Oct 152010

For anyone interested in the stats game, Cover Me has seen a lot of big, round numbers recently. Yesterday afternoon we put up our 500th post (Eric Lauritsen’s epic roundup of dozens of live covers by Wilco). Then this morning we gained our 1000th Twitter follower (hi @u2acro!). As I’ve been promising on @covermesongs for a while now, that’s an occasion for a Twit-sclusive giveaway. No, scratch that. Five Twit-sclusive giveaways.

Here’s the deal: Tweet out a link to a page on Cover Me. Could be the homepage, could be a favorite post, could be our archives on a favorite artist (find ’em here). Whatever. Include the hash tag “#CoverMe1000” in your post. Do this as often as you like over the next week—as long as you’re tweeting a different page/post each time. Next Friday I’ll pick five tweets randomly. Those five tweet-ers win one of the following:

CD: John Legend and the Roots’ Wake Up! (more info here)
CD: Garden on a Trampoline’s new compilation It’s Only Love (three copies, more info below)
CD: The Morlocks Play Chess (more info here) Continue reading »

Sep 272010

Last week we saw three videos from John Legend and the Roots’ Spike Lee-filmed concert. Since, JohnLegendVEVO has upped many, many more. You can watch them all here. One, however, deserves its own post.

The Legend/Roots album Wake Up! was originally inspired by them covering the Arcade Fire song of the same name. Ironically, that song was cut in favor of a protest-soul theme. We wondered what the heck their cover of “Wake Up” would sound like. Now we know. Epic. Continue reading »

Sep 242010

Do the Right Thing. Driving Miss Daisy. John Legend and the Roots at Terminal 5. What do these things have in common? Well, if you read the headline, you already know: Spike Lee filmed them. As part of American Express’ Unstaged series pairing famous musicians with famous directors, Lee brought his Brooklyn touch to last night’s Manhattan concert. He went all out, recreating the Wake Up! album cover onstage and letting the guys do their thing.

So far only two songs have been archived, but if the recent Arcade Fire/Terry Gilliam Unstaged is any indication, the full thing will be rebroadcast in a week or two. Until then, check out Legend and the Roots performing Eugene McDaniels’ “Compared to What” and album highlight “I Can’t Write Left Handed.” As we saw before, this latter features the Roots’ “Captain” Kirk Douglas playing brain-exploding guitar. Screw “best guitarist in hip-hop”; this guy might be one of the best guitarists around period.

EDIT: Added third song, “Wake Up Everybody,” at bottom. Continue reading »

Sep 012010

Back in July we got a first peak at John Legend and the Roots’ upcoming protest-music cover album. Their version of “Wake Up Everybody” was tight (in both senses of the word), but nothing mind-blowing. Guess they were saving that for the second look. Well, it’s here, and…wow. Their version of Bill Withers’ 1973 lament “I Can’t Write Left-Handed” is an absolute barn-burner. The studio clip below lets you watch it all come together. They run through cycle after cycle of build and climax, each peak higher than the one before. This goes on for eleven glorious minutes.

Legend croons and Questlove executes some precision drum rolls, but the real star here may be guitarist “Captain” Kirk Douglas. He adds brilliantly understated licks behind each Legend line before unleashing a typically nutso solo. Relegated to the sidelines, MC Black Thought nods approvingly. (via 2dopeboyz) Continue reading »

Jul 192010

John Legend named his album with the Roots Wake Up! after an Arcade Fire song they recorded. Sadly, that one landed on the cutting room floor. However, the similarly-themed “Wake Up Everybody,” originally by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, made it. It’s the first single and it indicates that this collaboration just might live up to the mile-high expectations. Canadian soul singer Melanie Fiona joins Legend in the uplifting duet and Chicago rapper/actor Common lends his skills with a new verse. Download it below.

The album features ten covers of power-to-the-people songs (full tracklist below) from the ‘60s and ‘70s along with on Legend original. “If you can kind of transport your mind to what everyone was feeling at that time, there was a lot of energy in the country, a lot of feelings that we could all do something to make the country better and the world better,” Legend said.
Continue reading »

Jul 012009

Not surprisingly, Michael Jackson covers have been coming fast and furious these past few days. Whatever you thought of the man, you can’t deny the music. CoverLayDown’s got a good round-up of what’s already been done, so we’re going to try something a little different. Michael passed on Thursday afternoon. By concert time that evening, artists were already beginning to bust out Jackson songs in tribute, a trend that only intensified over the weekend. So here are some of those live covers, recordings of tributes performed since Jackson’s death. They’re in turns emotional, joyous, spontaneous, and apologetic. But all are heartfelt. I weeded out anything with poor or incomplete recordings (as well as those that just weren’t any good). This is what was left.

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

Mark Rose – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
Solo electric guitar is usually a shaky proposition, but not when you sing like this.

Duffy – Billie Jean
Duffy goes the extra mile at this Romanian festival, mixing “Billie Jean” in with her own “Mercy.”

David Garrett – Smooth Criminal
Classical music fans may appreciate that Garrett throws in a bit of Mozart’s “Turkish March” into the middle here. Apparently the two songs have the same harmonic progression.

Ne-Yo & Jamie Foxx – I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
The BET Awards Sunday night turned into a de facto Jackson tribute, capped off by this duet following a tearful speech by Janet.

Amanda Palmer – Billie Jean
Dresden Doll Palmer says she threw this solo piano wail together in twenty minutes, performing it the night of his death. Impressive indeed, as this gothic lament should be a concert staple for years to come.

Timothy Molo – Thriller
You don’t come across a bass line this meaty every day.

AYO – I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
An impassioned spoken tribute leads us into those instantly recognizable riffs.

Rachel Bernard & Steven Keith – Man in the Mirror
A simple but effective duet by two unknowns tugs at the heartstrings.

The Roots & Erykah Badu – I Wanna Be Where You Are
The Roots & Erykah Badu – Billie Jean
Recorded during rehearsal breaks at the Roots new home at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

Martin Sexton – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Only one of a series of impromptu Jackson cover from Sexton the night of his death, his falsetto means you can’t tell if he’s joking or not.

Christian Larke – Black or White
Nothing elaborate here, but sometimes a passionately strummed acoustic guitar is enough.

Third Eye Blind – I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
A noisy crowd can’t silence a jam like this.

Castledoor – Rock With You
You forget how catchy this song is until you hear it.

Robin Thicke – Human Nature
Another night-of-death cover, it’s just one a cappella chorus, but with that voice that’s all you need.

Dave Matthews Band – I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
Dave keeps it short and sweet.

Stevie Wonder & John Legend – I Can’t Help It
Stevie Wonder & John Legend – We Are the World
Few people are more qualified to do this tunes than Stevie, a living legend in his own right who sang on the original “We Are the World,” even going so far as to coach Bob Dylan through his part.

James Eric – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
Alright, this last one isn’t actually live, but friend of the blog James Eric put it together over the weekend to honor the legend and it’s a hell of a tribute.