Jun 052020
 

If you’ve seen The Sopranos, you know Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning.” It’s arguably now one of the most famous themes in TV history. Few songs are so associated with a particular type of TV show, even though the song predated the show by a couple years. The moment you hear the title line, it’s almost impossible not to envision Tony Soprano driving through New Jersey.

Guts Club clearly don’t want that connection. Though nominally a folk group, this New Orleans duo has taken an entirely different approach on this cover, abandoning their acoustic instruments for electric guitars and a synthesizer. They’ve even renamed their version “Song for Carm,” shifting the focus to Tony’s wife and back to the song’s original subject: a woman who has suffered domestic violence fighting back, not gangsters. Continue reading »

Jun 022020
 

My Darling Clementinejenn champion the blue albumGiven we are again treading the tearstained paths of country music, as soon as bawling follows brawling, and sinking follows drinking, one other thing in the world to rely on is the expectation honed by entitling anything as “Volume 1.” Not that it always delivers or guarantees a followup, but when husband and wife duo, My Darling Clementine, dropped Country Darkness, Vol. 1 (reviewed here), my hopes for a volume 2 went high and held there. Thankfully, the wait for said volume has not been a long one.

Country Darkness, Volume 2 has arrived. Once more it is an EP of songs of Elvis Costello, tackled by Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish. The duo maintain their mantle as a latter-day George Jones and Tammy Wynette, tho’ with fewer guns and lawnmowers and (hopefully) less naggin’ and nippin’. And once more it is the rippling fingers of guest Steve Nieve that does the heavy lifting beneath their vocal interplay, again proving himself a less frantic and more sensitive player than when with his usual employer. An EP, like its predecessor, with another four songs; I wonder how many more are in the box? (The press release suggests one more, 12 songs having been chosen overall.) Certainly there is no shortage of Costello songs that fall into this genre, and despite the relative annoyance of this gradual drip feeding, I am sure it makes for good accounting for the duo and their record company. Plus, I can’t wait for the eventual compilation, duplication be damned.

Continue reading »

Jun 012020
 
david ford celebration

Last night, UK singer-songwriter David Ford took his long-running annual charity concert “Milk and Cookies” to the internet. One feature of the show is covering songs he says he has no business covering, and the evening featured many, from an amazing looped-instruments version of Lizzo’s “Good As Hell” to songs by the Bee Gees and John Lennon chosen at random from a UK-number-ones sheet music book (the randomizer first tried to assign him R. Kelly, which he wisely vetoed).

But perhaps the high point was one of the most unlikely covers. It’s not that this song doesn’t get covered much – far from it, it’s in every wedding band’s repertoire. But, Ford explained, he wanted to find the happiest song he possibly could and make it a bummer: Continue reading »

May 292020
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs may 2020
Daniel Romano’s Outfit – Sweetheart Like You (Bob Dylan cover)


This one’s for all the Dylan superfans. In 1984, Bob Dylan played three songs on Letterman with L.A. punk band The Plugz. They were gritty and garagey and raw. It boded well for his new sound. And then he never played with them again. The album he was ostensibly promoting, Infidels, was much smoother, helmed by Mark Knopfler. For those who still wonder what could have been, Daniel Romano covered the entire album as if he’d recorded it with The Plugz. Continue reading »

May 292020
 
head like a hole cover

This past December, a few friends headed up to Pepperbox Studios in rural central Vermont to record a few songs and exercise some creative instincts. A few songs were considered, one of which was this classic Nine Inch Nails track “Head Like a Hole.” Marshall Morgan laid down the riff and producer Kristina Stykos, owner of Pepperbox, filled out the recording.

Stykos had never heard the original song, so her arrangement likely has a lot do with the drastic change in sound. The three singers, activist Kira Elliot, and friends Lindsay Hopkins, a performance artist, and Carrie Drapac, then recorded their vocal parts. They called their one-off group Venus and the Moon. Continue reading »

May 282020
 
bb king eric clapton rollin tumblin

The year 2000 ushered in a tsunami of pop music as N’SYNC, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys all released multi-platinum albums. That same year, an aging British guitarist who spent most of the ‘90s chasing soft-rock glory and a septuagenarian bluesman who released his first single in 1949 had an unlikely hit record, too.

Riding with the King features the guitar-slinging duo of B.B. King and Eric Clapton playing a mix of covers and some of King’s classics. The album went double platinum and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. An expanded 20th anniversary version of the record will be released this summer along with two bonus tracks left off the original release. One of these, a cover of the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” was unveiled last week.

Continue reading »