Feb 202017
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

matt vadnais

Matthew Vadnais lives in Beloit, Wisconsin. He’s been writing for Cover Me since 2015. Of all his Cover Me essays, he especially likes his reviews of the albums paying tribute to Blind Willie Johnson, Uncle Tupelo’s No Depression, and Jason Molina.
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Feb 062017
 
Mirel Wagner

On “I Wanna Be Sedated,” the Ramones sound anything but. Mirel Wagner’s new cover though shows what the song would sound like had the band gotten its wish.

Over spare guitar finger-picking, the Finnish singer delicately enunciates each lyric. It’s about as far from the original as you can get, but it works. Gradually strings and other shimmery instruments enter, courtesy of recently Golden Globe-nominated composer and arranger Benjamin Wallfisch, but the speed never gets above 5 M.P.H. on this one. It would have fit well on our full-album covers tribute to the Ramones’ Road to Ruin. Continue reading »

Jun 012016
 
BoomBoxRepairKitSedated

Boom Box Repair Kit say they want to do for traditional Caribbean music what Gogol Bordello does for Balkan folk, and judging from their riotous new Spanish-language cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they’re off to a good start. Hailing from the Dominican Republic (now based in New York), the band keeps all the energy of the original while bringing in elements of bachata music – and translating most of the lyrics. It’s been a big year for Ramones fans forty years after releasing their debut record, and this cover is a worthy addition to the celebration. Continue reading »

Aug 072015
 
ramonesweek

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

ramones-end-of-the-century

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Phil Spector was supposed to be the gateway to getting the Ramones the airwaves they wanted so badly. Why, with his Wall of Sound production technique and their love of ’60s AM pop covers, theirs was going to be a meeting of the minds that would bear the most amazing fruit. He’d make his great comeback, and they’d make their great breakthrough. So it was written, and so it should have been.

But his perfectionist technique clashed with their one-and-done standards, and his bringing guns to the studio didn’t assure anybody. The sound pulled the Ramones further away from their punk roots, and their songs were weaker (Dee Dee: “Some of the worst crap I ever wrote went on that album”). They’d been reduced to writing sequels to songs on their debut, a sure sign the well had started running dry. When End of the Century was released in February 1980, punk fans the world over learned the sad truth; the Ramones that had left home on a rocket to Russia had come back to earth and landed on a road to ruin. They would spend the rest of their existence as an uneasy combination of working musicians and rock icons, with their days of breaking new ground forever behind them.
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Aug 062015
 
ramonesweek

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

road-to-ruin

The Ramones knew they were playing some of the best rock ‘n’ roll in the world, and by 1978, they were starting to grow aggravated about how few shared that knowledge. So, taking the if-Mohammad-won’t-come-to-the-mountain approach, they started making small concessions, in the hopes that these little changes would be the all they needed to get radio airplay. Road to Ruin, their fourth album, featured an occasional guitar solo here, an acoustic ballad there, even a couple of songs that lasted longer than three minutes. But the strain of being something other than their true selves was evident, and the record failed in its play for fame, charting outside the top 100. It shouldn’t have been a surprise – the Ramones’ reach was doomed to exceed the mainstream’s grasp – but it was a frustrating letdown all the same.

So what are we left with today when we listen to Road to Ruin? Well, it was a beat away from the first three albums – literally, as Marky Ramone had just taken over Tommy’s drum stool – and a little less cartoony. It was evident when da brudders were trying, but it was evident when they were succeeding as well. And in “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they came up with a song that has worked its way deep into popular culture. Final result: an album that can justifiably be called the fourth straight Ramones classic.
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Aug 052015
 
ramonesweek

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

rocket-to-russia

Now, this’ll be a straight walk-off, old school rules. First model walks; second model duplicates, then elaborates. – David Bowie, Zoolander

If Ramones was the Ramones setting the pace, and Leave Home was them duplicating it, then Rocket to Russia was the moment where the Ramones refined their musical approach to an absolute peak. They had perfected their loud fast rules, and were able to expand on them without abandoning them. They varied their tempos, landing hooks with their slow songs just as easily as with their fast ones. They sounded better than ever, with a production budget nearly twice as much as that of their first two albums combined. And they did two cover songs instead of their usual one.
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