Sep 302022
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

beach boys covers

If you were to look at the charts, the Beach Boys basically stopped having giant hits after 1966’s “Good Vibrations” (with the obvious exception of 1988’s “Kokomo”). They’re a singles band whose singles mostly dried up six years into their sixty-year career. They had a brief run of good-time hits about girls, cars, and surfing, then faded. They’re the band preserved forever in that cornball publicity photo up top.

But that’s not the story these covers tell.

The big hits are here, sure. “Surfer Girl” and “Fun Fun Fun” and “I Get Around” etc. But so are many now-iconic tunes that weren’t hits. “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys’ most covered song, peaked at #39. By their standards, that’s a straight-up flop. Many other covered songs didn’t even make it that high. But “God Only Knows” has of course belatedly been recognized as one of the great pop songs of the 20th century. As has the album it came off of, Pet Sounds, itself a relative commercial failure.

Pet Sounds, of course, has long since been recognized as a classic. So some artists dig even deeper. “Lonely Sea” is an album cut off their 1963 album Surfin’ U.S.A. “Trader” comes off the 1973 album Holland. Three separate songs here originally came off Surf’s Up, now the go-to pick for artists who want to show they know more than Pet Sounds. Even a song not released until the ‘90s, “Still I Dream of It,” gets a killer cover.

You can trace the story of the Beach Boys’ reputation through these covers. A group once perceived as a lightweight singles act have been fully embraced as musical geniuses, all the way from the hits of the ’60s through the then-overlooked gems of the ‘70s and beyond. Some of these songs below you probably won’t know. Others you will know every single word of…but you’ve never heard them sung like this.

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Sep 302022
 
Nilüfer Yanya rid of me cover

The title track to PJ Harvey’s second album, Rid of Me, is powerfully dynamic performance about sexual obsession and empowerment. It’s not one of her most covered, perhaps because of the nature of the lyrics or because few people feel they can match Harvey’s performance.

Nilüfer Yanya, named after Turkish singer Nilüfer, is a British singer-songwriter who just released her second album in March. Reportedly, she hasn’t been able to get “Rid of Me” out of her head since she first her it, so now she’s covered it. (And had her picture taken replicating the album cover, to boot.) Continue reading »

Sep 292022
 
lewis capaldi olivia rodrigo

Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has finally gotten himself back into the recording studio. He recently released a cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s monster hit “Driver’s License,” recorded at world-renowned Abbey Road Studios along with a new, chilled-out version of his song “Forget Me,” for Spotify. Continue reading »

Sep 292022
 
holy motors superstar cover

Though best known in the version of by The Carpenters, “Superstar” is actually a Delaney & Bonnie song that was performed by Rita Coolidge (the uncredited co-author), Cher and Bette Midler before The Carpenters got their hands on it. But it’s The Carpenters’ version that everyone knows, and their pacing that is definitive. Continue reading »

Sep 262022
 
mychelle

Mychelle – one name, like Madonna – is a singer/songwriter from Hackney, England.  She covered Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Is This Love” in a live session for The Line of Best Fit, an online magazine based in London. The Line of Best Fit is renowned for discovering new talent, and they have done just that.

The artist called this one of her favorite songs, saying “It’s such a timeless song and Bob Marley is one of the greats, and his songwriting is really beautiful.” This is a beautiful song and I really enjoy singing it.” It’s certain that Mychelle’s dulcet arrangement would woo any Marley fan. This chilled-out version is full of seamless scat-singing and finger-style guitar. 

To call her perfectly-placed vibrato and ornamentations tasteful would be a vast understatement. I can’t get enough of Mychelle’s stylistic choices, right down to the hairpin crescendos/decrescendos in the final chorus. Watch below.

For more excellent Bob Marley covers, click here!

Sep 242022
 

Things Happen That WayLet’s start with a quick nod to the elephant in the room. Dr. John’s Things Happen That Way isn’t a cover album per se, given there are a number of Mac Rebennack originals on this posthumous release. But given the dude has released his 32nd studio album after having been gone these past two years, we’re of a mind to forgive that. Plus, with the otherwise wealth of covers included, heck, of course we had to review it. And for extra kudos, it is a splendid and unexpected joy, delving into the more country flavors of the N’Awlins voodoo meister.

It seems Mr. Mac was always a bit keen on classic country music. He talked about wanting to make this album long before he actually got to. Now, this here country music is none of your Americana or alt-country; this is the real deal, country that demands to be followed by “and Western.” Between 2017 and 2019, Rebennack and guitarist/producer Shane Theriot met up and made it happen. They enlisted several old buddies along the way, cutting tracks until Rebennack’s heart disease finally caught up with him.

However, with his demise, so too, it seemed, died the final say in what songs and which versions would be allowed to appear, this right now transferring to his estate. So what we get isn’t quite what Dr. John had concluded in his lifetime. Mastering took place later, with some of the versions tweaked to further fulfil, says his daughter, her father’s wishes. He re-recorded “I Walk On Guilded Splinters,” perhaps his best known song, with additional vocals from Rickie Lee Jones. They ditched this in favor of one with Lukas Nelson and his band. Which isn’t a bad thing, but both mayhap would have been better?

Anyhoo, with no further ado, what’s Things Happen That Way like?
Continue reading »