Oct 102012
 

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

The importance of Neil Young‘s 1977 career retrospective Decade, released thirty-five years ago this month, cannot be overstated. It served to establish Young as a major artist in the canon of rock, and was so full of transcendent moments that it needed three albums to hold them all. It offered unreleased tracks at a time when that Just Wasn’t Done, and the quality of those tracks conveyed the impression that Young wrote so many masterpieces he could afford to keep most of them locked away. It gave real insight to the creative process, with Young’s handwritten liner notes saying more in three lines than his critics could in three paragraphs. Its summing up a career with hits, rarities, and deep cuts selected by Young himself made it a sort of Mesozoic box set, one whose template wouldn’t be followed for years but is now de rigueur. Most of all, it’s a way to get some of the greatest music of the ’60s and ’70s in one place – and since Young’s range is so great, there’s always something on it that you’re in the mood to hear. Continue reading »

Dec 092011
 

When we think back to this year, we might remember 2011 as the year that the whole concept of the “cover album” became more fluid, and not always for the better. Thanks to the increased prominence of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, a cover album could be conceived, recorded, and shared in the space of a weekend. This didn’t necessarily lead to better cover albums, but it certainly led to more of them. They came in all formats – digital, CD, vinyl, and even cassette-only – and from all directions – labels, blogs, and even some magazines.

Which, we like to think, makes this list that much more helpful. In a year where the biggest single-artist cover album we got came from William Shatner, it proved a particular challenge to dig through the many obscure artists and assorted tributes and extract the gems. Gems there certainly were though, be they from newcomers making an impression with their favorite songs or old-timers honoring groups that influenced them decades ago. It may have taken a bit more work to find them, but the end result is as strong a selection as we’ve seen.

Continue to page 2 to read the list…

May 242011
 

Few albums sound as different from their predecessor than Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding does from Blonde On Blonde, but then the two albums were the product of very different men. The Dylan who recorded Blonde seemed on top of his game, lauded round the world as a genius and full of the narcissism and perceived invincibility that goes with that sort of attention. The Dylan of Harding, felled by a motorcycle accident in July 1966 and subsequent time out of the spotlight, had a more mature, reflective tone, aware of the brevity of life and how it could all disappear in an instant. A stark contrast to the psychedelia peddled by most major artists the year of its release, Harding caught the attention of Jimi Hendrix, who immediately recorded covers of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Drifter’s Escape.” Over the years, critics and fans have come to regard Harding as one of Dylan’s best. Continue reading »

May 242011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

We began our celebrations yesterday, but today, in fact, is the big day. On May 24th, 1941, Bob Dylan was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. Twenty-one years later he released his first album and ever since…well, you know.

We continue our week-long series presenting covers of every single Dylan song with “Father of Night,” one of several Dylan songs that Manfred Mann rescued from obscurity. From there we hit songs by Jeff Buckley, The White Stripes, George Harrison, and, oh, about 54 more. Hours of music, and we’re not even halfway done! Continue reading »

Oct 292010
 

The following post first went up on October 29, 2007. To celebrate our third birthday, we are re-posting it for the first time with new MP3 links. These songs will only be live for 48 hours, so snag them now!

First off, welcome to Cover Me, my own foray into the world of cover blogs. I’ll be posting a new set of covers every week, usually on a theme, with other stuff probably cropping up. They will stay available to download for a month, at which point they will vanish like the wind. So keep this blog bookmarked, and also check out the other great blogs in the Links on the right. If you like what you see or have a suggestion, drop a comment or shoot me a line.

For the first segment, in honor of the soundtrack to the movie I’m Not There, which came out yesterday, we’re gonna hit you up with some Dylan covers. Specifically, every song from his return-to-roots ’67 album John Wesley Harding. The original shocked everyone with its acoustic instruments, Biblical imagery, straightforward story-songs, and lack of choruses. These short, spare songs have lent themselves to loads of covers over the years, many quite different from the originals. Continue reading »

May 032010
 

The first post of the month features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

clash london calling covers

London Calling entered into the world in December 1979, but didn’t make its stateside debut for another month.  That makes 2010 the album’s 30th anniversary on this side of the pond.  It’s aged well.  While many classic albums sound very much of their time — that’s not to say dated — London Calling sounds like something that could have been made yesterday.  With the cover image and the cover songs, the politics and the pop, the ambitious two-disc package set a bar that no double album has since matched.  So, all together now: “And I…live by the river!”

Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Little Steven Van Zandt – London Calling


Many artists cross genres with “London Calling,” ranging from bossa nova (Bruce Lash) to surf instrumental (The Pyronauts).  Somehow though, kicking this set off with anything besides a balls-to-the-wall rocker seemed wrong.  This all-star performance comes from a Grammy tribute to Joe Strummer.  [Buy]

The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Brand New Cadillac (Vince Taylor)


The Clash wasted no time getting to the rockabilly, turning Vince Taylor’s 1958 twelve-bar b-side into a full throttled rave-up.  Setzer and his orchestra jump, jive and wail through their unique brand of big band punk, adding in a touch of the Theme from Peter Gunn[Buy]

Skarabazoo – Jimmy Jazz


You may never have noticed the subdued whistle in the intro to this one, but Skarabazoo pushes it front and center.  The Italian accent adds a suitably sinister touch.  [Buy]

No Doubt – Hateful


Before all the B-A-N-A-N-A-S nonsense, Gwen Stefani could pull off some real punk swagger.  [Buy]

The Cocktail Preachers – Rudie Can’t Fail


The Charlie Does Surf tribute album settles comfortably into the über-niche genre of instrumental surf-rock.  The Cocktail Preachers buck the trend though, shouting out “Rudie can’t fail” one whole time!  Such rebels.  [Buy]

Brady Harris – Spanish Bombs


Brady’s fantastic Cover Charge album polishes everyone from Motörhead to the Killers with a country-folk gloss.  Check out the “Heart of Glass” cover he recorded for Cover Me back in February. [Buy]

Southern Arts Society – The Right Profile


In 1956, screen star Montgomery Clift was driving home from a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s.  Having had one too many, he smashed his car into a tree, destroying his famous good looks with one crunch of glass and metal.  His next ten years have been described as the “longest suicide in Hollywood history.”  The Clash wrote this song about it.  [Buy]

Petty Booka – Lost in the Supermarket


Joe Strummer wrote this song imagining the childhood of guitarist Mick Jones (who sang lead on the track).  Japanese ukulele player Booka adds a dose of cute without losing the sad.  [Buy]

The National – Clampdown


In music history, 2010 may be remembered as the Year of the National.  Everyone from Rolling Stone to NPR is stumbling over themselves praising High Violet, the most anticipated album of the spring.  The stream over at the New York Times indicates it might live up to the hype.  [Buy]

Calexico – The Guns of Brixton


Fun trivia fact: Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong named his son Brixton after this song.  Must be cheery growing up as an homage to police repression.   [Buy]

Buck-O-Nine – Wrong ‘Em Boyo (The Rulers)


The classic death-ballad tale of Stagger Lee, a southern pimp convicting of murdering William “Billy” Lyons on Christmas Eve 1885, gets twisted around.  In the Rulers’ version, Stagger Lee is the hero of the tale.  St. Louis’ Riverfront Times hosts a telling[Buy]

Social Distortion – Death or Glory


Following a few years behind the Clash, Social Distortion gave punk anger a West coast spin.  They didn’t get around to covering the Clash until 2005 though, on the soundtrack to the skateboard film Lord of Dogtown[Buy]<

La Furia – Koka Kola


La Furia are a Clash cover band with a twist: every song gets translated into Spanish.  [Buy]

James Dean Bradfield – The Card Cheat


The Manic Street Preachers singer busted out this relative obscurity at a 2006 festival appearance.  This underrated narrative describes the rise and fall (mostly fall) of a dishonest gambler.  [Buy]

Mauri – Lover’s Rock


If one had to name London Calling’s Achilles heel, this song might be it.  It aims for insight into the tension between love and sex, but quickly devolves into blowjob puns.  [Buy]

Creation Rockers – Four Horsemen


The Clash roiled punk purists by incorporating outside styles like reggae.  Shatter the Hotel: A Dub Inspired Tribute to Joe Strummer pays it back.  [Buy]

Thea Gilmore – I’m Not Down


Gilmore popped up here last week, beautifying Dylan’s “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.”  Now she’s back with an anthem for society’s trampled on.  [Buy]

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs – Revolution Rock (Jackie Edwards & Danny Ray)


And we’re back to Spanish, on a track from these prolific Argentineans’ 1994 album Vasoc Vacíos (Empty Glasses).  [Buy]

Dwight Yoakam – Train in Vain


Johnny Cash once called Yoakam his favorite country singer, which is about as much endorsement as anyone should need.  [Buy]

Last month’s album: So, by Peter Gabriel.