We already counted down the 50 Best Cover Songs of 2018 but, inevitably, many of our staff’s personal favorites get left off. So, before we begin scouting for what might become the best cover of 2019, we share the best of the rest, an unranked hodgepodge of worthy covers that only just missed our year-end countdown.
‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
Coming in at 40 tracks, our third ‘Best Ever’ countdown is our longest yet. This feels appropriate; Pink Floyd’s songs tend to be a whole lot longer than Talking Heads’ or Fleetwood Mac’s. A band whose default length was set at “epic” deserves a list just as winding.
Luckily, the covers community has obliged, allowing us a list as discursive as Pink Floyd itself. A band that, for better or worse, can get pigeonholed into a specific sound and era, gets transformed into a whole host of other genres and moods. Psychedelic rock is represented here, of course, but so is bluegrass, soul, and disco. One cover even includes a “featuring Tupac Shakur” credit, which is probably not what Gilmour or Waters envisioned. Though the latter would certainly appreciate the walls being torn down.
Twenty-minute tracks that might seem intimidating to some don’t phase these artists. Some turn them into tight four-minute pop songs. Others, if you can believe it, extend the songs further. So strap in, and set the controls for the heart of the cover…
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!
Read any article about the Mavericks and you are almost guaranteed to see the word “eclectic.” And that is fair. Their music is a cocktail of country, rock, blues, folk, Cuban, Tex-Mex, swing, and probably other genres, that somehow all works together. It is surely a testament to the strong writing, tight playing, and maybe most of all, the rich vocals and riveting stage presence of singer Raul Malo, that the band is able to meld these influences into a coherent body of work.
Also, they are an amazing live act, which doesn’t hurt.
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Fans of Gram Parsons are generally divided into three camps over 1999’s Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. The first thinks it’s brilliant, a reverent homage to a great songwriter and a testament to the weight of his country rock influence. The second likes the raw sound of another tribute album better: 1993’s Conmemorativo: A Tribute to Gram Parsons, featuring the likes of Bob Mould and The Mekons. And the third camp feels that the only person that can sing Gram Parsons songs is Parsons himself.
If we took the philosophy of the last opinion to heart, this site wouldn’t even exist. While the so-called purists would deny any version other than the one by the original artist as being legitimate, it certainly would be a dull world if all musicians were content to color within the lines without recognizing that someone else before them drew those lines. While Conmemorativo does contain some gems, there are two reasons why Return of the Grievous Angel is better: great production values, and the guiding hand of Emmylou Harris, who worked so closely with Parsons and who served as executive producer of the compilation. So count us among the members of that first camp. Now let’s meet the man who inspired the album.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Tunnel of Love may be the strangest record in Bruce Springsteen‘s catalog, and that’s saying a lot. Though he released it while still touring with the E Street Band, its sound signified a marked departure from the driving rock of his earlier albums. Indeed, although some E-Streeters dropped by to lend backing vocals or keyboard parts to certain tracks, Springsteen recorded Tunnel mostly by himself. In a sense, the album provided a sequel to Nebraska, except that sequel packed itself to the brim with synthesizers and 1980s production.
Lyrically, though, Tunnel of Love provided some of Springsteen’s sharpest writing to date. Though covers of the album’s songs flow as plentifully as those for Born in the USA or Darkness on the Edge of Town, these tunes prove especially attractive to musicians in the folk, country and singer-songwriter milieu. You won’t find any heavy metal covers of “Brilliant Disguise,” but you might be taken aback at the number of top-selling country artists who took a crack at “Tougher than the Rest.”