Jul 122024
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Nebraska covers

A Full Album post of covers of Nebraska? Surely, you say, Cover Me has done this before. Well, I have checked, and whilst we have published posts about officially released full album versions of Born in the U.S.A., Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Tunnel of Love, as well as our Best Ever of Bruce covers piece, and even reviews of Nebraska tribute albums here and there and here again, we actually haven’t. So then, cometh the day, and this man’s job is to find ten Nebraska covers, one of each song, while avoiding as much duplication as is possible. You up for that?
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Jul 052024
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

The United Kingdom woke up to a new Prime Minister on Friday. We don’t yet know what kind of Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer will be, but we know a little of his music tastes, thanks to a recent profile: “His music tastes are lodged in the mid-80s – Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, Edwyn Collins.” Edwyn Collins?

“Edwyn Collins’s tart cocktail of self-deprecation and self-assurance.” Pete Paphides’ beautiful, magnificent book Broken Greek is a love letter to the music that moves him, regardless of whether it does so for anyone else, or even if others in vast numbers appreciate it. He is not a snob. His musical awakening took place in the late ’70s or early ’80s, so we get some wonderful prose about Orange Juice, the band that Edwyn Collins led before his solo career. Orange Juice’s small output, and fewer hits, nevertheless had a disproportionate influence on music in Scotland and beyond. A recent history and museum exhibit of Scottish pop was named “Rip It Up” after the band’s best-known single. Edwyn Collins had something about him, a big fish in a small Scottish Loch.

After Orange Juice split, Collins continued to be a vital cog in the machine of the Scottish music scene. He produced creditable collaborations with, for instance, Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins and Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera. All recognized his talent, not least himself, but it did not always translate itself to hits.

That changed in 1995 with the release of “A Girl Like You.” The worldwide hit encompasses a remarkable range of Collins’ skills and influences. Those who studied the success of the UK dance phenomenon Northern Soul identified that 121bpm is the most danceable pace for music, leading to dozens of hits at that exact pace in the charts of the ’90s. This song cleaves close to that ideal, and even samples a sixties soul classic.

But there is more. Collins uses a B&M Fuzzbox to achieve the distinctive riff, but enhances the refrain with a clean-sounding vibraphone. Sex Pistol Paul Cook played the drums that are not part of the four-on-the-floor sample. It is a sophisticated musical confection, worthy of the finest Viennese Patisserie. And then there are the lyrics, which add a layer of universality. Who has not started a romance with the belief that their partner is unique? With an unparalleled set of lovely traits, never combined in a single, heavenly creation. That moves everyone.

The song managed to conquer several markets, and chart in many more. It was helped on its way, curiously, by featuring on the critically mauled but subsequently cult film Empire Records. The lyrical message and place in time have enabled it to feature in several more films and TV shows, and have kept the song in the imagination and indie channel playlists ever since.

In 2005 Collins suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, and was near death, and the after-effects of that illness have affected him ever since. However, with the love and support of his family, he returned to music making, including live performances, where his talent and self-belief continue to shine through.

His best-known legacy has spawned many covers; here are Five of the Best of them.
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Jun 252024
 

Sometimes it is the lower key and lesser heard that most catches the ear, and Adam Holmes a prime example. If you follow the contemporary Scottish folk (and beyond) scene, you may well know Holmes already, for having one of the more soulful instruments in the country, a warm burr with a distant flavor of John Martyn. Starting off as a member of neo-trad outfit Rura, Holmes’ singing and songs were a tidy contrast to their instrumental elemental fare of fiddle, flute and pipes. With time, the mix became perhaps too schizophrenic, he needing a platform to stay on stage the whole set. This he found, forming a band, the Embers, lasting for a well-received year or three.

Since then he has been on his own, give or take a duo, with Heidi Talbot, and a brief membership of Anglo-Scots folk-rock supergroup, The Magpie Arc. A veritable one man industry, he releases his own albums and sorts out his own gigs and shows, no middlemen to sour the pitch. As such, the gap between he and his audience is thin; if you fancy him writing a song for you, or for him to play in your own home, he will; contact him, via his website.

Songs for My Father, the second of two recent releases, each dedicated to cover versions, is in his father’s memory, the songs of his childhood and his father’s record collection. (The earlier one, last year’s The Voice of Scotland, covered more the traditional songs he grew up with, together with a couple that have near earnt that same soubriquet: we included “You Are My Sunshine” from that set recently.) Holmes’ father, dying of throat cancer, made a last request his son record his favorite songs; it was a task that took Holmes ten years to work up the initiative to address.
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Jun 252024
 

Tom Petty was always open in his love and respect for country music. Debt, even, with many of his songs a mere pedal steel away from sounding that way. So the new tribute album Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty is not remotely any leap into uncharted territory. And, go figure the number of existing covers of his songs, effortlessly traversing into the full Nashville, Bakersfield or wherever you want to be the center of the genre. And then go figure who is lined up here, with Dolly and Willie, to start with, they who need no surname, right through Steve Earle and Margo Price and to more conventional hat acts like Chris Stapleton and George Strait.

Made with the full co-operation of the Petty estate, and, particularly, the oversight of his daughter, Adria, Petty Country unsurprisingly contains a Heartbreaker or two to beef up the instrumental chops. The songs contained herein also take a good walk through the catalog, unafraid of both picking the obvious candidates and digging deeper.
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Jun 212024
 

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

The Kinks covers

If The Kinks had stopped after their first year, they’d still be legends. “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” two of the all-time-great sixties rock singles, were both released in 1964. That’s more classics in one year than most bands have in decades (and their year gets even better if you slide in January 1965’s “Tired of Waiting for You,” recorded before “All Day Etc”).

But if The Kinks had stopped after their first year, this list certainly wouldn’t run 50 covers deep. Because, of course, they didn’t stop. They kept releasing hits, including Top 10s in both the ’70s (“Lola,” “Apeman”) and ’80s (“Come Dancing”). Maybe even more importantly, they kept creating, kept innovating, kept pushing forward, not settling into retreading their early garage-rock sound. That wide breadth gets reflected in the Kinks songs that artists covered. The big hits, of course, are well represented. But so are plenty of album cuts and singles that “flopped” at the time but were rediscovered years later.

Ray Davies turns 80 today. So today, we celebrate his birthday—and his ability to withstand decades of interviews about whether he and brother Dave will ever reunite—with our countdown of the 50 Best Kinks Covers Ever.

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Jun 182024
 

First LoveDana Gillespie… Now, where do I know that name from…

If you cast your mind back (or possibly your father’s), you’ll remember the name, possibly even the album cover, with which Gillespie is arguably best known. That 1974 album, Weren’t Born A Man, which given her Bowie association, immediately had folk wondering whether she were, despite her pneumatic sleeve appearance. Remember, this was around the same time Amanda Lear was allowing the myth around she being born male to permeate, let alone all the claims Bowie fostered around his sexuality. Well, Gillespie wasn’t born a man, and her relationship with Bowie was understandably under wraps: they were teens at its inception, and remained friends and lovers for the next decade. Bowie’s song “Andy Warhol” was written for her, she including it on that album, it produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson. She also sang backing vocals on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. However, this was insufficient to have her then gain much personal chart traction.

In the intervening decades, blues has been Gillespie’s musical vehicle of choice. She’s recorded a huge stash of albums on a plethora of labels, with greater appeal to audiences of mainland Europe. She has also set up a still-running Blues Festival on the exclusive Caribbean island of Mustique, now nearing its 30th birthday. Her latest album First Love is, in part, a deliberate trip back in time, and reflects her own personal tastes, as well as those of her production team, two old friends, Tris Penna, the Abbey Road studios production and A&R man, and Marc Almond, of “Tainted Love” fame. All but one of the songs are covers, the artists as varied as Bob Dylan, Morrissey and Lana Del Rey.
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