You searched for pixies where is my mind - Page 3 of 10 - Cover Me

Feb 232024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

beatles covers

Sixty years ago this month, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show. You don’t need us to tell you what a momentous occasion this was; entire books have been written on the subject. Suffice to say we’re using the anniversary as our excuse to finally devote a Best Covers Ever to perhaps the biggest band of them all. We’ve done Dylan. We’ve done the Stones. We’ve done Dolly and Springsteen and Prince. But there was one last giant remaining.

Though it’s difficult to measure this precisely, The Beatles are the most-covered artist of all time according to the two biggest covers databases on the internet (SecondHandSongs, WhoSampled). And that certainly feels right. “Yesterday” is often cited as the most-covered song of all time, though that needs qualifiers (a ton of Christmas standards would beat it). But, again, it feels right. The Beatles were ubiquitous in their day, and they’ve been ubiquitous ever since. They just had a chart-topping single last month, the A.I.-assisted “Now and Then,” which was duly covered widely. If “Carnival of Light” ever surfaces, no doubt a carnival of covers will soon follow. Continue reading »

Dec 132023
 

Follow all our Best of 2023 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

best tribute albums 2023

Some of the albums on our list were obvious home runs. Cat Power singing a tribute to a 1966 Bob Dylan concert? You know that’s gonna be great (and it is). A bunch of punk and psychobilly bands blasting through Cramps covers? Pretty much a guaranteed blast. 90-year-old Willie Nelson in the twilight of his career paying tribute to one of his personal songwriting heroes? Good luck not being moved.

Others were more surprising. Reggae David Bowie could go either way. So could free-jazz Harry Styles or indie-rock ELO. And maybe the biggest surprise of all: T-Pain covers Sam Cooke and Black Sabbath…and it’s not terrible??

As always, big names mix with some albums we guarantee you’ve never heard of. To use one of the clichéd words we see constantly in cover-album titles, uncover some new favorites below.


25. Various Artists — Stuff Your Fridge!

Stuff Your Fridge! features 30 tracks, recorded by underground bands you’ve probably never heard, covering all aspects of the Grateful Dead songbook. The covers can be at times both brilliant and/or cringeworthy. The tracks that fare the best are the ones that stray the furthest from the original recordings, such as a goth version of “Cold Rain and Snow” by Delay 77 and a prog metal rendition of “Fire on the Mountain” by Buck Pool. But the compilers saved the oddest for last. That distinction goes to “Attics of My Life” by Holey Hell. It’s a keyboard-driven instrumental, arranged as if written for the soundtrack to a first-generation ‘80s Nintendo game. One can only imagine what they would have done with Drums and Space. – Curtis Zimmermann


24. Amos Lee — Honeysuckle Switches: The Songs of Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams seems like a solitary artist despite a steady flow of collaborations with (and covers by) her many admirers–country stars, jazz giants, and arena rockers alike. So it’s a warming surprise to have a full album tribute from an artist like Amos Lee, one who has made his own sizable mark as a songwriter and who is a generation or two younger than Lucinda.

Drawing from all phases of Williams’ discography, Lee keeps mostly on the bare bones side of things, with acoustic guitar or piano supporting his soulful vocals. Certain takes may miss the emotional core of the originals, while on other tracks he brings life to songs that may have felt too downbeat in Lucinda’s delivery of them. Or not–each listener’s mileage will vary. And anyway, Honeysuckle Switches may well find an unbiased audience in Amos Lee fans who haven’t yet known the pleasure of the songs of Lucinda Williams. – Tom McDonald


23. T-Pain — On Top of The Covers

In 2019, Auto-Tune pioneer T-Pain joined the first cast of The Masked Singer in 2019, a television show where celebrities hide their identities behind costumes and sing. T-Pain ended up revealing himself at the very end, by winning, and surprising the judges. T-Pain’s cover album maintains a similar spirit, whether he is still searching for redemption after the death of Auto-Tune or finally at peace asserting his raw talent. He has chosen each song on the album to show off his vocal range and power, spanning from old standards to hits through the ages. You will hear plenty of vocal runs that assert “listen to what I can do,” but they do so without an overbearing bravado, just confidence. Instead of relying on a computer to back him up, T-Pain layers his own voice intricately throughout the entire album. You can hear it in the Glee-like chorus accompaniment in “Don’t Stop Believin’.” His choosing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the first place makes me think T-Pain is not taking himself too seriously with this cover album. It’s a guilty pleasure song, and perhaps not one that would first come to mind for someone whose brand is “Hard&B”. – Sara Stoudt


22. Various Artists — Dead Formats Vol. 2

Pure Noise Records’ second volume of (primarily) indie rock and alternative covers is just as fun as their first edition (which was our 16th best covers album of 2022). 15 artists tackle 15 tracks, as far back in time as Elton John from the ’70s, and there are a few tracks from the ’80s and ’90s, but most are covers from the aughts. Most of the covers are straightforward, high energy performances filtered through the lens of pop punk, but a few really stand out stylistically. Less Than Jake really lean into the vaguely Caribbean air of The Kinks’ “Come Dancing,” going full ska. Lavalove appear to treat Nirvana’s “Lithium” as pop punk, but then, on the bridges, they get really playful, alternately vamping and then embracing an aesthetic similar to Nirvana at their nosiest. Mint Green slow down Incubus’ “Drive” and though they don’t deviate much from the arrangement, the female harmonies stand out from the rest of the collection. (The Linkin Park and Slipknot covers also stand out, but only because they are faithful and the only nu-metal covers here.) – Riley Haas


21. Teddy Thompson — My Love of Country

Anyone not already convinced of Teddy Thompson’s mastery of country music need only waltz into his joy of an eighth album, appropriately titled My Love of Country. It’s here that the singer (hailing from London rather than Nashville, lest you should wonder) revitalizes a trove of country standards from the ’50s and ’60s. And it’s here that he channels his 23 years of professional dalliance in the genre into one immensely satisfying, 27-minute whole.

Teddy has the voice for it, of course, which is as strong, deep, rich, and emotive an instrument as it’s ever been. He also has the necessary conviction to deliver tracks previously made famous by George Jones, Buck Owens, and Ray Charles, as well as the skill to forge a magnificent country cut out of a whiskey-soaked number penned by his famous folky dad, Richard, in 1974: “I’ll Regret It All in the Morning.” He further has the help of an impeccable range of musicians to bring the fine period detail, including Charlie Drayton (drums), Byron Isaacs (bass), Jon Cowherd (piano), and producer David Mansfield (violin/accordion/pedal steel/most other things). That’s not to mention sublime harmony singers in the vein of Logan Ledger. But the ultimate reason Thompson makes “A Picture of Me Without You,” “Cryin’ Time,” and “You Don’t Know Me” sound so heartfelt and effortless is from having been immersed in these songs for much of his life. “That’s the real key,” he says, “having them in your body for a long time.” Amen to that. – Adam Mason

NEXT PAGE →

Oct 132023
 
That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Breeders

The Breeders—that female-fronted alt-rock supergroup forged long before Boygenius came along—are currently on tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their post-Nevermind, platinum-selling, grunge-pop triumph, Last Splash. They’re also boasting an “original analog edition” of the album which made them a mainstream success in 1993 and which, in 2022, came out #35 in Pitchfork’s Top 150 Records of the 1990s. That means, of course, that they’re giving “Drivin’ On 9” another bask in the sun. The record’s country-tinged anomaly may not have been a single, but it sure turned out to be a deeply loved, radio-friendly classic and a signature Breeders song—their second most popular track on Spotify, in fact, between “Cannonball” and “One Divine Hammer.”

It’s a song, furthermore, that the band continue to wheel out for significant public appearances, recognizing it as a towering presence in their catalog. They performed it in bed for Bedstock 2017 in support of MyMusicRx. They also played it in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lobby in September 2023, to console a few hundred people when forced to cut short their “Rock Hall Live” outdoor show due to a storm. Kim Deal wrapped her uniquely dirty-pretty voice around it for the thousandth time. Jim Macpherson tapped along on a nearby surface. Kelly Deal broke off her inaudible guitar plucking to play the solos on her phone. And Kim joked that she’s like Stevie Wonder, the whole thing being a funny, intimate, shambolic delight—shared on YouTube—that was nothing short of quintessential Breeders.

But here’s a thing:

  • The Breeders did not write the song. That’s according to @carriebradleyneves1839, who was quick to affix to the Rock Hall YouTube clip: “Words and music by Dom Leone and Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, published by Buck Tempo, copyright 1989.”

And here’s a bigger thing:

  • It’s a cover. That’s contrary to cover-song oracle SecondHandSongs, which notes “Steve Hickoff, Dom Leone” as the writers, but stamps “Original” on the Breeders release of August 30 1993.
From this, it’s certain that the Breeders’ “Drivin’ On 9” belongs to a very different camp to that of the Breeders’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun” or the Breeders’ “Lord of the Thighs.” Few people, to be sure, are aware of Steve Hickoff or Dom Leone in the same way they are the Beatles or Aerosmith, or know who or what Ed’s Redeeming Qualities is. Even fewer are able to credit the Ed’s version of 1989 as the official original. Or credit Ed’s as the first public performers of the song. Indeed, the true status of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities as the original artists as well as writers is seemingly lost in a distant 1980s haze of amateur musicianship and cult followings, where DIY recordings and demo tapes mattered, where ramshackle live shows in a shabby basement club in Boston could easily give birth to a ‘hit’ song, and where the word ‘official’ held very little sway.

So what’s the unofficial story of the perky yet strangely melancholy strummer that the Breeders made famous?
Continue reading »

Sep 152023
 

One reflection on the ravages of the Grim Reaper is that it offers the opportunity for folks to be reminded of the breadth of talent offered by those on the wrong side of the grass. And what a talent Leon Russell’s was. One of the founding fathers of contemporary American music, Russell got his start in sessions with the Wrecking Crew, that seasoned band of players, gilding the lily of any number of better remembered performers. Next, he took on the task of ringmaster for Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen, thereby inventing the whole milieu of raggedy roots revues.

Thereafter, Russell cemented his reputation producing and playing for and with everyone, from Bob Dylan and George Harrison to most of the Rolling Stones. An early adopter was Elton John, much later able to repay the influence with 2009’s The Union, a record co-credited to each of them, boosting once again the standing of then then-ailing Russell. Seven years later, he was to die in his sleep, a heart attack complicating previous surgery, at 74. No more would he grace the stage in the guise of an Old Testament prophet, bedazzling in his white suit, with his mane of white hair and beard crowned usually by a hat, ten-gallon or top, white too.

A side arm of his career included a series of albums under the nom de guerre, Hank Wilson, wherein he took on the mantle of a country bluegrass rocker, with four albums of honky-tonk music, with another being his mentoring and production duties for funk outfit, The Gap Band; they also backed him on ‘Stop All That Jazz’, in 1974. Another fun fact: his 1978 album Americana was potentially the first sighting of the word, a full 21 years ahead the Americana Music Association coming into existence. So yeah, a whole lot more to him than just “Delta Lady,” “Superstar” and “A Song For You.”

With a body of work stretching to nearly 40 albums, solo or collaboration, studio and live, the problem for a Leon Russell tribute album is what not to cover, and what stones to leave unturned. A Song for Leon truly has its work cut out for it; for the most part, it does proud to both the tribute album genre and the Master of Space and Time himself.
Continue reading »

Jul 142023
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best grateful dead covers

I’ve heard it said that one of the curses of having a hit song is that the artist is forced to sing it for the rest of their life the same exact way it was recorded. While that may be true for some artists (certainly for the Eagles), it has not been the case for the Grateful Dead.

Since they released their first album in 1967, the band has never viewed their recordings as sacred texts. Instead they treated their songs as blueprints, starting places to begin the next great jam. Every time they perform a track, it’s like they’re covering themselves.

Take a song like “Fire on the Mountain.” It was originally recorded by Dead percussionist Mickey Hart as an instrumental called “Happiness is Drumming” on his 1976 album Diga. Robert Hunter eventually added lyrics, and the band began performing it on their legendary Spring ‘77 tour. They later recorded a condensed studio version for their 1978 album Shakedown Street, sung by Jerry Garcia. Since his passing, it’s been performed by many Dead offshoot bands and sung by the likes of Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby, Oteil Burbridge, and, even reggae singer Jimmy Cliff. Each version is so different that I couldn’t tell you what counts as the “original.” One can trace a similar pattern with many of the Dead’s songs through the decades — don’t get me started on “Dark Star.”

Artists covering a Dead song have an invitation to reinvent it, as if at the request of the ghost of Jerry Garcia. Given such freedom, it’s only natural that the Dead’s catalog has inspired countless musicians across genres to put their own spin on the songs. This explains why nearly six decades after the band’s formation, and with the latest incarnation Dead & Company wrapping up this weekend, the onslaught of covers shows no signs of ever, ever stopping. These cover songs guarantee the band’s music will live on long after the last remaining members have passed away.

Here is a list of our favorites…

–Curtis Zimmermann

NEXT PAGE →

Sep 302022
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

beach boys covers

If you were to look at the charts, the Beach Boys basically stopped having giant hits after 1966’s “Good Vibrations” (with the obvious exception of 1988’s “Kokomo”). They’re a singles band whose singles mostly dried up six years into their sixty-year career. They had a brief run of good-time hits about girls, cars, and surfing, then faded. They’re the band preserved forever in that cornball publicity photo up top.

But that’s not the story these covers tell.

The big hits are here, sure. “Surfer Girl” and “Fun Fun Fun” and “I Get Around” etc. But so are many now-iconic tunes that weren’t hits. “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys’ most covered song, peaked at #39. By their standards, that’s a straight-up flop. Many other covered songs didn’t even make it that high. But “God Only Knows” has of course belatedly been recognized as one of the great pop songs of the 20th century. As has the album it came off of, Pet Sounds, itself a relative commercial failure.

Pet Sounds, of course, has long since been recognized as a classic. So some artists dig even deeper. “Lonely Sea” is an album cut off their 1963 album Surfin’ U.S.A. “Trader” comes off the 1973 album Holland. Three separate songs here originally came off Surf’s Up, now the go-to pick for artists who want to show they know more than Pet Sounds. Even a song not released until the ‘90s, “Still I Dream of It,” gets a killer cover.

You can trace the story of the Beach Boys’ reputation through these covers. A group once perceived as a lightweight singles act have been fully embraced as musical geniuses, all the way from the hits of the ’60s through the then-overlooked gems of the ‘70s and beyond. Some of these songs below you probably won’t know. Others you will know every single word of…but you’ve never heard them sung like this.

NEXT PAGE →