Jul 282017
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

sly and the family stone

Sly and the Family Stone hadn’t recorded anything new in a year, and the record label wanted to keep Sly’s name in the public consciousness – and if they could make a little money in the bargain, so much the better. So they put together Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits. If not a cynical cash grab, it was at least within smelling distance.

But a funny thing happened – they scooped up some of the best singles of the sixties, when Sly Stone was writing songs emphasizing the coming together of all races, creeds, and colors into one big party, and the result was what Robert Christgau called “among the greatest rock and roll LPs of all time.” In his A+ review, he went on:

The rhythms, the arrangements, the singing, the playing, the production, and–can’t forget this one–the rhythms are inspirational, good-humored, and trenchant throughout, and on only one cut (“Fun”) are the lyrics merely competent. Sly Stone’s gift for irresistible dance songs is a matter of world acclaim, but his gift for political anthems that are uplifting but never simplistic or sentimental is a gas. And oh yeah–his rhythms are amazing.

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Oct 142016
 

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

otis redding

Otis Redding built one of his greatest songs out of almost nothing. Guitarist and co-writer Steve Cropper explains: “‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ was just a riff I’d used on a few songs with the MG’s. Otis worked it up with the horns in about 10 minutes as the last thing we did one night in the studio. Just a riff and one verse that he sings over and over. That’s all it is.”

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Mar 222016
 

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“Any time I take a cover and wear it on my sleeve, it’s because it had something good to do with my life and still marks a time in my life when I needed that song more than ever.” – Jeff Buckley

You and I is a posthumously released collection of ten songs (eight of which are covers) Jeff Buckley chose as a showcase for Columbia Records in 1993. They have lived in the vaults of Columbia Records for the past twenty-three years. Up until the point of these recordings, Buckley’s career was that of a cover artist, gradually working on his own material, performing often at venues in Lower Manhattan, such as Sin-é. Despite vast interest, Buckley was apprehensive about signing with a record label. Eventually he signed with Columbia and recorded what would be his only studio album, the otherworldly Grace, in 1994. An album David Bowie chose as a desert island album, an album whose release saw Bob Dylan knighting Buckley as  “one of the great song writers of this decade,” and an album that convinced Rolling Stone that Buckley was one of the greatest singers of all time.

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Sep 052014
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

He sounds like a slowed-down Jeff Buckley on female hormones. – Listener quoted in The Times of London
Antony Hegarty has a voice that sounds like it belongs to a Dostoyevsky character. Every song rides on an undercurrent of mournful reflection. – NPR
[W]hat a discovery: a voice like St Theresa’s arrow to pierce the soul. – The Australian
Every emotion in the planet is in that gorgeous voice. – Diamanda Galas
When I heard him, I knew that I was in the presence of an angel. – Lou Reed

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Nov 292013
 

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

Where would you start the lineage of hard rock and heavy metal? Many music fans pinpoint August of 1964, when “You Really Got Me” was released into the wild; two score and nine years later, it’s only gotten wilder. Thanks to the Kinks, heavy music would never be the same.

But it should be noted that “You Really Got Me” isn’t just a blueprint for hard rock – it’s also one terrific song. Have power chords ever been used so well, before or since? Have primal urges ever been more basically, urgently, and perfectly expressed? Van Halen’s version, which is probably the best known cover, doesn’t bring much new to the table aside from some pyrotechnics, which is a shame because there’s a lot more potential in the song. But other folks have been able to show just how durable a song it is…
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Oct 252010
 

Well, this is it, people. The end of the line. After four amazing New York City shows performing – deep breath – The Tennessee Fire, At Dawn, It Still Moves, and Z, the band reached their final album: Evil Urges. As always, they began the show by performing the thing in full. As the final omnichord notes of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt.2” echoed through the hall, the boys left the stage, only to return for an epic cover-frenzy encore almost as long as the main set.

The band began the post-album festivities with a cluster of new originals and old favorites. They then closed things out with four covers: “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” (the second Velvet Underground cover of the stand), “Hot Fun In The Summertime” (Sly & the Family Stone), “Carnival Time” (Al Johnson), and “Move On Up” (Curtis Mayfield) with a full horn section! Check out videos/MP3s of all four below. Continue reading »