Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now.
If I say that Molly Tuttle is a name we will all hear more of in the future, I hope that sounds nothing like hyperbole. She is a genuine talent, a virtuoso on her bluegrass-tinged acoustic guitar, blessed also with a sweet yet sassy voice and a gift to pen songs that both encompass the present, whilst invoking the rich musical heritage of, whether you like the phrase or not, Americana.
Not for nothing did Tuttle win instrumentalist of the year at the 2018 Americana awards, and guitarist of the year at the International Bluegrass Awards of the year before (the first woman to receive the latter honor, and at age 24 besides). Being brought up in her family band, the Tuttles, under the expert supervision of her Dad, Jack, a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and tutor himself, probably helped, but is was as she cut loose that the began to make her own name. Crowdfunding her debut, the EP Rise, gave her sufficient notice for Compass Records to pick her up, re-releasing Rise and her subsequent full length debut When You’re Ready, which dropped last year. The fact that guest vocals were provided by Jason Isbell gives an idea of her weight in music circles.
So why would she follow up these largely self-written (or co-written) projects with a covers album? And so soon? The answer is that neither did she expect to, the effects both of the coronavirus lockdown and the early March tornado that devastated her adopted hometown of North Nashville being a joint stimulus. Seeking inspiration in the absence of any live outlet, she began to revisit the records of her youth. Teaching herself pro-tools, she laid down some tracks, sending them to producer Tony Berg, who sent them on to various other musicians for them to flesh out, all working separately and remotely. Not that you can tell.
Now, with the bio thus far, is …but i’d rather be with you going to be a litany of country standards and bluegrass staples? Fear not, anything but. Tuttle’s inspirations range widely among artists as diverse as Rancid and FKA Twigs, embracing also the Rolling Stones, Harry Styles(!) and the National. The only nod to her received tradition comes from songbook of Karen Dalton, herself a far from typical Nashville denizen. As an incentive, it is also entirely safe for the banjo averse.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
John Graham Mellor was born on August 21st, 1952 in Ankara, Turkey. He entered a boarding school in London at the age of 9. He was obsessed with music and went by the nickname “Woody” (he was quite the Woody Guthrie fan). In 1970 he had to identify his brother’s body after his estranged sibling committed suicide three days prior – something that would haunt him forever. After graduating he attended the Central School of Art and Design in London, and in 1973 he moved to Newport, Wales where he played guitar and sang for a band called The Vultures. In 1974 he moved back to London and started the band The 101ers. The following year, he told his mates to stop calling him Woody Mellor. He had adopted a new moniker, and for the rest of his life he would be known as Joe Strummer.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
The Ramones knew they were playing some of the best rock ‘n’ roll in the world, and by 1978, they were starting to grow aggravated about how few shared that knowledge. So, taking the if-Mohammad-won’t-come-to-the-mountain approach, they started making small concessions, in the hopes that these little changes would be the all they needed to get radio airplay. Road to Ruin, their fourth album, featured an occasional guitar solo here, an acoustic ballad there, even a couple of songs that lasted longer than three minutes. But the strain of being something other than their true selves was evident, and the record failed in its play for fame, charting outside the top 100. It shouldn’t have been a surprise – the Ramones’ reach was doomed to exceed the mainstream’s grasp – but it was a frustrating letdown all the same.
So what are we left with today when we listen to Road to Ruin? Well, it was a beat away from the first three albums – literally, as Marky Ramone had just taken over Tommy’s drum stool – and a little less cartoony. It was evident when da brudders were trying, but it was evident when they were succeeding as well. And in “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they came up with a song that has worked its way deep into popular culture. Final result: an album that can justifiably be called the fourth straight Ramones classic.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Some articles are written because of a great love for the subject. Some are written because they are timely. Some are written because there is a need. This article is being written because of fate. When you write about music, sometimes the world conspires to suggest a topic. “Ooh La La,” by the Faces, is one of those songs in the classic rock canon that pretty much anyone of a certain age knows. Its bouncy, wistful chorus makes it memorable and recognizable, even if it might be hard to immediately place the unfamiliar voice or recall the actual title. And when, in the period of a week, the song appears first on the radio, then on satellite radio, then on TV, and finally on a list of potential article topics circulated by the Cover Me editorial staff, it was clearly time for me to take a look at this song, through its covers.
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• Frequent cover champ Benjamin Francis Leftwich takes a giant leap away from the singer-songwriter source material he often gravitates towards, bringing his echoing vocals and distant guitar to M83’s “Midnight City.” He also covers INXS and Frightened Rabbit, which you can download on his website.
MP3: Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Midnight City (M83 cover)