As you may have heard, this year marks the 50th birthday of the Beatles’ seminal album Revolver. We already put together our own tribute album, but the celebration continued this past weekend with another set of covers. For his radio show, Howard Stern collected all-new recordings of every track by some serious heavy hitters, from vets like James Taylor and Cheap Trick to newer buzz bands like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Milk Carton Kids. And we’ve got every song below.
Though they’ve never really dropped off the map completely, Jim Henson’s lovable Muppets seem to be enjoying something of a cultural resurgence lately. A lot of that probably has to do with the upcoming Jason Segel/Amy Adams film simply called The Muppets, as well as the fact that many people who enjoyed the characters as kids are now coming to the age where it’s acceptable, even desirable, to embrace their childhood loves again.
You can add The Green Album to the list of cultural artifacts presaging the return of these creatures to full-on popularity. The record’s aimed exactly at the people described above, who in the years between their childhood and now have cultivated “cool” tastes, of which the Muppets have become a part. One look at the pedigree of bands and artists contributing to this compilation can’t help but impress — Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird and the rest all stand in the upper echelons of their respective fields, and it’s rare that any kind of tribute album could cull such noteworthy acts together.
Duncan Sheik had one of the 1990s’ more enduring songs in “Barely Breathing,” which hung around the Billboard Top 100 charts for a full year. As they say in (what used to be) the radio business, it tested well. Six additional albums have followed, but Sheik has spent much of the past five years composing scores for Broadway productions and winning both Tony and Grammy awards in the process. Long before he was halfway to an EGOT, though, Sheik spent his teenage years in the 1980s. On Covers 80s he reflects the influence that a wide range of synthpop bands and tracks had on his formative years.
This is no John Hughes soundtrack compilation and if you’re looking for a “Walking On Sunshine” feel-good nostalgia trip, you’ll likely be disappointed. While a few big hits are represented, Sheik offers a deeper and somewhat darker journey back into his past. Although he grew up in New Jersey, Sheik does not include any American bands on Covers 80’s. He says that the litmus test for inclusion was “did I really, really care about it when I was 15 or 16?” Apparently what Sheik really, really cared about back then was the electronic, indie and New Romantic pop of the second British Invasion and Covers 80s benefits greatly from Sheik’s choice of source material.