Oct 052018
 

You may not know Ed Caraeff’s name, but if you’re a fan of rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s, you’ve admired at least a few of the hundreds of album covers and live shots he’s taken in a long and storied photographic career.

He took his most famous shot when he was just 17, in June of 1967. Then still a high school junior at Westchester High School in Los Angeles, he had heard about a “rock and roll festival” up the coast in Monterey and headed there with some friends and a camera borrowed from his family’s optometrist. As he put it later: “I wasn’t a music lover that was there to enjoy the music and take a few snapshots. I was there to photograph it—and I did.”

The shot seen ’round the world was of Jimi Hendrix at the close of his first American appearance. It’s a startling and otherworldly image: Hendrix kneels before a Fender Stratocaster laid on the stage, his mouth open, eyes closed in a timeless posture of both dominance and ecstasy.

Oh, and the guitar is on fire.

Caraeff’s photograph became the only image to make the cover of Rolling Stone twice. The song Hendrix was performing…erm, burning? “Wild Thing.” But we’ll get to that.

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Sep 072018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Was 1966 the pivotal year in popular music? Jon Savage’s 1966: The Year the Decade Imploded makes a strong case for it, pointing to epochal records by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and many others. Fueled by tectonic changes in politics and culture—the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, LSD, the pill, the yawning abyss of the Vietnam War—popular music burst through a perceptual wall, in the process changing from being the soundtrack behind events to being the events themselves. Nothing of the sort had ever happened before, and it’s possible nothing like it will ever happen again.

A wealth of inspired rock songs bubbled up to seize the public’s attention that year: The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.”

Oh, and the Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
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Jun 152018
 
best cover songs 1978

Welcome to the third installment in our Best Cover Songs of Yesteryear countdown, where we act like we were compiling our usual year-end list from a year before we – or the internet – existed. Compared to the first two, this one has significantly less grunge than 1996 and less post-punk than 1987. It’s hard to have post-punk, after all, before you have punk, a new genre starting to hit its peak in 1978. And don’t forget the other big late-’70s sound: disco. Both genres were relatively new, and super divisive among music fans. Lucky for us, both genres were also big on covers.

Disco, in particular, generated some hilariously ill-advised cover songs. We won’t list them all here – this is the Best 1978 covers, not the Most 1978 covers. If you want a taste (and think carefully about whether you really do), this bonkers take on a Yardbirds classic serves as a perfect example of what a good portion of the year’s cover songs looked and sounded like: Continue reading »

Jun 122015
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

Reginald Maurice Ball was born 74 years ago today. Two and a half decades later, he took the stage name of Reg Presley. He may not have been the most famous person to take his identity from the King (right, Mr. Costello?), but he and his band, the Troggs, had as great an impact on rock and roll as anybody, thanks to the lewd, crude attitude of “Wild Thing.”

But while the Troggs were masters of expressing primal urges, they were awfully good with gentle, melodic pop as well. Presley can take credit for this, as he wrote most of the band’s material (“Wild Thing” being a notable exception). Result: the band has a far richer back catalog than the general public realizes, and if today’s artists were to plunder its caves, they would make some valuable finds.
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Sep 222011
 

As you’ve surely heard by now, R.E.M. broke up yesterday via an understated note on their website. Just as it began, the entire enterprise ended not with a bang, but with a murmur. The quartet-turned-trio performed together for 31 years, 15 albums, and countless “R.E.M. changed my life” exclamations in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Over the course of their career, the band performed countless covers. From the very beginning, they seemingly relished every opportunity to pay tribute to their influences, tacking covers onto singles, compilations, and their annual Christmas fan club records. In the whole lot, there are few duds. Through a combination of smart selections (no novelty rap covers here) and a rare ability to extract the essence of a lyric or melody, they made just about every song they tackled sound like an R.E.M. original. To remember the beloved band, we look back chronologically at some of their most important and best-known covers. Continue reading »

Aug 252011
 

Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.

San Francisco indie-pop purveyors Lemonade began making blog buzz with last year’s Pure Moods EP. Now they dig up “The Place Where You Belong,” making a lively jam of the 1994 Shai single everyone vividly remembers. Wait, don’t tell us you forgot the Beverly Hills Cop III soundtrack…
MP3: Lemonade – The Place Where You Belong (Shai cover) Continue reading »