Apr 112016
 

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

MerleHaggard

Merle Haggard died on April 6th, his 79th birthday. On another April 6th, eleven years earlier, he celebrated his birthday in Chicago, opening the spring run of Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour.”

I don’t know what he did for most of that 66th birthday, but I do know how five minutes or so was spent. He was standing outside his tour bus, listening to a handful of Dylan obsessives sing “Happy Birthday” to him. I was one of them. Continue reading »

Feb 262014
 

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 the 1980s, there was one artist that Minneapolis became known for. And that was Prince.

But if you took the bus to the bad part of town, watching the blight and the snowy misery go by through fogged up windows, you would eventually spot a burned-out, abandoned, and graffiti-tagged little red Corvette: perched up on blocks, stuffed with liquor bottles in the back seat, and harboring a coffee can in the front filled to the brim with cigarette butts. If you opened the door, you would find a floor littered with cassettes. K-Tel. Kiss. Big Star. And if you ran the VIN number, you’d find the owner to be the Replacements.
Continue reading »

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.
Continue reading »

Sep 142012
 

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

Richard Thompson is an ideal subject for a tribute album. He’s been acknowledged as the most underrated guitarist in rock for so long he’s in danger of losing the title. His songwriting is inspired, both musically and lyrically. If his singing voice is by default the weak leg in the tripod, that only means a band can put their own stamp on it with greater ease. To top it off, his cult audience would guarantee small but significant sales to people who knew music and who would be more open to a wide range of approaches to Thompson’s songs. 1994’s Beat the Retreat: Songs by Richard Thompson is a gathering of some of Thompson’s best work, performed by disparate artists with devoted followers of their own, bringing all their contrasting styles to salute one man – as such, for all its flaws, it has become an archetypal tribute album. Continue reading »

Sep 052012
 

Back Track reexamines an old cover that deserves a new spotlight.

In 1983 X released More Fun in the New World, which became the fourth consecutive album to garner critical praise, and no doubt helped solidify their status as L.A. punk legends. More Fun was crisper than their previous albums, but no less raw and passionate. John Doe and Exene Cervenka still wrote their lyrics as if they were simply writing poems, and while there were more elements of pop to this album, the band’s punk and rockabilly roots held a presence. Continue reading »

Aug 022011
 

Last month, we mentioned a new tribute compilation of Los Angeles bands today covering their L.A. influences. Titled Beat LA, the punk-leaning album features city upstarts like No Age and Crystal Antlers digging deep into L.A.’s musical history to cover bands both obvious (The Doors, Minutemen) and less so (Thelonious Monster, 20/20). It’s out today and you can stream the whole thing below. Continue reading »