Oct 282022
 
Puddles Pity Party

It’s easy to dismiss the Puddles Pity Party phenomenon as a bit of a gimmick. He’s a sad clown and he sings sad songs. And he mugs for the camera. But there’s some serious musicality underlying Puddles’ shtick, and he often reveals new things about songs through these seemingly goofy performances.

I can tell you that when I saw he covered Black Sabbath‘s classic “War Pigs” I was extremely skeptical. I didn’t think it would work. Even though the song has anti-war lyrics that could fit a Puddles version, I just didn’t think he would pull it off. But he mostly did. Continue reading »

Aug 052022
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Respectfully Yours

At last, via Bandcamp, it is once again possible to get hold of Ian McNabb’s 2016 album Respectfully Yours. For a while it seemed well nigh untraceable, with neither McNabb nor his manager able to lay a hand on or a link for a copy as little as a year or so ago. The original release was in hard copy only, and only at live shows or direct from the artist’s website. No downloading malarkey in those days, which now threatens to become the only way for many releases to meet the light of day. I’ll pretend it was my request last year that had McNabb put this up for re-evaluation, but I suspect it was more the harsh economics of lockdown logistics, pumping all hands to deck in the pursuit of making ends meet. Be that as it may, Respectfully Yours is a welcome presence, virtual or otherwise.
Continue reading »

Oct 082021
 

I was obsessed with the thrash metal band Anthrax in the late ‘80s. After repeatedly seeing their videos on MTV, I purchased several of their albums and even saw them headline the Headbangers Ball Tour in 1989.

Around that time, I remember having a heated dinner-time discussion with my brother about Anthrax’s long-term musical prospects. “They won’t be around in five years,” my brother declared. I was more confident in the band’s sustainability, but even I couldn’t have predicted that thirty-two years later the group would be celebrating its 40th anniversary. I doubt even they could have imagined such longevity. Metal still rules, apparently.

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Mar 302021
 

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!

the bad plus covers

It’s a good time for a look back at The Bad Plus. The jazz trio recently announced a new chapter in their 20-year career: they are downsizing to a duo, as pianist Orrin Evans departs the band. (Evans joined in 2017 to replace the band’s original pianist Ethan Iverson.) The remaining musical chairs belong to bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King. The moment is an interesting one for a band that always rejected the “piano-led trio” descriptor, insisting instead on “leaderless collective.” While fans await the band’s next chapter, we have highlights from their previous chapters to dig into.
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Dec 112020
 
sarah king war pigs

Though never released as a single, “War Pigs” is one of Black Sabbath’s most iconic songs and, by some reckonings, one of the greatest metal songs ever. But on her new cover, Vermont singer Sarah King has decided to ignore nearly everything about what makes “War Pigs” iconic. Instead, she imagines the song as something like Broadside would have published back in the ’60s: a folk anti-war protest song. Continue reading »

Aug 172020
 
the sword working man

Doom metal was still in its innocence when Rush released their eponymous debut album in 1969, which contained the everyday-man anthem “Working Man.” Soaring guitars lead into what would become a staple of Rush songs: a heavy yet catchy guitar riff and outstanding drum work from Neil Peart. As a part of their Conquest of Quarantine series, Austin band The Sword have presented a doom metal take on this classic rock track. Continue reading »