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 »

Apr 292024
 
heart going to california

Covering the range and power of Robert Plant’s high tenor voice is a challenge for all in Led Zeppelin tribute bands, but many of those who have successfully done so have been women. Ann and Nancy Wilson were in a Zeppelin tribute before they committed their band Heart, and have retained the songs in their repertoire since. Recently on the Howard Stern show they talked about their iconic version of “Stairway to Heaven,” performed for the surviving members of the band and other luminaries at the Kennedy Center in 2012, before moving on to their version of “Going to California.” Continue reading »

Nov 142023
 

Cover Genres takes a look at cover songs in a very specific musical style.

We begin with a bow to Seuras Og and his genre-expansive post earlier this year about banjo covers. We can’t leave the banjo hanging–or getting the last word, either. So: Let us now praise the mandolin.
Continue reading »

Cover Genres: Box

 Posted by at 12:00 pm  1 Response »
Jun 092023
 

Cover Genres takes a look at cover songs in a very specific musical style.

box

Herewith the last in the unholy triumvirate of banjo, bagpipes, and box. Time now to unwrap the wonders of melodeon, accordion, concertina, bandoneon and all their squeezy family upon your eager ears. Actually (maybe) a primitive  precursor of the synthesizer, the squeezebox family started life as a way of letting one player give a more orchestral sound to proceedings, the rich textures replicating the play of a whole bevy of musicians. Indeed, in the same way as the Musician’s Union decried the synthesizer, so too will the equivalent of its day have decried the box, taking work away from honest pipe’n’taborists.

This family of instruments casts, arguably, far wider a net than the two B’s that have preceded it here, banjo and bagpipes, with a right of place across very many cultures and categories. Broadly occupying a space in ethnic roots traditions, this has never stopped appearances crossing over into territories that might be more squeeze-averse. Which to me is the joy.
Continue reading »

Nov 012022
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Duran Duran Thank You

With Duran Duran about to be indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what better time to re-examine Thank You, their eighth full-length offering, released in 1995 to a blaze of apathy. To be fair, it didn’t actually fare that badly in the charts, reaching the top 20 in both the UK and the US. The singles did less well, failing to make any stateside impression and only one of them bruising, just, their homeland top 20. The critics gave Thank You a fairly uniform hammering, with the legacy casting a long shadow over the rest of their career: Q magazine, in 2006, called it the worst record of all time, having had 11 years to make that considered opinion. At the time Rolling Stone described many of the selections as “stunningly wrong headed.” Ouch.

Today we’re thinking it about time this much derided potpourri of styles and statements had a good seeing to, via the retrospectroscope. I fully confess I had never listened to Thank You until researching this piece. So I got me a copy sent through, all of £3 plus p&p, which currently equates to about $3. Money well spent? Well, you know, actually, yes, it isn’t half as bad as I had been led to believe, and some of the tracks are really rather good. Of course, it is dated, but, by imagining myself back all those 27 years, I find myself heartily disagreeing with those snarky scribes from Q.

Continue reading »

Jul 092021
 

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

Hollywood Vampire's self-titled album

We’ve seen a few different motivations for forming supergroups, but another one is to gather together to pay homage to others. One recent example: the Sylvain Sylvain tribute by Halloween Jack, made up of Gilby Clarke (formally of Guns N’ Roses), Eric Dover (of Jellyfish), Stephen Perkins (of Jane’s Addiction), Dan Shulman (formerly of Garbage), and Steve Stevens (guitarist for Billy Idol)).

Hollywood Vampires is made up of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp (super in a different way, but showing off his musical skills here), and Joe Perry (of Aerosmith). Although they have since worked on originals, their self-titled first album is (mostly) a cover album where the songs are chosen to pay tribute to rockers who “died from excess” in the 1970s. The irony of this is that the band is named after the drinking club for celebrities formed by Cooper in the ’70s.

Throughout their time playing together, the band has had guest features from other big stars, actors and musicians alike. They have postponed their European Tour twice now due to the pandemic, but hopefully fans will get a chance to rock out when the world settles down a bit more. Continue reading »