This week we’ve posted tributes to three of this year’s six Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees: The Cars, Dire Straits, and Nina Simone. And lord knows we’ve posted plenty of covers of the other three over the years: Bon Jovi, The Moody Blues, and “Early Influence” inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe. But to celebrate them all in one place in advance of this weekend’s induction ceremony, we thought we’d round up a few of the best covers we didn’t include in all those other features.
I have no hard data to back this up, but I suspect that EPs play a larger role in the world of cover songs than they do elsewhere. In the wider world, EPs tend to be an afterthought, a set of rejects or remixes that may or may not be worthwhile. People pay little attention to EPs, and artists act accordingly, saving their real statements for the full-lengths. In our world, though, we see as many EPs as we do proper albums, and they’re every bit as good. An artist may hesitate to put out a “cover album” – still a loaded term in some circles – but in the age of Garageband and Bandcamp, it’s only too easy to record a half dozen covers and toss ‘em out between albums. Therefore, in honor of the EP’s prominence in our world, we present our favorite EPs of 2011 (with an MP3 from each).
Bands performing cross-genre cover experiments often risk sounding too kitschy or cute, catching your attention at first, but quickly wearing out their welcome. The more obscure the new genre, the greater the risk (anyone remember The Mike Flowers Pops?) So when a genre experiment album comes across the Cover Me desk, it’s approached with some trepidation.
Brooklyn-based band The Debutante Hour mix vaudeville and cabaret music with a healthy dose of barbershop harmonies. For their latest release, Follow Me, they recruited Franz Nicolay, former keyboardist in The Hold Steady, to produce a set of six covers, all from different musical styles and eras. With each track, the band could easily fall flat, faced with the challenge of bending and twisting a strange blend of selections to meet their needs.