When covering a song, changing the speed can completely change the vibe of the track. There’s no better example right now than The Chats and Genesis Owusu’s cover of the Talking Heads‘ hit ‘Psycho Killer’, performed on the Australian music show The Set.
In the States, Modern English is a one-hit wonder due to their hit “I Melt with You,” which got lots of play on MTV. Perhaps it’s the slight jangle under the new wave vibe that Americans gravitated to, but Modern English never had another top 40 hit in the US. The song has become one of those British hits that are constantly associated with the ’80s, making an appearance in Stranger Things in 2016.
I know what you’re thinking right now. Upon hearing about Higher Than A Mountain: The Songs Of Andy Gibb, even I, who worshipped the late Andy Gibb as a child–straight-up poster-on-the-wall, scrapbook-keeping loved him–even I questioned the need for an entire tribute album. Not only did Andy release just three studio albums in his lifetime, he was unquestionably a singles artist, meaning those tracks were always the outright best songs on his full-lengths. I remember being actively disappointed by this fact after I’d spent several weeks of hard-earned allowance to buy his debut LP. So the question is unavoidable: are there enough great Gibb tracks to justify a cover compilation?
The answer is, surprisingly, mostly, yes.
Earlier this year, Brandi Carlile memorably covered John Prine’s “I Remember Everything” at the Grammys. Shortly thereafter a studio version surfaced, from the upcoming sequel to the phenomenal 2010 tribute album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine. At the time, details on Volume 2 were scarce, but now there’s a release date – October 8th – and a second cover: Sturgill Simpson’s “Paradise.”
Singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer Bhi Bhiman has released Substitute Preacher II, an offbeat and artful new covers EP that follows the first installment in 2013. In spite of the eight-year gap, Bhiman’s approach to producing covers has stayed remarkably consistent. Substitute Preacher II’s performances mostly feature just Bhiman’s acoustic guitar and mighty vocals, captured in live takes with minimal overdubs. Bhiman saws straight through the trunks of some towering classic rock picks that might at first seem impenetrable to solo-acoustic interpretation: “Back in Black” by AC/DC, Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.” But with the craft of a master carpenter, he also has the foresight and ingenuity to build something novel from the shreds he’s chopped.
Neighbor is a Boston area jam band which formed in 2019. Formed by keyboardist Richard James, of popular tribute band Pink Talking Fish, the band play a mixture of covers and originals very much in the jam band style. Neighbor’s new cover of Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” is extremely straight-ahead and traditional. If it weren’t for the keyboard and lack of a second guitar, you might mistake it for a an attempt for a note-for-note cover. Bassist Dan Kelly even tries, at times, to sound like Black Francis, though he drops that pretty quickly.