows on NBC and the WB. They hop on board plenty of tribute discs, but this one comes from a mostly original album. It starts off sounding somewhat like the original but give it, oh, twenty seconds. It’s different. [Buy]

Jul 152008
 

There’s just something about the 80’s that inspires great cover songs. So great, in fact, that this series is gonna be a two-parter. First up: Rock. All the excesses of the 80’s – big hair, ten-minute guitar solos, and Jon Bon Jovi – are all well represented below by artists who aren’t afraid to find the good songs amidst the novelty. And stay tuned for some 80’s pop next week.

Jessica Will – For Those About to Rock (AC/DC)
When AC/DC titled this song, they clearly weren’t singing to Will. Her light acoustic take packs a punch, attitude and intensity making up for lack of distortion. And if you want more acoustic female covers of AC/DC, there’s a whole disc of ‘em: Backed in Black.

M. Ward – Let’s Dance (David Bowie)
Indie posterboy, most recently of She & Him fame, does a quiet take kind of like how you would expect and indi posterboy covering Bowie to sound

Jon Regen – Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)
Another ironic Journey cover…yech. This one’s a keeper though, not too mellow and keeping the strong melody of the original. Bonus points for rocking out the guitar fills on the keys!

Anberlin – Love Song (The Cure)
So far in today’s 80’s rock theme, we’ve yet to have any real rocking covers. This should change that though, an aggressive rock band from Florida that does a loud and intense take, with a singing voice that melts in your mouth.

Grizzly Bear – Owner of a Lonely Heart (Yes)
The Bear made the blog rounds a year or so ago with their “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)” cover (download it here), and this takes a similar approach, a slow builder that never explodes.

The Whip – White Wedding (Billy Idol)
When the banjo leads this one in, you know you’re in for something special. And are you ever. This one’s off a charity comp of Portland covers called Bridging the Distance. Yes, the Decemberists are on it.

Scott D. Davis – The Final Countdown (Europe)
I posted Laibach’s cover of this one a few weeks back, but this piano take is fun and bouncy – way more than Laibach’s death-goth. Davis has a whole album of these instrumental takes on classic rock, Rockfluence, and it’s fabulous.

Mary Lou Lord – Jump (Van Halen)
Cover girl extraordinaire, Lord does a song so sincere here you wonder whether she realizes exactly what band she’s covering. It’s beautiful though, and as she draws you in you forget the original even exists.

Damien Rice – When Doves Cry (Prince)
One of those songs that seems to inspire great covers, I can’t decide if I like this or Patti Smith’s version more. It’s solo acoustic here, with Rice sounding so delicate that if you do touch his stomach, he might break.

Philmore – Livin’ On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
It seems appropriate to end on some more rock, so here you go. Even louder and more aggressive than the original, but just as sing-along-able.