Jun 222012

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

In 1956, Jalacy Hawkins entered the studio, planning to record a blues ballad he had been performing live with some success. Producer Arnold Maxon had other ideas, and to fulfill them, he brought plenty of alcohol and food and alcohol (not to mention alcohol) into the studio. Hours later, Hawkins staggered up to the microphone and unleashed one of the rawest, bloodiest, most gut-churning vocal performances ever delivered, one that he couldn’t even remember giving the following day. The ballad-turned-reverse-exorcism was banned in radio stations nationwide (they claimed the blast of demented gibberish at the end simulated cannibalism), and the song never charted. Didn’t matter. Jalacy Hawkins would forever after be Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and “I Put a Spell On You” would be his raucous calling card. Continue reading »

Jan 312012

When you listen to Jay-Z and Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” it doesn’t exactly scream acoustic orchestra performance, so be prepared to be a little surprised by this one. Last week, experimental band Antony & the Johnsons took the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York, with Symphony Orchestra, and delivered a live performance of the hit, which they’ve covered in the past. Lead singer English singer-songwriter Antony Hegarty sang while a 60-piece orchestra played along with pianos, violins and even some saxophone. While this version doesn’t feature Jay-Z, or a rap interlude of any kind, it doesn’t seem to leave the live audience disappointed. Continue reading »

Jul 012011

This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.

We bring you five instantly accessible tracks today, perfect to groove to over the holiday weekend. Pirate-holler Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, folk Vampire Weekend, and pop-punk Eddie Money are sure to make you the hit of your 4th of July BBQ. Download those and more below. Continue reading »

Mar 072011

On Friday night, Yo La Tengo hit the studios of WFMU 91.1 to lend their support to the station’s annual pledge drive. As they have every year for over a decade, the Hoboken trio spent three hours performing listener-requested cover songs. Listeners were encouraged to go obscure, requesting songs the band had never played before (though presumably there was some filter, since no Miley Cyrus deep cuts slipped through). Given that they already played 44 new covers just a couple months ago, that sometimes meant pretty obscure. We’ve got ‘em all below. Continue reading »

Dec 102010

Just yesterday we named Starbucks’ Sweetheart 2010 collection the 18th best cover album of 2010. Today we look a little further back…to Starbucks’ Sweetheart 2009 set. That one featured She & Him – Zooey Deschanel and M.Ward – singing “I Put a Spell on You.”

They revived the cover on Conan last night, inexplicably melting hearts with one of the creepier stalker songs. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins may have sung the original, but there’s not much screaming going on here. Just a lot of spooky surf guitar and vocal belting. Watch below. (via Consequence of Sound) Continue reading »

Hocus Pocus

 Posted by at 2:22 pm  1 Response »
Oct 272009

These days, even Transylvanians are sick of vampires, particularly those of the brooding, sexy variety. So we’re gonna throw it back to the days of Sabrina the Teenage Witch with a post on all things black cat and pointed hat.

Omnia – Wytches’ Brew (William Shakespeare)
“Double, double, toil and trouble.” The three witches who open Macbeth enjoy one of the most famous speeches in history, brewing their mischief both figuratively and literally. Putting those lyrics to music seems natural – they may well have had a tune in Shakespeare’s time. We can be sure it didn’t come from the “pagan folk” genre though. [Buy]

Lou Rawls – Season of the Witch (Donovan)
In all honesty, it’s a little silly to think that Donovan was once thought of as serious competition to Bob Dylan in the lyrics department. “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is”? Thankfully, this one holds up better than some of his others. [Buy]

Aimee Allen – Santeria (Sublime)
Santería merges the African Yoruba religion with Roman Catholicism and Native American traditions. In the 2000 Census it claimed 22,000 adherents in the United States. As Brad Nowell makes clear, the Sublime trio are not in that number. [Buy]

Devo – Witch Doctor (David Seville)
This song first hit the charts in 1958 as sung by “David Seville,” a pseudonym of its author Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., who two years later had another hit with it using his group Alvin and the Chipmunks. Devo turned the lyrics Jungle Book-esq for the primate-friendly cover from the Rugrats Movie soundtrack. [Buy]

Yat-Kha – Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
If you think Tom Waits is the voice of Halloween, wait ‘til you hear Tuvan throat-singing. These Siberians can sing two notes at once (hear it on this one starting at 2:22). With their low-pitched growl, creating a heavy metal band must have seemed only natural. [Buy]

Marilyn Manson – I Put a Spell On You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)
The mad musician of Halloween, ol’ Mari “Giggles” Manson is the perfect shock-rockers to take on this creepy Hawkins classic. For similarly Halloween-themed Manson, check out his take on the Nightmare Before Christmas favorite “This Is Halloween.” [Buy]

Steeleye Span – Allison Gross (Trad.)
This traditional Scottish tune comes from the 305-song “Child Ballad” collection. It tells tells the tale of “the ugliest witch in the north country” trying to enslave the narrator. The Steeleye version grew out of a production they did of Robert Louis Stephenson’ Kidnapped. [Buy]

The Gresham Flyers – Magic (Bruce Springsteen)
The title track off of Springsteen’s 2007 hit album, this “Magic” comes not from the cauldron but from the government. Somehow, that’s even more spooky. [Buy]

Lost Sounds – You Must Be a Witch (The Lollipop Shoppe)
This one originally appeared on the Lenny Kaye-curated Nuggets compilation, later turning up in Lollipop Shoppe member Fred Cole’s new band Dead Moon. The Sounds updated this in the late ‘90s without losing that early punk feel. [Buy]

Juliana Hatfield – Witches’ Song (Marianne Faithfull)
Marianne Faithfull is quite the cover girl herself (for most recent evidence of this, see last year’s Easy Come, Easy Go), so it’s nice to see her own tunes getting some love. The original comes off Faithfull’s ’79 LP Broken English, which itself contains a phenomenal version of Shel Silverstein’s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.” [Buy]