Jan 302018
 

mark erelli mixtapeMark Erelli seems one of the good guys: prolific in the often solitary and lonely furrow of singer-songwritery, under the radar of most observers, weaving his nuanced mix of country and folk that never fails to beguile my ears. Lord knows how he makes a living. Along with others like Jeffrey Foucoult (with whom he has collaborated) Damien Jurado and the Joshes Rouse and Ritter (another collaborator) he seems always there in the background, a reliable source of well-crafted songs, never troubling the mainstream nor stealing the show.

Although he has a healthy and extensive repertoire of his own songs, covers are very much also his stock in trade, as a visit to his website soon reveals, with a monthly free download of the month – often a cover – unavailable elsewhere. (As I write his excellent version of “Midnight Rider” is serenading me, the January freebie.) He also performs an annual series of shows entitled ‘Under the Covers’ – sadly in the wrong continent for this writer to ever catch. Continue reading »

Jul 242015
 

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

sticky

Sticky Fingers is the third of the Rolling Stones’ three records (the other two being Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed) that defined their transition from great singles band to “the greatest rock and roll band in the world,” which at the time seemed no mere hyperbole. Furthermore, the 44 years on re-issue set is just out, both uniting and dividing its critics, and the band have just revisited the album by way of a complete live concert performance, arguably their strongest work this century (and it’s now available on iTunes).
Continue reading »

Apr 052013
 

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!

We’re going to take it down a notch today with an artist known more for her songs than her performances. While some would say this is a dream come true for songwriters who also perform, for Patty Griffin it’s been both a curse and a blessing. Griffin’s “Let Him Fly” and “Top of the World” are more known by their Dixie Chicks covers; “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)” is known for being American Idol-ized – in fact, four performers on American Idol have sung “Up to the Mountain,” turning it almost into a karaoke contest. Miranda Lambert, Jessica Simpson, and a cast of thousands just can’t stop singing Patty Griffin songs, and their covers have become wildly popular. But Griffin herself is much less known, and even though she’s won Grammys, the public at large often thinks that her songs belong to someone else. Continue reading »

Feb 142011
 

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

Tunnel of Love may be the strangest record in Bruce Springsteen‘s catalog, and that’s saying a lot. Though he released it while still touring with the E Street Band, its sound signified a marked departure from the driving rock of his earlier albums. Indeed, although some E-Streeters dropped by to lend backing vocals or keyboard parts to certain tracks, Springsteen recorded Tunnel mostly by himself. In a sense, the album provided a sequel to Nebraska, except that sequel packed itself to the brim with synthesizers and 1980s production.

Lyrically, though, Tunnel of Love provided some of Springsteen’s sharpest writing to date. Though covers of the album’s songs flow as plentifully as those for Born in the USA or Darkness on the Edge of Town, these tunes prove especially attractive to musicians in the folk, country and singer-songwriter milieu. You won’t find any heavy metal covers of “Brilliant Disguise,” but you might be taken aback at the number of top-selling country artists who took a crack at “Tougher than the Rest.” Continue reading »

Feb 142011
 

As you probably heard, the Grammys happened last night. As you probably also heard, the Arcade Fire won Album of the Year. Surprising by itself, but even more surprising that this is the same group of voters who named Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” Song of the Year. Go figure. Continue reading »

Oct 112010
 

Legendary soul singer Solomon Burke passed away yesterday en route to a European concert. In his seventy years, the “King of Rock and Soul” dominated soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues music like no one else. On early hits like “Cry to Me” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” and latter-day classics like “Diamond in Your Mind” and “Make Do With What You Got,” his smooth baritone turned everything it touched to gold. With just a few syllables he could deliver you or seduce you, raise you up or bring you low. Unlike many of his peers, Burke continued performing and recording up through his last days; he released two records this year alone!

Though his commercial fortunes ebbed and flowed, the music community never forgot Burke. His 2002 album Don’t Give Up on Me featured song contributions from Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and Tom Waits. Pretty impressive Rolodex.

We’ve rounded up some live covers to remember the legend. Few can turn a phrase like Burke can, making his renditions of clichés like “Christmas Song” and Sam Cooke‘s “A Change Is Gonna Come” revelatory. On the less somber side, the raucous onstage party on “Proud Mary” shows his love of the ladies. Anyone who has attended a Burke concert can attest to the unbridled joy filling the room. He will be missed. Continue reading »