Friday, November 9, 2007

(Re)Covered:
More folk covers of Britney, Lou Reed, Chris Smither, Amazing Grace

In order to maintain quality over quantity, this is our last regular Friday post here at Cover Lay Down; from now on, you'll still get ten or more carefully vetted songs a week, but with a few notable exceptions (holidays, the occasional Folk Family Friday), posts will appear on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Today, for a "final" Friday post, we recover a few songs that dropped through the cracks just a little too late to make it into the posts where they belonged. Ladies and Gentlemen: our last regular Friday, our first
(Re)Covered.


My Halloween post on Britney Spears folk-covers seems to have started a trend: if you haven't already, head on over to Cover Freak and new blog Cover Me for a whole mess o' popcovers from across the musical spectrum. Especially recommended for folkfans: Shawn Colvin's cover of Gnarls Barkley summersong Crazy, Matt Weddle's reinterpretation of Outcast hit Hey Ya, the term "Pop Tart" to describe a certain type of female pop singer. Not recommended: Nickel Creek's cover of Toxic, which I download and delete every few months -- it was probably hilariously wonderful in concert, but the recording suffers from some abysmal recording quality.

But the popcover flood isn't over yet: in addition to sparking a coverblog meme, my own post brought several direct submissions out of the ether. You'll see a few of these in future posts; in the meantime, here's a few of the best Britney Spears covers I received in the past few days:

  • Irish folkrocker Glen Hansard of the Frames covers Britney's Everytime (Thanks, Rose!)
  • Another chilling version of Toxic from Dutch folkgoddess Stevie Ann, this one in-studio and sans sax (Thanks, the_red_shoes!)
  • More from Guuzbourg:
    • a light sweet version of Toxic from the Chapin Sisters
    • a Klezmer-esque Toxic from Global Kryner.




In other news, I also found a great "bonus" for last week's Lou Reed folk coverpost while flipping through some old entries in retropsychadeliablog Garden of Delights. June Tabor and The Oyster Band's 1990 version of Velvet Underground classic All Tomorrow's Parties has strong ties to the traditional Irish/British countrysongs at the core of folk rock as first defined by Pentangle, Donovan, and Steeleye Span in the 1970s.

  • June Tabor and The Oyster Band, All Tomorrow's Parties




After weeks of scouring local public libraries, I finally found Bonnie Raitt's absolutely marvelous cover of Chris Smither's I Feel The Same and the produced version of his Love Me Like A Man on her 1990 retrospective The Bonnie Raitt Collection. I've loved this pair of covers ever since I was a kid; listening to them again brings me right back to the hardwood floor in front of my father's stereo, carefully sliding records out of their sleeves. I posted a live version of the latter last week, but the produced versions are better.

  • Bonnie Raitt, I Feel The Same
  • Bonnie Raitt, Love Me Like A Man




Had I began researching this week's post on folksong lullabies earlier, I would have discovered classicalfolk guitarist and composer John T. La Barbera's version of Who's Goin' To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot in time to include it in my post on Amazing Grace and the folk/gospel tradition. They're not the same song, but the music is almost identical; for the first half a minute, La Barbera's soft, gorgeously lush instrumental could be either.

  • John La Barbera, Who's Goin' To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot (trad.)



Finally, thanks to all who send, tout, and post music -- keep those afterpost suggestions coming in, folks! And don't forget to come back on Sunday for a very special ten-song feature on the folkier side of Beck!


33 comments:

rollerpimp said...

Great post. This is one of must not miss blogs.

Fongolia said...

After hearing numerous cover versions of Toxic in any which style, I've come to regard it as a legitimately great song. Everyone takes it in different directions and manage to do interesting interpretations without resorting to simply playing it for laughs.

And kudos on scouring the public libraries, they're a cover lovers haven.

boyhowdy said...

Rollerpimp: Glad you're enjoying it here!

Fong: Welcome back! I agree wholeheartedly with your take on Toxic, The Song (though certainly not EVERYONE manages to do more than just play it for laughs).

& public libraries are an admittedly thin resource when you live in the middle of rural nowhere -- our town library has less than 300 CDs total, including classical -- but with interlibrary loan, they certainly do add a few songs/ artists to the pile of possibilities.

Guuzbourg said...

great stuff! thanks for the link - i have put you in my linklist, btw

Ray said...

Thanks for the link! I think you might want to check out the Toxic I posted though. It is not the one I found circulating as an mp3 (as you pointed out, terrible quality), but instead one I ripped off their myspace page. Thus, it's straight from the soundboard. Doesn't sound like a studio recording, but MUCH better than the other one.

boyhowdy said...

Hmm. I did go back and compare, and you're not wrong, Rob -- your version is clearly soundboard, while the other versions I've seen are both wobbly and, to some extent, the music is buried under the crowdnoise -- two simultaneous symptoms of poor field recording. I stand corrected.

But having the clearer version only helps me clarify why I'm not seriously fond of this particular cover.

As the soundboard recording clearly reveals, the vocals are way up high; the instrumentation -- which was already ragged and sparse -- is still buried. I've seen Nickel Creek several times in concert, at least once from the edge of a stage, and I guess this song -- silly and raw, mixed to hide what they bring so well to their music -- just doesn't meet my high expectations for them.

Still, I shouldn't assume others would come to this cover with the same experience and expectation I do. As a fun little cover, it's not bad. It's just not tickling my fancy.

Some of that IS the mix, but it's probably not the recording itself, after all. I think I heard the "problems" as the same as on those "other" recordings because I hadn't really stopped to think that the "problem" I heard was a mixing choice. My bad, bro.

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