Mar 182024
 
Liam Gallagher Jumpin Jack Flash

Liam Gallagher and John Squire, respective cornerstones of Britpop royalty Oasis and The Stone Roses, embarked on tour this week in support of their new album, the accurately titled Liam Gallagher & John Squire. Although Liam had warned that the duo would not be dipping into their back catalogues on this run, he did tease that they might break out a surprise cover or two. He and John delivered on that proposition in Glasgow this past Wednesday, serving up a spirited take on The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Continue reading »

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.)

Continue reading »

Oct 312023
 

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!

Sheryl Crow

I tell every kid, get in a cover band. It teaches you chops, it literally teaches you why some songs are classics, and it teaches you how to navigate a working band. With songwriting, there’s something to that idea of stealing from the best. You’re only as good as your references. And I pride myself on my references. I have tried to emulate the greatest rock stars and songwriters in the world. I try not to steal verbatim, but if they’ve influenced my work at all, I take a sense of pride in that. – Sheryl Crow, 2017

Sheryl Crow’s released a good hundred or so cover songs, so it’s plain she knows her way around them. She isn’t very adventurous with them, though – most of her covers are of songs or artists that are radio favorites, and they tend to sound very similar to the originals.

Here’s the thing, though. Crow saturates her covers with her essence, so much so that they just feel like Sheryl Crow songs. They reap the same success, too – “The First Cut Is the Deepest” is one of her biggest hits, and her version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” won a Grammy. They never feel lazy, either. Crow is a professional, and she knows how to bring her affection for these songs across without phoning it in. Bottom line: If you like Sheryl Crow, you’ll like her covers, and you’ll be justified in doing so.

Continue reading »

Cover Genres: Box

 Posted by at 12:00 pm  1 Response »
Jun 092023
 

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

box

Herewith the last in the unholy triumvirate of banjo, bagpipes, and box. Time now to unwrap the wonders of melodeon, accordion, concertina, bandoneon and all their squeezy family upon your eager ears. Actually (maybe) a primitive  precursor of the synthesizer, the squeezebox family started life as a way of letting one player give a more orchestral sound to proceedings, the rich textures replicating the play of a whole bevy of musicians. Indeed, in the same way as the Musician’s Union decried the synthesizer, so too will the equivalent of its day have decried the box, taking work away from honest pipe’n’taborists.

This family of instruments casts, arguably, far wider a net than the two B’s that have preceded it here, banjo and bagpipes, with a right of place across very many cultures and categories. Broadly occupying a space in ethnic roots traditions, this has never stopped appearances crossing over into territories that might be more squeeze-averse. Which to me is the joy.
Continue reading »

Jun 012023
 
elly kace wild horses cover

In The “King of Tears” episode of his podcast Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell argues that country music is better at genuine emotions than rock and roll. To prove this point, he goes after The Rolling Stones’ classic “Wild Horses,” comparing it to “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” As one of my favourite Stones’ ballads, this episode irked me to no end. Gladwell argues that specificity in lyrics is better to convey emotion, and that country music is better at specific storytelling than rock and roll. He argues that “Wild Horses” is just too vague. I don’t disagree with Gladwell about lyrical specificity being more effective more often than not, but I sure think he picked the wrong Rolling Stones song to try to prove his point. (For one thing, this is one of the Stones’ most famous attempts at country. So it’s sure weird to say rock doesn’t do specificity as well as country, but then to pick a country-ish song from a rock band.) Continue reading »

May 312023
 

Version Girl by… Rhoda who?

Well, think back to the heady days of 2 Tone Records, Coventry, UK. On the cusp of the 1970s into ’80s, this label hosted the Specials, the Selecter, the (English) Beat, and more. Their revisioning of ska arguably led to the proliferation of ska-punk bands in the US, led off by No Doubt. The 2-Tone movement was as much a political beast as a musical one, preaching a message of integration, with many of the (already multi-racial) bands including children of the 1950s wave of immigration, from the West Indies and into the UK. Racism was more savage then, or perhaps just more nuanced, with the movement alerting the youth of the nation into a better understanding and acceptance.

Anyway, Rhoda Dakar was a member of the Bodysnatchers, an all-female band, who had some brief success before evolving into the Belle Stars, who had a number of hits, including their version of old N’Awlins staple “Iko Iko.” Dakar was not a Belle Star herself, but she moved on to being a guest singer with the Specials, for their second album, touring with them, later becoming a member of the Special AKA, the band they evolved into. Primarily a singer, she has since made a number of solo recordings and popped up in collaborations with a number of acts, notably Madness and the Dub Pistols. Now she has released Version Girl, her first solo album since 2015’s Rhoda Dakar Sings the Bodysnatchers.
Continue reading »