Saturday, July 21, 2007

Duck and Cover (Songs) Part 1

I've been neglecting you all the last few days, but here is my mea culpa: My covers post I've been planning for some time which will span two days.

There's an art to creating a great cover version of a song. At the same time, there are different ways of accomplishing the same task. Some choose to stay pretty true to the original (See Mindy Smith's version of Jolene featuring Dolly Parton singing backup - not included below). There are two ways of view this approach; the artist is simply paying homage to the song and/or original artist, or the artist is afraid/unable to take a leap of faith with their own vision and instead choses a tepid remake. Then there is the ironic cover. Despite the rare exception, these rarely stand the test of time and often become nothing more than novelties. Finally there are those who rework/reshape the song to lend their own interpretation while maintaining the proper respect one should give when tampering when someone else's work. Sometimes it works and other times it is a disaster, and still there are those moments when an artist is able to take over the song and claim it for themselves. The best examples of this are Johnny Cash's Hurt and Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. In each case, these artists have recorded the seminal versions of their respective songs.

Here is the first installment of some of my favorite covers. Got a better versions or a suggestion? Leave a comment below.
Golden Smog - Love and Mercy (a beautiful rendition of a Brian Wilson classic)
Mudhoney - Revolution (Recorded for a split single with Spacemen 3)
Spacemen 3 - When Tomorrow Hits (The other side of afore mentioned split single)
Son House - John the Revelator (Blues master performing an old traditional)
The V-Roys - IOU ( I could dedicate an entire post to The 'Mats & I probably will one day)
Rufus Wainwright - Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (Only Leonard Cohen could make the line " me head..." poetic)
Ani Difranco - Hurricane (A complete re-working of Bob Dylan's classic ode to Rubin Carter)
R.E.M. - Witchita Lineman (Glen Campbell or not, this is a great song)
Nick Cave - Disco 2000 (A slower moodier version of the Pulp hit)
Anthrax - London (Anthrax covers The Smiths - enough said)
Pearl Jam - Masters of War (Dylan's work is timeless and especially relevant given the current Chickenhawk Administration)
Uncle Tupelo - I Wanna Be Your Dog (An awesome take on the unforgettable Stooges' classic)
Supersuckers - Dead Homiez (Ironic yes, and it certainly diminishes the power behind the Ice Cube original, but I included it because they bring the RAWK)
John Mayer - Kid A (While I'm not a Mayer fan, he makes this great Radiohead track intelligible and singable so I've got to give him his propers)
Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel (Ok I'm cheating a little hear. Per Wikipedia: The writing credits for this song are shared by Dylan, who wrote the chorus during the recording of the soundtrack Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and OCMS's Ketch Secor who finished the music and wrote the verses. Regardless, it is one killer song. This is a must download)
Tunng - Pioneers (This Bloc Party cover has a darker and more ethereal feel than the original. Personally I prefer this version)