Doo wop and early ‘60s pop may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Lou Reed, but, listening to his early work with The Velvet Underground, all of that – and much more – is there. Like The Velvet Underground did a couple of generations ago, Hollis Brown, a five-piece band from Brooklyn, clearly draws on a variety of influences to craft a classic rock and roll sound. Continue reading »

“I will now sing to you the 2013 song of the year,” Patti Smith said at her 67th birthday concert last week in NYC, then launched into a moving – not to mention unexpected – cover of Rihanna‘s “Stay.” Never one to cover a pop song ironically, Smith and pianist Tony Shanahan delivered the lyrics with poise and purpose, even when nerves caused her to forget a few of the words partway through. Continue reading »

Nov 042013

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

Not much can be said about Lou Reed that hasn’t already been said. When he died on October 27 at age 71, Reed left behind an indisputable legacy of influence that dwarfs some of the biggest names in rock and roll. You can ignore him, hate his music or his voice, dislike his politics or his openness with drugs and sexuality, or downplay his role in rock and roll history — but none of that matters. If you chopped down the tree of influence that grew from the roots of Reed and the Velvet Underground, what would come crashing down would take out most of the house of rock and roll as we know it. The leaf you listen to seems to be all its own, but the branches that hold it up are massive.
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

“Sweet Jane” is a great song. Released on 1970′s Loaded, the Velvet Underground’s last studio album featuring Lou Reed, it immediately became a staple of FM radio, despite its odd and provocative lyrics, unusual structure, and unconventional sound, and it continues to get airplay to this day. What’s the appeal? Part of it, of course, is the riff (which apparently includes a “secret chord”), part of it is the indescribable cool of Reed’s delivery, and part of it is that magic that makes some songs great and others not so much. According to Rolling Stone, it is the 335th greatest song of all time, which is curiously specific. And now, in honor of Reed’s passing earlier this week at the age of 71, the time has come to write about it here on Cover Me.
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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!

Next month, the Primitives will release the 25th anniversary edition of Lovely, their debut album; it’s a quarter century old, but its sound is deathless. While the band may be best known for Lovely‘s leadoff track “Crash,” their sound combined Blondie and the Jesus and Mary Chain in a way that resounded with fans far longer and deeper than one song could ever account for. As for the Primitives themselves, they disbanded in the early ’90s, but twenty years later got back together to release Echoes & Rhythms, a cover album that pulls off the rare trick of showing them to be just as vibrant and relevant as they ever were.
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In honor of the 45th anniversary of  ”The Velvet Underground & Nico,” Castle Face and Universal will be releasing not only the record’s 458th reissue (really), but also a covers compilation of the album. The covers compilation, one of six CDs in the limited edition box set, features a handful of Bay Area rockers. Although the set is not available until October 30th, you can listen to and download Ty Segall‘s manic rendition of “Femme Fatale.” Continue reading »

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!

Robyn Hitchcock has always viewed the world about one-quarter off-kilter. Where he lives, it rains like a slow divorce and the sun is underground; other residents have arms of love and lightbulb heads, and the dead are just as desirable as the living. Some would say Hitchcock is touched in the head; others, that he’s touched with genius. One thing’s certain: if you listen to his music with an open mind and an open heart, you’ll find it touches you as well.

And we haven’t even gotten to his covers yet… Continue reading »

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

They’ve been called “the ABBA of bluegrass punk,” and their label’s beautifully written artist page says they’re “doing their best to keep bluegrass from tottering meekly into a dust-covered coffin.” They’re the Meat Purveyors, and while their name may suggest a Victorian butcher shop, one listen to their musicianship and you’ll know that butchering is the last thing on their mind. Continue reading »

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