Oct 142011

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Richard Thompson’s solo debut, Henry the Human Fly, began with a song that contained the line, “Don’t expect the words to ring too sweetly on the ear.” This would become his songwriting credo, as he penned lyrics that were incisive, emotive, and not the least bit sentimental, bringing them home with an equally biting guitar. His wife Linda sang with a powerful clarity, her voice full of aching, mischief, mourning, celebration, or whatever else the song might call for. She’s fully entitled to her equal billing. On their debut release as a couple, 1974’s I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight, Richard and Linda Thompson report what they’ve encountered on a very British Desolation Row, in a musical language that could have been written half a millennium ago or the day after tomorrow. Continue reading »

Oct 212010

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Note: This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but due to server issues it never did. So a happy belated birthday to Mr. Dogg!

Happy b-dizzle to Cordozar Calvin Broadus, the king of Tha Dogg Pound. Hailing from sunny California, Snoop Dogg turns 39 today and still continues to make cameos on some of the latest pop hits. His association with Dr. Dre, a penchant for the smokier things in life, and of course the addition of “izzle” to our vocabulary have made him a legendary icon in hip hop.

His soothing rap voice is unforgettable, his ability to party is undeniable, and he'll leave you no choice but to join in. For a tough rapper, Snoop has shown he has a sense of humor in various movie roles. Artists have adopted that same humor in their covers of his songs. Continue reading »

Dr. Dre Productions

 Posted by at 2:46 am  1 Response »
Nov 172009

In the music world, Dr. Dre must have the highest influence-per-album ratio this side of the Sex Pistols. He dropped The Chronic in 1992, 2001 in 1999 and Detox in…well, don’t hold your breath. The man can be forgiven for turning his third album into hip-hop’s Chinese Democracy though. After all, it takes time to produce practically every hip-hop hit of the past twenty years. Dr. Dre discovered N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game… The man’s production discography is ridiculous (see for yourself), but here are some high points.

The Escape Frame – Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang (Dr. Dre)
Dre’s first hit single came out in January 1993, rocketing to #2 and bringing guest star Snoop “Doggy” Dogg along for the ride. This emo-tastic cover comes from the Punk Goes Crunk compilation, which sounds exactly how you would expect. [Buy]

Kevin Davis – Fuck tha Police (N.W.A.)
Ben Folds pioneered the ironic-white-boy gangsta rap cover (and we’ll get to him), but Kevin Davis took the genre to another with this folksy acoustic number. Friend Jason Lamb joins in on harmonica, turning this into a feel-good fireside jam. It’s a laugh riot, but Davis’ admiration of the original comes through in every acoustic pluck. [Buy]

Bryce Larsen – Crack a Bottle (Eminem)
Em’ released his grand comeback album this spring. Yet, alas, it wasn’t so grand. Blame it on releasing this average song as the first single (with Dre guesting) or blame it on the “We Made You” video skewering the exact same people Shady did ten years prior. On his Hip-Hop Un-Popped! covers disc though, Larsen makes the case for Marshall Mathers 2.0. [Buy]

The Gourds – Gin and Juice (Snoop Doggy Dogg)
Like thousands of other uninformed users, when I first got this one off Napster in the dark ages of music piracy I thought it was by Phish. This is despite the fact that this bluegrass-twang singer sounds nothing like Trey Anastacio. Phish phans though, don’t despair… [Buy]

Phish – California Love (2Pac)
…cause we’d never leave you hanging! This one is by Phish, taken from a 1998 Portland jam in the middle of “Tweezer.” Wah-wah guitar and pulsing synth give it a space-age vibe that makes you want to get up and noodle dance. [Buy]

Ben Folds – Bitches Ain’t Shit (Dr. Dre)
The Dre cover against which all others will forever be judged. And for good reason. Would anyone even remember this non-single without Folds? This recording comes from his Bonnaroo 2008 performance, where he claimed to be retiring the song because people would approach him on the street as…well, listen for yourself. [Buy]

Skinny Beats – In Da Club (50 Cent)
You probably thought the world had no need for a reggae 50 Cent cover. How wrong you were. [Buy]

Aislin – Guilty Conscience (Eminem)
Dre plays the role of Eminem’s conscience here, being all, “Hey buddy, maybe let’s try not raping and murdering everyone you come across today.” The fact that Dre’s part is recreated here but some thrashcore shouter though seems more like the angel on your shoulder busting your face with a lead pipe. [Buy]

Brady Harris – Who Am I? (What’s My Name?) (Snoop Doggy Dogg)
Hey Snoop, make people would know your name if you didn’t change it so darn often! Born Cordazar Calvin Broadus, he became Snoop Doggy Dogg, then dropped the Doggy, threw in some random “izzles” and confused a nation. Yeah man, what is your name? [Buy]

Nina Gordon – Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.)
Gordon recorded this “coffeehouse” cover at a 2005 concert, miraculously keeping a straight face throughout. Sadly she quits after Ice Cube’s opening verse, leaving MC Ren and Eazy-E straight outta luck. [Buy]

Aug 062008

born in the usa coversThe record that propelled Bruce Springsteen to superstardom, Born in the U.S.A. hasn’t aged all that well. Though the songs are still top notch, the how-80’s-can-we-make-it production sounds tacky to modern ears and, from Reagan’s misinterpretation of the title track to the white-tee music video for Dancing in the Dark, it’s hard to disassociate the songs from the decade that spawned the. Fifteen million copies later though, the record still resonates with people, and hearing the songs in a new format can remind even the most jaded about how good they really are.

Richard Shindell – Born in the U.S.A.

Stripped of its bombastic drum blasts, the song’s less likely to be interpreted as a rah-rah-America song this time around. Vaguely country-ish, but don’t hold that against it.

Thea Gilmore – Cover Me

An alt-folk sort of version here, the hauntingly brushed drums propel the echo of Gilmore’s subdued voice that replaces the originals swagger with a sort of desperation.

The Gourds – Darlington County

I couldn’t believe what a tough time I had finding a cover of this one. The best I could do was this live take from The Gourds. You may not recognize the name, but any cover-lover knows their bluegrass version of Gin & Juice. If anyone has a better cover of this one though, pass it along!

Joe Ely – Working on the Highway

Off of the Light of Day tribute album, it doesn’t stray too far from the original.

Kirk Kelly – Downbound Train

One of the album’s underrated gems, this ukulele take strips down the unnecessary production to a simple hootenanny jam.

Bat for Lashes – I’m on Fire

A lot of great covers of this track, I debated putting up the Johnny Cash version up, but will save that for a later post. This one is delicate and fragile, with strings subtle enough not to overpower the track. Bruce Goes Indie.

Pat McGee Band – No Surrender

The Eddie Vedder version is excellent, but has circulated so widely already I thought I’d give a little publicity to another live take, also acoustic, but with some great manly-man harmonies.

Jennifer Glass – Bobby Jean

Bobby Jean is not my lover…oh wait, sorry, different song. This is a track, originally about guitarist Steve Van Zandt’s departure from the E Street Band, that gets a lot of shit from fans. True it’s not amazing, but hearing it in this new format gives some fresh air to a tired classic.

Kid Harpoon w/ Florence – I’m Goin’ Down

Kid Harpoon is a favorite of mine, a wharf rat vagrant whose songs about milkmaids and murder sound like Decemberists outtakes. So this isn’t his normal style, but the combination of the two voices sounds like a nice, lowkey demo.

Matt Tyler – Glory Days

My least favorite song on the album, Tyler takes away most of the synthetic production and lets you actually hear the lyrics. From his Springsteen cover album Brilliant Disguise.

Charlotte Martin – Dancing in the Dark

I could do a whole post on this song alone. Tegan and Sara do a beautiful cover you can find here, but once again I’d like to showcase a lesser-known take. It’s a live recording, and imperfect in that she takes a while to get into the song, but the soulful solo piano arrangement is worth the wait. Almost enough to make you forget about that video.

Kallet, Epstein and Cicone – My Hometown

U2 did a cover of this too. Whatever. I stole this folk cover from Cover Lay Down, and I thank him for it. If Peter, Paul and Mary did the Boss.

And for more Springsteen cover excitement, check out my Bruuuuuuce post a few months back. Still not enough? Read my concert reviews of his shows in Hartford, Montreal, and Milwaukee this year. What can I say, I’m a fan.