May 082024
 
Cover Songs Steve Albini

Steve Albini died today. In addition to being a musician in his own right, he was a legendary engineer (he refused to be credited as “producer”) who recorded Nirvana’s In Utero, Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, and many others. He recorded hundreds of albums, for bands big and small, right up through his passing.

There are a million ways to honor him, but, for now, I thought I’d share some covers that he produced recorded. Not for his own bands like Big Black and Shellac—we may have a separate post devoted to that—but for other people’s.

The first couple covers are iconic, mainstays of “The Best Covers of All Time” type lists. The rest are more obscure. But they all have the Albini touch—which, as he would be the first to point out, was a light one. These lean towards the alt-rock and punk, with some weird-folk excursions, but ultimately as an engineer he worked to help the bands get the sounds they wanted. Including when they wanted to do covers. Continue reading »

Mar 312023
 

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

Tom Waits covers

“Downtown Train.” “Ol ’55.” “Jersey Girl.” These are just three of the Tom Waits songs better known for their covers (respectively: Rod, Eagles, Bruce) than for Waits’ own performances.

It probably doesn’t need saying that Tom’s recordings are, in the best way possible, idiosyncratic. So it makes sense that, like Dylan, like Cohen, his songs often become more popular when more “traditional” voices sing them. Many of the best covers, though, keep some of that strangeness. No, they don’t do “the Tom Waits voice” – most people wouldn’t be able to talk for a week after attempting that. But they don’t sand off the strangeness.

Tom’s debut album Closing Time came out 50 years ago this month; he’s doing a reissue to celebrate. It, and its successor The Heart of Saturday Night, are in some ways his least representative albums, though. The songwriting is already strong on these, but it comes in – if you can believe it – a fairly conventional package. His voice hasn’t revealed its true character (to pick one among many memorable descriptions: “a voice like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car”), and he hadn’t discovered that hitting a dumpster with a two-by-four makes great percussion.

Some of those very early songs get covered in our list below. But his later, weirder, songs abound, too. Tom’s wife Kathleen Brennan, his musical co-conspirator for decades now, said her husband has two types of songs: “Grim Reapers” and “Grand Weepers”. On his Orphans box set, Tom divided them up another way: Brawlers, Ballers, and Bastards. You’ll find some of all flavors below. (And, if you want more new writing on Tom Waits music, subscribe to a newsletter called Every Tom Waits Song that – full disclosure – I also run).

– Ray Padgett

PS. Find Spotify and Apple Music playlists of this list, and all our other monthly Best Covers Ever lists, at Patreon.

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Nov 292010
 

Download This! scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.


Bonnaroo Music Festival has worked hard to build up its reputation as a haven for experimentation of all types. Many attendees would consider it a disappointment to travel all the way to Manchester, TN on a hot June weekend and not experience something totally weird and trippy. Musically, this philosophy finds its realization in the yearly tradition of the Bonnaroo SuperJam, which brings together odd pairings of artists just for the hell of it.

For lovers of covers, the 2008 SuperJam is especially noteworthy. New York City Gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello joined Primus bass-master Les Claypool for a set consisting entirely of songs by the peerless Tom Waits. But wait, there’s more! Metal-head Kirk Hammett of Metallica fame joined this already-crazy pairing for three songs. Continue reading »

Dec 092009
 
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED.


At this fall’s Austin City Limits the Dave Matthews Band busted out a smoking cover of the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” Watch a video on YouTube.

Great cover — bet you wish there was some better quality footage of that. Well there’s not just better quality footage coming out, there’s high-definition 3D in-theaters-only footage coming out! Larger Than Life…In 3D hits theaters on Friday for a one-week engagement and features concert video like you’ve never seen. The Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper and Relentless7 and Gogol Bordello get the 3D treatment and, as I wrote in my review, this ain’t your mama’s concert movie. Here’s a trailer (which is of course in 2D, so expect to be intrigued, but not awed).


In honor of the occasion, Cover Me is giving away some prize packs from the film. And we’re not talking a 10% off coupon a postcard. We’re talking posters, t-shirts and, of course, free tickets! All the info you need to win below.

Cover Me’s Larger Than Life…In 3D Giveaway


Four (4) Grand Prizes:
1 Poster
1 T-Shirt
1 3D Lanyard
and 2 free tickets for you and a friend!

To enter, put your email address in the comments. Four winners will be picked at random.

But before you enter, go here to make sure it’s playing near you. Though 350 locations is a lot, it’s not everywhere. At the above link you can also request the film come to your city, but there’s no guarantee.

Because this film opens Friday, this contest is only open for 24 hours! Remember, because this is 3D, once this movie leaves theaters it is gone for good (no DVD!). Enter now!

Some covers to whet your appetite:

Dave Matthews Band – All Along the Watchtower (live 6/26/09) (Bob Dylan)
Ben Harper & Relentless7 – Under Pressure (Queen)
The Hectics – Supertheory of Supereverything (Gogol Bordello)

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Got something you’d like to give away? Email us at the address on the right!