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.
May brought us new cover releases of Munlet (Plays Devo), Dropkick Murphy’s (Okemah Rising, with lyrics by Woody Guthrie), Leftover Salmon (Grass Roots), Jarko & the Kandy Jar Joyride (Vagabond’s Delight), Healing Potpourri (Lagniappe Session) and Murder By Death (As We Wish), and various artists doing cartoon theme songs (Saturday Morning Lineup) and T. Rex (Elemental Child – The Words and Music of Marc Bolan). There was much more to choose from, but we would like to give the following ten tunes a prominent place on our stage. Perhaps our most eclectic selection to date?
Tall Cool One || Cover: Thomas Lauderdale & The Pilgrims || Original: The Wailers
In 1997 Portland, Oregon-based jazz orchestra Pink Martini released their debut album Sympathique. Reportedly, their bandleader Thomas Lauderdale also collaborated with the surf musicians – fellow townsmen – of The Pilgrims in the same period. The 13 tracks they recorded at the time are finally seeing the light of day: Thomas Lauderdale Meets The Pilgrims (Heinz Records) is out now digitally and on vinyl LP. It includes this showy cover of The Fabulous Wailers’ Tall Cool One, a favorite instrumental from the early days of garage rock – both the original and cover still sound contemporary.
Perder || Cover: The Shivas featuring Carrion Kids || Original: Las Pipas de La Paz
And here’s another Portland, Oregon band with garage and surf rock at its core. The Shivas already have quite a few successful rock ‘n’ roll records to their name, but this collaboration with the Mexican punk rockers of Carrion Kids is something else. Their infectious cover of Perder (self-released) is a heartfelt tribute to their friend Rulo Pipa, who wrote the song – the proceeds go to his family.
Walking After Midnight || Cover: Rhoda Dakar || Original: Patsy Cline
London, UK-based singer Rhoda Dakar, who made a name for herself with The Bodysnatchers and The Special AKA, returns with full-length cover album Version Girl (Sunday Best Recordings). She celebrates her love of reggae, ska and rocksteady in 12 songs that had no previous definitive reggae, ska or rocksteady versions. such as What a Wonderful World, Peace Love and Understanding, The Man Who Sold The World, and Walking After Midnight, which was first released by Lynn Howard with The Accents in 1956, but was popularized by Patsy Cline a year later.
He’s Coming Out || Cover: Sparkle*Jets U.K. || Original: The Masticators
More than 20 years after the release of their last album, Californian(!) power pop outfit Sparkle*Jets U.K. unexpectedly put out the brand new single He’s Coming Out (Big Stir Records), a catchy and classy cover of a 2000 tune by L.A. underground band The Masticators. Reportedly more fresh work from Susan West, Jamie Knight and Michael Simmons is on the way – based on this tasting that’s something to look forward to.
Ballroom Blitz || Cover: The Drowns featuring Suzi Moon || Original: The Sweet
The Drowns are a punk ‘n’ roll 4-piece from Seattle, Washington, who in their own music link energetic riffs to raw shout-along choruses. When they put on a glam jacket and invite Suzi Moon for some Ballroom Blitz (Pirates Press Records), the party spirit is heightened even further.
Hazy Shade Of Winter || Cover: The Downhauls || Original: Simon & Garfunkel
The Downhauls from Boston, Massachusetts also play punk ‘n’ roll, but in a different way, if only because this is an all women band. Chrissy V, Ivahna Rock, LoWreck and Rochelle close their very nice new 4-track EP Scream Into The Void (Rum Bar Records) with a roaring cover of Hazy Shade Of Winter, written by Paul Simon and first released by Simon and Garfunkel in 1966, but more reminiscent of the more famous Bangles version from 1987.
Alex Chilton || Cover: Brian Lisik || Original: The Replacements
Akron, Ohio-born songwriter Brian Lisik has been on the road for about 20 years with his sharp-edged guitar-driven power pop. With the passionate and raw side of the Replacements as well as the jangly melodies of Big Star on his sleeve, it makes total sense that he covers Pleased to Meet Me‘s track Alex Chilton, also from 1987. Out via Cherokee Queen Records, b/w Chilton ode St. Patrick’s Day (Alex) from the Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates album Curtisinterruptedus.
I’m Waiting for the Man || Cover: Pascal Comelade, Lee Ranaldo & Ramón Prats || Original: The Velvet Underground
For the premiere of his new book Linger On: The Velvet Underground (Ecstatic Peace Library), Catalan music journalist Ignacio Julià wanted to relive the New York band’s original dynamics somehow. Prolific French-Catalan musician Pascal Comelade, American singer/guitarist Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) and local drummer Ramón Prats accepted the challenge and constructed a concert that wasn’t a tribute with faithful covers, but something completely different – experimental, avant-garde and psychedelic. Their 6 surprising versions are now brought together on Velvet Serenade (Staubgold / Cougouyou Music), complex and almost unrecognizable music, but vibrant and enchanting at the same time.
Orinoco Flow || Cover: Olivia Jean || Original: Enya
I didn’t receive the memo, but Irish singer/songwriter Enya seems to be going through a revival. Her layered 1988 folk hit Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) gets remixes, and oddly enough is now a floor filler. Detroit-born/Nashville-based gothic garage rocker Olivia Jean has also taken up the song, and in her hands it transcends itself. Coming from her new Raving Ghost album (Third Man Records), which is definitely worth your attention.
Harvest || Cover: Rufus Wainwright featuring Andrew Bird & Chris Stills || Original: Neil Young
The title track from Neil Young’s 1972 Harvest LP is already perfect on its own, so you have to be brave to record an alternative version. Canadian-American singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright has no problem with it, thanks to the help of a few special guests. From the upcoming album Folkocracy (BMG), out tomorrow, which contains more folk music reinventions.
Beasts of Bourbon’s Chase The Dragon by CIVIC
Blink-182’s Dammit by The Winnie Blues
Hüsker Dü’s Flip Your Wig by The Well Wishers
It’s All Meat’s Feel It by Low Hums
Madonna’s Like A Prayer by King Hannah
Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls by Stevie D & the D-Tones (Honk-n-Roll version)
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Cities in Dust by Garbage
Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer by Hannah Aldridge
The Twilights’ It’s Dark by The Thanes
The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks by Jeremy Porter & The Tucos
We Don’t Need Another Hero || Cover: Ghost || Original: Tina Turner
It would be inappropriate not to honor Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ who passed away on May 24 at the age of 83. A few days earlier, Swedish heavy metal band Ghost had dropped the 5-track EP Phantomime (Loma Vista Recordings), featuring a cover of her 1985 movie hit We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome), written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten. While certainly not my favorite song by the legendary artist, this epic version and its lyrics fit the sad event. A hero is gone.
Check out our Dusted playlist on Spotify for more cool cover songs.