Feb 252019
 

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

buddy holly covers

The so-called “Day the Music Died” occurred 60 years ago this month. One night after an Iowa concert, that fateful plane crash took out a host of young pioneers of the first wave of rock and roll: Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (in a last minute seat-trade with Waylon Jennings), and, of course, Buddy Holly.

Over at 22, Holly’s career had barely begun. But in a few short years, he’d written and recorded some of the most foundational tracks of rock and roll. So, to remember him six decades on, we’re ranking the best covers of his songs – from “Rave On” to “Not Fade Away” to a host of deep-cut gems that deserve wider recognition.

We were going to include 22 covers to honor Holly’s age but – in a testament to how much he accomplished in such a short time – that turned out to be not nearly enough. So we expanded the list to 36, his birth year. And frankly, we could have easily doubled it. That’s how often his songs have been covered by his admirers of yesterday and today. So rave on, Buddy, with these 36 fantastic covers of your songs.

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Oct 062017
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

punk goes pop covers

It’s clear that many people despise the erroneously titled Punk Goes cover compilation series. Much has been said and written about how awful they are. Yet, just like the emo and pop-punk genres generally, they are wildly popular with teenagers despite not getting any critical respect. Since the series began in 2000, there have been 17 volumes and over two hundred songs released in the series. In the U.S. the cover series has sold one million albums, nine million tracks, and it streams in the hundreds of millions. But most people out of high school seem to hate them.

Well, I’m here to defend some of these as great cover songs. I’m an insider, you could say – I was the Fearless Records salesperson behind nearly all of these albums. During my 13 years at the California independent label, I was the head of sales and also served as general manager. I didn’t contribute to the Punk Goes compilations as a curator or A&R. My role was to make sure the albums and tracks had the best positioning at major retailers like Target, Best Buy, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Continue reading »

Oct 252011
 

We just posted new U2 covers by the Killers, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode a few hours ago, so we won’t rehash the details again. Q Magazine’s Achtung Baby tribute album is out now and so are the rest of the covers. Listen to the new recordings by Snow Patrol, Patti Smith, the Fray, Glasvegas, and Gavin Friday below, then pick up the magazine and CD here. Continue reading »

Sep 062011
 

Had he lived, tomorrow would have been Buddy Holly’s 75th birthday, and today marks the release date of the second full-length Buddy Holly tribute of the past ten weeks. Due to the proximity of the release dates, the two collections are destined to be linked together and compared. On the surface, similarities abound: both Rave On Buddy Holly (review here) and Listen To Me: Buddy Holly feature big name stars and a bevy of classic rockers. Rave On boasts Paul McCartney, Nick Lowe, Patti Smith and Lou Reed while Listen To Me offers Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne and Ringo Starr. The differences lie in the roster of contemporary contributors. Where Rave On is stocked with indie cred, Listen To Me relies on a list of chart-topping pop stars.

Less innovative than its slightly older cousin, Listen To Me: Buddy Holly has a few oddities that tend to tarnish an otherwise pretty solid compilation. First on the list of disappointments is Linda Ronstadt’s 1976 Hasten Down The Wind version of “That’ll Be The Day.” Really? Does a 35 year-old song get a pass on an otherwise “new” collection simply because the legendary Peter Asher produced both projects? Did they think we wouldn’t notice? Continue reading »

Aug 232011
 

Though they’ve never really dropped off the map completely, Jim Henson’s lovable Muppets seem to be enjoying something of a cultural resurgence lately. A lot of that probably has to do with the upcoming Jason Segel/Amy Adams film simply called The Muppets, as well as the fact that many people who enjoyed the characters as kids are now coming to the age where it’s acceptable, even desirable, to embrace their childhood loves again.

You can add The Green Album to the list of cultural artifacts presaging the return of these creatures to full-on popularity. The record’s aimed exactly at the people described above, who in the years between their childhood and now have cultivated “cool” tastes, of which the Muppets have become a part. One look at the pedigree of bands and artists contributing to this compilation can’t help but impress — Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird and the rest all stand in the upper echelons of their respective fields, and it’s rare that any kind of tribute album could cull such noteworthy acts together. Continue reading »

Jun 102011
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak was universally derided upon its 2008 release. Following three critically-acclaimed rap albums, a heart-on-sleeve pop album by a guy who clearly could barely carry a tune proved dead on arrival. The fact that he masked his vocal deficiencies with Auto-Tune at the very height of the anti-Auto-Tune fervor made 808s a particularly easy target.

Three years later, though, people look back on the album more fondly. 808s clearly played a role in shaping West’s undisputed masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so even the holdouts reluctantly credit the album as a stepping stone to greatness. More generous types recognize, however belatedly, that West perversely used Auto-Tune to make his music more human, not less.

One fact has remained consistent, though, and that is that this album lends itself to covers better than any other Kanye album. The reason is clear – covering a pop song is much easier than covering a hip-hop song. The preponderance of “Love Lockdown”s alone could keep a cover blog going for weeks. Below, then, we present covers of every song off 808s and Heartbreak. No other Kanye West album would be remotely feasible – where the “New Workout Plan” covers at? – but this one proved a cinch. Auto-Tune not included. Continue reading »