Archive for February 6th, 2012
06 Feb

Cover Day

So just a couple of posts ago I was waxing rhapsodic about cover songs and shared a few that I thought hit the mark. Oddly enough, today I was listening to some new releases and it included three full-on cover albums! Here is the rundown:

“Kisses on the Bottom” by Paul McCartney – I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the pre-release news on this one as I had no idea he was covering a set of old standards. I will say that it is impeccably done, but frankly it was a total snooze-fest. As I mentioned in my earlier post, to do a cover (even on standards like these) you have to bring something new to the table to make it interesting. There’s nothing here to hold my attention or shine new light on these moldy oldies. C’mon Macca, I expected more than a basement trio and strings. However, I will give a bonus point or two for covering “The Inch Worm.”

“Let It Be Roberta” by Roberta Flack – Strange that this is coming out on the same day as McCartney’s. She does a whole album of Beatles tunes. This is much more like I was taking about. She has some very interesting takes on these songs and I feel brings something new to the table. The semi-samba pop of “In My Life” is terrific and is followed by a mellow electro-R&B groove version of “We Can Work It Out.” Not all are 100% winners (“I Should Have Known Better” is barely recognizable), but she knocks it out of the park more often than not. Really quite nice.

“Popular Songs” by Richard McGraw – I had never heard of this guy but a description included comparisons to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Perfect! Well, this album is a doozie. And I’m not sure if that means really awesome or abysmal. I’m not even sure I can describe the work. He has taken an eclectic set of songs and made them while channeling the two previously mentioned artists along with Nick Cave. I read a note about the album and apparently he said this is his “selling out” album. I’m not sure what his intentions were in making this, but it certainly makes for an interesting listen. I think the two that floored me a bit were “Bad Romance,” done almost in a Decemberists-type of arrangement, and….hold on for this….a cover of Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time.” It sounds like a mid-tempo alt-rock jam, echoing Wilco, maybe? It is either freakin’ genius or positively horrific. In either case, you will never hear versions of these songs anywhere like this. Not only these songs, but “Take It On the Run,” “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Baba O’Riley,” “This Old Heart of Mine,” and “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.”And he tops it all off with a really great original “Leonard Cohen R.I.P. (The Song),” which imagines what will happen after Cohen dies.

Overall, for the masses I recommend Roberta Flack’s Beatles tribute. For those looking to just have some background music for reading, Paul McCartney will do it for you. If you are looking for adventure, I highly recommend Richard McGraw. You can find his album to listen to on And for just this week only (Feb. 6, 2012), you can hear all 3 of these full albums on in their “Listening Party” section. In the meantime, here is Richard McGraw’s original.


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