Every once in a while I’ll stumble across a completely unexpected cover of a song. Sometimes it’s instantly recognizable and sometimes it’s just a nagging feeling that the song is familiar, but it takes a while for it to click. And often the cover is as good as the original, perhaps better, but it’s always an original take.
I’ll not include what could almost be called “novelty” artists who have made careers of putting their twist on other artists’ works. Groups like Hayseed Dixie, Dread Zeppelin, or Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, while certainly entertaining, aren’t really surprising.
Another Brick in the Wall – Keller and the Keels – Bluegrass seems to be a comfortable arena for covers from other styles, and Keller Williams and crew do Pink Floyd justice.
Little Wing – Monte Montgomery – Awesome cover of a Jimi Hendrix classic. Montgomery is an astounding guitarist. How does he ever make that ratty-assed guitar sound so good?
Royals – Pentatonix – Five inhumanly beautiful people with inhumanly beautiful voices covering Lorde’s hit.
Under Pressure – David Bowie and Annie Lennox – Filmed during the Freddie Mercury benefit at Wembley Stadium several years ago.
Hurt – Johnny Cash – Nine Inch Nails… Johnny Cash… ’nuff said.
Abigail Washburn is a marvelous Grammy Award winning clawhammer banjo player. After majoring in East-Asian studies and spending a few years in China, she intended to become a lawyer there. Just prior to her move to China, she spent five days meditating at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, a life changing experience, she instead went to Nashville and was offered a record deal. An amazing story.
So yeah, she’s one hugely talented and ferociously intelligent human being. Oh, and her husband is Bela Fleck.
City of Refuge – Nashville TN, 2010
Banjo Guzheng Pickin’ Girl – with Wu Fei in 2015. Awesome Chinese/ bluegrass fusion.
The Final CountDown – with Bela – truly a match made in heaven.
There was an old Zenith radio that sat on a shelf in our garage for decades. It was an old tube model, brown bakelite Zenith, similar to the one on the left.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the center of get-togethers moved from the kitchen to the back yard, specifically the garage. That radio saw birthdays, wedding receptions, cookouts, tornado warnings, card games, pool parties. Nearly every weekend, doing yard work or playing, there was Ernie Harwell, announcing Tigers’ games. Or listening to WOHO, back when the station actually played music.
So, in honor of that old radio, here are a few “radio” songs…
Border Radio – The Blasters – a great Americana rock & roll band.
Mexican Radio – Wall Of Voodoo – New wave band, almost a one hit wonder.
Spirit of the Radio – Rush – you know, Rush… Geddy freakin’ Lee!
Video Killed the Radio Star – Buggles – Prophetic song that was the debut video on MTV when it began programming in 1981.
Radio Gaga – Queen – There are a handful of musicians who have passed that make me sad when I think of them… David Bowie, Terry Kath, and Freddie. Freddie Mercury was a singularly spectacular showman, and an amazing human being.
Don Ellis… a name I first heard in 1972 during a music appreciation class in high school. And that name began my love of jazz.
Ellis was a trumpet player, drummer, composer and bandleader. It’s difficult to drop him onto a particular genre of jazz, he’s played with the likes of Maynard Ferguson, Charlie Barnet, and Charles Mingus, but was a singularly unique musician. Big band, jazz-fusion, and movie soundtracks were just a few of his pursuits.
He had a custom trumpet made, a 4-valve model which allowed him to play quarter tones, the cracks between the piano keys. Ellis also experimented extensively with electronic music (ring modulators on his trumpet, for example) in the ’60s.
Ellis’ real trademark was his creative manipulation of time signatures. Works in 7, 9, and 27 were common. He even released an album ” Live in 3⅔/4 Time”. I think it was Miles Davis who once said that the only thing Ellis ever played in ‘4’ was “Take Five”.
33 222 1 222 – Yeah, it’s in 19.
Pussy Wiggle Stomp – insanely fast version and mad rhythm skills.
Bulgarian Bulge – written in 33/16 with the occasional 26/16 thrown in.
Legion is an FX original series which is based on a Marvel comic, and created by Noah Hawley (also created Fargo for FX). It tells the story of David Haller, and quite a story it is. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
This program is unlike anything Marvel has ever done, on TV or on film. It’s perhaps one of the smartest things on the tube right now. Visually stunning, the atmosphere is kind of “retro ’70s futuristic”, but gives no real hint as to when the show is set. I think if Kubrick were still alive, and he did a television series, it might look a lot like Legion.
The casting and performances are exceptional. Dan Stevens‘ portrayal of David had me hooked within the first minute or so of the pilot. Other “names” in the show include Bill Irwin, Aubrey Plaza, and Jean Smart.
Jeff Russo is responsible for the soundtrack, and has done an amazing job of it. Besides Russo’s original work, there are a number of tracks by other artists including Radiohead, The Who, Thomas Dolby, and Nina Simone to name a few.
This show is solid, entertaining, and demands your attention. Check it out.
Here are a few soundtrack cuts.
Oh! You Pretty Things – a Lisa Hannigan cover of the Bowie Song
Don’t Say Goodby – Johnny Woodson
Undiscovered First – Feist
I first heard Ivy Levan while watching the recent remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I know, it wasn’t the original, but still, it was entertaining). Her character, the Usherette, was adorable and enchanting. Enough so that I was compelled to find out if she was the real deal, musically speaking. As it turns out, she is.
Her music and visual style are kind of in the same general area as Madonna, Gaga, Pink, and Christina. But she definitely makes it her own, kind of a blue-eyed soul/pop sound with a bit of a mischievous wink to let you know she’s not taking it too seriously, and neither should you. But make no mistake, the woman’s got some serious pipes.
The Dame Says
Who Can You Trust
Tink made a killer batch of pork chile verde yesterday using our Instant Pot and a recipe from the Serious Eats website. And she absolutely killed it!
The recipe was simple, and was ready quickly, thanks to the Instant Pot. The pork was fall-apart tender and even given the chiles used, there was no heat at all. Just tasty goodness.
This recipe is presented by J. Kenji López-Alt, the Managing Culinary Editor of Serious Eats And author of “The Food Lab, Better Home Cooking Through Science“. If you don’t yet own this book, get it. Kenji is a genius, his explanations are clear, and his recipes are for regular people. No trips to markets for obscure ingredients, no expensive equipment. Just everyday items and techniques; demystified, simplified, with foolproof results. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Keller and the Keels is a bluegrass project featuring the trio of Keller Williams and husband and wife musicians, Larry and Jenny Keel. Together, they have released two albums, “Grass” in 2006 and “Thief” in 2010.
My attraction to their music (besides the fact that it’s solid and tight) is their bluegrass cover of everyone from Tom Petty to Pink Floyd to Amy Winehouse. Great Stuff! Well worth a listen if you like bluegrass.
Mary Janes Last Breakdown
Another Brick in the Wall
I saw Joshua Tillman, aka Father John Misty last weekend on SNL. One of the songs he performed was “Pure Comedy”, a haunting, eerie, peculiar tune. My best guess is that it’s his take on the human condition.
The best way to describe him is “unique”. Being raised as a Southern Baptist and attending an Episcopal elementary school and a Pentecostal Messianic Jewish day school is bound to give one a interesting perspective
Definitely someone to keep on my radar.
Pure Comedy – Just wow.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Aubrey Plaza taking it dark.