Sep 072020
 

Lou Reed’s 1972 hit “Walk on the Wild Side” feels a bit like a risqué movie. Though these days the plot would barely raise a plucked eyebrow, in the waning months of the Nixon administration it explored all kinds of cultural taboos. Reed tells the stories of several crossdressing young lads as they turn tricks, take Valium, and give head.

Suzanne Vega released a cover of “Walk on the Wild Side” on her new album An Evening of New York Songs and Stories. The live album features Vega singing songs about the Big Apple. It seems like an ideal topic for Vega, given that she helped put the Upper West Side eatery “Tom’s Diner” on the map years before the Seinfeld gang made it their locale of choice.

Performing in New York’s Café Carlyle in 2019, Vega gives the song the feel of a spoken word performance. She starts out slow, mainly backed by the guitar then adds in bits of piano and other instruments as the tune progresses. About two-thirds of the way through, guitarist Gerry Leonard throws in a bluesy solo. A solid take on a classic, even if the subject manner is not nearly as edgy as it once was.

Click here to listen to more Lou Reed covers.

Mar 312020
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs march 2020
Adam Green – All Hell Breaks Loose (Misfits cover)

Misfits go mariachi! Adam Green, best known as one half of the Moldy Peaches, plays “All Hell Breaks Loose” like it was “Ring of Fire.” He writes: “In The Misfits and in his glorious solo work, Danzig bridged punk and metal with the blue-eyed soul music of the mid-1960’s like The Righteous Brothers and The Walker Brothers. I’d had an idea for a while to do a Scott Walker / John Franz style production at punk speeds, and the Misfits song ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ seemed like the perfect vessel for the experiment.” Continue reading »

Jan 172020
 

Dom Thomas is perhaps best known for his other gig, as founder of acclaimed reissue label Finders Keepers. So no surprise that the songs he selected for his band Whyte Horses’ new covers album dig deep. With a shifting group of collaborators, he covers some real cratedigger picks by groups like Belgian music polymath Plastic Bertrand (“Ca̧ Plane Pour Moi”) and Long Island twin soft-rockers Alessi Brothers (“Seabird”). Continue reading »

May 222018
 

john wesley harding coversOn “Bastard Son,” one of the early recordings by John Wesley Harding, the singer, songwriter, novelist and overall renaissance man self-describes himself as the bastard son of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, a description that seems to be pretty much accurate. Whether you are listening to one of the albums released under his nom de plume or reading one of his novels under his given name Wesley Stace, the conclusion is the same. This is one talented guy. Continue reading »

Mar 132018
 
Jordan Mackampa

Already on the short list of my personal favorite cover songs of 2018, singer Jordan Mackampa’s take on Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” is a nuanced gem. From the acoustic guitar beginning on to the first lines, “Holly came from Miami F.L.A., Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A,” there is a mood-setting moment where you come to completely understand why you love music in general, and cover songs in particular.

The video itself is the first launching from COVERS, a new YouTube video series from the “Mahogany” sessions series. Mackampa starts things out sitting on a sparse office chair, guitar resting on his knee, slightly hunched over with a mood-setting backlight. At about the one minute mark, Georgia Mason and her autoharp make their appearance, and this is where the real magic begins. Continue reading »

Jan 122018
 

Cover Classics takes a look at great covers albums of the past, their genesis and their legacies.

doc pomus tribute album

“Why now,” you ask. “Why focus on this album in 2018, more than 20 years since it was made and getting on 30 since the recipient of the tribute died? And who he anyway? He didn’t have any hits.”

Well, that’s where you are wrong. Doc Pomus wrote many of the 1950s songs we now see as standards – standards across many genres, encompassing blues through rock (and roll), with a hefty side influence into country and soul. Few people won’t have at least a whistling memory of at least one of these songs, probably more, in versions played by artists as diverse as ZZ Top, Engelbert Humperdinck and the Searchers. Continue reading »