Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now.
Last year I did a roundup of the Best Cover Songs of 1996. It was a fun project to retroactively compile one of our year-end lists for a year before Cover Me was born. I wanted to do it again this year, but continuing the twentieth-anniversary theme with 1997 seemed a little boring. Turns out 1997 also featured a bunch of Afghan Whigs covers.
So to mix it up, I decided to go a decade further back and look at 1987. Needless to say, the landscape looked very different for covers. For one, far more of that year’s biggest hits were covers than we saw for 1996. The year had #1 cover hits in Heart’s “Alone,” the Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter,” Los Lobos’ “La Bamba,” Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Club Nouveau’s “Lean on Me,” and Kim Wilde’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Plus ubiquitous hits that didn’t quite top the charts, but remain staples of the songs-you-didn’t-know-were-covers lists, Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot” and George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You.”
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
There is very little that can be considered “new” in the world of popular music — everything builds on something that came before, and influences get combined in different ways. So the idea that you can declare the inventor of a musical genre is ridiculous. Uncle Tupelo didn’t invent alt-country, a mix of country, rock and punk (check out, say, Jason and the Scorchers, the Long Ryders, Rank and File, X, or the Blasters, for example, for proof that these strains were already well mixed when Uncle Tupelo emerged). But it cannot be denied that Uncle Tupelo’s debut album No Depression, which gave its name to the influential message board and magazine that spearheaded the movement, helped to kickstart the genre’s popularity and became one of its cornerstones.
And it all started with a bunch of high school kids.
Last night a slew of alt-indie heroes descended on New York’s Bowery Ballroom to pay tribute to the bands featured in Michael Azerrad’s era-defining tome Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. Ted Leo covered Minor Threat, Titus Andronicus did the Replacements, and, strangest of all, Dirty Projectors played Black Flag.
Cover News is a weekly feature keeping you up to date on the goings-on in the world of cover tunes, tribute albums, etc. Plus, at the bottom we post the array of cover tunes we’ve been sent in the past week. Have you recorded a cool cover? Send an mp3 to the address on the right! As always, follow Cover Me on Twitter for the latest news.
This Week’s News
Our latest Cover Commissions is in: two covers of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with a John Maus bonus! [Cover Me]
Garden on a Trampoline is collecting covers of songs from musicals. Just remember: the world doesn’t need another ironic High School Musical cover. [CLLCT]
The question isn’t “Why is Cat Power singing ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ to trees?” The question is “Why aren’t you?” [Pitchfork]
The AV Club at the Onion debuts the first in a 25-part cover series. First up: Ted Leo doing Tear for Fears. [The AV Club]
Beck’s Record Club 4.0 is off and running. The latest album: Kick by INXS. [Vimeo]
“Dark Eyes” is often labeled one of Bob Dylan’s most underrated songs. The Dirty Projectors apparently think so, though personally I’d give that prize to “When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky.” [Stereogum]
Jimmy Fallon announces a full week of Exile on Main Street covers on his show in May. He can’t say who the special guests are (but it’s Jagger and Richards). [Late Night with Jimmy Fallon]
Huey Lewis and the News are recording a Stax tribute album. No word on the track list, but you’re probably safe expecting some Otis. [Ardent Studios]
Glenn Beck is pro-American. Bruce Springsteen is anti-American. I bet they’d be best friends. [Media Matters]
This Week’s Submissions
G.Rag y los Hermanos Patchekos – Nervous Breakdown (Black Flag) [more]
G.Rag y los Hermanos Patchekos – Old Fashioned Morphine (Jolie Holland) [more]
Send your cover to the address on the right for inclusion!