Jun 272019
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Gravelands

I’ve chucked a couple of these into the odd “best covers” choices since we have been doing those, meeting with not a little interest, if likewise not a lot, but sufficient enough interest to feel it worth digging a tad deeper into the repertoire of Jim “The King” Brown, Belfast’s singing postman. With a name like his, clearly there was little option other than to pursue a career as an Elvis Presley tribute act, and his days as postman were short-lived. Caught performing in a local pub by Bap Kennedy, brother of Brian, both notable in the local music scene, he was given both a shove and the opportunity, Kennedy producing.

Now, Elvis impersonators are two a penny in any country you choose to tread, so Jim, whose voice is as close to his source as any I am familiar with, needed a trick to be a step ahead, and the one he chose was a doozy. He picked out songs that Elvis should have covered, and, further to that, songs by or featuring artists similarly deceased. You know the idea, the concept of the celestial band “up there,” featuring the best of the dead, playing together and having a blast. (Sorry, that’s not best of the Dead, capital D, but I am sure Jerry would be a shoo-in for any such band, if not the myriad keyboards men in his old band.)
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Jul 022018
 
cover songs june
Andrew Combs – Reptila (The Strokes cover)


The Strokes’ Is This It songs have been covered to death, so musicians are digging deeper. We heard a killer Angles cover in April from Billie Eilish (more on her in a minute), and now singer-songwriter Andrew Combs takes on this Room on Fire track. His own music leans Nashville Americana, but from the crazy horns here, sounds like he’s been spending time in New Orleans. Continue reading »

May 232014
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

 
Tim Buckley first debuted “Song to the Siren” on the final episode of The Monkees, and as a folk song, it was lovely and approachable. Then he refused to record it for three years – the line “I’m as puzzled as the oyster” had drawn mocking, and Buckley felt the song too flawed to release, which meant Pat Boone, of all people, was the first to issue it on vinyl. When Buckley finally followed suit, on 1970’s Starsailor, he revealed a changed song (and not just the switch from “oyster” to “newborn child”). If the original take was a quiet den, here was a cavernous ballroom with crumbling pillars, as Buckley’s exotic, five-octave voice stretched through otherworldly echoes, with nothing to hold it up and nothing to hold it back.
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May 102011
 

Phantasmagoria: A shifting series or succession of phantasms or imaginary figures, as seen in a dream or fevered condition, as called up by the imagination, or as created by literary description.

Even if you’re familiar with Tim Buckley’s psych-folk gem “Phantasmagoria in Two,” you might not have known the dictionary definition of that archaic word. Well, Maine duo Arborea clearly did. Their video for their cover embodies “phantasmagoria,” with isolated statues filmed in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill cemetery. The slow progression of images perfectly accompanies Shanti Curran’s desolate vocals and threatening banjo, feeling very much like a “dream or fevered condition.” Only a couple times do the performers themselves appear, like supporting players to the cemetery’s lead. Continue reading »

Oct 152010
 

“Song to the Siren” seems to be one of those songs where every cover is good. 2009 saw ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante build the Tim Buckley song to psychedelic grandeur. Then in June the Wailing Wall pulled it all back, using banjo and accordion to tell the Odysseus legend. Now Bryan Ferry comes along with his version. You might expect it to be layered and intricate (it is), but you probably wouldn’t expect David Gilmour and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood to play guitar on it (they do).

Stereogum premiered the track yesterday. It also features Ferry’s Roxy Music cohorts Brian Eno, Andy Mackay, and Phil Mananera. Like much of Ferry/Roxy Music’s work, it’s densely produced without losing the emotional core. The track appears on Ferry’s Olympia, out October 26th. Check it out below. Continue reading »

Jun 022010
 

After 11 years of Orthodox Jewish schooling, New York multi-instrumentalist Jesse Rifkin (aka. The Wailing Wall) began to doubt the existence of God. He turned his uncertainty into a new album: The Low Hanging Fruit. To promote the record, he just released a cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren.” Download it below.
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