Dec 192013
 

I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.

What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s. Continue reading »

Apr 192013
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Fans of Gram Parsons are generally divided into three camps over 1999’s Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. The first thinks it’s brilliant, a reverent homage to a great songwriter and a testament to the weight of his country rock influence. The second likes the raw sound of another tribute album better: 1993’s Conmemorativo: A Tribute to Gram Parsons, featuring the likes of Bob Mould and The Mekons. And the third camp feels that the only person that can sing Gram Parsons songs is Parsons himself.

If we took the philosophy of the last opinion to heart, this site wouldn’t even exist. While the so-called purists would deny any version other than the one by the original artist as being legitimate, it certainly would be a dull world if all musicians were content to color within the lines without recognizing that someone else before them drew those lines. While Conmemorativo does contain some gems, there are two reasons why Return of the Grievous Angel is better: great production values, and the guiding hand of Emmylou Harris, who worked so closely with Parsons and who served as executive producer of the compilation. So count us among the members of that first camp. Now let’s meet the man who inspired the album. Continue reading »

Apr 252011
 

In February 2010, an all-star roster of artists and legends came together to honor Neil Young at a charity tribute concert. Now, a year later, the footage from that show will finally see release. A MusiCares Tribute to Neil Young features James Taylor, Wilco, Norah Jones, and more – and we’ve got a first look below! Continue reading »

Nov 092010
 

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” wasn’t just a song to Loretta Lynn; it was the story of her life. Lynn grew up in poverty, married at 13, had four children by 19. For most, it would be a recipe for disaster, but not for Lynn. When her husband Moony (named for the moonshine he ran) gave Lynn a guitar for her 24th birthday, she taught herself to play and began her journey towards country stardom. Loretta Lynn has written hundreds of songs, released over 70 albums and was one of the first women in Nashville to write songs from a woman’s point of view. Lynn was unafraid to be a liberated woman, releasing songs about birth control (“The Pill”), teen sex (“Wings Upon Your Horns”), and the Vietnam War (“Dear Uncle Sam”). Continue reading »