Aug 212017
 
eclipse cover songs

As the entire country prepares for a seriously dramatic celestial event, you might be thinking about the ideal playlist for the moment. You could always turn to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, “Black Hole Sun”, or “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Certainly worthy contenders, but for a rare occurrence, consider a few brand-new covers to add to your mood music. Continue reading »

May 262011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

An excerpt from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One (Simon & Schuster, 2004):

When I finally did arrive in California, my songs and my reputation had preceded me. I had records out on Columbia and I’d be playing at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and meeting all the performers who had recorded my songs-artists like The Byrds, who’d recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Sonny and Cher, who’d done “All I Really Want to Do,” The Turtles, who recorded “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” Glen Campbell, who had released “Don’t Think Twice,” and Johnny Rivers, who had recorded “Positively 4th Street.”

Of all the versions of my recorded songs, the Johnny Rivers one was my favorite. It was obvious that we were from the same side of town, had been read the same citations, came from the same musical family and were cut from the same cloth. When I listened to Johnny’s version of “Positively 4th Street,” I liked his version better than mine. I listened to it over and over again. Most of the cover versions of my songs seemed to take them out into left field somewhere, but Rivers’s version had the mandate down-the attitude and melodic sense to complete and surpass even the feeling that I had put into it. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though. He had done the same thing with “Maybellene” and “Memphis,” two Chuck Berry songs. When I heard Johnny sing my song, it was obvious that life had the same external grip on him as it did on me.

Yes, today’s installment boasts a special distinction: It contain Dylan’s favorite cover of his own work. Rivers’ “Positively 4th Street” is indeed spellbinding. We’d venture that if Bob heard some of these other covers, though, he might have to reconsider. The Ghosts of Electricity’s 11-minute “Standing in a Doorway” takes a live jam to the stratosphere. Guy Davis’ “Sweetheart Like You” is so beautiful it redeems all of Dylan’s output in the ’80s (well, almost). If nothing else, John Doe (of X)’s soaring “Pressing On” from the I’m Not There film would surely be a contender.

We’ve also got a few of those “left field” covers he apparently disdains. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Subterranean Homesick Blues” roars even harder than he ever intended. World Wide Message Tribe’s “Precious Angel” takes the holy message to the club floor. Cheap Trick’s 10-minutes “Please Mrs. Henry” doesn’t sound much like it did with the Band in that Woodstock basement. Check out these and dozens more on the next few pages and see if you agree with Dylan that Rivers tops the lot.

P.S. After you’ve reached your verdict, you might also compare it to the 170 covers we’ve presented in previous installments, linked here:
Part 1: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – “Everything Is Broken”
Part 2: “Father of Night” – “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
Part 3: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – “Oxford Town”
Part 4: “Peggy Day” – “Sweetheart Like You”
Part 5: “T.V Talkin’ Song” – “4th Time Around” [Coming Friday]

Continued on Page 2…

Jan 182010
 

Music is about making noise kind of by definition, so the number of songs extolling the virtues of silence is surprising. In truth, the only sonically accurate piece about silence is John Cage’s 4’33”…but it’s hard to find covers of that one that differ much from than the original, for obvious reasons. If you’re unfamiliar with the piece, go get educated, then come back and listen to some slightly louder songs.


Action Camp – Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)
Telling someone to enjoy the silence kind of undercuts the message. “Hey you! Are you enjoying the peace and quiet? Well, are you??” [Free EP Download]

Christopher O’Riley – I Better Be Quiet Now (Elliott Smith)
O’Riley takes Smith’s advice, shutting his trap for a soothing piano instrumental. [Buy]

The Tremeloes – Silence Is Golden (The Four Seasons)
Frankie Valli and the gang originally put this out as a b-side to “Rag Doll.” They should have given it its own release; in 1967 the Tremeloes took it to number one in the U.K. [Buy]

Stanford Harmonics – The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)
A cappella Simon and Garfunkel? Yawn. Well give it a chance, because this very strange interpretation incorporates all sorts of unexpected genres like ambient and chillout electronica. [Buy]

Everclear – Our Lips Are Sealed (The Go-Gos)
The Vegas Years is an unusually good title for a covers album. Everclear’s top-40 alt-rock sound works pretty well with this one, a guilty-pleasure hit itself in its time. [Buy]

Sonic Youth – Loudmouth (The Ramones)
Kim Gordon’s favorite band is the Ramones, so on their 1991 live album Hold That Tiger they closed with four covers, none of which are quiet. [Buy]

Benjamin Costello – No Surprises (Radiohead)
Because suicide is one way to get some peace. [Buy]

No Age – It’s Oh So Quiet (Björk)
This seems to be No Age’s answer. Too quiet? Well we’ll fix that! [Buy]

Jet Pack – Don’t Speak (No Doubt)
Jet Pack may not speak, but on this killer surf-rock instrumental they don’t exactly shut up either. [Buy]

Deerhoof – A Kind of Hush (Herman’s Hermits)
There’s probably a reason more covers don’t just randomly omit words, but it certainly is unique. [Buy]