Neil Young released his self-titled debut solo album on January 22, 1969. Well, technically he re-released it that day. It had initially landed without much fanfare the previous November, only for Young to quickly pull it from shelves due to what he deemed a subpar mix. Even in his professional infancy, decades before Pono and the Neil Young Archives, he was a stickler for quality control.
We hope this list would pass muster with him. At 50 songs, it’s our longest to date (tied only with The Rolling Stones) and still barely scratches the surface. We could have quite easily listed the best 50 covers of “Heart of Gold” or “Like a Hurricane” alone. He gets covered about as much as any songwriter alive, and about as well too.
Neil hasn’t slowed down in his own age, and neither has the flow of new covers. Some of the covers below came out near 50 years ago themselves. Others only landed in the last year or two. No doubt another contender will arrive tomorrow. Neil never stops, and, thankfully, neither do covers of his songs.Continue reading »
It’s the first Monday of the month, and that means it’s time for another full album covered. Last month’s Nevermind post was probably the most popular one I’ve done, so here’s to hoping this keeps the momentum. This isn’t one of Young’s most famous albums, but it’s my favorite. It’s got the country groove, but with more balls than on Harvest. Plus, some of the songs are just badass. And once again, the nice cover on the right comes courtesy of Garrison. Now let’s get to the songs.
Jeff Tweedy – Walk On Download here
Tweedy covers this one a lot in his solo concerts, and here he’s joined by Wilco bandmate Nels Cline on dobro. It’s less rocking that the original, but instead swings gently with some nice instrumental duets interspersed. This recording comes from Chicago’s Mandel Hall in 2006.
The Byrds – See the Sky About to Rain
None of that wavering piano here, just McGuinn and co’s signature jingle-jangle guitars and harmonies. It gets a little mariachi vibe when the vocals stop, but keeps a strong beat throughout. From their final studio album, which also featured a cover of Cowgirl in the Sand.
The Waco Brothers – Revolution Blues
A pretty hardcore song already, the Wacos bring out that element even stronger with pounding drums, brash organ, and train-whistle harmonica. Incredibly aggressive, the last line of each verse especially. Does a more killer line exist than, “We’ve got 25 rifles just to keep the population down”?
The Be Good Tanyas – For the Turnstiles
A similar feel to the original, but with more lush production and great country vocals with plenty of back-up. Kind of like the Dixie Chicks, but less…bad.
Mercury Rev – Vampire Blues
The song with “blues” in the title that actually lives up to its name, it’s probably the worst track on the album by virtue of being too generic. Mercury Rev does some nice things with it though, with a buzzy Leadbelly-esq slide acoustic guitar and enough dynamic and intensity changes to keep the 12-bar blues interesting.
The Walkabouts – On the Beach
Another one of my favorites from the album, these guys (and gals) nail it with dark organ and echoey guitar riffs. Haunting from beginning to end, with a great guitar solo.
Scott Miller and the Commonwealth – Motion Pictures
Another live one here, Miller makes a full band arrangement of this acoustic number that helps keep the momentum going for seven minutes. Plenty of jamming, but with purpose in a long instrumental outro that builds and builds.
Grapefruit Ed – Ambulance Blues
Plenty of slide guitar in this live rendition of what some consider the masterpiece of the album. I wouldn’t go that far, but it does have some killer lyrics, for which this singer’s voice is perfectly suited.