Feb 072016
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Garth Brooks was my first musical hero. Looking back now, it feels a little weird saying that. I didn’t have a great love for music as a young kid. The few albums I owned when I was 10 were Beach Boys cassettes. I think I only liked them because they reminded me of being on vacation when I was stuck in a winter fog. So why Garth?

It started slowly. The songs from his self-titled first album were always on the radio. I must have heard “The Dance” a thousand times. Things cranked up a little when No Fences came out in 1990. “Friends in Low Places” was everywhere.  Ropin’ the Wind took things to another level not too long after. All the kids at school in Bean Station, Tennessee were going crazy over Garth. Heck, everybody everywhere was going crazy over Garth. Rolling Stone put him on their cover; he was crossing over into the mainstream. This Is Garth Brooks played on TV, and I watched it with my dad. He was mad that Garth smashed a guitar. I was thrilled that Garth changed the words to “Friends in Low Places” and told some lady she could kiss his ass. I was in.
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Aug 062015
 
ramonesweek

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

road-to-ruin

The Ramones knew they were playing some of the best rock ‘n’ roll in the world, and by 1978, they were starting to grow aggravated about how few shared that knowledge. So, taking the if-Mohammad-won’t-come-to-the-mountain approach, they started making small concessions, in the hopes that these little changes would be the all they needed to get radio airplay. Road to Ruin, their fourth album, featured an occasional guitar solo here, an acoustic ballad there, even a couple of songs that lasted longer than three minutes. But the strain of being something other than their true selves was evident, and the record failed in its play for fame, charting outside the top 100. It shouldn’t have been a surprise – the Ramones’ reach was doomed to exceed the mainstream’s grasp – but it was a frustrating letdown all the same.

So what are we left with today when we listen to Road to Ruin? Well, it was a beat away from the first three albums – literally, as Marky Ramone had just taken over Tommy’s drum stool – and a little less cartoony. It was evident when da brudders were trying, but it was evident when they were succeeding as well. And in “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they came up with a song that has worked its way deep into popular culture. Final result: an album that can justifiably be called the fourth straight Ramones classic.
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Jul 092015
 

For John Heart Jackie duo Peter Murray and Jennie Wayne, covers are by far unknown territory – the Portland pair first met when they collaborated on a number of Sam Cooke tunes, and with this take on the Stevie Nicks classic “Wild Heart,” they show their prowess on cover grounds.

John Heart Jackie’s “Wild Heart” revels in its thumping drums, nimble guitar plucking and Wayne’s honeyed vocals. The charming indie folk duo gracefully work their way through this ‘80s classic, showing off warm vibes in a delicious slow burn cover which starts  mellow before culminating in a gentle frenzy of chills-inducing harmony.

Listen to John Heart Jackie here.

Feb 202015
 

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

Tusk‘s reputation as an infamous failure is pretty much cemented at this point. But it didn’t actually fail at all.
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Jul 262013
 

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!

When you think of Stevie Nicks, you think of her as an artist whose songs are frequently covered, not one who does the covering. After all, why would someone who can write Fleetwood Mac classics like “Dreams” or “Rhiannon” and solo classics like “Stand Back” and “Edge of Seventeen” feel the need to play other people’s songs?
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Mar 152012
 

In 2010 the A.V. Club introduced a new music video series called A.V. Undercover. The idea is simple: A.V. Club readers vote on songs to be covered, a list of 25 songs is selected, and then each song is covered live in a round room located in the A.V. Club offices. As one song is played, it is crossed off the list, so the first band has a pick of 25 songs, and the second band has a pick of 24, and so on. The exciting part of following this series is that readers know which songs are going to be played, but the band performing isn’t revealed until a video has been produced. That said, sometimes there are bonus tracks, as is the case with the first Undercover of 2012, which features Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater playing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Continue reading »