Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Quality Cover Songs

I have compiled some links to other blogs’ I-drink-your-milkshake-good mp3 downloads of covers. Enjoy.

Chris Cornell masterminds a gritty, soulful, mind-blowing cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.

Sufjan Stevens croons a cover of R.E.M.’s This One Goes Out to the One I Love.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience rocks Cream’s already-rockin’ Sunshine of Your Love.

Andrew Bird sweetly covers Bob Dylan’s Oh, Sister.

Tangoterje remixes Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes into Diamonds Dub.

And there’s a CD of covers to be bought: Stax Does the Beatles, featuring Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and lots more.

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Michael Jackson

Last week the Michael Jackson empire rolled out Thriller 25, a remastered anniversary edition of the best selling album EVER. It includes a bonus track recorded with in the original studio sessions but previously unreleased, titled For All Time, plus some songs reworked by artists inlcuding will.i.am, Fergie, Beyonce, Wyclef Jean, Akon, and Pharrell Williams. You can buy it here, if you want to assure yourself the cover art of your choosing, or here where you cans stream clips of the new songs to judge them for yourself.

The video here pimping Thriller 25 features some of the artists and Quincy Jones; it’s fun to watch.

The reviews are mixed, but the general consensus is that the new songs look pretty bad next to the nine tracks that the world knows so well. Gimmicks? Sure. But I’m strangely comfortable with it; I’m just glad they’re reason enough for another generation to get on board.

The best bonus of all on the 25 is hearing Vincent Price’s maniacal laugh: “Michael Jackson is the Thriller. Can you dig it? Ha ha ha….!”

Also, it’s imperative you watch MJ’s 1984 Grammys performance of Billie Jean on YouTube. Rolling Stone hails that song’s influential pop brilliance thus: “Madonna made her own version of ‘Billie Jean,’ retitled ‘Like a Virgin.’ Stevie Nicks called her version ‘Stand Back,’ Pat Benatar called hers ‘Love Is a Battlefield.’ Bob Dylan called his ‘Tight Connection to My Heart.’ Yet none of them could touch the original.”

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The White Stripes

It’s a loving holiday, and so I would like to share some audiolove. I enjoy The White Stripes‘ amazing covers during their live shows and on b-sides. I’ve culled my three favorites for your downloading pleasure.

Bob Dylan’s Isis

Son House’s Death Letter

and the tremendous, not-to-be-missed Dolly Parton’s Jolene

If you’re not done geeking out, you can stream a live 2007 Jack and Meg show at NPR. Also, it’s interesting to hear somewhat screechier and sparse versions of songs you know and love from earlier years. Download live songs from a 1998 show, including a cover of Dylan’s One More Cup of Coffee or download live songs from a 1999 show from WDET, Detroit public radio.

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The Deep Dark Woods

HearYa introduced me to the band The Deep Dark Woods with the song Hang Me, Oh Hang Me. I like these alt-country Canadians very much. The rich and compelling vocals include some good harmonies, and the band incorporates the banjo, mandolin, and organ seamlessly, without making a gimmick of them.

I recommend listening to them on their MySpace, streaming nine songs on ReverbNation here, or listening and buying on CD Baby. You can also download two mp3s, including Hang Me courtesy of Berkeley Place here. Better yet, listen to both their self-titled first release and their 2007 disc titled Hang Me, Oh Hang Me on CD Baby and purchase them so maybe they will have enough money to tour near you.

While streaming them, I heard the song River in the Pines just now, and damn these kids are agreeably good.

DDW’s Hang Me is an interpretation of the folk song I’ve Been All Around This World, which was also covered by Jerry Garcia (listen to a clip here) and Bob Dylan. I came to the song last year via a more traditional version by Oliver Buck on the 2007 album Rust Belt Blues (listen and buy here).

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Anthony Hamilton

The more I listened to Anthony Hamilton on the web, the more I liked him. So, I bought the 2005 disc Ain’t Nobody Worryin’. I passed on the 2007 album Southern Comfort, because it was a little less funky than I wanted. There’s supposed to be a new album coming out in early February, according to Billboard, but I see neither hide nor hair of it so far.

He’s been collaborating with a lot of artists, including another R&B singer who’s getting hyped right now, Keyshia Cole. I’d love to see him do a duet with Alicia Keys (when she’s in a Fallin’ mood, and not a No One mood). (Really, watch that video of Fallin’. It’s a live performance, and there’s a stellar piano solo at the beginning that’s worth your time.) Anthony and Robert Randolph helped out with Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay (live YouTube of the original here that’s shockingly different than the original recording) on Buddy Guy‘s star-studded album Bring ‘Em In. Buy the album and listen to short snippets of the songs here. And, of course, you can see another bit of his work in the video for his song on American Gangster Do You Feel Me, which I posted about February 1 here.

I really gravitated to Anthony’s ’05 album because of the song Sista Big Bones, which streams on his site. However, I am warning you, DO NOT watch the video for Sista Big Bones. It nearly ruined the image I had of him in my head as a way-cool soul singer. In the song, as soulful as Anthony is, the awesome beat is more George Clinton than Al Green, and the backup vocals evoke Rufus. That sentence right there, once I formed it in my head, convinced me to buy the disc.

The other superstar track on the disc is Preacher’s Daughter, which features Stax-style backups by his wife Tarsha’ McMillian. She’s releasing an album February 26 called The McMillian Story. The intense lyrics draw you in, hard, and she’ll break your heart at the end of that song. As the liner notes say, she “vamps” the outro.

I like songs like those two with thump enough to rattle the pennies in my car’s change holder, and the album provided enough of them to keep me happy.

There are a fair number of crooning songs that I don’t love, but I feel because they’re rougher and groovier than, for instance, the too-smooth Brian McKnight, they might grow on me. Some sound like puttin’-on-the-night-moves songs, but closer attention to the lyrics reveals they’re really break-up songs.

A couple of tracks use a spoonful of soulful sugar to slip gospel messages into the grooves, not unlike Stevie Wonder and Al Green. There’s a song called Everybody that sounds in the intro like a rockin’ version of Lionel Richie’s Easy like Sunday Morning; the lyrics really remind me of Stevie: “Everybody needs love in their life / Everybody needs a little sun to shine.”

Final assessment: Dig the album, some tracks in particular, and I hope that he just funks out the next one.

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