This is The Great Unheard Covers project, from 2010. Thirty-six people each made a ten-song playlist comprised of “great cover songs that most people have not heard.” This project included a liner note for each song. To jump to a contributor’s playlist, click their name below.
TGU Covers: Katie Cleary
1. “Where Eagles Dare” by Pajo [via the Misfits] / I like how this song has “I ain’t no god damn son of a bitch—you better think about it baby” as the chorus line and still sounds like a sweet love song.
2. “Mahna Mahna” by Cake [via the Muppets] / The original Muppet version is great, and I cannot believe how much fun Cake is having with this song.
3. “The World’s Greatest” by Will Oldham [via R Kelly] / I think the title is apropos. Will Oldham doing R Kelly is the greatest thing in the world.
4. “I Send My Love to You” by Calexico [via Will Oldham] / I think this cover has really lovely dynamics.
5. “Lay, Lady, Lay” by Duran Duran [via Bob Dylan] / The original is one of my favorites and I think Duran Duran does a nice and dreamy version of it.
6. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley [via Leonard Cohen] / This song is a masterpiece.
7. “New Partner” by The Frames [via Will Oldham] / This list is getting very Will Oldham heavy.
8. “Here Comes Your Man” by Megan Smith [via the Pixies] / A more produced version of the song. I heard this on that movie 500 Days of Summer. Megan Smith’s version just makes me wish Kim Deal had a little more vocals on the original, but I do deep love the original.
9. “Tennessee Waltz” by Sam Cooke [via some guy named Roy] / This song was written in the 40s and has been covered by everyone from Leonard Cohen to James Brown. I like Sam Cooke’s version the best. It’s the most up-tempo.
10. “Handle with Care” by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins [via the Traveling Wilburys] / I believe that this song is the reason the Traveling Willburys became the Traveling Wilburys. George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan wrote it casually while hanging out (as they do.) and it was such a clear hit that they decided to form a band. Has there ever been a greater assemblage of musical talent? Is it therefore presumptuous for a group of indie rockers to team up and cover them? I don’t really know, but I like both the cover and the original quite a bit.
TGU Covers: Justin DeCamp
1. “Ode to Billie Joe” by Lou Donaldson [via Bobbie Gentry] / This is my favorite version of this great tune. How many times have you heard these drums? Idris Muhammad (f/k/a Leo Morris, who at age 15 played drums on Fats Domino’s version of “Blueberry Hill”) laid down this beat in 1967 on this track.
2. “Mother and Child Reunion” by The Uniques [via Paul Simon] / One of the best reggae covers of a 1960s US or UK pop song, done in the fast and rocking style of 1972, just before reggae music slowed down and pursued more serious themes for a few years.
3. “Sitting Here in Limbo” by Jerry Garcia & Dave Grisman [via Jimmy Cliff] / Jerry and Dave played so nicely together I wish there was more of this stuff. This is just a perfect version of this classic Jimmy Cliff tune from the equally classic film “The Harder They Come.”
4. “The Weight” by Aretha Franklin w/Duane Allman [via The Band] / This is not that “unheard” but I had to put this or Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude” (also w/Duane Allman) on here and I went for this. My only complaint is that this should be twice as long as it is and all of that extra time should be Duane’s.
5. “Take Me Home Country Roads” by Toots & the Maytals [via John Denver] / I especially like the beginning of this tune, which sounds like a piano jam at a Jamaican church service.
6. “Stop That Train” by The Jerry Garcia Band [via Bob Marley & the Wailers] / Another nice, totally relaxed cover of a reggae classic by Jerry, with some very nice organ work by Melvin Seals.
7.”Lady Madonna” by The Crystalites [via The Beatles] / A rocking late-60s instrumental reggae version of this tune. I imagine this song playing at a roller rink in East London in the Summer of Love.
8. “African Beat” by Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra / Not a cover, but I need to include this to explain how the last two songs on the list are covers, at least in some sense. This is a German 1960s easy-listening orchestra playing what the composer Kaempfert apparently thought of as African-sounding music. Fine by me.
9. “To the Fields” by Herman Chin-Loy [via Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra] / The Skatalites seem to have brought Kaempfert’s tune to Jamaica with a straightforward ska version, which then spawned countless reggae tunes on the same riff. Not a cover in the strict sense, but I really like this tune and the transformation of the Lawrence Welk-style original.
10. “Put Down the Weapon” by Capleton & Yami Bolo [via Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra] / Here is a more up-to-date (circa 1997) take on the original Kaempfert tune. Still fresh.
TGU Covers: Kate Barthel
1. “Up to My Neck in You” by AC/DC (via Mark Kozelek) / I didn’t know this was an AC/DC song. It really knocked my socks off.
2. “A Heart Needs a Home” by Loudon Wainwright & Shawn Colvin [via Richard Thompson] / It’s hard to improve on Richard Thompson, but I love this version. Loudon Wainwright sounds so sad.
3. “One Man Guy” by Loudon Wainwright [via Rufus Wainwright] / Rufus’ version is much better. More subversive, less loser-y.
4. “I Found a Reason” by Cat Power [via Velvet Underground] / Just a really beautiful version.
5. “Bonnie and Clyde” by Luna [via Serge Gainsbourg] / Not much different than the original, but really who listens to Serge Gainsbourg on a random Monday.
6. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” by flaming Lips [via Kylie Minogue] / It sounds like they are trying to annoy you into submission and it’s kind of working.
7. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Petra Haden [via Journey]/ I think I like this version better then Polly’s. Giant Sand is a very under rated act. This is from their most recent album which is excellent.
8. “Mahna Mahna” by Piero Umiliani [via Sesame Street] / This is from Sesame Street and is very fun to listen to if you have kids or like a little happy song for brushing your teeth or whatnot.
9. “ Let’s Dance” by M. Ward [via David Bowie] I just like M Ward.
10. “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Michael Jackson [via Bill Withers] / It sounds so good!
TGU Covers: Kishani Seneviratne
1. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by David Byrne [via Whitney Houston] / I like the addition of string instruments in this.
2. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Jose Gonzalez [via Joy Division] / Actually, I don’t really like this one.
3. “Seven Nation Army” by Kate Nash [via White Stripes] / This one is a bit over the top. I used to dig it, but I’m over it now.
4. “Crazy in Love” by The Magic Numbers [via Beyonce] / C’mon, the “uh oh uh oh uh oh” part. it’s hilarious.
5. “Heartless” by The Fray [via Kanye West] / I like melodrama.
6. “Water Runs Dry” by Jens Lekman [via Boyz to Men] / I think this is the best take on this song I’ve ever heard. A real homage. Who knew it just needed a piano and a white dude named Jens?
7. “Bringing Sexy Back” by Rock Plaza Central [via Justin Timberlake] / I like his peppiness.
8. “Gimme More” by Sia [via Britney Spears] / I actually prefer Britney’s version but I think this one is a good second. Again, melodrama.
9. “Crazy” by Ray LaMontagne [via Gnarls Barkley] Ray’s voice is the best!
10. “Islands in the Stream” by Constantines + Feist [via Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers] / I like the plus sign between “Constantines” and “Feist”.
TGU Covers: Matt Barthel
1. “When I Ran Off and Left Her” by Soul Asylum [via Vic Chestnutt] / All-time great rhyme: “Appointments” with “Comin’ disjointed.”
2. “To Love Somebody” by Nina Simone [via Bee Gees] / The Bee Gees’ version of this song is great, but Nina Simone’s really makes you feel the love.
3. “The Way Young Lovers Do” by Maria McKee [via Van Morrison] / I love Maria McKee’s voice, and this is the perfect song for it. The instruments sound like a tempest, and her voice sounds like that of a person being blown around and screaming into it.
4. “Suffragette City” by Sea Jorge [via David Bowie] / This makes me feel like a dog, who can only comprehend select words that humans say to him. The words I understand from this version are: “Suffragette City,” and I love waiting for them to come around.
5. “Something in the Night” by Aram [via Bruce Springsteen] / The Bruce version sounds like it’s sung by a guy in middle age and wearied by life; this one sounds like the narrator’s 22 and pumped to go out. Both are awesome.
6. “Sacrifice” by Sinead O’Connor [via Elton John] / This is Exhibit A of what can happen to an awesome song writer when those recording the record overthink how to make the song a hit. It’s hard to overstate how good a song this is, as done by Sinead; it’s hard to overstate how godawful it is as it appears on Elton’s album. To be fair: he had blown out his voice around this time and was trying to work through it.
7. “Flyin’ Shoes” by Lyle Lovett [via Townes Van Zandt] / The original sounds hopeless, and Lyle dials it back to simply mournful.
8. “(Don’t Fear the) Reaper” by s.e.k.s. [via Blue Oyster Cult] / This song is in the long tradition of a young man trying to talk a girl into something—in this case it’s Peter Pan is fast-talking Wendy. I love this version because that part of the story comes through more clearly. “The curtains flew then he appeared, saying don’t be afraid / Come on baby, and she had no fear / And she ran to him, then they started to fly…”
9. “Bizarre Love Triangle” by Frente! [via New Order] When I first heard this, I liked it better than the original. As I get older, I understand the New Order version will never be topped.
10. “Beautiful” by Clem Snide [via Christina Aguilera] / As good as Christina’s version is, Eef is a lot more believable as a singer in need of convincing himself of his value to the world.
TGU Covers: Mike Lasky
1. “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” by Sheryl Crow (via Guns N’ Roses) / I was always of fan of the GnR tune. In fact, it was one of the first songs I learned on the drums. I started to get into a few Sheryl Crow tunes when I heard this. I though it did justice where others had failed. She moves away from the metal that has been done before.
2. “Crash” by Stevie Nicks [via Dave Matthews] / Stevie Nicks takes this song to a new level for me. Before it was just a few simple chords and Dave’s voice that made it a good tune. Stevie’s raspy voice makes it a great tune.
3. “Bittersweet Symphony” by Coldplay [via The Verve] / I just like the way he makes it sound and the way it sounds live. Great voice for this.
4. “Our Lips Are Sealed” by Kevin Kane & Neko Case [via The Go-Gos] / I like kevin Kane’s voice in this but what really gets me is the haunting Neko Case backup. As you’ll see in a few other tunes I put up here, I think this is how the song should be done.
5. “Baker Street” by Waylon Jennings [via Gerry Rafferty] / I had no idea this was done by Jennings. I am not a big country fan at all so I don’t think I would have found it. Some friends were over Derby weekend and we were strumming the guitars and I broke this one out. My buddy asked “Have you heard Wayland Jennings do this song?” My answer was no and I went to download it immediately and loved it. I love the up strums in the tune, cause that’s how I do some of the accents when I play it.
6. “Everywhere” by Vampire Weekend [via Fleetwood Mac] / Did I come full circle by putting a cover done by a member of Fleetwood Mac and a cover of a Fleetwood Mac song? I think so. Tis is one my favorite newer bands. I like their sound, and though it has the same essential sound as the original, I like the little changes.
7. “Suffragette City” by The Shins [via David Bowie]/ Less Glam more rock. Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Ziggy version, this one is live and I love the Shins. I think if you cover Bowie, you better do it well and they do it well. (I see that there is already a cover of this song, so now there’s two good ones!)
8. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by T.V. Carpo [via The Beatles] / Everyone and their cousin cover the Beatles. I had never heard this until about 3 weeks ago. Love her voice and it’s a very simple but effective version.
9. “Solitary Man” by Johnny Cash [via Neil Diamond] Johnny sings Neil. Can’t get more perfect then that.
10. “One” by Apocolyptica [via Metallica] / TMetallica done by Cellos! Enough said. I always liked the intro and the verses of this song, but when it gets speed metal-like, I don’t like it as much. Cellos don’t get speed metal!
TGU Covers: Pat Barthel
1. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Luna [via Guns ‘n Roses] / Sexy.
2. “Creep” by The Afghan Whigs [via TLC] / Greg Dulli’s R&B obsession is on full display here. Great groove by The Whigs and somehow Dulli – a guy who technically can’t really sing very well, but has a great voice – pulls these covers off time and time again, whether it be Bjork, Maassive Attack, Outkast or Barry White.
3. “Alone Again Or” by Calexico [via Love] / Mariachi horns. Yes.
4. “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” by Jeff Buckley [via Bob Dylan] / Dylan and Joan Baez recently released a really fun live version of this one in 2004, but ain’t nobody that can sing like Jeff Buckley. Has anyone noticed that The Hold Steady inadvertently references his death is many of their songs? “We all go down and drown in the Mississippi River…”
5. “Baby Why Version” by Dennis Alcapone [via The Heptones]/ I might be stretching the definition of “cover” with this one, as Senor Alcapone [just a great name] is really just DJ-ing over the original Heptones track. Either way, it’s a great version from a great album, “Forever Version”.
6. “To Go Home” by M. Ward [via Daniel Johnston] / This song came on in my car about a year ago and I almost crashed from playing air drums too wildly. It might be fairly well known but it’s one of my favorite songs that’s been released in the past 3 years.
7. “Black Star” by Gillian Welch [via Radiohead] / Currently my favorite cover of any song at any time. I don’t think Welch and David Rawlings have made a bad song together.
8. “Never Had No One Ever” by Billy Bragg [via The Smiths] / The Bard of Barking at his most dramatic.
9. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” by Clem Snide [via Velvet Underground] / Eef sings this one better than Nico ever could.
10. “Andalucia” by Yo La Tengo [via John Cale] / I bought Yo La’s “Fakebook” at Prime Cuts head shop in RVC for $3.99 in 1990. I think this was one of the first CDs I ever bought and have not stopped listening to this song since. The original song and album [“Paris 1919”] by John Cale is a classic.
TGU Covers: Paul Simoneschi
1. “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window” by the Hold Steady [via Bob Dylan] / No comment.
2. “Never Ending Math Equation” by Sun Kill Moon [via Modest Mouse] / No comment.
3. “Sunday Morning Comedown” by Crooked Fingers [via Johnny Cash] / No comment.
4. “Ceremony” by Radiohead [via New Order] / No comment.
5. “Hyperballad” by The Twilight Singer [via Bjork] / No comment.
6. “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere” by Ida [via Neil Young] / No comment.
7. “Here” by Tindersticks [via Pavement] / No comment.
8. “Thunder Road” by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Tortoise [via Bruce Springsteen] / No comment.
9. “Salvation” by Silent Majority [via The Cranberries] / No comment.
10. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” by Muse [via The Smiths] / No comment.
TGU Covers: Phil Roosevelt
1. “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key” by Billy Bragg [via Woody Guthrie] / Setting long-lost Woody Guthrie lyrics to music. Technically a cover.
2. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” by David Bromberg [via Bob Dylan] / A fresh take on a Dylan classic, by a longtime Dylan crony.
3. “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bettye LaVette [via Bruce Springsteen] / For my money, this better than Bruce.
4. “Bright Side of the Road” by Raol Malo [via Van Morrison] / A swingin’ version of the Van Marrison song, and an outstanding voice. Live in Austin, Tex.
5. “A Case of You” by Prince [via Joni Mitchell] / A sparkling gem from a Joni Mitchell tribute album.
6. “People Get Ready” by the Blind Boys of Alabama [via Curtis Mayfield] / The boys, who’ve been playing together for 60-plus years, excel on this Curtis Mayfield song.
7. “Modern Love” by the Last Town Chorus [via David Bowie] / Bowie’s old pop song is completely reinvented, with help from a lap steel guitar.
8. “Superstar” by Sonic Youth [viaThe Carpenters] / Yes, Matt cited this as an example in the introduction to this project, but it needs to be on someone’s playlist too.
9. “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by Pat Metheny [via Gerry and the Pacemakers] / A wistful, acoustic rendition of the 1964 hit by Gerry & the Pacemakers.
10. “Riverside” by Ollabelle [Traditional] / A traditional American protest song made new. Among the singers: Levon Helm’s daughter Amy.
TGU Covers: Sara Cusack
1. “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day” by Asylum Street Spankers [via Robert Johnson] / The Spankers are from Austin and they are superfun. Song written by Robert Johnson. They also cover “Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine”, which someone put on their first Unheard mix.
2. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” by Breeders [via The Beatles] / Back when Tanya Donnelly from Throwing Muses and Belly was in the Breeders. She sings a bit on this one. Beatles.
3. “Stuck in the Metal” by Eagles of Death Metal [via Stealers Wheel] / Made famous by the film “Reservoir Dogs.” Original by Stealers Wheel.
4. “Waiting for the Man” by David Bowie [via Velvet Underground] / Bowie covering the Velvet Underground. ‘Nuff said.
5. “Suzanne” by Nina Simone [via Leonard Cohen] / Why did he even bother to sing his own songs when other people do them so much better?
6. “Have Love Will Travel” by The Sonics [via Richard Berry] / Richard Berry also wrote “Louie Louie”.
7. “If I Were A Carpenter” by Eldridge Holmes [via Tim Hardin] / Sorry about the intro on this one, iTunes doesn’t let you cut stuff out. Written by Tim Hardin, covered by many. This is a nice Soul version.
8. “Rock and Roll” by Jane’s Addiction [via Velvet Undergound] / Another Velvet Underground. I like this one better than the original.
9. “Johnson Rag” by Esquivel [via Guy Hall] / Hall wrote this in 1917. One of them standards, I guess. Its peppy and fun.
10. “Sad Songs and Waltzes” by Cake [via Willie Nelson] / No comment.
TGU Covers: Sean Barrow
1. “Right Now” by The Creatures [via Mel Torme] / Siouxsie and the Banshees have recorded a lot of covers in their history, but Siouxsie Sioux’s other band, The Creatures, with drummer and ex-husband Budgie, only a few. This early single in their career is their best one. Ten demerits to anyone that mentions The Pussycat Dolls when referencing this song. [From the album A Bestiary Of]
2. “Painted Black” by Mephisto Walz [via The Rolling Stones] / I could have easily made an entire set of goth covers that I like, but I thought I’d spare everyone that torture. The goth remake of “Paint It Black” by Inkubus Sukkubus is the one that usually turns up first in search engines, but I like this version [retitled “Painted Black”] by Mephisto Walz more. Their first “Painted Black” cover with their original male singer is even rawer and spookier than this one. Happy Halloween. [From the album The Eternal Deep]
3. “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” by Lush [via Lally Stott] / This is one of those songs for which I had never known the original before hearing the cover. Lush takes the early 70s hit [made popular by the group Middle Of The Road] and reimagines it as a dream pop beauty. [From the compilation Alvin Lives [In Leeds] – Anti Poll Tax Trax]
4. “I Don’t Want To Grow Up” by Scarlett Johannson [via Tom Waits] / Allow me to open my umbrella before you start throwing tomatoes. I chose this song because judging by the number of terrible reviews the Scarlett record received, no listener ventured deep enough into the album to find this little diamond. Producer David Andrew Sitek [TV On The Radio] buries Scarlett’s deadpan vocals inside a synthpop sea. [From the album Anywhere I Lay My Head]
5. “Tubular Bells” by Book of Love [via Mike Oldfield] / From a song that sounded like it was recorded in the 80s to one that actually was, the four art students that make up Book of Love transform the Mike Oldfield instrumental into a club contender that could slide seamlessly in between tracks by Depeche Mode and New Order. [Remix from the album I Touch Roses – The Best of Book of Love]
6.“Barbarella” by Fuzzbox [via The Bob Crewe Generation] / British pop-punk group We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It!! [shortened to Fuzzbox by their second album] admittedly sound like they made a karaoke recording of the Barbarella movie theme here, but the new vocals are absolutely heavenly. The video for the A-side of this single “International Rescue” spoofs the Barbarella film. [B-side to the 12″single “International Rescue”]
7.“UK Girls [Physical]” by Goldfrapp [by Olivia Newton-John] / I’m stretching the definition of cover with this track since only the chorus is taken from the Olivia Newton-John hit, but hearing it undone into a downtempo oddity sounds cool to me. [Bonus track from the CD single “Utopia”]
8. “If 6 Was 9” by Tori Amos [via Jimi Hendrix] / The number of covers recorded by Tori Amos could fill multiple albums. I like how she tricks out her piano on this song keeping it in the spirit of Hendrix. [Bonus track from the “Cornflake Girl” limited edition CD single]
9. “Juégale Apuéstale” by Aterciopelados [via Queen] / My favorite Latin band, Colombia’s Aterciopelados add their signature style to Queen’s “Play The Game”. I like Andrea Echeverri’s Spanish vocals more than the original. [From the compilation Tributo A Queen]
10. “Sexy Dancer” by 7 Hurtz with Peaches & Bitch Lap Lap [via Prince] / Peaches and ex-roommate Feist [recording under the name Bitch Lap Lap] totally crap all over this old Prince track. I love it. Prince fans will recognize the references to Prince proteges and other Prince songs in the new ad-libbed lyrics. [From the compilation If I Was Prince]
TGU Covers: Greg Bartalos
1. “White Rabbit” by The Damned [via Jefferson Airplane] / This great cover, recorded in 1980, is one of many excellent songs that the underrated Damned never released on a proper album. Captain Sensible’s storming psych-punk guitars thrill and Rat Scabies is as generous with his drum fills as is a restaurant with a free drink refill policy.
2. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by Devo [via The Rolling Stones] / I always preferred Devo’s fresh 1977 take to the Stones’ more blunted and pedestrian version. Just hearing Mark Mothersbaugh sing “baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby” more than 30 times in 10 seconds (could Mick do that?) is enough reason to be properly satisfied.
3. “Walk on By” by Stranglers [via Dionne Warwick] / This 1978 cover is Exhibit A for anyone who might doubt the Stranglers’ musical prowess. JJ Burnel’s bass and Dave Greenfield’s keyboard playing are inspired and the mix allows you to hear all the instruments super clearly. The Stranglers, which formed in 1974, will release next month a new single titled “Retro Rockets.” If the song charts in the Top 40 it will mark five consecutive decades in which this venerable British institution has done so.
4. “Shipbuilding” by Robert Wyatt [via Elvis Costello] / I like Elvis Costello but never considered him a favorite. That said, Robert Wyatt, whom I adore (especially his plaintive, melancholy and vulnerable voice), gave this version a tender treatment that added to the song’s already considerable gravitas. (Note: In researching this song, I learned that while the song was co-written by Costello, Wyatt apparently first recorded the song in 1982 and then Costello recorded his version a year later.)
5. “Johnny Was” by Stiff Little Finger [via Bob Marley] / Stiff Little Fingers, one of Ireland’s greatest bands, is best known for its fiery music, socially conscious lyrics, can do optimism and pragmatism. This 1977 song, found on the group’s incendiary and hot as a torch debut “Inflammable Material,” shows the band slowing down but injecting Marley’s classic with palpable pathos and indignation.
6. “My Little Red Book” by Love [via Burt Bacarach] / Love did it all. Here they do what many musicians wish they could do. They pissed off Burt Bacharach! That’s the generally accepted story at least. This stripped down and raw 1966 version, which changes the original significantly, apparently sent a spider up Burt’s neck. As for Love, they soon were playing this on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand of all places!
7. “I Can’t Get Next to You” by Thee More Shallows [via Al Green] / In this 2006 cover, the whispered, murmured words and late-night shadowy ambience do little to suppress the powerful lyrics that speak to an ability to move (quite literally) heaven and earth but not win the love of someone.
8. “Taxman” by The Music Machine [via The Beatles]/ In 1966, the black glove wearing members of the little known and much underrated Music Machine kicked out a version of “Taxman” that didn’t stray far from the original but is worth hearing nonetheless.
9. “The Wind Blows Your Hair” by Naz Nomad (actually the Damned) [via The Seeds] / recorded this in 1984 as part of an all sixties cover album under the auspices of it being the soundtrack to a film titled “Give Daddy the Knife Cindy.” The group did a masterful job of keeping its identity a secret. In fact, I remember in the 80s seeing this at record stores filed under the “N” section instead of being filed under “The Damned.”
10. “Message in a Bottle” by Leatherface [via The Police] / Leatherface, which is coming to North America soon (!), uncorked a hell of a version of the Police’s hit in 1991. Though I never liked the Police’s version or for that matter much of anything that the band released, this, due to Leatherface singer Frankie Stubbs’ impassioned and gravelly singing, gives the tune the spit and passion it so desperately needs.
TGU Covers: James Cinnamond
1. “The Briar and the Rose” by Holly Cole [via via Tom Waits] / A song from Tom’s Black Rider. Try Tom and Holly’s version back to back. This is Tom’s Danny Boy. I don’t know how long it has been but I was born in Brennan’s Glenn.
2. “Bad” by Luka Bloom [via via U2] / A nice Irish cover from a real nice covers album by Luka.
3. “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” by Alison Krauss [via via The Foundations) / Allison sings like an angel on the old Foundations tune. The multi racial blue-eyed soul Foundations may have put out the best single of all time since the flip side was “Build Me Up Buttercup”.
4. “Into the Groove” by Ciccone Youth [via Madonna) / Sonic Youth do Madonna.
5. “Fly Me to the Moon” by Lotion [via Frank Sinatra] / for about a year all I listened to was Lotion. Find their stuff. Tom Pynchon, spiritual son of JD Salinger, came out of seclusion to write liner notes for one of their records.
6. “Comin’ Back To Me” by Rickie Lee Jones [via the Jefferson Airplane] / Ricki Lee may be the most talented woman to ever play music. I just caught her at Princeton in a half empty room. Please support her.
7. “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley [via Nina Simone] / I always thought the Jeff Buckley sainthood thing was unnecessary but he does a swell job with this one.
8. “Song of Bernadette” by Jennifer Warnes [via Leonard Cohen] / And when the radical priest come to get me released. I always dig it when cool Jewish guys write songs that make me want to go back to the church.
9. “Sweet Thing” by The Waterboys [via Van Morrison] / A cool Van the Man cover from the cool Fisherman’s Blues record although it will never be as cool as Van the Man himself doing Linden Arden Stole the Highlights. A few years back I saw Van on St. Patrick’s Day at the Supper Club. He never looked at nor spoke to the audience the entire show. Van could learn a lot about appreciating life from Joey Ramone.
10. “What A Wonderful World” by Joey Ramone [via Louis Armstrong] / Joey recorded this as he was dying of lymphoma making Louis and all of Queens so proud.
TGU Covers: Chris DeFusco
1. “Little Bit O’ Soul” by Les Sexareenos [via The Music Explosion] / Les Sexareenos were a garage punk band from Montreal QC. Former members Mark Sultan and King Khan have gone on to release some great solo records. King Khan is known for his James Brown influenced soul revue and Mark Sultan has been performing under the moniker of BBQ, check them out. Here we have a great version of one of my favorite 60’s freakouts.
2. “Livin’ For The City” by The Dirtbombs [via Stevie Wonder]/ Dirtbombs are one of the great underground rock bands out there today. These guys (and sometimes gal) are Detroit stalwarts and basically made Jack and Meg White start making music. This track is taken from their album “Ultraglide in Black” an album of their favorite R&B songs.
3. “Stormy Weather” by Reigning Sound [via Billie Holliday] / Fun rock n roll cover of a Cole Porter show tune. Just a fun song. This is from the Tank Girl soundtrack. How many of you actually saw this movie? It’s about a girl and her pet tank.
4. “Round and Round” by Mr. Airplane Man [via Chuck Berry] / The liner notes from the EP that this track comes from Shakin’ Around say that this version was inspired by Mo Tucker’s interpretation, so while I don’t have a Velvet Underground cover on here…their presence is felt. Mr. Airplane Man were from Boston and were ushered into existence by Morphine’s Mark Sandman, they’ve recorded with Greg Cartwright of the Reigning Sound and singer/guitarist Margaret Garret also sometimes plays with Jack-O and The Tearjerkers…speaking of which.
5. “A Bullet For Ramona” by Jack O and The Tearjerkers [via Warren Zevon] / Jack O (for Oblivian) was also a member of the aforementioned Oblivians. I submit to you a boozy and bluesy murder ballad. Pretty faithful to Zevon’s original, but a little more rockin’. From the album “Don’t Throw Your Love Away.”
6. “Little Liza Jane” by Dr.John [Traditional] / Welcome to the New Orleans portion of the playlist. I heard several versions of this song performed at Mardi Gras this past winter and fell in love with the tune. Dr.John’s rendition is based on the Huey “Piano” Smith interpretation. Good luck getting this tune out of your head, love the call and response chorus. From the album “Gumbo.”
7. “I’m Walkin” by Rebirth Brass Band [ via Antoine “Fats” Domino]/ Rebirth have been playing funky New Orleans brass for 25 years and their members are still young cats…check out the cover of their album “Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” (where this track was taken from) released in 1989 and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Founder Kermit Ruffins left the group a few years ago and is now having a party with the Barbecue Swingers.
8. “God Of Thunder” by Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat [via KISS] / I debated whether or not to add this track, because its a little wild and might not appeal to everyone, but eventually the wildness won me over. Mr. Quintron owns a patent for his invention the Drum Buddy, which is featured on this track. There’s hipster dance music and then there’s this. From the album “Swamp Tech.”
9. “After The Gold Rush” by flaming lips [via Neil Young] Except for a little more distortion this is a pretty faithful version. Its slightly amazing because this was taken from the album Telepathic Surgery, when the Lips barely knew how to play their instruments.
10. “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” by My Morning Jacket [via Prince] / I saw MMJ perform this when they opened for Wilco a few years back. They absolutely nailed it. It took some doing but I was able to find this great live version on the interweb for your listening pleasure.
TGU Covers: David Lavietes
1. “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” by Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall [via Martha Tilton] / A popular Yiddish song composed for the 1932 musical, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht, “You Could Live, But They Won’t let you”), the song became famous with English lyrics but retaining the original Yiddish title re-written in German Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (“You’re Beautiful to Me”). In 1937, Sammy Cahn heard a performance of the song, sung in Yiddish by African American performers Johnnie and George at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He bought the song rights, rewrote the song with English language lyrics and a swing rhythm, and convinced the still unknown Andrews Sisters to perform the song. It became their first major hit, earning them a Gold Record, the first ever to a female vocal group. In this version, performed at his historic 1939 Carnegie Hall Concert, Benny Goodman puts the Yiddish back into the song – listen for the klezmer-style instrumental break. All in all, a reminder that great swing could rock, just as well.
2. “Get Out of Denver” by Dave Edmunds [via Bob Seger] / Written and originally recorded by Bob Seger for his album Seven, “Get Out of Denver” was a modest success and charted at #80 nationally. Welsh pub rocker (and half of Rockpile) Dave Edmunds made it the lead song on his 1977 album “Get It”. Dave’s version is faster than Seeger’s and his higher pitched voice lends it an urgency that makes you feel like you’re in the car with him on a drug and rockabilly fueled escapade.
3. “Gloria” by Patti Smith [via Them] / Written by Van Morrison originally recorded by his band Them in 1964 as the B-side of “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, “Gloria” has been covered by everybody. But it took the Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith to add the opening line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” and to change “Gloria” from a song of teenage lust into a lesbian conquest.
4. “Fire” by Robert Gordon [via Bruce Springsteen] / A latter-day rockabilly purist, Robert Gordon worked with Link Wray in the 1970s to produce several excellent records. The second, “Fresh Fish Special”, includes this track, written by Bruce Springsteen specifically for Gordon. Springsteen also played piano on the track. Unfortunately for Gordon, the Pointer Sisters quickly covered the song and their version scored #2 on the charts, becoming more famous than the original recording.
5. “Miserlou” by Agent Orange [via Dick Dale] / Most think of Miserlou as the classic surf song, but it was written in 1927 Greece about a cross-faith, cross-race, relationship – quite a risqué subject at its time. In the 1940s, Miserlou lost its lyrics and became an “exotica” standard among the light swing (lounge) bands of the day. And later it became music for the Lebanese- and Armenian-American “Snake Dance” due to its sinuous foot movements. Finally, in 1962, Dick Dale – who heard the song through his Lebanese-American musician father and uncles – rearranged it as a searing surf solo instrumental on a bet from a young fan who dared him to play the whole song on one string. When the Beach Boys covered Miserlou it instantly became a pop-culture staple and has been covered by everyone from Connie Francis to Agent Orange, who started mixing punk rock and surf music as early as 1979.
6. “Stand By Your Man” by Lyle Lovett [via Tammy Mynette] / Reportedly written in 15 minutes, Stand By Your Man became a number one single on the country charts for Tammy Wynette in 1968 but quickly became a lightning rod for the Feminist movement. Stand by Your Man was famously covered by the clueless Blues Brothers (as one of the only country songs they knew) and used as the closing credits of the Crying Game. In this dead-serious version, Lyle Lovett takes a novelty song and unleashes an emotion Wynette couldn’t give it in 1968.
7. “My Way” by Sid Vicious [via Frank Sinatra] / An English version of a French song, with lyrics by Paul Anka, My Way became Frank Sinatra’s theme song – a declaration of his tough-guy, go-it-alone persona. Shortly after the dissolution of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious attempted to turn it into an anthem for the new go-it-alone persona, the punks. Sadly, Sid didn’t know all the word, but it’s still a whole new take on an old standard.
8. “Something Else” by Sid Vicious [via Sharon Sheeley and Eddie Cochran] / “Something Else” is a rockabilly standard and a three-chord wonder known to several generations of guitar players. Written for Eddie Cochran (and his twangy guitar) by his girlfriend, Sharon Sheeley, and his older brother, Bob Cochran, it was released in 1959. Reputedly written on the back of a match book (really!), Something Else has been covered by literally everybody – from Led Zeppelin to Slade to the New York Dolls to The Flamin’ Groovies to Tom Petty to the Georgia Satellites to a little-known band called The Beatles. Sid’s version, released just before his death, was ironically his biggest chart success as a solo act. It adds to the body of previous versions only in that you have to wonder what exactly what Sid’s idea of ‘something else’.
9. “I Wa’na Be Like You” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [via Louis Prima]/ Written for Walt Disney’s 1967 The Jungle Book, “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” was originally sung by Louis Prima. This Big Bad Voodoo Daddy cover appears on the Swingers soundtrack, even though the song doesn’t appear in the film. BBVD’s version puts a night club sensibility into the song that makes you question exactly who “you” might be.
10. “Sympathy for the Devil” by Roxy Music [via Rolling Stones] / You need pretty big balls to cover a song that got the Rolling Stones vilified as devil-worshippers a mere 5 years earlier. Fortunately, lack of balls has never been Roxy Music front-may Bryan Ferry’s issue. In 1973, Ferry made Sympathy for the Devil the center-piece of an album of covers (These Foolish Things) that included work from the Crickets, Elvis, Leslie Gore, The Beatles, and the 1930s jazz standard title track. Ferry’s take on the song now seems infinitely closer to the tone of the novel, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, that was certainly the inspiration for the song. The Stones’ original is stripped down, with little but congas, piano, and Jagger’s voice; only as the song crescendos do we get the chorus of voices and stabbing electric guitar solo. The overall result gives the feeling almost of a tribal trance chant. Ferry’s version is immediately more lush and more metropolitan and more urbane. From the beginning driving drums and cymbals replace the congas, power chords replace the piano, background singers fill the space, making it sound at once like a Baptist service in full swing and the devil’s headline act at his private night club. Jagger’s devil wears rags and rages. Ferry’s wears a tux and gloats. Somehow, it feels exactly like how Bulgakov’s Woland would have done it.
TGU Covers: David Weidner
1. “Stop Your Sobbing” by Jonathan Richman [via The Kinks] / Great cover of a great song
2. “Wild Horses” by Blackhawk [via Rolling Stones] / I can’t stand this song by the Stones. I guess it must be that I’ve heard it about a billion times or the temp because this Blackhawk, some little band out of Nashville, makes it a lot of fun. Love the soloing on this tune as well.
3. “Jump” by the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band w/ David Lee Roth [via Van Halen] / I discovered this last year while poking around iTunes. The album is Strummin with the Devil and I had a hard time choosing Jump or Could This Be Magic. All of these covers are great. David Lee definitely gets into the spirit. The banjo solo on Jump hits Eddie’s keyboard solo note for note minus one. See if you can hear it.
4. “Take On Me” by The Twang [via ah-Ha] / Don’t know too much about them. Maybe someone out there knows more, but The Twang is a bizarre little outfit that does pop songs in country style. They are very popular in Germany. I find most of their stuff awful, but a few tracks they take things in directions that just make perfect sense. For instance, this Johnny Cashification of the famous ah-Ha song.
5. “Nashville Cats” by Del McCoury Band [via Lovin’ Spoonful] / I can assure you that there are not 1,352 guitar pickers in Nashville better than Del McCoury. There may be twice as many, however, better than John Sebastian.
6. “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” by Tim O’Brien [via Bob Dylan] / From a Dylan tribute album Tim did called “Red On Blonde.” Beautiful fiddle.
7. “Let It Ride” by Tony Rice [via Gordon Lightfoot] / My theme song, or at least I like to pretend.
8. “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Tim O’Brien & Rob Ickes [via Blind Faith] / Respectful and faithful cover.
9. “In a Town This Size” by John Prine & Dolores Keane [via Kieran Kane] / If you smoke a cigarette they’ll be talkin’ ‘bout your breath.
10. “Common People” by William Shatner featuring Ben Folds and Joe Jackson [via Pulp] / OK, a bit of a deviation. Just couldn’t let a covers’ playlist go by without including this anthem from an unlikely source.
TGU Covers: Franz Nicolay
The idea of a “cover song” is a post-Beatles concept–before that, the idea that a singer wrote their own material was the exception. So these necessarily exclude the Tin Pan Alley/American Songbook kind of interpretive material. I will say, though, that the contemporary cliche is that you have to reinterpret a song in some way, to deconstruct it, for the cover to be worthwhile. Sometimes hearing a great singer sing a great song is plenty, don’t you think?
1. “Islands In The Stream” by Feist & The Constantines [via Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers]
2. “Superstar” by Sonic Youth [via The Carpenters]
3. “No Easy Way Down” by Mark Eitzel [via Carole King]
4. “Follow You, Follow Me” by Red House Painters [via Genesis]
This is maybe the most common modern model of the cover song [via if you discount pop-punk covers of AOR or 80s hits]: a respected indie artist finding the pathos at the heart of a lite-rock classic of a previous generation. I heard Richard Carpenter on the radio recently and the host asked him if he liked the Sonic Youth version of “Superstar.” He said, “Of course I don’t like it! Why would I like it? It’s the opposite of everything I’ve spent my life doing!” Or words to that effect.
5. “Wagon Wheel” by Against Me! [via Old Crow Medicine Show]
6. “Under Bordet” by Moneybrother [via My Morning Jacket]
7. “The Dead Only Quickly Decay” by The Divine Comedy [via Magnetic Fields]
8. “Back In The High Life Again” by Warren Zevon [via Steve Winwood]
The Divine Comedy and Red House Painters have each done many particularly fine covers: the former’s tend to be finely focussed on groups that are direct influences or close peers (The Smiths, David Bowie, Magnetic Fields, American Music Club); the latter’s tend to be of songs or artists that are not obvious influences—notably AC/DC and John Denver. It’s neat to hear peers, or at least contemporaries at the respective height of their powers, covering each other. The OCMS hit lets Tom Gabel relax and sing without his usual hardcore affect; Moneybrother trims the extra instrumental minutes and makes “Off The Record” the garagey hit it always had in it, and Zevon lets you know that even the lyricist knows he’s lying.
9. “Don’t Do It” by The Band [via Marvin Gaye]
10. “Tennessee Jed” by Levon Helm [via Grateful Dead]
If you ever doubted that Levon Helm may be one of the great singers of his generation, check this out. He sang a Marvin Gaye song and stole it away; then sang a Grateful Dead song and made it listenable.
11. “Red River Valley” by Mountain Goats [via Trad.]
12. “Amsterdam” by Scott Walker [via Jacques Brel]
13.”The Partisan” by 16 Horsepower [via Leonard Cohen]
14. “Good-Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” by Simon Bonney [via Danny O’Keefe]
15. “A Good Year For The Roses” by George Jones [via Elvis Costello]
Great singers singing great songs. In a few of these cases, singers who’ve made their names singing very different kinds of music. Walker, of course, was one of the first to record Brel’s songs in English. The George Jones version of the Elvis Costello classic is a rare example of an artist of an older generation tackling a “new classic”—the Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin records, obviously; Solomon Burke’s “Don’t Give Up On Me,” and that new Peter Gabriel album. Costello makes a kind of schoolroom exercise about trying on genre songwriting, and Jones makes Costello’s point that he could’ve cut it in old-school Nashville.
16. “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” by Murder City Devils [via The Seeds]
17. “Seven Days Too Long” by Dexys Midnight Runners [via Chuck Wood]
18. “Hold On” by Rinaldi Sings [via The Redskins]
19. “Black Diamond” by Replacements [via Kiss]
Bands showing off their obscure tastes in garage and soul singles is an evergreen. Or, in the case of the Replacements, making one of the most shamelessly glitzy bands in history sound like a 45 from the bins. For a long time I went around telling people this was my favorite Replacements song. Still is, actually.
20. “Young At Heart” by Tom Waits [via Jimmy Durante]
One of my favorite singers covering one of my other favorite singers; what’s not to love? Separated at birth.
TGU Covers: Keith Lucchesi
1. “Love Vigilantes” by Iron and Wine [via New Order] / Sam Beam works his magic on this one!
2. “True Love Will Find You In The End” by Beck [via Daniel Johnston] / Beck reconstructs this ecclectic cover! Really hits a tone in me!
3. “Rowboat” by Johnny Cash [via Beck] / One of many amazing covers from the American / Rick Rubin recordings.
4. “The Boxer” by Bob Dylan [via Paul Simon] /Amazing rendition from Dylan’s Self Portrait Album.
5. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by Cat Power [via Rolling Stones] / A mellow take on a rockin’ classic, but it really works. Makes you really listen to the lyrics.
6. “Lovesick Blues” by Ryan Adams [via Hank Williams] / This song really fits Ryan Adam’s voice. He can really sing country.
7. “Sing It Again” by The Wood Brothers [via Beck] / Chris Wood (Medeski, Martin, and Wood) and brother Oliver do Beck proud!
8. “Gypsy Davy” by Elvis Perkins In Dearland [Traditional] / Just listen!
9. “You Got the Silver” by Susan Tedeschi [via Rolling Stones] / A GREAT take on this classic!
10. “To Be Young is To Be Sad” by David Rawlings Machine [via Ryan Adams] / David, Gillian Welch, and Old Crow tear it up!
TGU Covers: Fleming Meeks
1. “Hey Good Lookin’” by Buckwheat Zydeco [via Hank Williams] / From “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire,” 1990. One of the best artists to emerge from the ’80s zydeco scare. In addition to this Hank Williams cover, Buckwheat covered the Rolling Stones’s Beast of Burden on this album.
2. “Honky Tonkin’” by Townes Van Zandt [via Hank Williams] / From “The Late Great Townes Van Zandt,” 1972. LP includes his first known recordings of Pancho & Lefty and If I Needed You.
3. “Jambalaya” by Lucinda Williams [via Hank Williams] / From “Ramblin’ on My Mind,” 1979. Lucinda’s first LP, before she started recording her own songs.
4. “Long, Gone Lonesome Blues” by Sheryl Crow [via Hank Williams] / From “Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute,” 2001. CD also has Keith Richards singing You Win Again, but the version below is better.
5. “You Win Again” by Charlie Haden Family with Elvis Costello [via Hank Williams] / From “Rambling Boy,” 2008. The great jazz started out as a country singer on the radio at age 2. Sang with The Haden Family until he got polio at age 15. Took up bass; played with Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper while still in his teens.
6. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Patsy Cline, 1965 [via Hank Williams] / Released as single b/w I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love with You. Didn’t make the charts.
7. “I Saw the Light” by Roy Acuff and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band [via Hank Williams] / From “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” 1972, a stunning collaboration with some of the greats of bluegrass and country.
8. “I Can’t Get You Off of My Mind” by Bob Dylan [via Hank Williams] / From “Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute,” 2001. Bob rocks this obscure Hank tune.
9. “Cold, Cold Heart” by George Jones [via Hank Williams] / From “Way of the World,” 2000. Hank wrote it after his wife told him she’d had an abortion. Tony Bennett had his first No. 1 hit with this song in 1951, the same year Hank recorded it. Ol’ Possum does more than just phone it in.
10. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by the Cowboy Junkies [via Hank Williams] / From “The Trinity Session,” 1988. Haunting recording of a haunting song. Written in 1949, also about Hank’s first wife, Audrey.
11. “Ode to Billie Joe” by Patricia Barber [via Bobby Gentry] / From “Café Blue,” 1994. Bobby Gentry’s Mississippi-gothic-Robert-Frost-by-way-of-William-Faulkner 1967 No. 1 hit, reinterpreted the jazz singer/songwriter/pianist; backed by bass and finger snaps. The song originally had 11 verses but was cut down to six by Capital Records. Max Baer Jr., a/k/a Jethro Bodine, directed a 1976 film based on the song.
12. “Love Is All Around” by Joan Jett [via Sonny Curtis] / From “Fit to Be Tied,” 1997. The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song. Written and recorded by Sonny Curtis, who released it as a single in 1974. Curtis’s best-known song, I Fought the Law, was recorded it with the Crickets (post-Buddy Holly) in 1959, and covered by the Bobby Fuller Four and, of course, the Clash.
13. “Bad Moon Rising” by Thea Gilmore [via Creedence Clearwater Revival] / From “Loft Music,” 2003. Anglo-English folky singer-songwriter sings the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit (it reached #2 on the Billboard charts) accompanied by tenor banjo and harmonica.
14. “Tired of Waiting for You” by Dwight Yoakam [via The Kinks] / From “Under the Covers,” 1997. Dwight sings the 1965 Kinks hit with a Dean Martin-inspired big-band arrangement.
15. “Hungry Heart” by Lucy Wainwright Roche [via Bruce Springsteen] / From “8 More,” 2008. Lucy, daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Suzzy Roche, sings the 1980 Springsteen song. Originally written for the Ramones—Joey asked Bruce to write them a song—Springsteen decided to keep it for himself.
16. “Baby, I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain [via Peter Frampton] / From “Unity,” 1994. American reggae band comes alive channeling Peter Frampton. Lisa Bonet, as Marie DeSalle, does an even better version in the movie High Fidelity but it’s not on the soundtrack.
17. “Hard to Handle” by Toots Hibbert [via Otis Redding] / From “Toots in Memphis,” 1988. Without the Maytals but backed by the Memphis Horns, Toots out-rocks the Black Crowes on the Otis Redding cover.
18. “Jersey Girl” by Holly Cole [via Tom Waits] / From “Temptation,” 1995. Sultry Canadian jazz singer interprets Tom Waits.
19. “And I Love Him” by Esther Phillips [via The Beatles] / From “And I Love Him,” 1965. Tragic R&B singer (first hit, “Double Crossing Blues,” 1950, as Little Esther—she was 14) covers the Beatles.
20. “Simple Twist of Fate” by Bryan Ferry [via via Bob Dylan] / From “Dylanesque,” 2007. Former Roxy Music frontman’s post glam-rock tribute to Bob.
TGU Covers: John Sasso
1. “Wasted” by Camper Van Beethoven [via Black Flag] / Amazing so much was going on in the early to mid ‘80s. A great interpretation of a great song.
2. “Karma Police” by Easy Dub All Stars [via Radiohead] / Radiohead songs leave some space for some nice reimagining of their songs.
3. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Butthole Surfers [via Donovan] / I was in Soccer camp at UVA when some guys who grew up at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC introduced me to the Butthole Surfers. How weird is that?
4. “The Guitar Man” by Cake [via Bread] / Love the Cake covers. Bread as the name of a band…
5. “Dr Wu” by Minutemen [via Steely Dan] / Minutemen covering Steely Dan. Balls.
6. “Wang Dang Doodle” by PJ Harvey [via Howlin’ Wolf] / PJ knows blues and knows it well.
7. “Close to You” by Ethyl Meatplow [via The Carpenters] / Carla Bozulich in her band pre Geraldine Fibbers covering the Carpenters. Knock Out.
8. “New Wave” by Ben Lee [via Against Me!] / Ben Lee covered the entire Against Me! Album like one half hour after it was released. Tough to pick the one song. Find this and get all of it.
9. “Ooh Child” by Beth Orton [via the Five Stairsteps] / Love this cover even though it is hard to beat the original.
10. “Just Like Heaven” by Dinosaur Jr [via The Cure] / Resolved my conflict between British new wave and the bubbling alternative rock scene of he late ‘80s. Saw D Jr. play this in a weird assed night club in Worcester Mass.
TGU Covers: Jen Rubin
1. “Dodge” by Dog’s Eye View [via Vic Chesnutt] / My favorite track on the Sweet Relief II CD to benefit Vic Chesnutt.
2. “Mystifies Me” by Son Volt [via Ron Wood] / I love Jay Farrar’s voice. This is the last track on their brilliant debut album, ‘Trace’. Hearing him sing this Ron Wood song almost made me feel better about Uncle Tupelo breaking up.
3. “I Need Love” by Luka Bloom [via LL Cool J] / Vin Scelsa, a DJ in NYC, used to host a singer songwriter night at the Bottom Line in NYC. Each singer was asked to sing an original song and a cover. This a quirky version of an LL Cool J’s song by an Irish singer-songwriter.
4. “Withering” by Cracker [via Vic Chesnutt] / I like everything Cracker does.
5. “Against the Law” by Billy Bragg [via Woody Guthrie] / Billy Bragg sounds so right singing this Woody Guthrie song. It now hard for me to hear it sung without a British accent.
6. “Working Class Hero” by Marianne Faithful [via John Lennon] / Her vocals gives this song an entirely different feel from the original.
7. “He Called My Baby” by OneEskimo [via Candi Staton covering Patsy Cline] / I love the ambient sound OneEskimo brings to this song and that they sample Candi Staton on the chorus.
8. “Pastime Paradise” by Patti Smith [via Stevie Wonder] / I think Patti can do no wrong and always puts her unique stamp on a song. I keep waiting for this to be in the closing credits for a movie – it has the right feel for it.
9. “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees [via Roberta Flack covering Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel] / I never get tired of this song. Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean made such great music together.
10. “What More Can I Say” by DJ Danger Mouse [via The Beatles] / I love the Beatle samples in this song.
TGU Covers: Sean Nolan
1. “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Belle & Sebastian [via Thin Lizzy] / … and actually sounding like a band with some balls and some guitars. It would be the last song I would have expected them to get right, but they nail it.
2. “Club Soul City” by Gary US Bonds [via Bruce Springsteen] / I’m not sure if this counts as a cover, as I don’t know if the Boss ever sang it, but I’m shoehorning it in here anyway and I defy you to defy me. Yeah.
3. “Like A Rolling Stone” by The Drive By Truckers [via Bob Dylan] / Love the hand-off from everyone in the band, this one absolutely benefits from the DBT treatment.
4. “Everyday People” by Big Head Todd & The Monsters [via Sly & The Family Stone] / Slow and awesome. Every time these guys were on Letterman, he would say to the audience ‘Have you seen the size of this guy’s HEAD?’
5. “Baba O’Riley” by Pearl Jam [via The Who] / I was heavy into The Who in high school, and I still kinda am, but you get the feeling Mr. Vedder took it to a whole new level of hero worship, and I’m down.
6. “Jesus Christ” by U2 [via Woody Guthrie] / I know nothing about this song other than that Bono digs a lot of things about Jesus that Bono isn’t really all that into, which is cool, I’m sort of in the same boat.
7. “Purple Rain” by The Waterboys [via Prince] / I wish I was around when Mike Scott was rocking like this.
8. “Don’t Fence Me In” by David Byrne [via Cole Porter] / I probably agree with the sentiment of this song more than any other at the moment. Thou shall not fenceth me in.
9. “Dead Flowers” by Townes Van Zandt [viaThe Rolling Stones] / I like this better than the original, which is a nice thing to say, isn’t it?
10. “My Ride’s Here” by Bruce Springsteen [via Warren Zevon] / To be dead and have The Boss say nice things about you cannot be all bad.
TGU Covers: Kevin Hyde
1. “Waiting for Superman” by Iron and Wine [via The Flaming Lips] / The best song I’ve ever heard about 9/11 first appeared on an album more than two years before the terrorist attacks. “Waiting for Superman,” from the Flaming Lips’ 1999 masterpiece The Soft Bulletin, covers the dire feelings that most of us were experiencing in those dark, desperate days. Not even Superman could save us. Sam Beam, better known as Iron and Wine, captures the numb helplessness and somber perseverance perfectly in his stripped down, hushed interpretation of the song.
2. “Long Black Veil” by The Chieftains (featuring Mick Jagger) [via Lefty Frizzell/Johnny Cash/The Band] / I first heard the “Long Black Veil,” one of my favorite songs of all time, on The Chieftains album of the same name in the mid-90s. The record featured singers like Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor and others backed by the wonderful Irish folk band. At the time, I assumed the song was an Irish traditional but soon learned that it was written in Nashville in 1959 and was a hit for Lefty Frizzell before later appearing on albums by the likes of Johnny Cash and The Band. But it will always be an Irish folk song to me.
3. “Fourth Time Around” by Yo La Tengo [via Bob Dylan] / Covers can inspire you to delve deeper into a band for whom you’ve never given much of a chance. I was really knocked out by Yo La Tengo’s excellent take on Bob Dylan’s “Fourth Time Around” from the I’m Not There soundtrack. Love the song. And now I love the band.
4. “Lucifer Sam” by Jay Farrar [via Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd] / Covers also give you insight into what your favorite artists like or are influenced by. Who would have guessed that Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo fame would dig Syd Barrett-era Floyd? His live cover of “Lucifer Sam” rips!
5. “Return of the Grievous Angel” by Lucinda Williams [via Gram Parsons] / A huge source for covers is obviously the ubiquitous “tribute album.” These can be a mixed bag at best, but a really good one is Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. It’s an outstanding primer into the songwriting of the pioneering country and rock musician. Every song and performance on this album is good. Let’s go with Lucinda’s kick-ass performance of the title track.
6. “It Makes No Difference” by My Morning Jacket [via The Band] / I live in Louisville, so the awesome MMJ are our hometown heroes. Their sprawling but mostly true adaptation of The Band classic is a very satisfying example of a great modern band [via a great classic band. Several groups I’ve loved over the past 20 years have one thing in common—they all want to be The Band. This comes from 2007’s Endless Highway: The Music of The Band.
7. “Gin and Juice” by The Gourds [via Snoop Dog] / Isn’t rap just folk music anyway? If The Gourds’ hilarious rendering of Snoop Dog’s “Gin and Juice” isn’t proof I don’t know what is.
8. “Strangers” by Golden Smog [via The Kinks] / I was weaned on The Beatles but grievously didn’t properly get into fellow British invaders The Kinks until much later. During the midst of a full-on obsession with the Brothers Davies, Golden Smog released Another Fine Day in 2005 featuring the Dave Davies song “Strangers,” sung by two of my favorite current singers and songwriters, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Gary Louris (The Jayhawks).
9. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” by The Byrds [via Bob Dylan] /
I guess no list of covers would be complete without at least one Byrds-covering-Dylan entry. There are plenty to choose from. My personal favorite is “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” which kick starts The Byrds’ legendary 1968 foray into country music Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
10. “Borderline” by Flaming Lips cover Madonna] / We started with Lips being covered. Let’s finish with Lips covering Madonna … so to speak. I had no idea that “Borderline” was such a great song.
TGU Covers: Brice Dille
1. “Solitude by The The [Jazz standard] / Old stuff but a good version of the song. Jazz standards make the best covers because when they were written they were written in such a way to allow the singers to showcase their talents. The song is just a skeleton for the singer to place the details. Matt Johnson has a little more tortured feel than Billie Holiday or prior singers, and it fits.
2. “Light My Fire” by Shirley Bassey [via The Doors] / This could have drifted awfully close to musak had another singer done it, but she instead makes it even better than the original.
3. “Bonnie and Clyde(Clyde Barrow version)” by Luna [via Serge Gainsbourg] / I had forgotten about this song until I read an article a couple of months ago by Camille Paglia, raving about the original. Luna’s is better.
4. “Destination Venus” by Man…Or Astroman? [via The Rezillos] / One of the few covers M…OAM? did and also one of their few songs with lyrics and singing.
5. “Metroid-Kriad’s Lair” by The Advantage [via the video game Metroid] / I love the idea behind this album much more than the result. Why hadn’t anyone made a serious attempt at covering video game music before this? Mostly because nostalgia clouds the mind into thinking these songs are any good. This is one of the better efforts for a game that most people played.
6. “Blue Skies” by Willie Nelson [Jass standard] / Another jazz standard. The off-beat rhythm guitar really brings something new to this version that makes it more interesting than most covers of it.
7. “Sarayushka” by La Grange [via Billy Gibbons on The Crazy Backwards Alphabet album] / This album proves that everything Matt Groening touches is NOT gold, but this song always makes me happy.
8. “Take Me Home Country Roads” by Toots and The Maytals [via John Denver] / Not necessarily an unheard song but it is definitely not heard enough.
9. “Have a Cigar” by Primus [via Pink Floyd] / No one should ever cover Floyd because there’s no way to add anything to the songs to make them better (see: Lips, Flaming.) This is more impressive in how close it gets to the original with just three instruments and minimal production effort…almost “accoustic”
relative to the original.
10. “I Can’t Escape From You” by The The [via Hank Williams] / Off an album of Hank Williams’ covers, this is one of the better songs.
TGU Covers: Cheryl Mullen
1. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” Jacqui Naylor [via Lynyrd Skynrd] / OK, maybe classifying a Christmas song as a cover is stretching things a bit. And no, Lynrd Skynrd was not a misprint. Take a listen and hear how this jazz chanteuse takes the art of smashing to a whole new level.
2. “Like a Prayer” by Elena Skye & The Demolition String Band [via Madonna] / Maybe this was what inspired Madge to do the whole cowboy thing a few years back.
73. “Word Up” by Deni Bonet [via Cameo] / Anyone who thinks the violin isn’t cool has never seen Deni in action.
4. “Oops I Did It Again” by Richard Thompson [via Britney Spears] / If Richard Thompson can cover Twitney and walk away with his professional dignity intact, then what’s next? Nick Lowe covering “Sexyback”? Hey, it could happen!
5. “Baby Got Back” by Jonathan Coulton [via Sir Mix-a-Lot] / If this sounds like some nerdy white guys trying to do bad-ass hip-hop, that’s because it is.
6. “All Through the Night” by Girlyman [via Cyndi Lauper]/ The first time I heard this arrangement it knocked the shit out of me.
7. “Born To Run” by Melissa Etheridge [via Bruce Springsteen] / See #6 above.
8. “Personal Jesus” by Johnny Cash [via Depeche Mode] / The fact that that a hard-core country legend like Johnny Cash could cover a song from a synth-pop band and make it his own is a testament to his genius.
9. “Kiss” by Tony Desare [via Prince]/ The PurpleBoy as a cabaret lounge act? Why not?
10. “Frankenstein” by Exboyfriends [via Edgar Winter] / That’s right, an a cappella cover! Seven guys and seven mouths, one of whom also beats on his chest to create some of the percussion sounds. Interesting story behind this one: A few years ago Edgar Winter’s record label decided to promote his upcoming tour by holding a contest. Unsigned bands were invited to submit their covers of any Edgar Winter tune. Whichever band submitted the “best” cover would get to open for him in the venue nearest the band’s hometown. EXB already had this one in their repertoire, so they thought “what the hell?” and submitted it. They won. And they got to open for Edgar Winter at IMAC in Huntington, NY.
TGU Covers: Bill Baldenko
1. ”School’s Out” by Soul Asylum [via Alice Cooper] / From a Prom night performance in North Dakota after the Red River flood of 1997. Not the happiest of reasons to include a song but at 46 years of age, I still consider the last day of school as one of the best days of the year…every year!
2. “Somebody to Love” by The Ramones [via Jefferson Airplane] / I wish I saw the Ramones, heck I wish I was a Ramone. But I hope I don’t end up like most of the Ramones.
3. “I Need You” by Tom Petty [via The Beatles] / An under-appreciated song by an under-appreciated Beatle covered by an under-appreciated artist.
4. “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” by Edie Brickell [via Bob Dylan] / From the movie Born on the 4th of July. Edie Brickell sings it far better than Dylan ever did in a bar in Syracuse, while Kyra Sedgwick sports a late 60’s do. Almost makes you actually want to go to Syracuse.
5. “Perfect Day” by Duran Duran [via Lou Reed] / I’ve attended 2 concerts in my life where I hoped no one saw me. Bon Jovi and Duran Duran. But Simon Le Bon does a nice job here on Lou Reed’s classic. Plus it’s my best friend’s favorite song so it gets included.
6. “2000 Miles” by Coldplay [via The Pretenders] / Not much to say about this. Still think no one sings this better than Chrissie Hynde. And if you happened to see the Hyde Park Calling concerts last year [on VH1) you saw that Chrissie’s still got it. But Coldplay fans might like this version around the holidays. That’s when I dust it off.
7. “Like a Hurricane” by Southside Johnny and Little Steven [via Neil Young] / I’ve seen 2 Neil Young shows in the past 7 years solely to hear this song and both weren’t worth the wait. Go instead to see Southside Johnny outside somewhere and yell this out as a request. You’ll have a far better time whether he plays it or not.
8. “Born to Run” by Roger Daltry [via Bruce Springsteen] / This falls into the category of songs that shouldn’t be covered, although I didn’t hate Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s version as much as everyone else did. After a slow start Roger does a pretty good job. I hope he dusts this off at the next Who farewell concert, although Pete might object.
9. “Better Things” by Fountains of Wayne [via The Kinks] / Not really unknown. The original was on “Give the People What They Want.” That album was one of the last full-sized albums I ever bought, about a year after it came out and right after I saw The Kinks play at JFK Stadium in Philly with Joan Jett, Foreigner, Loverboy and Huey Lewis. The ticket cost $15.75…I still have the stub [see self-portrait). This cover comes from a tribute album to The Kinks…a band that truly deserved a tribute album. I bet Ray Davies likes this Fountains of Wayne effort far better than he liked “Stacy’s Mom.”
10. “Higher and Higher” by Bruce Springsteen [via Jackie Wilson] / This is from the only night Bruce ever played the entire River album…at Madison Square Garden last November. You probably heard another version at the end the HBO version of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame concert. If Bruce can close his show with this, I can close my setlist with it. Have a great summer!
TGU Covers: Terry Barthel
1. “The World’s Greatest” by Bonnie “Prince” Billy [via R. Kelly] / I heard the BPB version first. Then I listened to the R. Kelly original and I liked that too. So, it’s included here.
2. “Don’t Let Our Youth Go to Waste” by Galaxie 500 [via Modern Lovers] / Is it possible to make a Jonathan Richman song better? The Modern Lovers do this song a-cappella in all the versions that I’ve heard. Here, Dean Wareham turns a 1:41 song into 6-minutes-plus, with the Velvet Underground treatment.
3. “Homecoming” by Joe Henry [via Tom T. Hall] / Joe Henry did this on a tribute record to country songwriter Tom T. Hall. It’s such a great story-song, but I wish the lyrics had been fine-tuned a bit. I feel like some of the lines are poorly written. It works in spite of that because it’s such a good story, overall. Anyway, this version is completely different than the original and I love the whole, sad sound.
4. “This Little Girl of Mine” by The Every Brothers [via Ray Charles] / Ray Charles’ version is pretty much perfect and so is this one. The Everly Brothers harmonize well.
5. “Give Me All Your Lovin’” by The Long Winters [via ZZ Top] / This one could be schticky. But I don’t think it is.
6. “T For Texas” by Waylon Jennings [via Jimmie Rodgers] / At the end, you can hear Waylon say, “Come hear me yodel” as a little tribute to Jimmie Rodgers.
7. “You Will Miss Me When I Burn” by Mark Lanegan and Soulsavers [via The Palace Brothers] / No comment.
8. “Kim The Waitress” by Material Issue [via The Green Pajamas] / I think this is one of the all-time great songs about what I think of as teenage obsession. The Green Pajamas are a pop band from Seattle and they had a minor hit with this in the mid-80’s. Material Issue changed one word in the lyrics and that made it a completely different song: “No one can save us BUT Kim the Waitress” was changed to “No one can save us FROM Kim the Waitress.”
9. For Shame of Doing Wrong” by Syd Straw and Evan Dando [via Richard Thompson] / This is from a Richard Thompson tribute album.
10. “Dreaming With Tears in My Eyes” by Bono [via Jimmie Rodgers] / Two Jimmie Rodgers covers on this playlist.
TGU Covers: Steve Henry
1. “The Killing Moon” by Pavement [via Echo and the Bunnymen] / I can’t think of any cooler way to start this playlist.
2. “Outdoor Miner” by Luna [via Wire] / Luna is one of my favorite bands. Their original material was world-class, but they were also expert interpreters of other bands’ compositions. This is Luna doing a rippin’ cover of a late-seventies song by the band Wire.
3. “#9 Dream” by R.E.M. [via John Lennon] / R.E.M. brings its “Man On the Moon” vibe to this, one of my favorite John Lennon solo tunes.
4. “Head On” by The Pixies [via The Jesus and Mary Chain] / The J&MC wrote and released this song in 1989. In 1991, Pixies released this blistering cover. Too often nowadays, bands will only cover a song that’s been long-forgotten and has faded into relative obscurity for one stylistic reason or another. In this case, it was the exact opposite. I love when bands have the self-confidence to pay tribute to their contemporaries.
5. “This Magic Moment” by Lou Reed [via Ben E. King] / This song has been around for awhile. It was first recorded in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters. It went to number 16 on the Billboard charts. It was later recorded by Jay and the Americans in 1969, and it reached number 6. Still, I never quite “got” this song until I heard Lou Reed’s interpretation. Now it all makes perfect sense.
6. “Polar Opposites” by Iron Horse [via Modest Mouse] / This is one of my favorite early Modest Mouse tunes. And this is a bluegrass interpretation from an album called “Pickin’ On Modest Mouse” by a band called Iron Horse. Iron Horse has recorded bluegrass tributes to bands ranging from Van Halen to The Shins. I’m glad they chose to cover a full album’s worth of Modest Mouse tunes. Modest Mouse has its signature sound often marked by thrashy guitars and unorthodox vocal deliveries, but a lot of people overlook the fact that there is some excellent songwriting at the core. As a result, Modest Mouse songcraft lends itself very compatibly to bluegrass interpretations.
7. “Duty Free” by Cracker [via by The Ike Reilly Assassination] / David Lowery of Cracker (and Camper van Beethoven) is one of my songwriting heroes. I got to make a record with him in Richmond, VA a few years back, and it was a definitely a thrill. Here, David Lowery and Cracker re-interpret a song originally done by The Ike Reilly Assassination. This appeared on a 2003 Cracker album called “Countrysides”, an all-covers LP that also included covers of songs by the likes of Merle Haggard and Bruce Springsteen.
8. “Mix Tapes for Girls” by Behoovers [via unknown] / I don’t know who wrote this song originally. I think it was just some guy in his bedroom. I’m not even sure the song was ever tracked by a proper band until New York City’s own Behoovers gave life to it. The Behoovers recorded this version and for their 2007 LP. Two of my Wormburner bandmates play guitar and MOOG on this track. I love everything about it.
9. “Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory” by …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead [via Guided by Voices] / A Guided by Voices cut from their lo-fi masterpiece Bee Thousand. In his memoirs, Robert Pollard talks about how this song came to him on a Saturday afternoon when he was tripping on acid. For some reason, you don’t hear a lot of bands covering GBV songs. This is a not-so-lo-fi interpretation by …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.
10. “Ceremony” by Galaxie 500 [via New Order] / With lyrics by Ian Curtis, apparently this was originally to be a Joy Division song. After Ian Curtis killed himself, Joy Division re-formed itself as New Order and this was their first single. I’ve never tired of Galaxie 500’s version. Dean Wareham is an alchemist as far as I’m concerned. Every song he touches is made great.
TGU Covers: Ricki Goldhamer
1. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Concrete Blonde [via Tommy James and the Shondells] / This song hit the airwaves likely in the early 70s. I can still hear it playing on the radio driving in our station wagon from the burbs to my grandmother’s apt in Flatbush for some family celebration. Nostalgia at its best.
2. “When Doves Cry” by The Be Good Tanyas [via Prince] / I love Prince’s original version, but the quirkiness of this one lets it stand on it’s own easily.
3. “The Killing Moon” by Nouvelle Vague [via Echo and the Bunnymen] / Their spin on Echo & the Bunneymen’s song is done with strings and animal sounds and an eerie child-like voice. Listen to the lyrics – Wednesday Adams should front the band. Heaven.
4. “Ruby Tuesday” by Franco Battiato [via The Rolling Stones] / I heard this version of the Stones hit watching Children of Men , a depressing depiction of the world after a nuclear holocaust and man’s inability to procreate (heavy shit). But I just love the piano, the flute, the violins, other instruments I can’t identify and the almost operatic choir singing behind Franco’s accented pronunciation, all of it.
5. “Romeo And Juliet” by Indigo Girls [via Dire Straits] / No matter who is the lead singer of the band, the Indigo Girls acoustic harmony is rich layered yet stark and delicious. love the irony that the girls sing about star-crossed lovers, and I’m sure they’d only have eyes for Juliet. I wonder what the Capulets and Montegues would have to say about that.
6. “Don’t Tell Me (Stop)” by Joe Henry [via Madonna] / Covered originally by Madonna (yes that Madonna) but I am drawn to Joe’s sultry cabaret lounge singer version. And come on – it’s about gut wrenching love. Sigh.
7. “Sea of Love” by Cat Power [via Phil Phillips] / Her voice has such a haunting yet sweet quality – perfect for a song about falling in love. Those deep gravely yet velvety soft vocals do it justice.
8. “Do Ya” by Neil Nathan [via Jeff Lynne and ELO] / I worked with Neil on one of his music videos and I couldn’t be happier for him that this gentle sweet pure voice gets heard on one of the Californication soundtracks. Good for you Neil.
9. “Mad World” by Adam Lambert [via Tears for Fears] / I voted for him. He was robbed. You should also listen to his interpretation of Johnny Cash/June Carter’s ‘Ring of Fire’ too. Genius. Okay I have a bit of a crush. Add another gay husband to my world please.
10. “Sea of Heartbreak” by Roseanne Cash featuring my husband, Bruce Springsteen [via Don Gibson] / How brave and poignant it must be to cover one of your father’s songs, and do it righteously with just the right partner.
TGU Covers: Kopin Tan
1. “Forever Young” by Youth Group [via Alphaville] / The Sydney foursome tones down the original’s grandiose synth reverb to bring out the rock song within.
2. “The Boys of Summer” by The Ataris [via Don Henley] / Hardly unheard but still great fun, the Ataris subscribe to the notion that anything can be improved by speeding up the tempo and blasting the volume…
3. “The River” by Barb Jungr [via Bruce Springsteen] / …while British cabaret singer Barb Jungr subscribes to the notion that anything can be improved by slowing the tempo and hushing the volume.
4. “I Only Want To Be With You” by Shelby Lynne [via Dusty Springfield] / So bland, so safe, yet kinda nice in this age of the melisma.
5. “Baby I’m Yours” by The Arctic Monkeys [via Barbara Lewis] / The Monkeys summon their sunnier side and go all beach-boyish.
6. “Go West” by The Pet Shop Boys [via The Village People] / PSB swaps the 70s’ pervasive earnestness with a dollop of drollery, and makes this calisthenicky number even wigglier [if that’s possible].
7. “I Will Survive” by Cake [via Gloria Gaynor] / By stripping out the disco from this disco anthem, Cake creates a dudelier version for straight blokes to sing along to.
8. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Sixpence None the Richer [via Crowded House] / A faithful cover for the O.C. generation.
9.“If You Go Away” by Cyndi Lauper [via Jacques Brel] / O Cyndi, what are you doing on Celebrity Apprentice?
10. “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” by Rufus Wainwright [via Leonard Cohen] / What Leonard Cohen does with understatement Rufus tries with overstatement, applying the Wainwright wail to a song about an assignation with Janis Joplin.
TGU Covers: Leslie Norton
1. “Hallelujah Chorus” by The Roches, [via G>F. Handel] / The noble G.F. Handel by way of the Roche Sisters, 1981. Stand up for this a capella version if you like. It’s Easter.
2. “American Pie” Mott the Hoople [via Don McLean] / From The Ballad of Mott the Hoople. A lovely and short excerpt of the Don McLean classic.
3. “I’m Free” by Soup Dragons[via The Rolling Stones] / Glasgow band’s exhilarating interpretation of the Stones.
4. “Rock & Roll” by Heart [via Led Zeppelin] / The Wilsons et al rock out with a creditable Led Zeppelin cover. I listened nonstop to this band in high school.
5. “Right Now” by The Pussycat Dolls, [via Mel Torme] / Tongue-in-cheek version of a song popularized by Mel Torme.
6. “All I Do” by Four Tops [via Stevie Wonder] / This rendition of the Stevie Wonder song is overproduced because hello—it’s the Four Tops. I don’t care, I still like it.
7. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by London Bus Stop [via Backman Turner Overdrive] / The 1999 remake is better than the BTO original. And it includes Randy Bachman!
8. “Sleepless Nights” by Elvis Costello [via Gram Parson] / Elvis channels Gram Parsons.
9. “Love Theme from Spartacus” by Bill Evans / Bill Evans, two pianos, possibly three. What’s not to like? Best listened to in a car on a rainy Sunday night.
10. “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” by Blossom Dearie [Traditional] / A wistful standard from the late torch singer.
TGU Covers: Peter Fink
1. “The Return Of Jackie And Judy” by Tom Waits [via Ramones] / Tom Waits covers the Ramones sequel to their own classic. This one gets better for me with each “Oh Yeah.”
2. “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” by Camper Van Beethoven [via Kinks] / Once I get going then I go to town. Amen.
3. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” by The Cardigans [via Black Sabbath] / Uh, okay. The execution of your mind never sounded so sugary sweet. Strangely danceable at parts.
4. “Sunshine Superman” by Husker Du [via Donovan] / The first scoop of a Sunshine Superman double dip. Husker Du deliver a full-steam-ahead version.
5. “Eight Miles High” by Leo Kottke [via Byrds] / I’m always a sucker for finger picking.
6. “Black Hole Sun” by Moog Cookbook [via Soundgarden] / This one may be heavier on the “unheard” than on the “great”, but it cracks me up nevertheless. Recorded entirely with vintage analog synths, it sounds like the weirdest ice rink free skate session of all time.
7. “Sunshine Superman” by Mel Torme [via Donovan] / Mel could’ve tripped out easy, but he’s changed his ways. This makes me feel like I’m waiting to make a skype call in the spaceport lounge in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
8. “A Party Of Special Things To Do” by White Stripes [via Captain Beefheart] / This one seems like a natural to me. Watch out for the Mirror Man and Elixir Sue.
9. “I Can’t Forget” by The Pixies [via Leonard Cohen] / The Pixies appear to have forgotten that this is not originally their song.
10. “Redemption Song” by Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer [via Bob Marley] / Johnny and Joe cover Bob. I imagine everyone in the studio must have been levitating, at least a little bit.
TGU Covers: Jim Krimsky
1. “A Quick One While He’s Away” by The Beatles [via The Who] A rarity, recorded in January 1969 during the Get Back sessions. Lennon and McCartney play this song after Harrison storms out of the room quitting the band (temporally of course).
2. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” by Bruce Springsteen [via Creedence Clearwater Revival] / John Fogerty is one of Springsteen’s idols; he covers the Credence song here.
3. “Gimme Shelter” by The Dead [via The Rolling Stones] / From the fall tour of 2009, an unusual choice for the band. They played many classic rock songs for the first time on this past tour.
4. “Little Queenie” by Eric Clapton [via Chuck Berry] Clapton has many blues and early rock covers. Here is a good example from a classic live show from the 70’s.
5. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“ by Jimi Hendrix [via The Beatles] / Hendrix supposedly played this Beatles’ album all night before this show, which had just come out, and played live it the next day for the first time. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in the audience at this 1967 show at The Saville Theatre in London.<
6. “Maybe Baby” by John Lennon [via Buddy Holly and The Crickets] / Lennon recorded the acoustic version of the Buddy Holly Classic for Yoko Ono’s art film Clock.
7. “Let’s Have a Party” by Led Zeppelin [via Jessie Mae Robinson] / Led Zeppelin covers this song, at a Hamburg show in ‘73, that is probably best known from Elvis’s cover in the film Loving You.
8. “I Can’t Quit You Baby” by Otis Rush [via Willie Dixon] / A song I knew well from Led Zeppelin’s version. Here Rush shows why he is a blues master.
9. “All Along The Watchtower” by Pearl Jam [via Bob Dylan] / How many bands have covered this song? Pearl Jam still makes it sound fresh and rocks it out at this recent concert.
10. “Smokestack Lighting” by The Who [via Howling Wolf] / The Who, who briefly changed their name to The High Numbers as they were billed here, plays an instrumental version of the Howling Wolf classic.
TGU Covers: Molly McLoughlin
1. “All the Pretty Little Horses” by Calexico [Traditional] / I feel like I’m somewhere else when I hear this song, and like maybe Quentin Tarantino is with me.
2. “Femme Fatale” by Elvis Costello [via Velvet Underground] / Folksy!
3. “For What It’s Worth” by The Staples Singers [via Buffalo Springfield] / There aren’t any effects on this song, just drums, bass and hand claps.
4. “Top of the World” by Shonen Knife [via The Carpenters] / This song just makes me feel like I’m 15. And again, hand claps.
5. “To Live is To Fly” by Cowboy Junkies [via Townes Van Zandt] / “Everything is not enough, nothing is too much to bear, where you’ve been is good and gone, all ya keep’s the gettin there.”
6. “Sunshine” by Low [Traditional] / This is from Low’s first album, I Could Live in Hope. It’s a glacially stark version that still feels happy in some very strange way.
7.” Lucky” by Warren Haynes [via Radiohead] / If you listen closely, you just might hear Brian and I scream. We were at this recording, one sunny Sunday Tennessean afternoon.
8. “Pink Moon” by Sebadoh [via Nick Drake] / Sebadoh does a lot of covers, this one latched into my brain for weeks.
9. “Sleep All Summer” by St. Vincent and the National [via Crooked Fingers] / With the exception of some horns, not so different from original, but I like how their voices sound together.
10. “Moon River” by Morrissey [via Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini] / You probably have to really love Morrissey to appreciate this one, but those that do can appreciate that there can’t be a song/lyric Morrissey was more born to sing than “Moon River, wider than a mile, I’ll be crossing you in style some day.”
TGU Covers: Rory Barthel
1. “A Little Lost” by Jens Lekman [via Arthur Russell] / Arthur Russell looped his cello; Jens Lekman plays the kalimba.
2. “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” by Beck [via James Warren] / This song runs during the opening credits of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
3. “The Moorlough Shore” by Amps for Christ [Traditional] / A sad man in Ireland attempts to persuade a woman that her sailor-boyfriend is probably dead, and therefore she should marry the sad man. She refuses him and, being sad herself, wanders the Moorlough shore for the rest of her life, thinking about the sailor. I believe the guy that is Amps for Christ takes himself seriously. Take this for your answer now and trouble me no more.
4. “U-Mass” by Mollycuddle [via The Pixies] / A nice take on my favorite song about college. Mollycuddle is not a very good band.
5. “The Story of Isaac” by Mirah [via Leonard Cohen] / Leonard Cohen wrote this during the Vietnam war; Mirah updated the music a few centuries and played it during the early part of the second Iraq war.
6. “Frank Mills” by the Lemonheads [via James Rado and Galt MacDermot] / This song was in the musical Hair. The original is dreamy and much better. This one reminds me of New York in the 1990s.
7. “Rock N’ Roll Santa” by Yo La Tengo [via Jan Terri] / Elves were dancing about. The video is a must see.
8. “Her Mantle So Green” by Margaret Barry [Traditional] / In most versions of this song, a man survives the Napoleanic wars and returns to test his woman by pretending to be someone else (the song does not explain why she does not recognize him) and claiming that her true love has died. When she remains faithful, he reveals himself. In Margaret Barry’s version, the narrator really is someone else, and the man really died. The comrade delivers the dead man’s love token and may or may not marry his woman.
9. “Spokane Motel Blues” by Joel R.L. Phelps [via by Tom T. Hall] / The smoke from the burning remains of Hall’s original country song.
10. “Let it be Me” by David Pajo [via Gilbert Becaud, Mann Curtis, and Pierre Delanoe] /The Everly Brothers popularized this song in the 60s. There’s a soft touch in the layered production here.
TGU Covers: Brian McLoughlin
1. “Across the Universe” by Fiona Apple (via The Beatles) / This is from the Pleasantville soundtrack. She does a great job with this song and manages to stay faithful to the feel of the original.
2. “Oh My Sweet Carolina” by Portastatic [via Ryan Adams] / Mac McCaughan (Superchunk/Portastatic/MERGE Records owner) has lots of great covers in his collection. This is a great version of the Adams classic.
3. “Let’s Do It” by Joan Jett & Paul Westerberg [via Cole Porter] / Fun rock n roll cover of a Cole Porter show tune. Just a fun song. This is from the Tank Girl soundtrack. How many of you actually saw this movie? It’s about a girl and her pet tank.
4. “Dancing in the Moonlight” by Smashing Pumpkins [via Thin Lizzie] / Nice acoustic cover of a great Thin Lizzy tune. Too bad Billy Corgan lost his mind.
5. “Under the Milky Way” by Nicole Atkins [via The Church] / This is from the Nicole Atkins album of cover tunes. Check it out. She is great. That album is called “Nicole Atkins Digs Other People’s Music”
6. “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” by Cracker [via Merle Haggard] / Cracker is one of those bands that got better with age. This Haggard cover is from their album of country covers called “Countrysides.”
7. “The Desperate Kingdom of Love” by Giant Sand [via PJ Harvey]/ I think I like this version better then Polly’s. Giant Sand is a very under rated act. This is from their most recent album which is excellent.
8. “Freddie’s Dead” by Fishbone [via Curtis Mayfield] / Fishbone pulls out a “Superfly” version of this Mayfield classic. Drum fill please. Thank you very much. I’ll be here all night.
9. “Everyday is Like Sunday” by 10,000 Maniacs [via Morrissey] Merchant & co. doing Moz.
10. “Loving Cup” by Phish [via The Rolling Stones] / This rockin’ version of the classic Exile Stones tune is from the 4/3/98 Phish show at the Nassau Coliseum that I was at. They recently covered Exile for Halloween and had Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings as their backing band. I need that version.