Nov 012022
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Duran Duran Thank You

With Duran Duran about to be indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what better time to re-examine Thank You, their eighth full-length offering, released in 1995 to a blaze of apathy. To be fair, it didn’t actually fare that badly in the charts, reaching the top 20 in both the UK and the US. The singles did less well, failing to make any stateside impression and only one of them bruising, just, their homeland top 20. The critics gave Thank You a fairly uniform hammering, with the legacy casting a long shadow over the rest of their career: Q magazine, in 2006, called it the worst record of all time, having had 11 years to make that considered opinion. At the time Rolling Stone described many of the selections as “stunningly wrong headed.” Ouch.

Today we’re thinking it about time this much derided potpourri of styles and statements had a good seeing to, via the retrospectroscope. I fully confess I had never listened to Thank You until researching this piece. So I got me a copy sent through, all of £3 plus p&p, which currently equates to about $3. Money well spent? Well, you know, actually, yes, it isn’t half as bad as I had been led to believe, and some of the tracks are really rather good. Of course, it is dated, but, by imagining myself back all those 27 years, I find myself heartily disagreeing with those snarky scribes from Q.

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Oct 072022
 

One Great Cover looks at the greatest cover songs ever, and how they got to be that way.

“I didn’t screw it up, did I?” Kurt Cobain, November 18, 1993

The Man Who Sold the World” is a David Bowie narrative song concerned with, not the anguish of spaceflight, but the anguish of a fractured personality. Yet few people noticed when it was released in 1970 on the poor-selling album of the same name, as the singer struggled to follow through on the success of his “Space Oddity” hit of 1969. It wasn’t released as a single. And it was soon vastly overshadowed by the mighty glam-rock chart attack that came of Bowie doppelgangers Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane: “Starman,” “John, I’m Only Dancing,” “The Jean Genie.”

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Oct 032022
 
best cover songs september 2022
Confidence Man – Heaven (Bryan Adams cover)

For their recent Like a Version performance, Confidence Man, a duo of Janet Planet and Sugar Bones, covered Bryan Adam’s “Heaven.” Well, sort of. They really took their cues from the hit club cover of “Heaven” by DJ Sammy. “We didn’t actually know [it was a cover],” said Planet. “Stu, our manager – who’s old – told us that. We listened to [the original], and it’s not that good.” Ouch! But their cover is a blast to watch, all charisma, choreography, and energy from the two of them in front of an ominously veiled band. As NME points out, Confidence Man are the third act a a cover of a cover on the show. In 2017, Alex Lahey covered Natalie Imbruglia’s hit cover of Ednaswap’s non-hit “Torn” (we wrote a feature explaining the backstory there). And in 2018, garage-rock septet West Thebarton covered Florence + The Machine‘s cover of The Source and Candi Staton’s “You’ve Got the Love.” Continue reading »

Sep 152022
 
ibibio sound machine heroes cover

We last encountered UK Afrobeat band Ibibio Sound Machine as part of the podcast I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats, which featured their cover of “Color in Your Cheeks.” Their new cover of “Heroes,” one of David Bowie’s most covered songs, goes in a very different direction than most of the many, many preceding versions. Continue reading »

Aug 242022
 
dana gavanski word on a wing cover

“Word on a Wing,” off Station to Station, is perhaps David Bowie‘s most explicitly religious song, born out of a drug-fueled spiritual crisis while he was making a science fiction movie. This result is an elaborate ballad with one of Bowie’s more impassioned lead vocals.

We last encountered British-Canadian singer-songwriter Dana Gavanski with her cover of a Tim Hardin deep cut. With her cover of “Word on a Wing,” she’s once again showing a willingness to dig deep in the discographies of the great singer-songwriters of the past, rather than just covering the hits. 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.
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