Apr 192013
 

Funkadelic is the slightly lesser known iteration of George Clinton‘s Parliament (who eventually toured under the name Parliament-Funkadelic, or P-Funk), but their critically-acclaimed Maggot Brain is packed with, well, funky dance tracks (and one mind-blowing guitar solo). “Can You Get to That” highlights the ensemble, freestyle feel of the album, with multiple vocalists and plenty of impromptu shouts. Recently, former member of the Staples Singers, Mavis Staples, recorded her own soulful version. Continue reading »

Jan 092012
 

Last month, Wilco invited friend of the band/Jeff Tweedy collaborator Mavis Staples and opening act Nick Lowe onstage for a Chicago show for a rousing cover of “The Weight.” Some shaky cell footage emerged, but now we have something better: a video of the impromptu supergroup rehearsing the cover backstage at the Civic Opera House. Continue reading »

Nov 152011
 

Every year, city of Melbourne, Australia puts on the Melbourne International Arts Festival. The event combines local and international artists of all sorts in a two-week program of events, exhibitions, and concerts. A few weeks ago, the festival wound up with an all-star protest concert titled Notes from the Hard Road and Beyond. It featured Joss Stone, Mavis Staples, and local favorite Paul Dempsey covering songs of hope and struggle. The whole thing was recorded by national station STVDIO for broadcast next Friday, but you can watch clips now. Continue reading »

Aug 152011
 

Possibly the perfect campfire singalong (you all know the chorus, don’t you?), The Band’s “The Weight” transitioned from classic to standard long ago. Covers abound, but few more powerful than soul-gospel legends The Staple Singers’ 1968 version. So powerful, in fact, that The Band enlisted the Singers to back them up when re-recording the track for the soundtrack to their seminal concert movie The Last Waltz. Continue reading »

Apr 192011
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.

The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.” Continue reading »

Aug 242010
 

Soul legend/certified American treasure Mavis Staples has a long history of work with rootsy musicians. Staples has recorded with the best of the country-rock tradition, from The Band to Bob Dylan (from whom she once turned down a marriage proposal!).

Seen in that light, her current partnership with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is only natural. Tweedy produced her upcoming album You Are Not Alone, which includes covers of Randy Newman (“Losing You”), Allen Toussaint (“Last Train”), and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The CCR song of choice is “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” from the seminal album Green River. Tweedy and Staples performed an acoustic version for Mojo. As you might expect, the two destroy it. Check out the video below. Continue reading »