Mr. Jones' 21 Favorite Covers of All Time

[As always, when attempting this kind of exercise, familiarity and poignancy—as well as considerations of time, space, length, reader interest, etc etc etc—will inevitably lead to some favorites falling by the wayside. But such are the pitfalls of compiling a list of any kind, although slightly less stress is involved when the main criteria is favorites. And so, with that out of the way, and in alphabetical order by artist, have at them. Cheers. - KJ]

RYAN ADAMS “Wonderwall” (Oasis)
Noel Gallagher likes it so much he plays it this way now as a solo artist. Props.

JON AUER “Gold Star for Robot Boy” (Guided by Voices)
A heartfelt rendition of an indie rock classic and a lesson in what covering a song is all about.

JON BRION “Voices” (Cheap Trick)
Mr. Soundtrack took a nice ballad and made it a dark, sad, lovelorn, midnight piano and vocal lament.

THE CARDIGANS “Iron Man” (Black Sabbath)
Even Ozzy digs this trip hop-inspired re-casting of a metal classic.

GUSTAVO CERATI "Bajan" (Pescado Rabioso)
The original, written in the early '70s by the late great Luis Alberto Spinetta, is a revered classic in Argentina. This cover introduced it to a new generation.

EVAN DANDO “Frying Pan” (Victoria Williams)
Always loved this one, despite finding the original to be quite underwhelming.

DEVO “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones)
The quintessential cover version. Take notes, boys and girls.

DIVIDIDOS “El Arriero” (Atahualpa Yupanqui)
An Argentine folk song of protest played as a blistering SRV blues tune.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. “Smile” (Charlie Chaplin) 
A wonderful tribute by the man who ably played him on the big screen.

EARTH WIND AND FIRE “Got to Get You into My Life” (Beatles) 
I’m an apostle in the Church of McCartney but this one beats the original by a country mile.

FIREHOSE “Walking the Cow” (Daniel Johnston) 
Probably the best thing Firehose ever recorded w/Mike Watt on the mic.

PETER FRAMPTON  “Jumping Jack Flash” (Rolling Stones)
Yes, I love this one. And while the classic original was from 1968, this cover sounds as if it was a Sticky Fingers outtake. (Check out the version from Frampton Comes Alive, tho.)

TED LEO + PHARMACISTS “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” (Split Enz)
The original is nice enough but Mr. Leo gives it some bite and rocks the crap out of it.

HIGH LLAMAS “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” (The Smiths)
Sean O'Hagan and co. transport this one from rainy Manchester to sunny Southern California courtesy of a Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds-type arrangement. Yeah.

SEU JORGE “Life On Mars?” (David Bowie)
When it comes to Bowie covers, this one is hard to beat...it was even a fave of the man himself.

GARY LUCAS + GODS AND MONSTERS “Jack Johnson/Ghostrider” [live]
A Miles Davis/Suicide medley by the esteemed guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley) and his killer Gods and Monsters trio on their self-titled album.

LUNA “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (Guns N Roses)
Longtime favorite o' mine, which is, um, pretty sweet.

ELLIOTT SMITH “Because” (Beatles)
First heard it in a movie theatre during American Beauty’s closing credits. Still blown away.

TUCK & PATTI “Castles Made of Sand” (Jimi Hendrix)
I really wish Jimi had lived to hear Patti Cathcart sing one of his tunes with that incredible voice.

Take a song, make it your own and give its fans another reason to love it. And maybe win over some other folks, too. Hats off, Butch!

YES “America” (Simon and Garfunkel)
It never stops being a tad weird to hear Jon Anderson sing about the New Jersey Turnpike, but it's a great cover of a beloved tune, so...

Very Special Mention: Mark Kozelekof Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon famerecorded an entire album of acoustic covers of Bon Scott-era AC/DC songs (What's Next to the Moon) that must be heard to be believed. Awesome.


Big Star - 'Columbia' [audio+video]

For anyone who had ever followed them, Big Star’s April 25, 1993 reunion performance at Missouri University was a most improbable and unpredictable occurrence: the beloved cult heroes had been broken up for 20 years, had no current or planned activities, and only came about because a MU student decided to contact Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens on a whim and they, incredibly, said yes.

The show—with Big Star acolytes Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies joining Chilton and Stephens—was captured for posterity as Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93 [Zoo-1993] and those of us who are quite partial to the band rejoiced over this fine-sounding document of what turned out to be the final and longest-running incarnation of the power pop deity considered by some to be the “American Beatles”.

But be still my beating heart: footage of the Columbia, MO show has been synced to the album’s audio by one Juan C. Marioni and uploaded to YouTube. God bless you, sir.

Milestones: 'Never Mind the Bollocks'

Never Mind the Bollocks...

Revered as one of the greatest and most influential rock records of all time, the band’s sole studio album was not just a collection of raucous tunes sung by an anti-singer frontman but the sound of the British working class’ distrust and frustration with the establishment set to music. THAT’s what all the fuss was about.

Although correctly deemed a game changer upon release, hindsight has revealed it to be more rockin’ than revolutionary, musically speaking. Regardless, its influence was staggering and could still be felt decades later in the music of such acolytes as Nirvana and Oasis. And deep into the early 21st century it still rocks harder than most, as a matter of fact.

Released October 28, 1977.


Monday Music Trivia

• The infamous Sex Pistols TV interview with Bill Grundy came about due to the originally scheduled guests, Queen, canceling their appearance on the show.

• Drummers Alan White (Yes) and Alan White (Oasis) are not related, although the latter is the younger brother of Steve White, longtime drummer for Paul Weller. And speaking of brothers…

• The wryly titled Tour of Brotherly Love (2001), with The Black Crowes, Oasis and Spacehog, featured three bands with siblings who were notorious for fighting amongst themselves. (Contrary to popular belief—and much to the likely chagrin of local concert promoters—Philadelphia, aka the City of Brotherly Love, was not on the tour itinerary.)

• Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, who is best known in the US for film roles such as Hugh Grant’s goofy roommate in Notting Hill and Ben Stiller’s former bandmate in Greenberg, was Super Furry Animals’ original vocalist.

• Shania Twain’s real name is Eileen Regina Edwards.

Howard Duane Allman (Nov 20, 1946 – Oct 29, 1971)

Today in Music History (October 29):

1965 – The Who release the single “My Generation" in the UK. The song was ranked 11th by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and 13th on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll. It reached No. 2 in the UK, the Who's highest charting single in their home country but only No. 74 in the US.
1977 – The Belgian travel service issued a summons against the Sex Pistols claiming the sleeve of the band’s single “Holidays In The Sun” infringed on the copyright of one of its brochures.
1987 – Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood's first ever British art exhibition, Decades, opened in London, featuring portraits of friends and rock stars from the past 20 years.
1996 – The Stone Roses break up.
2007 – Walk the Line is voted greatest music biopic of all time in a British poll.
Today’s Birthdays include Moody Blues/Wings singer/songwriter guitarist Denny Laine (74); legendary guitarist and founder of Fleetwood Mac, Mr. Peter Green (72); Roger O'Donnell, longtime keyboardist for The Cure (63); Sugarcubes co-vocalist Einar Orn (56); and drummer Peter Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies (53).


Milestones: 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'

Tales From Topgraphic Oceans

Looking back from a 21st century vantage point, vis-à-vis popular music, the ‘70s can be seen as both insane and interesting times indeed. Just the fact that complex, ornate rock music that in certain instances referenced, if not emulated, the grandiose aspects of classical music was often making inroads on the pop charts, can seem like a baffling occurrence for those of us now living in a time when only disposable, heavily pre-screened, lowest common denominator pop music can march in the hit parade.

But prog rock really was popular back then. And one of the most vivid examples of this phenomenon was how a double album consisting of only 4 songs and the recipient of mixed reviews could manage to garner enough popular support to sell in excess of 500,000 copies in the US alone. (And yes, excess is the key word here.) The old wornout clichés, “You had to be there” and “It was a different time” certainly apply.

Because of its range and scope—and frankly, for failing to reach the same highs of their three previous albums, including the prog masterpiece Close to the Edge [Atlantic-1972]—this album has since become a cause célèbre for those who decry what they see as the pretentiousness of prog rock. And, in our humble opinion, they do have a point: the leadoff track “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” holds his own, but the rest? Not so much. However, there are plenty of interesting moments that could have been condensed into a few shorter, more arresting songs as opposed to opuses that often wander about aimlessly. (Keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who quit the band after the tour supporting it, has published hilarious accounts of his boredom onstage playing these songs.)

Composed largely by vocalist Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe with “important contributions” by the rest of the band (who were not fully on board with the idea of the album and remain of two minds about the experience to this day), its almost hour and a half running time is emblematic of the time and place and the band itself, warts and all.

Released October 26, 1973


What Is And What Should Never Be

Anthem of the Peaceful Army 

What a perfect example of the push and pull re GVF:

Pitchfork panned this record and there was a Twitter uproar. On the one hand, P4K are professional trolls with a long-standing reputation for fucking with bands and fans alike. But they know their shit. Meanwhile, I don’t really have time for people who think these Zeppelin wannabes are some sort of musical second coming of bluesy, heavy, guitar-driven rock. But I must admit, anything that gets folks rocking out, especially in these times of rock and roll’s diminishing returns, in so far as mainstream music is considered, is a godsend. But pinning one’s hopes on musical ventriloquists feels bittersweet, to say the least. Jeez.


Milestones: Yo La Tengo - 'Painful'


Five albums into a career with rotating bassists and a shaky grasp of the environs of the recording studio, the Hoboken quartet took a great leap forward on album number six, their first on Matador. Long-time bassist James McNew made his debut with the band on the previous year’s May I Sing With Me? [Alias-1992] but it’s on Painful that his playing truly coalesces with the band’s Velvet Underground-meets-shoegaze aesthetic, bringing about with his new bandmates, founding members Ira Kaplan (vocals, guitar) and Georgia Hubley (vocals, drums), a new phase in the band’s career which would yield their best music and firmly establish Yo La Tengo as one of indie rock’s premiere bands.

Released October 5th, 1993.

Highlights: “Big Day Coming”, “Double Dare”, “Suddenly Organ”, “A Worrying Thing”, “I Heard You Looking”.


Tuesday TV Trivia

• Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork both auditioned for the part of "Fonzie" on Happy Days [1974], but were turned down for being taller (6’0” and 6’1”, respectively) than Ron Howard (“Richie Cunningham”), Anson Williams (“Potsie”) and Donnie Most (“Ralph”).

• Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen have each played the son of their real life father Martin Sheen on screen but Emilio actually played a younger version of Martin in a flashback sequence on The West Wing [1999].

• Although her character “Julia” on Designing Women [1986] was a staunch liberal, Dixie Carter was actually a Republican in real life. So a compromise with the producers of the show was reached: whenever Julia got off on a liberal rant, Dixie Carter would get a chance to sing on a future episode.

• According to Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the scenes for the feminist bookstore on Portlandia [2011] are filmed in the actual bookstore that inspired it with no added set dressing.

• The starship Enterprise on Star Trek: The Original Series [1966] has tubes in its hallways marked “GNDN”. Those initials stand for “goes nowhere, does nothing”.