Nov 012013
 

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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Sep 252013
 

The A.V. Club’s Undercover series has spawned some interesting covers this year, most notably the Night Beds’ cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” When Chicago band Disappears stopped by The A.V. Club recently, they initially hoped to create a unique cover of their own by trying to make “New Year’s Day” by U2 sound “more like a Disappears song.” After realizing this wasn’t quite working, they decided to take another approach. Continue reading »

Sep 032013
 

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 Beatles is its official title, but everyone calls it the White Album, after its minimalist cover design – the group name embossed, a stamped serial number, and nothing else. Less than 18 months removed from Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles were an entirely different band, and the cracks in their base were multiplying too fast for anyone’s comfort. But the songs begun in Rishikesh kept coming, the boys kept playing, and the end result was a great big glorious mess – and that last word is one of the biggest keys to the White Album’s appeal.

The sheer diversity of the White Album makes it an ideal subject for an all-cover compilation. Phish famously covered it live in its entirety; many Beatles tribute bands have done the same. Here on Cover Me, we’ve put together thirty different artists coming at these songs thirty different ways, representing multiple countries and multiple genres. It’ll take four days to get through them all, one for each side of the original vinyl – but if you’re up for it, so are we. Let’s get on that BOAC flight from Miami Beach and see where it takes us…
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Mar 272013
 

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!

Mike Scott has found his second wind. 30 years after starting the Waterboys, he and violinist Steve Wickham have just finished playing South by Southwest, and plan a tour at the end of the year to support the 25th anniversary of the album Fisherman’s Blues (Wickham is probably best known to the casual listener as the guy whose violin created the haunting feedback-like tone at the beginning of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”). Fisherman’s Blues found Scott merging the anthemic post-punk pop songs of Waterboys’ first two albums (what Scott called “The Big Music”) with traditional Celtic music, recreating the band’s sound as he has throughout their existence.

The band lost steam around the time of the Room to Roam album, when Scott and Wickham disagreed about which direction the album should go. Cycling through various musicians through the years, the Waterboys’ varietal output caused them to lose some of their audience, and the band dissolved for ten years before rebooting at the beginning of the millennium. It should be said some critics were never on board with their sound — Trouser Press editor Ira Robbins called them “insufferable,” “superficial,” and “unoriginal.” But some of their fans would start other bands, and the Waterboys are often credited with opening the door for multi-instrumentalist groups like the Decemberists and Arcade Fire to gain a wider public following. Let’s take a look behind that door right now… Continue reading »

Feb 082013
 

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.

Susanne Mohle and Pete Klein are Night Bird, a jazz-inflected Deutschland duo who take popular songs and transform them into tunes that fit right into any smoky basement with a cover charge. It’s not an uncommon approach, but the end results are a lot rarer – quality performances that don’t leave you pining for the original hits by the original artists.
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May 102012
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin on this day in 1960. It was in his teens, however, that he was given the moniker that would become an immediately recognizable name the world over, the name by which he would be known as for both his musical fame and his international influence – Bono. (The shades would come later.) Bono is many things, but it is important not to forget that, along with being a philanthropist and entrepreneur, he is (as U2 frontman) a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and 22-time Grammy winner. Continue reading »