May 082024
 
Cover Songs Steve Albini

Steve Albini died today. In addition to being a musician in his own right, he was a legendary engineer (he refused to be credited as “producer”) who recorded Nirvana’s In Utero, Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, and many others. He recorded hundreds of albums, for bands big and small, right up through his passing.

There are a million ways to honor him, but, for now, I thought I’d share some covers that he produced recorded. Not for his own bands like Big Black and Shellac—we may have a separate post devoted to that—but for other people’s.

The first couple covers are iconic, mainstays of “The Best Covers of All Time” type lists. The rest are more obscure. But they all have the Albini touch—which, as he would be the first to point out, was a light one. These lean towards the alt-rock and punk, with some weird-folk excursions, but ultimately as an engineer he worked to help the bands get the sounds they wanted. Including when they wanted to do covers. Continue reading »

Apr 012024
 
best cover songs
Aoife O’Donovan — The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (Bob Dylan cover)

Bartees Strange — You Always Hurt The Ones You Love (Mills Brothers cover)

Beyoncé — Blackbird (The Beatles cover)

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Feb 232024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

beatles covers

Sixty years ago this month, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show. You don’t need us to tell you what a momentous occasion this was; entire books have been written on the subject. Suffice to say we’re using the anniversary as our excuse to finally devote a Best Covers Ever to perhaps the biggest band of them all. We’ve done Dylan. We’ve done the Stones. We’ve done Dolly and Springsteen and Prince. But there was one last giant remaining.

Though it’s difficult to measure this precisely, The Beatles are the most-covered artist of all time according to the two biggest covers databases on the internet (SecondHandSongs, WhoSampled). And that certainly feels right. “Yesterday” is often cited as the most-covered song of all time, though that needs qualifiers (a ton of Christmas standards would beat it). But, again, it feels right. The Beatles were ubiquitous in their day, and they’ve been ubiquitous ever since. They just had a chart-topping single last month, the A.I.-assisted “Now and Then,” which was duly covered widely. If “Carnival of Light” ever surfaces, no doubt a carnival of covers will soon follow. Continue reading »

Feb 092024
 

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!

The Feelies

In 2023, the Feelies released Some Kinda Love: Performing the Music of the Velvet Underground, a live album recorded one night in 2018. Listeners heard a band that had clearly absorbed the VU into their DNA long ago, making their recreations sound almost effortless. They even play the brief instrumental burbling at the start of “Sweet Jane.” The audience cheers heard between songs are loud and enthusiastic, and no matter which band’s music they’re there to hear, you can tell they love the other band too.

For this night, the Feelies were more about being Velvet Underground fans than Feelies. Because because? Well, their version of “What Goes On” sounds more like the VU and less like the Feelies’ own studio-released version, from 1988’s Only Life. Now there was a band who set out to make a song their own. Not to knock the modern day Feelies, not at all, but that VU night really was designed to be more commemoration than innovation. It’s those earlier covers we’re focusing on today, the ones that saw the band out to, as Lou Reed called his own live album in 1978, take no prisoners.

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Feb 022024
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Johnny B. Goode

Really? As in, surely Cover Me must have talked about “Johnny B. Goode” before? Well, I’ve searched, and it seems “Memphis, Tennessee” is the only Chuck song to show itself on this platform. Of course, it may just feel like we’ve given Johnny the once-over twice on account of ol’ Charles Edward Anderson Berry wrote so many of the standard templates of rock (and roll). I mean, it isn’t as if nobody’s ever tried a cover, it difficult to imagine any guitar band ever not taking a crack at it. Is it not compulsory that every band of spotty youth, convening in a reluctant father’s garage, include it in their nascent set of tunes? Hell, I bet it casts a longer shadow than even “Louie, Louie,” always previously the lodestone at such gatherings. Secondhand Songs, still the wiki for cover lovers, suggests 328 versions, which, given the site’s understandable inability to know or find every single itty bitty rendition, suggests possibly a fair few more. (Indeed, as ever, we rely on you to let us know some more good(e) covers in the responses.)

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Nov 142023
 

Cover Genres takes a look at cover songs in a very specific musical style.

We begin with a bow to Seuras Og and his genre-expansive post earlier this year about banjo covers. We can’t leave the banjo hanging–or getting the last word, either. So: Let us now praise the mandolin.
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