Jul 072015
 

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

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Bob Dylan has been referred to as “the most important figure in pop-culture history,” and as such his songs hold a special place. It’s become de rigueur for artists to cover Dylan tunes, even full albums, and they’ve done so with varying degrees of success. Pop culture writer Kelsey McKinney once explained that “a good cover takes a song and transforms it to fit the new artist”; if that’s the case, then 2014’s Off the Grid – Doin’ It Dylan by the Charlie Daniels Band is one of the greatest Bob Dylan cover albums out there.
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Nov 302012
 

The Wikipedia entry for “Layla” notes that “Covers have been fairly rare” and for once the site is right. Though it’s one of the most classic rock songs in the classic rock cannon, most of the few covers that exist are either speed-riff ripoffs or smooth jazz grooves inspired by Eric Clapton’s MTV Unplugged version. A few do, however, bridge the gap – or go in a different direction entirely. Download the five best below. Continue reading »

Jun 132011
 

Georgia-based psychedelics Of Montreal have earned a reputation for their highly original sound and somewhat unusual behavior, so somehow it seems perfectly natural that a recent concert in Atlanta would include a geographically-appropriate cover of The Charlie Daniels Band‘s “Devil Went Down to Georgia” that includes mock pro wrestling matches between spandex covered and masked people, plenty of crowd surfing and the band’s playful, bordering on bizarre personality. Apparently the band has been on a patriotic kick, hence the star-spangled wrestler’s victory in the extra-fake wrestling part of the video. Continue reading »

Nov 102007
 

Focusing on the devil’s music today. No, not rock’n’roll, but actual songs about the devil. He seems to be a pretty strong muse, as all the songs I could think of were pretty damn (pun #1) good.

Jimmy Sturr – The Devil Went Down to Georgia (The Charlie Daniels Band)
Loads of covers of this one, most changing it significantly, perhaps due to the lack of abaility to use dozens of violin tracks as Daniels did. The heavy metal covers are generally hellish (pun #2), but this one from polka master Sturr adds a fresh twist, in the form of accordions. Primus also did a well-known version, that features a claymation video worth checking out.

s.e.k.s. – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)
This hard-rocker gets turned into a mellow lounge number as she moves the prevalent riff far into the background, highlighting the melody of the vocals. Plenty of maracas and steel guitar…but no cowbell.

George Harrison – Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Cab Calloway)
This one came out on George’s posthumously released album Brainwashed, taking the jazz standard and infusing it with mandolin strums.

Johnny Cash – Devil’s Right Hand (Steve Earle)
Recorded for Cash’s second album with Rick Rubin, Unchained, it didn’t come out until the outtakes box set Unearthed. Backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, it’s a tale about guns and why you should always listen to ma.

Steve Earle – Way Down in the Hole (Tom Waits)
Steve’s into the devil I guess. One of the most covered Waits tunes, it’s currently the theme song for the TV show The Wire, with a new version each season. So far I think we’ve had The Blind Boys of Alabama, Tom’s original, the Neville Brothers, and DoMaJe. Just found out this version here is slated for Season 5.

Bob Dylan – Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead)
A staple of Bob’s live sets in the late 90’s, this is a soundboard recording from a gig in Birmingham, NY 2/19/99. Listen to the backing vocals on the chorus by guitarist Larry Campbell. After retiring it in ’99, save two performance in ’02, Bob brought it back this fall in a gig at Colorado’s Red Rocks.

The Holmes Brothers – Man of Peace (Bob Dylan)
Is this a pro-war Dylan song? Sure sounds like it, and the original is pretty painful, but the Holmes Bros revamp it into a screaming gospel number that helps ignore the lyrics.

Sandie Shaw – Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)
The only song I know sung from the perspective of Beelzebub himself, Slovenian industrial group Laibach devoted a whole album to covering it seven times. I wouldn’t subject anyone to that, but this one is far more listenable, less in-your-face than the original, but energetic nevertheless.