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Johnny Bacardi Tag

It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.  But what exactly are the ingredients for a great cover?

There’s no secret recipe.  Some of the songs below are great because they completely deconstruct the original, stripping it down to its most basic components of chords and lyrics, and build it back up again in a completely different style.  For others, the genius of the original song was always present but the presentation was lacking, and when the talents of a different performer are added, the song gains a gravity that it didn’t have in its original form.  And some of them, whether by generational ignorance or through the general obscurity of the original artist, simply didn’t receive the exposure they needed for their greatness to be recognized until they were delivered by a more familiar voice.  But the finest of these, the ones we love the best, are simply great songs by great artists where the addition of a new twist and a new voice creates something that is greater than the sum of its parts.  You can hear and recognize the glory of the original version in every note of the cover, but the listening experience is taken to another level through the talents of the covering artist.

The process for generating our list was fairly simple.  We created a huge list (800+ songs) of nominees, and each of the authors that participated selected their own top 100.  Those top 100 lists were weighted on a curve and used to generate the list that you see below.  Next week, we’ll publish a separate “honorable mention” post featuring some of the songs that didn’t earn enough votes to make the list, but were important enough to individual authors that we wanted to make sure they received some attention as well.  If you’ve got a Spotify account, you can listen to most of the originals here, and the cover versions here.  If you don’t have an account yet, you can request an invitation (they issue them pretty promptly now).  Enjoy! — Zack Dennis

In which I continue to take a look at select bound-and-published sequential narratives of recent vintage, some of which may still be on sale in a comics shop, book store or online merchant near you, if you’re lucky…or not, as the case may be.

FOOTNOTES IN GAZA
Written/Illustrated by Joe Sacco
Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company, $29.95

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that this is my first exposure to Sacco’s long-form work; while I’ve certainly been made aware of it in a multitude of places, the subject matter hasn’t intrigued me enough to make me want to sample more than the occasional piece I’d see from him in the odd anthology or website here and there. That said, I have been seeing his latest, Footnotes in Gaza, praised far and wide throughout the internet, in both long-form reviews and in a plethora of 2009 best-of lists- so when the opportunity to get a review copy of this work presented itself, I figured I’d better get with the program. I am not the most political creature in the world; I remain woefully ignorant, except for just the barest minimum of facts, of the whys and wherefores of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that informs this book. It just seems, in my unenlightened outlook, like a bloody, no-hope, senseless conflict that will never end. Sacco seeks to go back to the perceived roots of the conflict, by shedding light on two incidents that occurred as far back as 1956, and tying them in with the strife the region knows today.

In which I continue to take a look at select bound-and-published sequential narratives of recent vintage, some of which may still be on sale in a comics shop, book store or online merchant near you, if you’re lucky…or not, as the case may be.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #22
Script: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca and various
Marvel, $2.99

Fraction is an insanely talented and imaginative writer who, when left to his own devices via works for smaller companies such as Casanova, can write some of the most convoluted and hard-to-parse scripts that I’ve encountered, anyway. Too smart for the room and eager to prove it, and if clarity suffers, well, that’s your problem, buddy! But playing in Marvel’s sandbox, he’s adaptable enough to be able to play it straight and keep himself honest, and this reining-in makes his run on this particular Iron Man title, launched in the wake of and based on the hugely successful film you may have seen,  successful as not only action-oriented entertainment, but character-driven drama as well. This particular issue is the penultimate chapter of the “Stark: Disassembled” arc, which follows up on the “World’s Most Wanted” storyline, in which Tony Stark was forced to delete critical information from his brain (it’s a complicated procedure, just work with me here) in order to keep it out of the hands of the sinister government agency that wants it for no good reasons. Of course, I’m simplifying this- it’s really all a part of the whole company-wide “Dark Reign” thing, which itself was a continuation of “Civil War”…which, well, you get it, I think. All this information overload can be daunting, but believe me, it’s not really a problem with this particular series; plenty of explanation is given at various junctures. Anyway, the corporeal Stark is now in a brain-dead catatonic state, and Doctor Strange is tasked with entering his mind and bringing him out again. In the meantime, a super-powered mercenary killer is closing in.

I’m not quite as enthusiastic about the art; there’s a certain stiffness to Larocca’s sometimes underdrawn figures that calls attention to itself more often as not. Still, he does keep the action moving along  at a decent enough clip, with good layouts and staging, so he gets a pass. Fraction’s run on Iron Man is well worth your time; you probably won’t want to start with this particular single issue, though. The first two arcs are collected, and I’m sure this one will be soon as well. Recommended, especially if you liked the Downey film.