Mar 222017
 

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

bringing it all back home covers

Bob Dylan’s 1965 Newport Folk Festival concerts is one of the most famous – or infamous – performances of all time, subject to numerous books, documentaries, and debates over why Pete Seeger threatened to cut the power cable with an axe. But the fact is, by the time he stepped on that stage, Dylan had already gone electric, four months prior. The first half of his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home – which turns 52 today – is all electric. And not the sort of light electric augmentation other folk singers were experimenting with either. The first track “Subterranean Homesick Blues” may still be the loudest, hardest track of Dylan’s entire career. He’d already drawn his line in the sand; the folk-music crowd had just chosen to ignore it.

To celebrate this landmark album’s 52nd birthday, we’re giving it the full-album treatment. Our recent tributes to Dylan albums have covered underrated works like 1978’s Street Legal and 1985’s Empire Burlesque, but today we return to the classics. Such classics, in fact, that in addition to our main cover picks we list some honorable-mention bonus covers for each song. Continue reading »

Sep 302016
 
Fugees

They say nostalgia works in 20-year cycles, and this year the music of 1996 has been in the media a lot. And if you believe the music blogs, it turns out 1996 was a truly groundbreaking year for every possible genre. Over at SPIN: “The 96 Best Alternative Rock Songs Of 1996.” Complex: “Best Rap Songs of 1996.” Junkee: “Ten reasons 1996 was a great year for dance music”. Loudwire: “10 Best Metal Albums of 1996.” Red Bull Music: “1996: Why it was a great year for pop”. Suck it, 1995! (Kidding; similar articles were of course written last year too.)

We’ll be honest: 1996 was not some magical, pioneering year for cover songs. It was also not a terrible year. It was just, you know, another year. There’s no overarching theorem of 1996’s cover songs that wasn’t true in ’95 or ’97. But even so, Cover Me wasn’t around in 1996, so we never made a Best Cover Songs of 1996 list (our first year-end list came in 2009, with the Kings of Convenience’s “It’s My Party” topping it, and you can catch up on all the lists here). So we decided, before the year ends and we take our look at the best covers songs this year, why not take a nostalgic rewind and do 1996 just for fun, twenty years too late. Continue reading »

Apr 282010
 

It seems every week a new “Best Dylan Covers Ever” article surfaces, but each new list reads much like the last.  Hendrix tops it (fair enough) and Peter, Paul and Mary and the Byrds follow behind (really?).  At Cover Me we like to break out of the mold though, so let us present the second and final installment of The Best Dylan Covers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard.  This week we tackle songs Dylan recorded after his fabled 1966 motorcycle crash.

Barb Jungr – Things Have Changed
Dylan’s past few albums signaled a comeback, the legendary songwriter finally matching his sharp songwriting with smart production.  His greatest song since the ‘70s can’t be found on them though, but rather as an Oscar-winning one-off for the Wonder Boys soundtrack.  [Buy]

World Wide Message Tribe – Precious Angel
True, Dylan’s widely reviled born-again period inspired a lot of Armageddon preaching from the stage, but it also sewed the seeds of the most successful dance cover of a Dylan tune to date.  [Buy]

Giant Sand – All Along the Watchtower
Once the most recognizable three chords in rock hit, Giant Sand deliver a somewhat conventional cover.  But it takes sixty seconds of cello feedback to get there.  [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell
Mark this one as one of the best live covers of all time.  Discoveries like this utterly brilliant acoustic duet reward obsessive bootleg collectors.  [Buy]

The Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love
Dylan recorded this song in 1975, but it didn’t see official release until a mediocre studio recording on 1985’s Biograph collection (track down his 1975 live version at the Bitter End for the definitive reading).  That fantastic chord progression makes it a cover favorite, with everyone from George Harrison to Chuck Prophet having a go.  [Buy]

Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Many fans would rank this song up with the worst songs Dylan has ever written.  And it would be, except for that final line that turns all the nursery rhyme verses on their head.  Dylan’s least ambitious Christian song may just be his most powerful.  [Buy]

Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Gilmore turns up on just about every covers CD Britain’s Uncut magazine compiles, delivering superb performances of The Clash and the Boss.  This artist boasts some serious folk cred though; Joan Baez hand-picked her to open a tour and covered Gilmore’s “The Lower Road” on her latest album.  [Buy]

Delta Cross Band – Legionnaire’s Disease
What, you don’t know “Legionnaire’s Disease”?  Well, a recording of Dylan performing it has never surfaced.  Written after a 1976 outbreak of the infectious bacteria known technically as Legionellosis, Dylan handed it off to Billy Cross, his guitar player from 1977-79.  [Buy]

Richie Havens – License to Kill
Havens has spent his career covering Dylan — witness his cameo in I’m Not There.  His signature guitar tuning and strumming pattern takes the fore, laying the weight of the world upon a mediocre lyric.  [Buy]

Tim O’Brien – Father of Night
O’Brien’s Red on Blonde covers album is one of the best out there, giving tunes from the famous (“Forever Young”) to the obscure (“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”) jaunty bluegrass rhythms.  [Buy]

Read Part 1: Before the Crash.

Old MacDonald

 Posted by at 12:21 am  No Responses »
Sep 242008
 

I had the pleasure of attending Farm Aid on Saturday, and in between great acts like Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and The Elms, there was a lot of talk about the plight of the family farmer. I hadn’t thought that much about the dirt since I went strawberry picking in elementary school and couldn’t find one clean enough for my standards. So for those of you who also forget about the hoe and plow-wielding among us, who are on hard times indeed, here’s a little reminder. And oh, check out my Farm Aid review, with some show downloads here.

Levon Helm – Poor Old Dirt Farmer (Tracy Schwarz)
Last year’s critically acclaimed album Dirt Farmer could have been this set by himself. Here the ex-Band drummer rocks some Americana harmonies and down on the porch vibes. This Band tale of a farmer down on his luck sounds awfully similar to something though.

Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers – King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (The Band)
Oh yeah, that’s it. Same story, different words. A similar feel to the original, but with the energy amped up.

Baby Loves Jazz Band – Old MacDonald (Trad.)
Making your infant listen to classical music is so 1990; for the hip, modern youngster, play them ready-made jazz interpretations of kiddie songs in the Baby Loves Jazz series. They change the title to “Old MacDonald Had a Band,” and you can guess where it goes from there.

Pumajaw – Piggies (The Beatles)
It wouldn’t be much of a farm without some piggies, though I’m not sure Harrison had actual pigs in mind here. This comes from Mojo magazine’s recent two-disc compilation of covers of the full White Album called, appropriately, The White Album Recovered. Worth tracking down.

The White Stripes – Boll Weevil (Leadbelly / Trad.)
Now here’s an animal you certainly don’t want on your farm. Jack White updates this dust bowl tale of a fierce pest with a verse about himself, creating a crowd favorite that the Stripes usually close their shows with.

Melissa McClelland – Factory (Bruce Springsteen)
This isn’t technically about farming, but so much breath was used Saturday bemoaning the evils of factory farms taking over from the local guy I thought the bad guys needed a nod. This is a little sympathetic, showing how the employees of said factories are probably getting screwed too. And as many of the factory farm employees could be ex-independent farmers themselves, it makes this especially appropriate.

Tim O’Brien – Maggie’s Farm (Bob Dylan)
One of the premier Dylan interpreters, O’Brien’s bluegrass covers are always thought-out and effective. This one actually sounds like how the farm employee would sound singing it.

Bob Dylan – Gospel Plow (Trad.)
From Bob’s first, covers-heavy album, it shows amazing harmonica talent not often seen again when he started focusing on lyrics.

Waitswatcher – Murder in the Red Barn (Tom Waits)
Pascal “Waitswatcher” Fricke has been featured here before, but each instrumental take on Tom Waits songs is an instant classic. This one’s slow building and dark, telling you everything you need to know without a single word.

Neil Young – A Day in the Life (The Beatles)
What does “A Day in the Life” have to do with farming, you might add? Nothing. But Neil Young covered this for his final song Saturday night, and here’s the recording. Gone is the orchestral finesse, replaced by distortion, wailing and a climactic finish where he banged his guitar around stage and finally ripped the strings out one by one. If you like what you hear, download the full show here.