May 172024
 

Talking Heads TributeThe quote attributed to Brian Eno about the Velvet Underground’s first album inspiring everyone who bought it to form a band applies differently to Talking Heads. If you were already starting your band in your parents’ garage or the art school lounge, surrounded (in either case) by the fog of weed, you would surely dream about being Talking Heads.

During a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career, Talking Heads retained and maintained artistic integrity, but sold enough records to establish and keep themselves in the public consciousness and charts. We can all name their biggest songs. They got to work with the business’s best, including Eno and Lee “Scratch” Perry, and create critically acclaimed masterpieces. If you needed to draft in legends from Funkadelic or Nigerian music to get the sound right, you could.

It was not all work. There was the opportunity to hang out, and get high with, the coolest people in the world. Mick Jagger might have been a little too high to interact fully with, but Sid Vicious was unexpectedly sympathetic, and John Martyn was expectedly an asshole. At least you knew personally. Later on, cool young people would be desperate to hang out with you. If you are Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth you would get to do all this with your soulmate and the love of your life. (All of this is well documented in Frantz’s memoir Remain in Love. Recommended.)

The lead singer might be a little, shall we say, self-absorbed. Of course, for an average band, between a third and a fifth of you are planning to be the lead singer, so you would regard your behaviour as an acceptable price for accommodating your genius. The rest of you, as talented and driven as you are, might have to suck it up a little. Your Wikipedia entry is much shorter than that of the lead. You can contemplate the injustice of it all as you take your ocean-going yacht down to your Bahamas holiday home and studio.

You can have side projects when the band is on hiatus. This might allow you to participate in an Oscar-winning soundtrack, or produce your biggest-ever hit records. You can be sought-after producers, further increasing your time in the Caribbean and your musical legacy. And at a certain point in your career you make the greatest concert movie of all time.

Stop Making Sense, directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme, was released in 1984 when the band was at its creative, harmonious best. It is a work of art on several fronts, from the curation of the music from an emerging chrysalis to barnstorming romps, to the building of the set and band. It featured the iconic and meme-worthy “big suit,” which cemented the recording and band in the public consciousness. Forty years after its release, the film company A24 has polished up Stop Making Sense for a new generation, and now they’re celebrating further with the release of a new tribute album, Everybody’s Getting Involved. The range of moods, genres and languages on the album are a real testament to the influence that Talking Heads have.
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May 152024
 
cody jinks take this bottle cover

Faith No More were one of the most diverse alternative metal bands of the ’90s. Especially on their last two albums before they broke up, they include multiple songs that have nothing to do with metal, recording R&B and gospel songs, other other genres. One of those songs is the country ballad “Take This Bottle” from 1995’s King for a Day…Fool for a Lifetime.

If there’s a country singer who should cover a country song by a metal band, it’s Cody Jinks, who began his career performing in a metal band influenced by ’80s metal. This isn’t one of Faith No More’s better-known songs, so it probably helped that Jinks was familiar with the metal scene of the era. For this cover he’s joined by Meat Loaf’s adopted daughter (and Scott Ian’s wife) Pearl Aday to turn this into a duet. Continue reading »

May 152024
 
skylar grey linkin park

Composer and producer Tommee Profitt released his newest collection of covers, titled Volume 2. And featured inside this second collection of covers was Skylar Grey’s compelling version of Linkin Park’s “Numb”. Skylar Grey (AKA Holly Brook Hafermann) is a singer, and record producer from Wisconsin. Her vocal delivery in this tune is both chilling and epic. Continue reading »

May 132024
 
garbage

“Song to the Siren” is Tim Buckley’s most popular song to cover, and it’s not even close, despite never seeing release as a single. It has four times as many covers as any of his other songs. It’s likely due to nothing Buckley himself did during his lifetime but rather due to the This Mortal Coil cover, which was a hit in the UK, from 1983. Most of the covers of this song come from well after the famous cover. Continue reading »

May 102024
 

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

You Are My Sunshine

“You Are My Sunshine” is an old warhorse of a song. It’s been around for so long and in so many forms as to, now, be quite beyond categorization. Until recently it has been unfairly parked under hokey old cornball music for old folk, even if the many cheesier versions out there have deserved and drawn such scorn. I know that I thought it dreadful old nonsense, until I was recently forced to accept and re-evaluate it as a song of some pathos and persuasion. You may still share my earlier view, so I put it to you: Can any of these covers shift that opinion?

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