It’s unsettling to think what might have become (or not become) of rock music if not for one man in Memphis and his modest recording studio. The talent that Sam Phillips welcomed into his Memphis Recording Service in the early 1950s was legendary and included B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Parker and Ike Turner. These early blues and R&B artists gave Phillips and his fledgling label, Sun Records, some minor notoriety that would soon attract rock, country and rockabilly upstarts such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and of course, Elvis Presley. His willingness to produce raw-sounding records featuring reverb and distortion caused some to say Phillips didn’t know what he was doing, and others to praise his unique genius. Perhaps Phillips’ biggest stroke of genius was seeing the potential in the young Presley boy that just kept hanging around. Pairing Elvis with guitarist Scotty Moore and Bill Black on bass in the summer of 1954 initially led to a lackluster session until, after a break, Elvis began goofing around with Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right.” Instantly Phillips knew he was hearing something special – the white artist with the “negro” sound that he had been seeking.
Let’s face it – we could run Cover Me from Third Man Records releases alone (see here, here, here, and here). When Jack White gets behind something, cover songs just seem to pour forth. That holds true in his latest Vault subscription package, which gave lucky viewers a reissue of the White Stripes’ Captain Beefheart covers and this 7” of the 22.214.171.124.’s and White covering two oldies favorites: “Great Balls of Fire” and “Hanky Panky.”
You’ve probably seen our birthday tributes to the likes of Tom Petty, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna. Well, today, they say it’s our birthday. We’re gonna have a good time. In fact, we’ve already begun celebrating. This morning we enjoyed a Schoolhouse Rock Song of the Day. We offered up a new vinyl giveaway. We even re-posted our very first post (covers of songs off John Wesley Harding). But this is the big one.
We contacted a bunch of artists we’ve worked with in the past – terrifically talented folk who have all played a role in Cover Me’s history. We asked them to record birthday-themed cover songs for a special three-year celebration album. Find the fruits of their labor below. Eleven brand-new covers of birthday songs both famous (“It’s My Party”) and obscure (“Birthday Boy”), all recorded just for the occasion. You can download high-quality MP3s individually below or the full set (plus a bonus track!) way down at the bottom. Each artist shared their thoughts on the song they chose, so be sure to read those.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
You think Vermont music, you might think flanneled hippies strumming mandolins. Not Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They may come from the great wooded north, but their big soul sound comes straight from Dixie with a side of south-side Chicago. Potter is a vocal tour de force, a skinny white girl with an enormous voice. She can do a two-hour show without fading a bit and her hot four-piece band keeps right in step. Searing guitar solos abound, but nothing can upstage that voice.
Through years of near-constant touring, the band has amassed quite a stack of covers. In our latest Live Collection, we collect every concert cover we could find (thanks archive.org!). That includes blasts through Blondie, My Morning Jacket, and a whole lot of Neil Young – including a 14-minute “Cortez the Killer” that should be required listening for any rock band. Josh Ritter joins the band on John Prine’s “Pretty Good,” but otherwise they don’t need any help in blowing the roof off any building they play.
As a special bonus, below the main set we have the thematic new covers from their 2009 New Year’s Eve show. The band had clearly been spinning the Top Gun soundtrack a lot; they cover seven songs from the darn thing! And not just the original soundtrack either. The band apparently took to the 1999 Special Edition CD, cause they run through three of the four old-school bonus tracks as well. In between ’80s classics like “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone,” the band throws out Top Gun lines as a wink to clued-in audience members. “This is Ghost Rider requesting permission for a flyby!” Permission granted.
I’m in the midst of finals these days – hence the less frequent posting – but I’ll tide you over with some school and test themed covers. Now back to “Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in Contemporary American Society”. Woohoo!
Snatch – Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd)
Sometimes the most interesting cover is the best, sometimes it isn’t. I didn’t do enough research to know which is the case here, but the moment I heard this funk-disco version I knew it was too unique not to post. So love it or hate it, but at least it’s different.
Nils Lofgren – What a Wonderful World (Sam Cooke)
I saw Joan Baez bust this one out a month or so back (read my review here), but I think Lofgren’s cover has it beat. Nils, incidentally, is Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, but a phenomenal musician in his own right, with a voice way better than the Boss’s.
Bruce Springsteen – High School Confidential (Jerry Lee Lewis)
On energy though, Bruce has him beat. It’s been a while since I was in high school, but I don’t remember it being quite as fun as this live take from ’78.
Julie Doiron – Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard (Paul Simon)
Luckily, my high school career was also not as law-breaking as Paul Simon’s apparently. Doiron gives it a quiet and slow acoustic take. If she was a guy, this would be emo, but as it is it’s just pretty.
Bree Sharp – We’re Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes)
Looking up covers for this post, I discovered that over at Cover Lay Down bowhowdy had done a similar post last month! I limited myself to only stealing one song for this post, but the rest are all worth hearing, so head over here. Oh yeah, and this is way better than Jack Johnson’s version. Surprising? Didn’t think so.
Laibach – The Final Countdown (Europe)
I should have a gothic-techno themed post at some point, but until then this Europe cover will have to suffice. Sounds like the angriest rave ever. Oh, and it’s relevant to the theme cause I’m taking finals, see?
A-Teens – School’s Out (Alice Cooper)
Looking at the artist here, you might expect this to be awful. And you’d be right. But sometimes novelty is good enough, and if you need a pick-me-up from your own finals, this terrible cover (featuring Cooper himself…wtf?) should give you a laugh.