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 January we heard new cover albums from Ryan Adams (Springsteen’s Nebraska), Kepi Ghoulie (new wave on Full Moon Fever), Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps (Beatles classics with soul: With a Little Help from Her Friends), but also many more successful reinterpretations. The next ones enchanted us the most.
Baby Please Don’t Go || Cover: Lola Lola || Original: Traditional
The theme is probably several hundred years old, but Big Joe Williams (1935), Muddy Waters (1953) and Them (1964) popularized it, and still Baby, Please Don’t Go is widely covered in all possible genres. This month a nice cowpunk version of Dash Rip Rock came out, but this exotic popcorn banger from Portuguese R&B outfit Lola Lola is even more exciting – they ensure that the classic remains a hit on the dance floor in 2023. Out now digitally and on vinyl 7″ through Chaputa! Records.
Making Time || Cover: The Berlinettas || Original: The Creation
New Nashville garage rock supergroup The Berlinettas “love that period of time in the 60’s when there weren’t really any club DJ’s yet and live bands are what people danced to”, so it makes sense that they debut with covers of The Creation and The Ventures. Jeremy Fetzer (Steelism), Reno Bo (The Mooney Suzuki, Albert Hammond Jr.), Pat Sansone (Wilco, The Autumn Defense) and Julian Dorio (The Whigs, The Lone Bellow) stay true to the originals, but delightfully refresh them. Out digitally via Diddy Wah Records.
Mary-Lou Sniffin’ Glue || Cover: Pep Talk || Original: Pale Lips
The New York pop-punks of Pep Talk, members of The Young Rochelles, New Rochelles, Sketchy and Weird Skin, turn Pale Lips’ fine power pop song into – you guessed it – a raw pop-punk tune and that works pretty well.
Tainted Love || Cover: Cristo Mutante || Original: Gloria Jones
You know Tainted Love mainly as northern soul (Gloria Jones) and synthpop (Soft Cell), but Spanish three-piece Cristo Mutante show that the track also more than holds up as raw punk. Taken from their new Darkest Void LP (self-released).
Thirty Days || Cover: The Masonics || Original: Chuck Berry
UK label Spinout Nuggets scored twice by releasing two EPs by The Masonics on 7″ vinyl at the same time. Both Lookin’ For... and Talkin’ About… contain four great rhythm & beat covers. The Medway-based trio – Mickey Hampshire, John Gibbs and Bruce Brand – had already made their mark in bands such as The Milkshakes, The Pop Rivets, Thee Headcoats, The Voo-Dooms, The Wildebeests, The Kaisers and others, but here they prove once again how good they are. All eight tunes are live favorites, all eight tunes are danceable and infectious.
Purple Haze || by Scary Pockets featuring Maiya Sykes || Original: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Californian funk band Scary Pockets put a new music video online weekly, and their soulful covers performed with a rotating cast of singers are rightly quite successful. While I also enjoy this week’s Why Can’t We Be Friends, I like their take on Purple Haze even better, especially thanks to Maiya Syke’s mighty vocals.
Buddy Holly || Cover: Razor Braids || Original: Weezer
New York four-piece Razor Braids breathe new life into one of their favorite Weezer songs and the result is just perfect. They know how to emphasize the right guitar melodies and lard them with wonderful harmony vocals.
Apartment Story || Cover: Local Drags || Original: The National
Springfield, Illinois-based power pop band Local Drags cover Apartment Story in such a way that at no point you think about The National’s Boxer original. Taken from their new Without Anybody Tellin’ Me EP. The new Local Drags LP will be out March 17th on Stardumb.
Thirteen || Cover: Devil Love || Original: Big Star
Boston indie rock band Peter Buzzelle and The Academy have changed their name to Devil Love, after the album they recorded in 2016. Recently they revisited the master recordings, adjusted some things, and now the record is getting a long overdue proper release. Closing track is a cover of Thirteen, written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, in my opinion one of the most beautiful songs ever made. Out digitally and on CD through Red on Red Records.
History Lesson Part II || Cover: Up Around The Sun || Original: Minutemen
What a remarkable split single this is. On the A-side you can hear Mike Watt (Minutemen) covering Big Boys’ We Got Soul with the Secondmissingmen, and with the help of a Hammond B3 Organ and gang vocals they live up to the title. On the B-side, Tim Kerr (Big Boys) does the Minutemen’s History Lesson Part II with his new band Up Around The Sun, which sounds like a folk classic. Out now digitally and on 7″ vinyl through Red Parakeet Records.
Check out our new Dusted playlist on Spotify for more cool cover songs from 2023.