Jan 292016
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

Willie-Dixon

Willie Dixon was a talented stand-up bass player, producer, and occasional vocalist for Chess Records, but his greatest gift lay in his pen. One cursory glance at his song titles – “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster,” “I Ain’t Superstitious,” and “You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover,” to name just a “Spoonful” – reveals what an impact he had not only on Chicago blues, but rock ‘n’ roll as well. No self-respecting sixties band with a blues foundation would dream of taking the stage without a working knowledge of Dixon’s songs, and he wrote more than 500 of them – songs that sounded immortal from the moment they were first created.
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Mar 132015
 

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!

When you consider their longevity, the sheer number and variety of their live performances, and influences as diverse as bluegrass, country, soul, rock, psychedelia, blues, and jazz, it is likely that the Grateful Dead may have recorded and/or performed more covers than any other band that is best known for its original songs. (There’s probably a wedding band out there that has a bigger songbook, but that’s not really the point.) Grateful Dead fans have been trading and cataloging their favorite band’s performances since long before the idea of digital music and the Internet even existed, and now there are numerous databases available online — one of which shows 343 separate covers performed by the band (and solo projects and offshoots), including soundchecks and performances with guests.

Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that Cover Me has never turned its lovelight directly on the Grateful Dead. We have written numerous times about covers of Dead songs, but a quick review of the archives indicates that only three covers by the band have been featured—Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mama Tried.” So, that leaves us a mere 340 to choose from today. To make this project (inspired in part by Phil Lesh’s 75th birthday this Sunday and by the recent announcement of the band’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago this summer) somewhat less insane, we will limit ourselves only to recordings or performances by the Grateful Dead, proper — no solo projects or anything from after the death of Jerry Garcia.
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Apr 082014
 

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!

Imagine, if you will, a place where Elvis is still the King. Not the slim, young, rockabilly Elvis, shaking hips and pouting lips, but a rotund, sweaty, Vegas Elvis, one who is adorned in sequins, karate-kicking and crab-clawing his way through an entire set of Led Zeppelin songs. And just for shins and grits, imagine those oh-so-familiar classic rock tunes tuned to a reggae beat and backed by a band that’s a cross between Bad Brains and Bob Marley.  Amazingly, what can be imagined can – and has – become reality. Welcome to the world of Dread Zeppelin.
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Feb 012013
 

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 Doors are in the unfortunate position of being overwhelmed by their mystique. They were never a band that coasted on an image – they released eight albums (six studio, one live, one best-of) in the five years before Jim Morrison’s death, and two more studio albums afterward. Their dark voice was not always welcome in the peace ‘n’ love sixties, but they never stopped raising it. Some of their albums are spotty, but the best of their work has stood the test of time better than that of many if not most of their contemporaries. Alas, too many people today know them as nothing more than a vehicle for Morrison to wield the persona that famously led Rolling Stone to declare him hot, sexy, and dead. But in 1967, there was nobody like them, and their self-titled debut album proved them to be a cohesive unit with a vision only those four men could convey.
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Oct 282011
 

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!

In 1984 a band from Glasgow released a song that sounded like the inside of a jet engine factory, only you could hum it. The song was “Upside Down,” and it stayed on the UK indie charts for almost a year and a half. The band was The Jesus and Mary Chain, less content to push the envelope than to blow a hole through it with feedback and distortion. With their first album, Psychocandy, they made it official: here was a group that combined the squall of The Velvet Underground and the tunefulness of The Beach Boys to make torture chamber pop, producing a wall of sound that surely had Phil Spector nodding approvingly. Continue reading »

Dec 222010
 

With little fanfare, Robyn Hitchcock released a set of unheard covers to stream on his website yesterday. The former Soft Boy sticks with obvious influences like George Harrison and Bob Dylan on the untitled set, but the song selections themselves often surprise. For Harrison, he chose “Be Here Now” from Living in the Material World. For Dylan, “Copper Kettle,” off Self Portrait, the album that garnered perhaps the most famous record review in rock history (Greil Marcus: “What is this shit?”). Continue reading »