Another week, another pile of downloads for y’alls…and this one is big, big, big. It’ll still only be up for a week, though, so start clicking now.
This week’s list was inspired by the folks over at audiography, where the theme for the week is COVERS. Being that we here at jefitoblog are sitting on a library of music that currently tips the scales at nearly 400GB, there were a lot of covers to choose from, and it took the better part of a day of INTENSE LISTENING to weed ‘em out. Luckily for you, I’m that type of guy. (Also luckily for you, I spent the day writing my thesis, so I was chained to my desk and desperately needed some audio entertainment.)
So, without further ado, here they are, and here’s why I chose ‘em:
Peter Stanley – No Matter What. Vested interest alert: Peter Stanley and I go way back, and have spent many long days and dark nights in the studio together. He was the multi-instrumental musical genius who helped make my own albums possible. Having said that, this is a great cover of the Badfinger classic, as featured on Pete’s solo album, Smirk.
Jason Falkner – Photograph. Falkner–late of power-pop legends Jellyfish and The Grays–assembled an army of intriguing covers some years back, including this fond look back at the Def Leppard classic and a souped-up version of “Both Sides Now,” that have only been released on an extremely pricey two-disc set. Screw all that. Get this one for free, buzz awhile, and then go check out his second solo album, Can You Still Feel?.
Moe – In A Big Country. Big Country was a solid, hardworking band that went unnoticed in the States for the last fifteen years of its existence. Despite their long discography, they’re still mostly known for this one big hit, which is okay, I guess, ’cause it’s a great fucking song. This version, by jam masters moe., is from their Dither album.
Cliff Eberhardt – Romeo and Juliet. This is sacrilege, I know, but I like Eberhardt’s folkie interpretation better than the Dire Straits classic original. From his Mona Lisa Cafe album, which is pretty great in its own right.
David Mead – Human Nature. I heart David Mead. You should own all of his albums. First, you should download this bitchin’ Michael Jackson cover; then you should read the jefitoblog guide to David Mead as you’re grooving to said cover. Then you should thank me for improving your musical taste and literacy. You’re welcome!
The Band – Free Your Mind. I purposely avoided putting a lot of “joke covers” on the list — you know, Richard Cheese, Dan Band, etc. — ’cause they stop being funny after awhile. But the thing is, I’m not sure The Band was joking when they recorded this redneck version of the En Vogue hit. And it sorta works. From High on the Hog, the best album recorded by The Band after its split with Robbie Robertson.
Matt Nathanson – Starfish and Coffee. A really cool version of the Prince classic, as included on the really cool children’s album For the Kids, Too!. If you haven’t heard any Nathanson before, start with his Beneath These Fireworks album–it’s great from start to finish–and then work back through the indie stuff.
Glen Phillips – Sir Duke (live). I also tried to steer away from audience recordings for this list, but this is one is of fairly decent quality, and since me and my buddy Rahul put together the concert at which it was recorded, I have a special fondness for it. From Glen’s performance at the San Jose Stage Company in July ‘01.
Stanley Jordan – Willow Weep For Me. Jordan is a phenomenal guitarist whose incredible talent has thus far been unfortunately dwarfed by his poor choice in material, inability to hear awful production, and seeming disinterest in releasing an album more than once or twice a decade. His version of this Ann Ronell classic is my favorite. From his Cornucopia album.
Marc Cohn & Jackson Browne – Crazy Love (live). Crystal-clear live bootleg of two of my favorite artists reinterpreting one of my favorite Van Morrison songs. No, make that one of my favorite songs, period. Mmmmmmm.
Big Country – Down on the Corner. If we can have moe. covering Big Country, we should be able to have Big Country covering moe., but instead we have to settle for Big Country doing a solid, mostly faithful version of the Creedence classic. From their Undercover album.
Jellyfish – Think About Your Troubles. I miss Jellyfish. I also miss Harry Nilsson. Which means I can’t keep from blubbering like a little baby when I listen to this song and think about what might have been. Just kidding, but it’s still a pretty great cover of a great song — and the Nilsson tribute album it comes from is pretty great too.
Rob Rule – Melissa. Rob Rule was a short-lived spinoff of Mary’s Danish, a band loved by college students and almost no one else. Thing is, if only college students loved Mary’s Danish, nobody at all loved Rob Rule. Their one album sold for dick, they broke up, and now it’s out of print. But this is a beautiful version of the Allman Brothers classic. Honest.
The Clumsy Lovers – That Was Your Mother. Yes, “That Was Your Mother” might be the single most lightweight song on Paul Simon’s Graceland, but I’ve always loved it. How can you not love a song in which Paul Simon namechecks Clifton Chenier, King of the Bayou — and mis-pronounces his name? Also, the song cooks, as much as any Paul Simon song can. This funky little tribute was recorded by The Clumsy Lovers, one of my favorite Canadian roots-music bands, on their super-fun Under the Covers album.
Dwight Yoakam – Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I had a hard time choosing between this and Yoakam’s version of “I Want You To Want Me,” but I made the right choice. I think. Shit. Well, it’s too late now. From Dwight’s second hits album.
Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham – I’m Your Puppet (live). I guess this isn’t technically a cover, because Dan Penn wrote “I’m Your Puppet,” but it’s best known because of other people’s versions, so this makes the list. I saw Penn and Oldham on this tour, when they opened for Nick Lowe, and it remains one of my favorite concerts to this day. Nothing like hearing a couple of old masters practicing their craft. Penn wrote a veritable ton of soul classics, so make sure you check out the live document of this tour, Moments From This Theatre.
Aimee Mann & Michael Penn – Two Of Us. I normally can’t listen to Aimee Mann without wanting to go to Starbucks and chuck a latte at the first all-black-wearing girl I see. Her husband, Michael Penn, is talented, but mostly too in love with his own cleverness to make truly compelling music. That being said, I love The Beatles, I love Let It Be, I love the original version of this song, and I still love this cover, from the I Am Sam soundtrack.
Bill Janovitz – My Funny Valentine. Janovitz, of Buffalo Tom and Crown Victoria, really should be listening to his hits on the radio all day, not writing television theme music for unfunny comedian Mike O’Malley. But the world is unfair. This creaky reinterpretation of the Hart & Rogers chestnut, which has been covered by at least 1200 other artists, is from his Lonesome Billy solo album. Go visit his website.
Fred Wilhelm – Nothing I Can Do About It Now. I love Fred’s music so much that I made a record label to release his stuff. This cover of the Beth Nielsen Chapman tune, made famous by Willie Nelson, is on Fred’s wonderful amidlife album. Buy it, and not just because I get paid.
Toto – Could You Be Loved. Some things are so unbelievably awful that they’re actually totally awesome. This, sadly, is just unbelievably awful. But you’ve got to hear it. I mean, it’s Toto. Covering Bob Marley. Ha! The universe is a funny place. (This is from an entire album of covers recorded by Toto, but I don’t want you to buy it, so I’m not including a link.)
Robert Palmer – Mama Talk To Your Daughter. Most people remember Palmer as the dapper-dressed, smooth-voiced lounge lizard from “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible,” but he was so, so much more. An inveterate musical explorer, he spent his career restlessly wandering from genre to genre, all over the world. His final album, Drive, was one of his best. Dig this throat-shredding version of an ancient blues classic, then go get yourself a big pile of Palmer albums.
Shawn Colvin – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody). Shawn Colvin became an instant darling of the folk scene when she released her Grammy-winning debut in 1989, but by the time she released her covers album in 1994, her star had fallen. This thing was pounded like a narc at a biker rally. Whatever. It’s got some good songs, and this Talking Heads cover is one of them.
Blind Boys of Alabama – People Get Ready. This is one of my favorite songs, and I probably could have included any one of the versions I have — I even like Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck’s silly cover of it. But this is one of the newest, and there’s nothing wrong with the Blind Boys, so here you go. From their Higher Ground album.
Kurt Neumann – Atlantic City. Neumann is best known as one-half of The BoDeans, a respectable little pop-rock outfit that’s been making decent albums for just about twenty years now. This doesn’t come anywhere near Springsteen’s original, but that’s so incredibly good that the comparison is probably a little unfair. From a late-’90s Springsteen tribute that might still be in print, but I’m too lazy to check.
Mandy Moore – Drop The Pilot. Yeah, yeah, hipsters, I know — “Mandy Moore? She sucks!” Go listen to your shitty fucking White Stripes and Bright Eyes records. Technically everything Mandy Moore does is a cover, but this is from her album of well-known covers, produced and played by an army of power-pop heroes. It looked good on paper, but wound up mostly misguided, essentially because Moore suffers from DebbieGibsonitis, meaning that even though she’s got a pitch-perfect voice, her singing style is aggravatingly earnest. She sounds like she’s playing to the rafters instead of really feeling the songs. This Joan Armtrading cover, though, ain’t bad. Also, Mandy Moore is really hot.
Goo Goo Dolls – Don’t Change (live). Buffalo’s finest (well, best-known, anyway) cover an INXS classic and don’t suck. From an import-only EP.
Gomez – Getting Better. I generally think Gomez can eat my balls, but this Beatles cover is pretty good. Then again, maybe I just think so because it was featured on that one commercial. You know, that one. For HP or Compaq or something.
Georgia Satellites – Don’t Pass Me By. Best. Ringo. Starr. Cover. Ever. I love the Georgia Satellites. If I was on a boat with the Georgia Satellites and my mother, and I could only save one of them, I’m not sure what I would do. (Just kidding, Mom.) This is from their uneven second album, Open All Night; go buy their stellar In The Land of Salvation and Sin.
Self – What A Fool Believes. “What A Fool Believes” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I could probably listen to it all day if I wanted to. I could also sing it all day without ever coming near the unearthly high notes Michael McDonald reaches on the chorus, but that’s a subject for another, much sadder post. This cover is from Gizmodgery, an album recorded entirely on toy instruments. It actually isn’t as cool as it sounds, but this is one hell of a great cover.
Kevin Gilbert – Kashmir. Let me be clear: I am not part of the Cult of Kevin Gilbert. Some people are really into him, to a scarily obsessive degree, whereas I think he recorded a few pretty good songs. He also died tragically young, after being chewed up and spit out by the hated Sheryl Crow, who cut her starfucking teeth on Gilbert and his phenomenally talented friends. This lovingly crafted Zeppelin cover is from an EP that was briefly packaged with his first solo album, Thud.
Gary Hoey – Desire. I have very little use for much of Hoey’s original material, but he can shred the hell out of a cover. Listening to this right royal rave-up of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” makes me very happy. From Hoey’s Bug Alley album.
Marshall Crenshaw – Let Her Dance. This Bobby Fuller cover is from Good Evening, which is pretty much universally recognized as Crenshaw’s worst album, but even Crenshaw at his worst is probably better than whatever you’re listening to. Go get the best-of released by Rhino a few years back, and start making up for lost time.
Calexico – Love Will Tear Us Apart. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never liked Joy Division — I can appreciate a good sob as much as the next person, but their music is bleaker than stone soup on a rainy day. This cover, however (which, incidentally, was recorded by the band that backed up Bill Janovitz on “My Funny Valentine”), does a pretty good job of revealing Ian Curtis as the melodic soul he truly was. From a Starbucks compilation, so no link, just walk across the fucking street to your nearest Starbucks. While you’re there, chuck a latte at a woman wearing all black and tell her I sent you.
The Replacements – Cruella DeVille. If I remember correctly, this was originally released on an album of lullabies in the early ’90s — even when contributing to a children’s album, the ‘Mats couldn’t resist being dicks. But it swings. It’s fun. And you can get it on the Replacements compilation issued by Reprise, All For Nothing/Nothing For All.
Ben Folds – In Between Days. Ben does The Cure. From one of the EPs he put out in ‘03 and ‘04, I can’t remember which.
Mysteries of Life – That’s How Strong My Love Is. I’m pretty sure this band broke up a long time ago, but I honestly don’t know much about them, or even why I have this album. What I do know is that they manage to cover this Roosevelt Jamison classic, originally popularized by none other than Otis “You Need To Own All His Albums” Redding, without embarrassing themselves. Really, it’s good. Some days, I even like it better than the original.
Gregg Allman – Rain (demo). From sessions for an unreleased Gregg Allman album that was supposed to come out in the ’80s (I think). I’m just now realizing that there is an inordinate number of Beatles covers on this list, but it’s too late to fix that now, so stop your bitching. This was finally released on a solo Allman anthology in the late ’90s; unfortunately, it came out on Capricorn, and if you know anything about the history between the Allmans and Capricorn’s owner, Phil Walden, then you know it took about ten minutes for Gregg to sue the compilation off the streets and out of existence. Fortunately — since Gregg Allman is one of my favorite singers ever — I bought it during those ten minutes, so here you go.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Where Do Broken Hearts Go. The Gimme Gimme shtick gets old pretty quickly, in my opinion, but sometimes I can’t resist loving their take on a song. Punk Whitney Houston, for instance, is just too right to be wrong. From their Take A Break album.
Angry Salad – 99 Red Balloons. If you grew up when I did, you heard Nena’s original version of this song on the radio between 16 and 140 times a day during 1983 and 1984, and you probably still hate it so much that you won’t get that much of a kick out of this cover. But it’s still pretty good, and I like Angry Salad, so it makes the list. The album it’s from also includes one of the greatest unheard singles of the ’90s, “The Milkshake Song.”
Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn. It was a toss-up between this and Art of Noise’s cover of the Dragnet theme, but then I remembered that their “Dragnet” was featured in the terrible 1987 Dragnet movie, starring Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd, and I threw up all over my keyboard. Besides, this features DUANE MOTHERFUCKING EDDY.
Erasure – Solsbury Hill. Like the rest of you, I’m getting awfully tired of hearing Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” featured in movie trailers. But I probably love that song too much to ever stop, no matter what, and Erasure acquits themselves admirably here. From their covers album, Other People’s Songs.
Vanessa Carlton – Where The Streets Have No Name. Say what you will about Vanessa Carlton — her albums are pretentious; her big hit was way overplayed; she needs to be pretty — but she can knock out a solid pop tune once in awhile. Also, it takes chutzpah to cover “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I’m pretty sure that “chutzpah” is Yiddish for “balls,” which, considering her dismaying lack of boobage, Vanessa Carlton might actually have a pair of. But I digress. This is a good cover of a great song. It was supposed to be on her latest album, but I hear someone at the label pussed out at the last minute, so it’s a bonus track on the import.
Lisa Loeb – Keep On Loving You (live). Kevin Cronin, singer for REO Speedwagon, sounds and looks enough like a woman that Lisa Loeb’s cheerful soprano is actually a nice fit for this faithful cover. Live bootleg, though I’m pretty sure it’s a radio or soundboard recording.
Aztec Camera – Jump. This cover of the Van Halen classic is so lethargic that I can’t tell whether Roddy Frame was being serious or, as the British say, “taking the piss.” Either way, it’s worth a listen. So is most of the Aztec Camera catalog, if you prefer your pop smooth and soft, like a woman’s breast. Mmmmm…a woman’s breast. A previously unreleased track included on The Best of Aztec Camera.
Bruce Hornsby – Girl from the North Country (live). One of my favorite covers ever. Hornsby filters one of Dylan’s best through his incomparable piano, and the results are exquisite. This is featured on one of the Mountain Stage compilations, but I can’t remember which one, and I’ve already spent way too long digging up links for this entry. Go find it yourself. Jerk.
Art Garfunkel – Why Worry. I went back and forth over whether to include this one. The Dire Straits original is really good, and Garfunkel — even at his best — is too wimpy to really take seriously. But you know what? This isn’t bad, so it stays. It’s from the Garfunkel quasi-compilation Up ‘Til Now.
Sarah McLachlan – The Rainbow Connection. The dulcet tones of Sarah McLachlan — or, as my friend Pete often refers to her, “Sarah McLabia” — were made for this song. I know people who can’t hear “The Rainbow Connection” without crying. I am not one of those people; I just like it a lot. And I like this cover, too. From the first installment of For the Kids!.
Paul Carrack – Into The Mystic. As a general rule, I don’t think people should cover “Into the Mystic,” because Van Morrison’s version is 100% perfect, and nobody else can do anything but fuck it up. (See: Wallflowers, The; American Wedding soundtrack.) But Carrack is a talented musician, a superior vocalist, and enough of a wily veteran to take the song down off the shelf and play with it for awhile without breaking it. From his covers album, Still Groovin’.
Joe Henry – When You Wish Upon a Star. I like Joe Henry, and I wish more people knew who he was. His career has seen him wander from screwed-up country to beautiful, twisted pop, and I highly recommend any of his albums to people desperately in search of intelligent music. This sorta-creepy version of the Disney classic is featured on a children’s album called Mary Had A Little Amp, which also includes Maroon 5’s shitty version of “Pure Imagination.” The fact that most people will buy Amp for the Maroon 5 song is just one of the many reasons why I hate the world.
Larry Adler – Rhapsody In Blue. Larry Adler, may he rest in peace, was one of the greatest harmonica players the world has ever known, and his exile from this country during the McCarthy era will always be a deep brown stain on American history. Mercury Records put together a loving tribute to Adler about ten years ago, an album of Gershwin classics performed by a bunch of well-known artists accompanied by Adler’s stellar harmonica playing. This moving rendition of “Rhapsody In Blue” — the great American symphony, in my opinion — is the best of the bunch. No fancy stars, just Larry and the orchestra. Wonderful. From The Glory of Gershwin.
Let me know what you think! And if you’re going to buy any of these albums, please consider using my links, as they include my Amazon Associates information, meaning that if enough people buy through them, I’ll supposedly get paid.
Until next week…enjoy!