Nov 112020
 

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

This Year's Model covers

 

Before there was Elvis Costello, there was Day Costello. Well, actually, Day Costello was the name Ross MacManus (Declan Patrick MacManus’s father) used for a recording of a cover of Paul McCartney’s “The Long and Winding Road” in 1970. The song was a number one hit in Australia, and the name Costello actually belonged to Elvis’ great-grandmother. Six years later, young Declan signed to Stiff Records. He was going by D.P. Costello until his manager Jake Riviera rechristened him Elvis.

Elvis Costello unleashed an instant power pop classic when he tossed 1978’s This Year’s Model into the mix. It earned best album of the year in Robert Christgau’s Pazz & Jop poll in The Village Voice, and has topped many a best album list since. It was Costello’s second album, but his first with The Attractions. His sharp wit and punk rock ethos manifest themselves in each song, shedding some light on why this nerdy Buddy Holly-esque looking guy runs around calling himself Elvis and gets away with it. His new band is a little more rocking than the backing band on his debut album, My Aim Is True (a country band called Clover), and Steve Nieve’s organ is a driving force that cements a lifelong partnership between the two men.

Elvis Costello has gone on to release over 30 albums (eight with The Attractions), win a few Grammys, get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and pen a few songs for films (including partnering with Burt Bacharach and T-Bone Burnett on two of them). He’s collaborated with the likes of Paul McCartney, Daryl Hall, Annie Lennox, Billie Joe Armstrong, Fiona Apple, Bruce Springsteen, and many more, and he’s had a very successful career. But his 1978 masterpiece tends to resonate most with people. It stands the test of time, and its punk rock/power-pop mix of attitude and hooks with clever wordplay, and the occasional laidback number, lend it a wide scope influencing artists across genres.
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Sep 042020
 

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

Zuma Crazy Horse Neil Young

Was Zuma the album that finally allowed Neil Young to ditch the encumbrance of being just the fourth name in a list of four?

Before the cloud fills with angry retorts, exhorting Shakey’s eternal place as King of the Gods, back down a little and let me explain.

For sure Young was huge before Zuma‘s 1975 release, that’s obvious, but he wasn’t, how you say, massive. Young made his name in Buffalo Springfield, alongside Stephen Stills; on that band’s implosion, their solo recordings each got notice and were garnished with praise. Stills arguably leapt ahead when he teamed up with Crosby and Nash, even if it then took Young joining to make the supergroup a superlative group. Fast forward past the post-Four Way Street wreckage: Manassas was giving Stills some huge credibility, and Young was in need of a band. Of course, he already had one, but they were arguably just background noise up until this point. Nerds (yes, that’s us) knew all about Crazy Horse and possibly had their separate records, but only with Zuma did Young bring them in the forefront and put them in sizable writing on the cover.

I would assert that this made the difference, catapulting Young ahead his onetime partner. Manassas may have had all the classy talent, but the Horse had pure, um, horsepower. Never again would Stills equal his rival, no matter how long he may run. Young didn’t even need the Horse to maintain his pole position, but, give or take the International Harvesters or Promise of the Real, Booker T’s MGs even, it seems only with these guys does Neil really fly. Unless, paradoxically, he is entirely alone.
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Aug 272020
 
garth brooks covers

Thirty years ago, Garth Brooks released his breakthrough album No Fences. Powered by instant classics such as “Friends in Low Places,” “The Thunder Rolls,” and “Unanswered Prayers,” the record would ultimately sell 18 million copies. In the process, it transformed Brooks into a stadium-filling phenomenon and redefined the parameters for success in country music. The album is a quintessential piece of what we now call ’90s County, a hybrid of neo-traditional country twang mixed with ’70s-style acoustic rock and pop balladry.

Listening to No Fences with three decades of hindsight, it’s clear Brooks is more than a singer. He’s an epic storyteller. Whether he’s singing about bank foreclosures, religious epiphanies at high school football games or going to that place where “the whiskey drowns, and the beer chases” one’s blues away, he delivers every line as if he’s trying to convey some deep universal truth. Like many a country star before and after him, Brooks is a master of interpreting other people’s words. Though he co-wrote several of the songs, he sings every track as if it’s his own.
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Jul 242020
 

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

CSNY

Crosby, Stills and Nash had already staked their claim as a bona fide supergroup courtesy their first release, cemented by their appearance in the Woodstock documentary. Of course, Neil Young had already joined the band by the time they got there, if mysteriously missing from the film in its initial iteration. His second gig, he appeared for the electric second part of the set. To me he always seemed their secret weapon. Old compadre and sparring partner of Stephen Stills in Buffalo Springfield, there was always the fear he could engineer the gig to being as big a draw in his own right as the trio he joined. Maybe he did; however much I loved the trio, they were always in a different league with Young’s fiery presence on board.

Deja Vu came out in 1970, after being put together in different studios and at different times, with only selections of the four featuring at any one time. All the vocals save “Woodstock” were recorded separately and then spliced together, amid much argument and revision. Young did everything on the half of the album he appears on all by himself, then took away the contributions of the others to mix as he saw fit. Completion took hours, days and weeks.

But it was all worth it. Somehow Deja Vu holds together cohesively, in no small part down to the rhythm section, the excellent Dallas Taylor and Greg Reeves. Certified gold within a fortnight, partly on the back of $2 million presales, it spent nearly two years in the Billboard chart, despite largely grudging and lackluster reviews. It still seems the pinnacle of their collective career, the only real instance wherein the deceitful artifice of any group collective manages fully to convince, melding individual directions with a combined corporacy.

Like most of our Full Cover posts, we have near-endless options for some songs and had to go scrounging for others – no trouble finding covers of “Teach Your Children,” but how many versions of “Everybody I Love You” have you heard? See what you think of the ten songs we pulled together here…
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Jul 102020
 

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

Coldplay Parachutes covers

Band members Chris Martin (vocals and piano), Jonny Buckland (guitar), Guy Berryman (bass), and Will Champion (drums) met at college and started a band in 1996 (plus their original manager, Phil Harvey, is often considered the fifth member of the band). They settled on the name Coldplay (other names like Pectoralz and Starfish don’t have quite the same ring to them) and released two EPs before embarking on their first full-length album. Parachutes was released twenty years ago on July 10, 2000. Time sure flies! Continue reading »

Jun 122020
 

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

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Beginning around 1990, a major mountain range began forming along the fault lines where country music, punk-influenced rock, and traditional folk music meet. Call it the Alt-Country range, or the Roots/Americana mountains, or whatever you like. The range includes material from then-new artists like Uncle Tupelo (and its offshoots, Son Volt and Wilco), and the work of not-so-new figures, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt among them. Bedrock that was long covered over–songs by the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers, say–got brought to the surface again and mixed in with the new. The formative period for Alt-Country ended by 2000 or so, with the final uplift being the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, a project that help usher southern-style folk music beyond certain enclaves in Austin and Nashville.

Looking back, most would agree that among the most prominent peaks in the entire mountain range is Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. The album is over 20 years old, but time doesn’t wear it down, and in the rear view mirror it still looms large. Let’s pull over to admire the achievement.
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