Talking Heads only ever recorded one cover, and when I talked to David Byrne about it for my book, he seemed to have mixed feelings on the subject. “There’s always a little bit of resistance to recording a cover like that because it’s kind of a crowd pleaser,” he told me. “I’d seen it happen before, where radio DJs who pick what they’re going to play will often pick a cover song… So then a band gets known for covering somebody else’s song as opposed to writing their own material. They have to go through a struggle for years to get identified with their own songs.”
Talking Heads recorded “Take Me to the River,” it became their biggest hit up to that point, and Byrne said: That’s it. No more covers. The band never followed it up with a second.
He’s relaxed the rules a bit more in his solo career, most recently covering Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout” on tour (he says he’s bringing the cover to Broadway, too). And clearly he’s been listening to covers. For his DB Radio show on his website, he just compiled a wonderfully eclectic mix of his favorite covers. The theme, he says, is artists doing the unexpected, from Sonic Youth covering The Carpenters to Miley Cyrus covering Nine Inch Nails. And when the song choice itself may not be surprising – Patti Smith covering the Rolling Stones, say – the arrangements are. Here’s what he wrote on his website:Continue reading »
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
With James Bond Part XXIV being released this week, the time seemed right to take a look at some Bond-related covers. Tune in tomorrow for some of the best ever made; for today, we’re whetting your appetite with a look at an all-Bond cover album that’s not like all the others. Continue reading »
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.
Kevin Dotson got the name Linus of Hollywood from his wardrobe bearing a similarity to that of the Peanuts character. A self-described metalhead in his youth, he started out in the pop-punk band Size 14; by the time he was releasing solo work, he was radiating California, from his nom de tune to the good vibrations coming off his sunny melodies in waves.Continue reading »
Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.
After its post-Super Bowl spectacular, Glee resumed its regular Tuesday-night schedule with this week’s “Silly Love Songs.” As you might expect, that’s a Valentine’s Day-themed episode in which Coach Schuester directs the members of his glee club to partner up and sing their favorite love songs to each other. Strange teaching methods aside, what results is, like “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle,” another solid set of covers that spans a number of popular genres.Continue reading »
The first post of the month always features a look at songs covering every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Like many Beatles fans with a Y chromosome, I always thought of Paul as a bit of the wimpy Beatle. His songs were slow and sappy, and how could someone so cute be taken seriously? His continual nostalgia tours did nothing to enforce an impression of Relevant Artist. Until I saw him live a few weeks ago. He did all the old Beatles songs, sure, but he dipped into his catalogue from the Wings days through his albums of the last few years. All the solo material held its own. Best of all though were, of course, the Band on the Run songs. Each tune is a classic and I only wish he’d done more. I’ll satiate myself with this comp.
We All Together – Band on the Run
Loads of covers of this exist, most of them carbon copies of the original. This could be accused of the same, but I like the tint of the psychedelic that tries to fight its way through. The tune came out in 1974, only one year after the original. Nice turn around! [Buy]
Laurence Juber – Jet
The downside of this cover: you just want to scream “Jet!” at the top of your lungs each time the chorus comes around. On an acoustic instrumental though, that’s awkward. If you can exercise the appropriate restraint though, the funky fingerpicking keeps the energy of the original, staying far away from elevator music. [Buy]
Denny Laine – Bluebird
Paul’s other [color]bird song is significantly less metaphorically significant than its companion. The beautiful falsetto melody of the original matches the simple lyrics perfectly though. You may know Denny Laine as the original Wings guitarist, so he knows his way around a McCartney tune. [Buy]
Brevis – Mrs. Vandebilt
Ok, first to acknowledge the obvious: No, I have no idea why Brevis pronounces “vandebilt” so strangely. I guess when you’re going for techno dance you want to sound as much like a Scandinavian as possible. [Buy]
Robyn Hitchcock – Let Me Roll It
Definitely no drug references here. Get your mind out of the gutter. [Buy]
Mark Hoffmeister – Mamunia
The title of this song always reminds me of the imprisoned Mumia Abu-Jamal. The lyrics about how rain is really good thing make for a mixed-message protest song though, so the tune’s probably not about the probably-innocent criminal. Oh, and it was written ten years earlier. That too. [Buy]
The Couper Brothers – No Words
Fun fact: the Couper Bros. are currently the backing band for the aforementioned Laine. This solo-heavy jam comes from before those days though, ironically on the one tune Denny co-wrote. [Buy]
The Shazam – Helen Wheels
I’ve listened to the original many times and I never got the pun of the title until hearing this cover. For anyone else similarly dense, take a listen. [Buy]
Brian Burns – Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me)
Picasso is an interesting choice for Paul to commemorate. Paul always seemed the least abstract Beatle, and this solo album is far more grounded in traditional pop than psychedelia or any other Picasso-esq genres. Clearly Picasso’s parting words from earlier in ‘73 just struck a chord. [Buy]
The Golden Dogs – Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
It starts out sounding like “In the Year 2525”-style fearmongering, but don’t worry; it’s just another tune about a girl. [Buy]