Jul 222024
sam fermin don't speak cover

No Doubt‘s ballad “Don’t Speak” was their big crossover hit, the song that really made them. All these years later, it is still their biggest song. It’s a little uncharacteristic of their sound on their third album, the breakout Tragic Kingdom, but that’s likely one reason it crossed over. This probably also explains why it is far and away their most covered song – it’s not even close.

San Fermin are an indie rock/chamber pop octet that have been releasing albums for over a decade. They’ve brought that chamber pop sound to this No Doubt song, perhaps their song in the catalogue most suited to such a treatment. Continue reading »

Jun 102024
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

In late 1973, David Bowie released his last album with his backing band, The Spiders from Mars, the all-covers Pin-Ups. Somewhat surprisingly, it contained two covers of songs by The Who, their second single “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” and their first single, “I Can’t Explain.”

This month will see the release of Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, a Ziggy Stardust-focused box set, which includes outtakes from the Ziggy sessions. One of these outtakes is an earlier version of Bowie’s “I Can’t Explain” cover featuring an earlier version of the Spiders from Mars, with Nick Woodmansey, the original drummer, instead of Aynsley Dunbar, who only took over for Pin-Ups.

Bowie’s original cover of “I Can’t Explain” is an extremely slow version of the song featuring saxophone fills from Bowie and another horn player, and ethereal backing vocals.

This earlier version is far closer to the original Who version. Bowie obviously sounds like Bowie not Roger Daltrey, but the backing vocals evoke the original’s. Trevor Bolder’s bass is mixed higher, but he and Mick Ronson’s rhythm parts really do seem to just try to sound louder. However, Mick Ronson’s solos are entirely different from Pete Townshend’s original. No saxophones to be heard.

The cover is an interesting insight into Bowie’s process. Clearly he loved the song but was unhappy with this original approach, or decided it didn’t fit the Ziggy Stardust concept. (There is one cover on that album.) By the time he re-recorded it two years later, he had found his original take on it but in this early version it’s still very clearly a song by The Who.

Check out this nugget:

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 »

Apr 122024
carlie hanson nutshell cover

Though not released as a single, “Nutshell” has probably become the best known song from Alice in Chains‘ second acoustic EP, Jar of Flies. (The first EP ever to debut on Billboard at #1, apparently.) Lead singer Layne Staley was writing more and more of his own lyrics and “Nutshell,” like many of his songs, concerns his struggles with addiction.

Carlie Hanson is a singer-songwriter from Wisconsin, who has put out a couple of albums and EPs over the last five years. She released her new cover of “Nutshell” on the 22nd anniversary of Staley’s death.

The song is famous for its extended acoustic guitar intro, just featuring guitarist Jerry Cantrell playing chords, with some bass accompaniment for nearly a minute before the drums and Staley’s vocals come in. Hanson begins her version with a loop and some prominent drums. But she wastes little in starting her vocal and once she starts singing the song much closer resembles the original. Though her pace is faster, her acoustic guitar moves forward in the mix and the loop fades.

For the wordless refrain, she piles on group vocals and drops the guitar fill, giving the vocals much more focus. These vocals feel a bit like a lament and the repeat as this version’s coda until they drop away and all we’re left with is a guitar repeating the main lick.

Though it starts out sounding very different, it’s actually a quite faithful rendition that manages to both recall the original but sound different enough. Check it out:

Mar 262024
july talk hand in my pocket cover

“Hand in My Pocket” is the second single from Alanis Morissette‘s breakout album, Jagged Little Pill, as well as her first ever Canadian #1 song. As much as this album was big in the US, it was even bigger in her native Canada where it went double Diamond and produced four #1 songs as well as a #2. For some reason “Hand in My Pocket” wasn’t released as a single in the US so it had less of an impact, though it still received enough airplay to chart well.

Still, it makes sense that it would be a little less popular of a cover than the biggest songs in the US from Jagged Little Pill and that a Canadian band like July Talk would be a little more likely to perform it. July Talk have been around for a little over a decade with a fair amount of success, due to their famous live performances.They were invited by CBC to cover the song in honour (with a u) of the upcoming Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammys.) They were a little nervous of doing it because of how big Alanis and this album were in Canada at the time. Continue reading »

Mar 152024
teenage joans call me maybe cover

2012’s song of the summer, “Call Me Maybe,” launched Carly Rae Jepson’s career with a little thanks to Justin Bieber. If you were a tween when it came out, it likely made as much of an impression as it did on the members of Australian duo Teenage Joans.

Teenage Joans, whose name echoes no wave legends Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, are an Adelaide-based punk-ish guitar-and-drums pair that have received considerable acclaim in their native state. But they grew up with pop like “Call Me Maybe” and decided to honour that heritage for Triple J’s legendary cover program “Like a Version.” Continue reading »