Aug 212023
 

Given the links between the Wainwright dynasties and the Thompson equivalent, I always think of Rufus Wainwright and Teddy Thompson, lifelong friends and competitors, certainly the former, playing together as children whilst their parents made their musical footprints. Indeed, there seems often a Wainwright present whenever the Thompsons congregate for a collective show, and possibly vice versa. Last month Rufus W put out his recent Folkocracy, reviewed here, the North American honoring, by and large, the music from the other side of his pond. Now, with My Love of Country, Teddy is now doing the same in reverse, with this paean to American music. Kinda wish he called it Countrypolitan, but he didn’t. Anyway, this isn’t Thompson’s first set of Nashville covers; 2007’s Upfront and Down Low served as his first rodeo. Plus, as we wait impatiently for the 3rd EP of his Teddy and Jenni EPs, with Jenni Muldaur, each covering a different set of famous country duet artists, it may not be his last.

For years I’ve held the hope aflame that one day Richard might get routinely referred to as Teddy’s father, rather than for Teddy to be always Richard (and Linda)’s son. But, despite seven largely well-received albums, and another half-dozen plus as a producer, Teddy’s career has always seemed to be as a supporting act, and I fear that day may have passed. A pity, as he has a strong and emotive voice, a keening tenor that is perfect for picking up all the emotions and sadness that populate many of his songs. Not to mention that of the whole anguished canon of country music. A consummate interpreter of existential angst, you just know that when he approaches lyrical distress, tears are going to be well and truly jerked.
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Jun 302021
 
best cover songs of june
Adia Victoria – On and On (Erykah Badu cover)

Adia Victoria recorded this powerful Badu cover for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She said of the time she discovered the song, “I was looking for something that was bigger and deeper and felt more warm than the idea of a Christian God. And I dove into my imagination. And the first time I heard ‘on and on’ it felt like Erykah Badu was waiting for me to be her there.” Continue reading »

Jun 232021
 
country westerns

Despite the name, Nashville trio Country Westerns aren’t pure old-school C&W. They work a heavy dose garage-rock grit in with their country, as seen on their new cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Wall of Death.” Produced by recent Bonnie “Prince” Billy collaborator Matt Sweeney, the cover helms their new mostly-covers EP Country Westerns, released last week on Fat Possum. Continue reading »

Feb 192021
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday  celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

birthday

Hi, I’m Patrick Robbins, the features editor here at Cover Me, and today’s my birthday. Please forgive the self-indulgence of a one-year-older guy for putting up a post that’s about me.

2021 is kind of a big year for me. Not only am I having one of those milestone birthdays – you know, one of those ones that ends in a zero – I’m also having a milestone anniversary. This year marks ten years since I joined the Cover Me staff. In all that time, I’ve gotten off a few good lines here and there (my favorite: a song had “more hooks than Moulty’s closet”), but far more importantly, I’ve found some great covers that I never would have discovered if I hadn’t been looking for them to share and talk about here.

So, as a little birthday present from me to you, I thought I’d pick out some of my favorite discoveries I’ve made over the years. What follows are some of my all-time favorite covers that I found specifically for Cover Me posts (as opposed to covers I already knew about), and links to the pieces in which I originally wrote about them. There’s a lot of songs here, but they’re only about one percent of the songs I’ve written about. So think of these as the cream of my cover crop.

Thanks to all of you for reading Cover Me – without you, this post wouldn’t exist – and here’s to many more birthdays and anniversaries to come.

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Jan 302021
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday  celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

There are few bands with such a way with covers as the Cowboy Junkies, that in no small part to the icy warmth of singer, Margo Timmins, an astonishing 60 this month. She was born in Montreal, 1/27/61, and I have long been a fan, maybe not from the very start, but certainly once ‘Trinity Sessions’ threw down the gauntlet, quietly and emphatically. Birmingham Town Hall, in the English midlands, used to be a dreadful venue, any sounds not completely muffled being left free to echo around the pillars, hopeless for any band with any degree of amplification. It has since had a refurb, and has lost, thankfully, that legacy, but the Junkies were perfection there then, every pin dropping with perfect clarity, the most important pin being that of Timmins, an ethereal shimmer filling the gap between the controlled calm of the instrumentation.

In the subsequent years the band, Timmins and her two brothers, Michael on guitar and Peter on drums, along with family friend Alan Anton playing bass, have strayed little from that template. Initially supplemented by the instrumentation of Jeff Bird and others, adding mandolin, harmonica, dobro, steel and fiddle, latterly it would become the core quartet, as blues became as much an influence as country had been before. The band had been started by Michael, a record-hungry youth who had been in bands since high school. Margo had never sung in public before he goaded her to add vocals, and she initially sang facing away from the stage, such was her crippling shyness, echoing the experiences of Michael Stipe and Jim Morrison, two other equally iconic vocalists.

Over a 35-plus-year career, the Cowboy Junkies have produced 18 studio albums, six live albums, and seven compilations, with innumerably more material courtesy their website. (Sadly it seems that much of that rare and archive material in currently unavailable.) Covers have always been a feature; most of their records containing one or two, and they’re staples on tribute projects, to artists as varied as Gram Parsons and Blind Willie Johnson. In 2009, Timmins also found the time to release an all-cover solo album, enticingly entitled Margo’s Corner: The Ty Tyrfu Sessions, Volume 1. She has also added her froideur to any number of other artists, as a backing or additional singer, usually to fellow Canadians.

Let’s drill down into some of the best examples of her transformative skills, starting with perhaps the best known and, arguably, the best example.
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Sep 032019
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

sleater-kinney covers

When Sleater-Kinney reunited for the first time in 2015, they commented on the riot grrrl movement for an interview with The Cut.

For [guitarist Corin] Tucker, riot grrrl isn’t a dirty word. “I was definitely part of riot grrrl in Olympia,” she said. “For me, that was about having this really supportive group of women that wanted to do art — that was fanzines, that was music, it was spoken word, it was visual art — and that we would support each other and make a larger space for women’s voices in the world.

Tucker said, “For us, the lyrics are really tied to our beliefs and our desire to change things – that’s really the scene that we came from, is all about sincerely being angry and wanting to use music to change the world, basically,”

 

Now, as they prepare to release a new album, I’m hopeful that a change in this world is on the horizon. There is a riot grrrl in all of us, and now is the time to be heard. 

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