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.

NEXT PAGE →

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.
Continue reading »

Jun 142024
 

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

Take Me to the River

The Talking Heads cover of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” has a very solid place in the world of cover songs. Also in the world of Cover Me: the site’s founder and editor-in-chief devoted a chapter of his book Cover Me to it, and on our first Q&A post, when the staffers were asked to name their favorite cover song, that was the response from two of them.
Continue reading »

Jun 072024
 

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

Average White Band

The current iteration of the Average White Band, still featuring original musicians Onnie McIntyre and Alan Gorrie, recently completed their “Final” tour in the UK, although they have upcoming dates in the US. Nearly 60 years after they started jamming together and 50 years since the release of their breakthrough album, featuring their biggest single, the unit will move into Californian retirement.

The JB’s, Booker T. and the MG’s, The Memphis Horns, The Funk Brothers. Justly celebrated horn and rhythm sections. Driven by expert musicianship and camaraderie, they backed a thousand hit records. The Average White Band took an instrumental funk track to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, recorded blockbuster records by soul legends including Ben E. King, and were sought after as session and touring musicians by the best in the business, among them Paul McCartney and Daryl Hall.  They were, of course, different from their heroes and predecessors, American-born legends all.
Continue reading »

Jun 052024
 

Sam's PlaceA new Little Feat album seems remarkable enough; as in, are they still a thing? The fact that Sam’s Place is a (mostly) covers album, and a blues cover album at that, is less so. Which seems a tad snarky as, actually, in a gourmet-grits-no-grocery, cordon-bleu-meat-and-potatoes way, the album has its pockets jammed full of charm.

Sam’s Place is Little Feat’s first “new” album in 12 years. With a back catalog as long as Little Feat’s, one might ask if they even need to bother with new product. Sam’s Place doesn’t really answer that question, as the “new” material here is anything but new. Perhaps this is their Blue and Lonesome, a stopgap release from a band that’s past its peak but has something still left in the tank. Only time will tell.
Continue reading »

May 312024
 

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

Sisters of Mercy

As regular readers know, here at Cover Me we put together a Best Covers Ever list every month for a celebrated artist. We’ve recently done the Pet Shop Boys and Sheryl Crow. And before them we did the biggie – The Beatles – and before them, Bob Dylan! But every now and again, there’s a particular genre that’s crying out for the Best Covers Ever treatment – and this month it’s the Dark Genre. It’s goth!

So why now, you ask? Are goth covers really a thing? And why don’t Alien Sex Fiend or Fields of the Nephilim have their own Best Covers Ever features?

Fair questions, all. First off, goth music is everywhere right now. It may have emerged out of the UK post-punk scene and enjoyed its most innovative period from 1980 to 1982, but it’s now the reason we have Whitby Goth Weekends in April and November (well, that and Count Dracula), World Goth Day on May 22, and goth nights down the Hatchet Inn in Bristol most nights, particularly Thursday. It’s also why we have heaps of goth books on the market right now, from John Robb’s The Art of Darkness to Lol Tolhurst’s Goth: A History and Cathi Unsworth’s Season of the Witch, all trying to explain goth’s lasting influence as a musical subculture: the fixation with death, the dark theatricality, the Victorian melodrama, the leather, the thick black eyeliner, the fishnet tights, the deviance, the sex, the deviant sex, and, of course, spiders. Continue reading »