Alt-rock heavyweights The Afghan Whigs, who released their first studio album in 16 years this April, have never shied away from covering a song. Finding a mildly sinister way to do it is nothing new either. But The Police‘s 1981 smash hit “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” with its reggae-tinged, new-wave pick-me-up appeal, seems at first to be an unlikely candidate for a Whigs cover.
The name Nadia Ali may not sound familiar to you, but the electronic singer has been a huge part of the EDM dance scene since the early 2000s. Starting as the lead singer of iiO, Ali has made her mark on the club scene and continues to do so with a blossoming solo career that will far extend the reach of clubgoers. Need proof? Check out this cover of The Police‘s “Roxanne.”
Fifty years ago, a covers album wasn’t called a “covers album.” It was called an album. Full stop.
Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Billie Holiday – most albums anyone bought were “covers albums” as we’d think of them today, but that’s not how folks thought of them then. Once the public began putting a premium on singers writing their own songs in the ’60s the concept of course shifted, so that an artist doing a covers album has to be like Michael Jordan playing baseball – an okay diversion but let’s get back to the main event please.
More so this year than ever before though, that pendulum seems to be swinging back in small but meaningful ways to what an album originally meant. More and more artists are releasing LPs saying, this is not my new quote-on-quote “covers album,” this is my new album (that happens to consist of covers). The attitude showcases a confidence and surety of purpose that shows they take performing other peoples songs every bit as seriously as they do their own.
That holds true for both of our top two covers albums this year, and plenty more sprinkled throughout. Which isn’t to knock anyone doing a covers album as a lark, novelty, tribute, or side project – you’ll see plenty of those here as well – but any blurred lines that put a “covers album” on the same level as a “normal” album have to be a good thing.
Start our countdown on Page 2…
Best (So Far) finds the finest first-round covers of the latest pop hits.
Gotye’s über-ctachy breakup jam “Somebody That I Used to Know” first hit the web last summer, but it’s only taken off stateside in the past few months. A small part of that popularity comes from Walk Off the Earth’s stunning viral cover. Lots of other artists have covered the song too, many delivering takes at least almost as memorable.
It’s a rare enough thing to get a full covers album based on a conceptual theme. It is a once-in-a-lifetime cover album when that theme is space and the artist is the man who has boldly gone where no man has gone before. Canadian-born actor, musician, author, producer, and director, William Shatner, aka Captain James T. Kirk from the ’60s TV series Star Trek, is that man.
Set for release this Tuesday October 11, Shatner’s Seeking Major Tom will be available as a one volume digital download, two CDs and three vinyl LP set. The album is being released along with his new book Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large.
Over the weekend, Sting celebrated his 60th birthday with an all-star benefit concert at New York’s Beacon Theatre. It wasn’t a proper tribute concert, since the man himself performed most songs with the guests. Near the end of the evening, though, he ceded the stage entirely. Bruce Springsteen and an acoustic guitar took the stage to play “Fields of Gold” before tearing through a full band performance of “I Hung My Head.”
This weekend, Sting celebrates his 60th birthday with an all-star concert in New York. One of the featured performers is Lady Gaga, and the duo gave us a preview of what they might do at Las Vegas’ I Heart Radio festival over the weekend. The two came together to belt the classic “Stand By Me,” a song they tackled once before, in May 2010. They follow it up here with the Police’s “King of Pain.”
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• NYCTaper delivers yet again on this soundboard recording from Deer Tick’s recent show in Wantaugh, NY. The show benefited the Tommy Brull Foundation for disabled children, so if you enjoyed the tune, donate here.
MP3: Deer Tick – Waitress in the Sky (The Replacements cover)