Jan 262023
umphrey's mcgee helplessly hoping

Umphrey’s McGee is an indie/jam band from Indiana that is known for its experimental genre-blending and unique improv. The six-piece group just completed their 25th-anniversary tour this past Sunday. While on the tour, the group paid tribute to David Crosby with a cover of “Helplessly Hoping” at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY.

“Helplessly Hoping” is one of the iconic tracks on Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled debut album. The song was about love, and writer Stephen Stills’ struggle to make ends meet back in the day when he was a session musician. Umphrey’s McGee kept the tune true to the original and did justice to the late singer. These vocal harmonies sound oh-so-sweet. 

Opening act Eggy also performed a commemorative Crosby cover at that show, tackling “Carry On” off the first CSN album where they added a “Y” for “Young.” Watch both videos below.

May 262017
chris cornell covers

We’re more than a week on since the tragic loss of Chris Cornell, and not more can be said that hasn’t already been written. A lot of musicians were crushed and many expressed their sadness on social media and in song (though it must be said, it didn’t always feel genuine as a few tried to capitalize on his popularity by name-checking him). While the media focuses on the how and why of Cornell’s passing, the fans mourn in the mosh pit and the mezzanines.

When I pitched writing this roundup, I also knew that regardless of how heartfelt these tributes would be, it would be incredibly difficult for many singers to hit Cornell’s singing range. This is not to pick on anyone in particular, nor to throw shade on their own expressions of grief and the want to express it. But even as someone who often has to defend cover songs versus the originals, I really think Chris Cornell was truly irreplaceable.

Here are my favorites of the many Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog covers that have been recorded since Cornell’s passing. Continue reading »

Apr 222016

Since Prince’s sudden passing yesterday, tributes have poured in from artists around the world. Some of those artists had concerts scheduled last night and took the opportunity to play Prince covers – in some cases covers they’d performed before, in other cases covers the put together last-minute to pay tribute to the legend. Either way, this first night of covers is raw and wonderful, a first-run at what will no doubt be thousands of new covers to come (Coachella is this weekend…)

We’ve rounded up a bunch that have either video or audio below. They’re mostly live from concerts last night, but in a couple cases they’re from artists who couldn’t wait for their next show and posted new covers themselves. We’ll keep adding more as they surface. We know The Damned covered “Manic Monday” and Christine and the Queens covered “I Feel For You” – anyone got full video for those? Continue reading »

Jul 192013

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!

paul mccartney wings covers

Paul McCartney as a septuagenarian is still going strong, having just headlined Bonnaroo last month. Showcasing covers of Macca is a pretty easy gig, so we won’t touch the Beatles (as we’ve already done that in spades); instead, we’ll look at covers of his musical output during the Mullet Years, from the time the Beatles broke up to the dissolution of Wings in 1981. It’s true that McCartney pretty much recorded his solo debut McCartney by himself, except for some oohs and ahhs from the lovely Linda, and maybe it’s not technically a Wings album, but for simplicity’s sake we’re just going to go ahead and say that it is. Now, without further ado…
Continue reading »

Justin Timberlake

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Dec 022008

I’ve got a confession: I think Justin Timberlake has talent. Lots of it. That isn’t to say I actually listen to him very much, but he seems to be able to make popular culture work for him, rather than just being swept along like so many other hitmakers. The guy’s got charisma to spare, and with the inevitable Dick in a Box spin-off season coming up soon, why not celebrate his many hits?

Shawn Lee’s Ping-Pong Orchestra – Rock Your Body
Bossa nova horn disco reggae lounge funk…it’s an interesting mix, and mostly instrumental. [Buy]

David Porteous – My Love
He’s got six covers up for free on his site, and they’re all great! [Buy]

Maximo Park – Like I Love You
Bouncy and fun, this comes from the great Radio 1 compilation, celebrating the BBC show’s 40th anniversary with forty covers, one song from each year. Well worth snagging. [Buy]

Glen Hansard – Cry Me a River
A radio broadcast with an obnoxious host, this one takes a while to really get going, but once that violin comes in to join the Once singer’s voices it’s smooth sailing. [Buy]
Update: Version without the host added. Thanks Ayla!

Boyce Avenue – Lovestoned
These guys are masters of the pop cover, having dozens of great acoustic ones ready for download. Some nice rhythmic plucking pushes along powerful vocals that, just like JT, aren’t afraid of a little falsetto. [Buy]

Kaki King – I Think She Knows
Originally an interlude of “Lovestoned,” King extracts it and makes it its own song on the just-released Guilt By Association Vol. 2 comp. [Buy]

James Eric – Sexyback
Some more sensitive acoustic guy. It just seems to work with Justin songs; not sure why. [Buy]

Tobias Froberg – What Goes Around Comes Around
Is that accordion in a JT cover? I think I’m in love. [Buy]

Umphrey’s McGee – Dick in a Box
The jam masters rocked this one out for eight minutes in Portland ’07. It’s smooth, jazzy, and sexy as it wants to be. [Buy]

Mar 032008

The best-selling album of all time, sampled by current hitmakers like Rihanna and Kanye West, it just received a flaccid “25 Anniversary” edition with covers that sound just the originals…but shittier. So here is how they should have done it, some songs drastically reinvented, other turned into smooth jazz jams. Think you’ve got a better version of any of these songs though? As always, let me know. It’s close to midnight…

-Update: New feature being added to all the Full Album posts. When the individual link expires, there will still be a rapidshare link at the bottom to download the full set!-

1L – Wanna Be Startin’ Something
An industrial-disco take that is certainly interesting, it might make you dance or it might give you a migraine. It was recorded entirely backwards, which certainly makes it sound…different.

Blowout – Baby Be Mine
Jazz-flute abounds in this instrumental meander through and around the original tune, with a laid-back bass line and muted horn solos. It keeps a steady focus though, never veering too far away from the arrangement, and thus avoids falling into the “jazz that gives me a headache” category.

Umphree’s McGee – The Girl Is Mine
No McCartney on this cover, but instead plenty of jam band grooves. They do it live a lot, and throwing a bit of Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” in the middle is a nice contrast.

Ben Gibbard – Thriller
The Death Cab for Cutie frontman performs a solo version that strips back the zombie hysteria and plays the lyrics completely straight…which just makes them funnier. I do miss Vincent Price though.

The Last Dinosaur – Beat It
A somber duet by this British group, with stately piano and low violin that makes it sound like a love ballad. Fabulous.

Chris Cornell – Billie Jean
The Soundgarten/Audioslave frontman’s voice could not be more different than Jacko’s in this live take, boozey and aching. Hell of a guitar player too, plucking soft here and slamming furiously there.

Craig David – Human Nature
Though his voice is beautiful, the real highlight here is the funky acoustic guitar part. Interweaving it with SWV’s “Right There” isn’t his own idea, as the girl group released a mash-up of the two songs themselves, but it works. Alicia Keys also did a fully-orchestrated version of this one recently; check it out here.

Spitalfield – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
A solo electric guitar version by lead singer Daniel Rose, it’s a bit emo, but still a nice listen as he belts it out as well as his skinny-white-boy voice will allow. It’s taken from a live video, so sorry for the slightly fuzzy sound quality.

Stanley Jordan – The Lady In My Life
Another instrumental jazz take, this one screams “elevator music”. But if you can get beyond that, it’s actually not bad, with some nice soloing by Jordan on both electric guitar and synthesizer (often at the same time).

Full set: http://www.mediafire.com/?ymtnj23zgjm