May 212020
 

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 the indie band Grant Lee Buffalo burst on the scene in the early 1990s, they seemed destined for stardom. Emerging from a residency at L.A.’s Largo nightclub, the fresh young band got snatched up by a major label or two, and embarked on world tours with more seasoned pros–first R.E.M., and later Pearl Jam. Rolling Stone magazine pronounced the guy behind it all, Grant Lee Phillips, the male vocalist of the year in 1994, and Michael Stipe practically started a GLP fan club.

But instead of parlaying the attention into fame and fortune, Phillips grew disillusioned with the star-maker machinery, and the pressure to deliver instantly likable hits. His songs needed time to warm up, he said, like an old car or an old tube amp. By 2000 he had disbanded Grant Lee Buffalo and dissolved their Warner Records contract. He got to work as plain old Grant Lee Phillips. Allying himself with independent labels (Rounder, Yep Roc), he’s been recording and touring on smaller scales ever since. His work earns the critical adoration, and he doesn’t go through gyrations to transform his sound or his image. He has a knack for interesting side hustles, like composing for film and television, and acting, too. You might have seen him on seasons 1-7 of the Gilmore Girls, in the role of the wandering troubadour.

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Aug 012014
 

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

George Harrison was still struggling to get his voice heard when the Beatles recorded “It’s All Too Much.” They did so during the week that Sgt. Pepper was released (an album with only one of George’s songs); originally planned to appear on Magical Mystery Tour, it was delayed for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, which came out more than half a year after the movie premiered. For a song that seemed determined to be an afterthought, “It’s All Too Much” has gone on to become best known as being perhaps the most underrated Beatles song. East meets West while tripping on acid, and hand in hand they sail into the mystic, taking the time to quote a line from the Merseys song “Sorrow” (which would have to wait for an immortalizing full-length cover until David Bowie came along).
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Feb 112011
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.


Hailing from Chicago, IL, the Smashing Pumpkins helped blaze a trail for the wave of apathy that infected most ’90s alternative rock. They also gave hip kids from the Midwest the first nationally-recognizable band they could take pride in since Cheap Trick. Formed in 1988, the Pumpkins enjoyed over a decade of fame and influence until noted in-fighting brought about their dissolution at the turn of the millennium. After numerous side-projects and member-shuffling, the Pumpkins have once again taken to the stage under the leadership of Billy Corgan, perhaps one of rock music’s true auteurs.

The Pumpkins have celebrated their diverse influences via cover songs throughout their career. A quick scan of their recorded catalog reveals studio takes of tracks originally by acts like the Cars, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, the Cure and Missing Persons. Their live shows are similarly peppered with covers that one might not expect to hear from these iconic slackers. Some of these do seem like a natural fit though: it’s not too hard to draw a line to the Pumpkins from Neil Young, Depeche Mode or Pink Floyd, for instance. Continue reading »