Mar 122021
 

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

Camper Van Beethoven Tusk

Rumours was a tough act for Fleetwood Mac to follow, so they didn’t follow it. Instead of giving an audience more of the same, they took a big leap with their next album, Tusk in 1979. It was the most expensive album to be recorded at the time, and although it did not reach the same level of commercial success as Rumours, there were pockets of critics and fans alike that appreciated the post-punk experiment. (Did I know Lindsey Buckingham was a big Talking Heads fan before writing this piece? No!)

Camper Van Beethoven is a band somewhere between alternative and indie rock who decided to take on Tusk in all its double-album glory.  Not to be outdone in terms of drama, their version has a conspiracy theory-esque origin story. The band claimed to have unearthed it years after recording it on a whim in the late ’80, but they actually recorded it in 2001 and then released it in 2002 as a test run to see whether they could work together as a band after an earlier breakup. Oh, the intrigue! It is good to see a little of the Fleetwood Mac drama carry on in this work, although it is a little ironic that an original album that represented a band being divided by romance gone wrong actually brought another one back together in cover form.

Tusk is no ordinary Fleetwood Mac album, and in the spirit of that fact, this is no ordinary Fleetwood Mac cover album. Let’s hear some of the contrast in sound and approach.

Continue reading »

Mar 032021
 
late aster dreams cover

So much has been written about the origins of Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours it feels silly to rehash it, but the short version is that Stevie Nicks wrote “Dreams” about her failing relationship with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. The rest of the band didn’t want to record it until Buckingham re-arranged it. And then it became their biggest US hit ever. Continue reading »

Oct 142020
 
elizabeth go your own way

Melbourne-based pop artist Elizabeth – just Elizabeth – has released a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” as a bonus track on the upcoming deluxe edition of her debut album The Wonderful World of Nature, whose sunny pop melodies overcast with heartbreak prompted comparisons to Lana Del Rey. Released almost a year after her debut, this cover continues to solidify Elizabeth as a promising Australian singer-songwriter. Continue reading »

Oct 052020
 
best tribute albums

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. Continue reading »

Sep 302020
 
cover songs september 2020
Amigo the Devil – Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood cover)

When we last heard Amigo the Devil, he was stripping down a Tom Jones song to create a haunting murder ballad. Now he does the same to another highly polished pop song – but a much more recent one. “[The original is] this very confidence-boosting, really good-feeling, power-infusing song,” Amigo’s Danny Kiranos told Rolling Stone. “I was curious what it would sound like if you took away the positive nature of it and kept the lyrics, essentially the emotions they are portraying.” Continue reading »

Sep 072020
 

What is there left to say about Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours at this stage? It is a veritable blueprint of what a perfect pop album should sound like, and the drama surrounding it is as iconic as the record itself. Unsurprisingly, its most beloved track and the one that’s spawned the most cover attempts is  Stevie Nicks’ incandescent “Dreams”…which makes sense, for beyond its general evergreen perfection, it’s kind of foolproof, with strong enough bones to withstand even the most experimental cover attempts. But that fact makes it even more impressive when someone takes on one of the deeper cuts (though I suppose in the case of the ubiquitous Rumours, we should just refer to them as ‘non-singles’)…like the dark queen-Grande dame that is “Gold Dust Woman.”

Lindsey Buckingham once famously referred to “Gold Dust Woman” as “an evil song,” and his sinewy groove of a guitar line supports that notion tenfold. Sinister and ominous, equal parts pop song and exorcism, Stevie herself explained later it was “My symbolic look at somebody going through a bad relationship and doing a lot of drugs and trying just to make it, trying to live. That song was about a very heavy, very bad time in my life.”

Composer, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Julia Holter recorded her version of the song way back in 2012 (for a MOJO Magazine curated Fleetwood Mac tribute CD called Rumors Revisited). Up until last week the song had only been available as part of that compilation, but it’s now officially available through the streaming services. Holter added that she’d “always wanted to release it” and describes it as a “rough home recording with the raw energy of that time for me when I first started touring and playing my music outside of LA with a band.” It also happens to be one of the finest covers of the song ever recorded. Holter’s “Gold Dust Woman” is spare, hymnal and utterly spellbinding. There’s a quiet urgency to it, a chilliness that pulls it miles away from the smoky grittiness of the original, and it’s absolutely entrancing.