Dec 112015

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.


Everywhere but here, the world of cover and tribute albums tends to be a sleepy one. Most years our “Best Cover Albums” list is composed of records that either flew totally under the radar or, at best, earned a few news posts on music blogs. There’s the “all star” tribute albums that make a brief mark before being largely forgotten. And there’s the big-name artists whose cover albums get seen as a side project before their next “real” albums. That’s just the lot you sign up for when you release an album of cover songs most years.

But most years don’t have Ryan Adams. Continue reading »

Jul 082009

I was a Bob Dylan fan long before I got into the Band. I thought they were good with him but kind of lame by themselves. See, I first heard “I Shall Be Released” on Dylan’s 1978 At Budokan live album where it has full horns, gospel chorus, and blasts right out at ya. Compared to that the Band version just sounded flaccid. Thankfully I’ve come around since then. Seeing The Last Waltz will do that to ya.

Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett – Tears of Rage
The first of several Dylan-assisted songs on the album, it’s the one he’s all but forgotten about live. Luckily Barre and Tackett remembered it at an ’03 concert, jamming out with a couple guitars and a winding story. [Buy]

The Beatles – To Kingdom Come
“There’s no way the Beatles recorded a Band song,” I hear you saying. Well it’s true. It’s from the Get Back sessions in London, the sound of them messing around. Unfortunately though the recording of the guitar is crystal clear the vocals are very difficult to hear. Time for a remaster? [Buy]

Karen Dalton – In a Station
With drum rolls like that to open a track, it doesn’t even matter what comes next. Bonus points if the rest is good too. [Buy]

Plastic Penny – Caledonia Mission
Obscure U.K. psychedelic band Plastic Penny only released three albums, all with currency-related titles. Luckily their second from 1969 includes the rare cover of this tune, sounding like the original filtered through Jefferson Airplane. [Buy]

The Gaslight Anthem – The Weight
I saw Mavis Staples perform this live with The Decemberists (read about it) and god I wish there was a recording. The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon is no second-best though, strumming his way through a take so simple it nails the song in the heart. [Buy]

Kiyoshiro – We Can Talk
“Japan’s King of Rock” here, singing a Japanese-language take on one of the Band’s lesser-known tunes. No idea how well the lyric is translated, but the delivery is worthy. [Buy]

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Long Black Veil (Dill/Wilkin)
Plenty of people sung it before The Band, but once they released their version no future artist could perform it without having their take in mind. Cave channels Johnny Cash more than The Band though. Well, he channels Cash for nineteen seconds. From then on, what can he do but channel Cave? A dark, stomping version like none you’ve ever heard. [Buy]

Widespread Panic – Chest Fever
The organ intro heard round the world. I saw Band drummer Levon Helm hit this one live last summer and Larry Campbell ripped through an equally epic opening on his guitar. Read about it, then go buy the Endless Highway Band tribute this tune’s off. [Buy]

Blood, Sweat and Tears – Lonesome Suzie
The original was pretty slow, but it’s downright punk speed compared to where BST take it. Until the horns come in. Then all bets are off. [Buy]

Siouxsie and the Banshees – This Wheel’s On Fire
I don’t know how they do it, but with this and “Dear Prudence” Siouxsie and co. have a knack for turning the most unlikely of tunes into phenomenal gothic stomps. One for the all time great Dylan covers list. [Buy]

Wilco and Fleet Foxes – I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
Unlike “Tears” and “This Wheel,” “I Shall Be Released” gets no co-writing credit from The Band, though they did play it at Big Pink for the famed “basement tapes.” Wilco busted out the jailbird’s lament at several concerts last fall, backed by Americana crooners Fleet Foxes, and put the mp3 up on their website in exchange for a pledge to vote. [Buy]