May 062014
 

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!

There’s something extraordinarily special about NRBQ. Here’s a band that has stepped on stage a countless number of times and never involved a set-list in the process. The line-up has changed a few times over, but they’ve reliably been a band to see live. The freewheeling approach drew from many styles, all played with aplomb and a wicked sense of humor.

Founded in 1967, the name is short for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (except when it’s Quintet). They’ve played for the Simpsons, Captain Lou Albano, and Sun Ra. No other band can say this (or would probably even want to). NRBQ is a band that many fans feel never got the recognition they deserved. But that’s what any good fan would say, and having a recording career that nets you so many hardcore fans (including Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Elvis Costello, to name a few), I think they’re very appreciative of the love they’ve gotten. And it shows in their performances.
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May 172013
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

“I Want You Back” was such a perfectly written song it would have been a hit no matter who did it first (Gladys Knight & the Pips were early candidates, as was Diana Ross), but the world lucked out by discovering it through the Jackson 5. Michael Jackson, still a couple years away from his teens, delivered a vocal Dave Marsh called “just beyond belief, nuanced and knowing but at the same time, young and innocent.” Backed by a musical track that combined the sounds of Motown and Sly & the Family Stone with a double dose of sunshine, Michael and his brothers were never going to miss the target, but who knew their arrow would embed itself so deeply in the bull’s-eye?
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Oct 282011
 

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!

In 1984 a band from Glasgow released a song that sounded like the inside of a jet engine factory, only you could hum it. The song was “Upside Down,” and it stayed on the UK indie charts for almost a year and a half. The band was The Jesus and Mary Chain, less content to push the envelope than to blow a hole through it with feedback and distortion. With their first album, Psychocandy, they made it official: here was a group that combined the squall of The Velvet Underground and the tunefulness of The Beach Boys to make torture chamber pop, producing a wall of sound that surely had Phil Spector nodding approvingly. Continue reading »

Sep 022011
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” can legitimately lay claim to having three different artists record the original version. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded it before anybody else, but Motown president Berry Gordy vetoed its release. Gladys Knight and the Pips got their faster, sassier version released first – again, Gordy didn’t want it to leave the studio – and took it to number one. But the version Gordy fought hardest against putting out, recorded two months before Knight’s and released eighteen months after its recording, was Marvin Gaye’s. Continue reading »

Aug 172011
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Once in a generation there comes a song so good, so perfectly written and arranged, that it transcends pure aural pleasure and becomes an anthem. The Band’s “The Weight” is one of those songs, without question – Easy Rider, anyone? If that doesn’t make you want to take a Harley across state lines, what would? Continue reading »

Jul 272011
 

While Nashville’s Kopecky Family Band are on a break from touring they’ve been uploading some home video-style clips to YouTube of their lead singers performing some covers. Dubbed the “Pool Sessions,” these include two recent recordings of singers Kelsey and Gabe Kopecky performing The Temptations‘ classic “My Girl” and Peter, Bjorn and John‘s neo-classic “Young Folks.” Continue reading »