Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.
In August we heard A Tribute to Lifted by Bright Eyes, a 15-minute version of Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath) by Psychic Temple, Borrowed tracks by Grey DeLisle, More Cover Songs from Guards, and cover EPs from Valerie June and Kid Chameleon, but there were some tunes that were even more special than that. Be prepared for an eclectic selection.
Another Saturday Night || Cover: M.U.T.T. || Original: Sam Cooke
“How I wish I had someone to talk to // I’m in an awful way.” There are several ways to sing the lines from Another Saturday Night. In 1963, Sam Cooke did it soulful with an amused undertone, and countless artists followed him in that (Gene Vincent, Lou Rawls, Cat Stevens, Sam & Dave, etc.). But in 2022, Californian four-piece M.U.T.T. (a continuation of Culture Abuse) gives it an intensity that actually fits the lyrics much better. The punk band’s version is dangerous and catchy at the same time, as a Saturday night should be. Out digitally via Quiet Panic.
Cherry Bomb || Cover: The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs feat. Cherie Currie || Original: The Runaways
Last year, LA punk ‘n’ roll outfit The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs released One More Drink, their first album in 20 years. But it’s also worth looking back. This is a good story from their early days (they started in 1995): “We saw Cherie Currie of the Runaways play at the Teaszer and gave her a flyer to our show there the following week. Shockingly, she showed up! Even more shockingly, she jumped up and sang her hit Cherry Bomb with us. (…) She really did kickstart our career.” They later recorded the song together, which will be one of the highlights of the compilation All The Covers (And More) to be released on September 30 by Rum Bar Records, of which this is the first taster. Awesome.
Everybody Talks || Cover: Catbite || Original: Neon Trees
In our bubble we pay little attention to the pop music charts, which means we can easily overlook artists with millions of streams. Sometimes we still discover them through a cover, though. Philadelphia ska band Catbite close their new EP Wavebreaker #2 (a split with Mike Park, out via Bad Time Records) with an apparently huge hit from Utah rock band Neon Trees. Very nice.
The Crusher || Cover: Geoff Palmer || Original: Dee Dee King
In 1989, punk legend Douglas Glen Colvin aka Dee Dee Ramone, co-founder of the Ramones, released his solo LP Standing In The Spotlight under the moniker of Dee Dee King. It’s an album that was often reviled for its hip hop and doo-wop influences, largely undervalued and now forgotten. American musician Geoff Palmer to the rescue: he has dared to cover the album in its entirety. It will be released on Dee Dee’s birthday, September 18th (pre-order here), but there are already three tracks available that make it clear what to expect: a great pop punk / power pop record, as we have come to expect from Geoff and his friends. I think we can safely say that if the original had sounded like this, there would have been no criticism, but this is also a good reason to (re)discover the original and still give it the appreciation it deserves.
Outsider || Cover: Bonnie “Prince” Billy feat. David Berman || Original: Ramones
The esteemed works of the Ramones are still frequently covered, not always by obvious artists. For example, American troubadour Will Oldham aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy has turned the punk rock track Outsider, written by Dee Dee, into a folk ballad. This version was already recorded in 2016 and features the late David Berman(!), Chris Scruggs, William Tyler and Pete Townsend, but has only just been released (Drag City Records).
Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys) || Cover: Jennifer Jane Nicely || Original: Waylon Jennings
Forty years ago, American action-comedy television series The Dukes of Hazzard was pretty much the most fun thing television had to offer. The delightful theme song, written and recorded by country legend Waylon Jennings, has now been given a successful – folky and jazzy – makeover by Tennessee singer-songwriter Jennifer Jane Nicely. Out now on Stay Tuned: Season 2, Perpetual Doom’s beloved TV theme song cover series.
He Needs Me || Cover: The A’s || Original: Robin Williams & Shelley Duvall
The yodeling folk duo Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Meath have probably released the most extraordinary music of the past month. The A’s debut LP Fruit (Psychic Hotline) features lullabies and traditionals using nylon shorts, hair, shoes, ice chunk, gravel, frogs and shoelaces as instruments. Opening song is He Needs Me, written by Harry Nilsson and first released by Shelley Duvall in the 1980 Popeye film. Wonderful.
Let’s Stay Together || Cover: Dub War || Original: Al Green
Enemy Maker was one of my favorite CD singles of 1995 (also on the Wrong Side Of Beautiful album a year later). What a surprise that UK ragga-funk-rap-metal-rock band Dub War is back at the front line in 2022. The new LP Westgate Under Fire (Earache Records) is just as eclectic as before, but the cover of Let’s Stay Together remains quite faithful to the original. (They also cover War Ina Babylon (Max Romeo & The Upsetters), the other songs are originals.)
Cracklin’ Rosie || Cover: The Brothers Steve || Original: Neil Diamond
On the new compilation We All Shine On: Celebrating The Music Of 1970 (Big Stir Records / Spyderpop Records), 22 current indie pop / rock acts breathe new life into the sounds of 1970. One of the nicest contributions is from Californian rock band The Brothers Steve, who at least put a smile on your face with this Neil Diamond classic, but may also make you do a little dance.
The Seeker || Cover: Nick Piunti || Original: The Who
After paying tribute to John Lennon and Brian Wilson, JEM Records now celebrates the work of The Who’s Pete Townshend. Contemporary artists and bands – The Weeklings, The Grip Weeds, The Anderson Council, Nick Piunti, Lisa Mychols & Super 8, The Midnight Callers, Richard Barone, The Gold Needles, Johnathan Pushkar – play their version of the well-known classics with audible pleasure. Actually, any of the 14 tracks from the compilation could have been listed below, but Nick Piunti’s riffs are my favorite today.
Check out our Dusted playlist on Spotify for more cool cover songs.