May 302018

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

pink floyd covers

Coming in at 40 tracks, our third ‘Best Ever’ countdown is our longest yet. This feels appropriate; Pink Floyd’s songs tend to be a whole lot longer than Talking Heads’ or Fleetwood Mac’s. A band whose default length was set at “epic” deserves a list just as winding.

Luckily, the covers community has obliged, allowing us a list as discursive as Pink Floyd itself. A band that, for better or worse, can get pigeonholed into a specific sound and era, gets transformed into a whole host of other genres and moods. Psychedelic rock is represented here, of course, but so is bluegrass, soul, and disco. One cover even includes a “featuring Tupac Shakur” credit, which is probably not what Gilmour or Waters envisioned. Though the latter would certainly appreciate the walls being torn down.

Twenty-minute tracks that might seem intimidating to some don’t phase these artists. Some turn them into tight four-minute pop songs. Others, if you can believe it, extend the songs further. So strap in, and set the controls for the heart of the cover… Continue reading »

Aug 252011

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!

Happy birthday to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy – born 44 years ago today in Belleville, Illinois. Through his work with Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, Tweedy has laid claim to being this generation’s Woody Guthrie or Neil Young. Wait a minute… Jeff Tweedy is perhaps this generation’s Alex Chilton or John Lennon or even Hank Williams, Sr. You can see the problem in trying to describe a chameleon like Tweedy. It’s why Wilco Nation anxiously awaits each new release; never knowing where Tweedy and the band will take them, but always thoroughly enjoying the journey. That journey continues in a month when Wilco releases The Whole Love, their eighth studio album. Continue reading »

Dec 222010

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

“Karma Police” serves as the centerpiece of Radiohead’s 1997 classic, OK Computer. The beginning tracks of OK Computer find Radiohead at their most experimental to that point. From the shape-shifting “Paranoid Android” to the slow burn of “Exit Music (For A Film),” these otherworldly melodies embody the theme of disillusionment that runs through the album.

The opening notes of “Karma Police,” however, hit with a directness and simplicity that immediately leaps out. Thom Yorke’s voice weaves effortlessly through the chord changes, hardly rising above a whisper when he sings, “This is what you’ll get / when you mess with us.” It’s a remarkable moment when the song’s quiet intensity finally bursts in the second half, Yorke’s disdain turning into something that sounds an awful lot like optimism and warmth. Continue reading »

May 172010

Dio has rocked for a long long time…

As you’ve probably heard, legendary metal singer Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer yesterday.  The man fronted a an impressive list of heavy metal bands, popularized the devil’s horns and inspired the Tenacious D song from which the above line comes (which he apparently took in good humor).  He rose to superstardom as Ozzy Osbourne’s replacement in Black Sabbath, so today we take a look at the Godfathers of Metal.  Technically Dio only sang one of the songs covered here, but is it our fault that “T.V. Crimes” didn’t have quite the impact of “Paranoid”?
Continue reading »


 Posted by at 1:31 am  1 Response »
Jun 262009

–Note: As of July 1st, all of the archived links from the last year of posts will be dead. So go through the archives via the tags or lists on the right and get downloading! I’ll post a guide to help you in the next day or so, but time is tick ticking away.–

First things first: A Michael Jackson tribute post will undoubtedly be headed your way next week, but until then check out this post of covers of every song off Thriller. When you’re done there, come back here to see some covers of a band that has absolutely nothing to do with Michael Jackson: Wilco!

The Bad Plus – Radio Cure
Why not start with the unusual? The Bad Plus is a jazz trio whose 2008 covers album For All I Care features very different takes on everyone from Nirvana to the Flaming Lips. Dig it. [Buy]

James Eric – Spiders (Kidsmoke)
As regular readers will know, James is an old friend of the blog, having helped us kick off our Cover Commissions series with a dynamite version of Devo’s “Beautiful World.” Two dynamite versions actually, with some MGMT thrown in for good measure. This guy knows his covers, and he’s done three Wilco tunes thus far. This is the most dramatic reinvention though, turning Wilco’s ten-minute fuzz-funk freakout into a little four minute acoustic-and-shaker jam. [Buy]

Second Hand Musicians – Via Chicago
It’s a live one here, from 2006. A little more upbeat than the original. Well, as upbeat as you can be with an opening line like “I dreamed about killing you last night and it felt alright to me.” [Buy]

Donavon Frankenreiter – Theologians
Don’t like guys with acoustic guitars? This might not be the post for you. If you do though, Frankenreiter’s Recycled Recipies covers EP is worth snagging. This is the best track, with some funky plucking and choral harmonies. [Buy]

Rob Gibbs – Jesus, Etc.
Norah Jones made headlines by covering this at Neil Young’s Bridge Benefit shows last fall (video), but this AutoTuned electro take is way more unique. [Buy]

David Potts-Dupre – I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
This post was not intentended as a tribute to Jay Bennett, whose work outside of Wilco I am unfamiliar with (and I’m not sure what specific things he did when he was in the band), but I would be remiss in not mentioning his contributions to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and his subsequent falling out that led to a documentary with the above title. [Buy]

Punch Brothers – Poor Places
Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile leads the group with his mandolin with this slow-bluegrass (who knew that existed?) journey through another Yankee classic. A beautiful reinvention; I think I know who Wilco should pick for their next opening act. [Buy]

Ian Hultquist – Sunken Treasure
If that name doesn’t look familiar, let me give you a hint: one of the guys from buzz band Passion Pit. Needless to say, this slow finger-picker sounds nothing like their frenetic dance pop, but if the dude ever comes out with a solo album it might be worth looking into. [Buy]

Benjamin Wagner – How to Fight Loneliness
If Jeff Tweedy’s solo tours have taught us anything, it’s that no matter how elaborate the original, pretty much any Wilco song will sound good with just an acoustic guitar. Wagner takes this to heart on this and other covers, all of which worth tracking down. [Buy]

Libby Donovan – California Stars (Woody Guthrie/Wilco/Billy Bragg)
Any cover lover needs the two Mermaid Avenue discs Wilco cut with Billy Bragg, putting melodies on unfinished Guthrie lyrics. Donovan certainly knows her way around them, cutting a smooth country take of this soaring number. I saw Wilco play it with the Total Pros horns last year (my review) and…damn. [Buy]

Automatic Pilot – Less Than You Think
A warbling piano line gently guides the sensitive-guy falsetto that seems to have a bit of resolve behind the fragility. [Buy]