Song: Man of Constant Sorrow
Cover Artist: Charm City Devils
Album (Year): Sins (2012)
Original Artist: Dick Burnett
I heard this cover on the radio the other day and immediately knew that I needed to post it. This is a great example of a band taking a song and making it their own. It doesn’t hurt that the band doing the covering is from back home in Baltimore, Maryland.
‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ is believed to have been originally written around 1913 by Kentucky fiddler, Dick Burnett under the original title ‘Farewell Song’. Unfortunately, it seems no recording of Mr. Burnett’s version exists anywhere. So, I’ve done the next best thing. I’ve gotten you the earliest known existing recording, and the one most likely to be like the original. That would be the 1928 recording by Emry Arthur. And if that weren’t enough I’ve decided to throw in the best known version of the song, from the 2000 soundtrack to the movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ recorded by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright, otherwise known as The Soggy Bottom Boys.
Listen to all three of these, and enjoy the amazing evolution of a cover song.
Charm City Devils – Man of Constant Sorrow
Soggy Bottom Boys – Man of Constant Sorrow
Emry Arthur – Man of Constant Sorrow
Song: 4th of July
Cover Artist: Early Winters
Album (Year): 4th of July (2011)
Original Artist: X
Today’s post was way tougher than it needed to be. Not counting the more traditional patriotic US Independence Day songs, there are plenty of songs about the 4th of July out there. The problem is that nobody has covered any of them. Before I went searching, I would have placed money that SOMEONE had to have covered at least U2′s ’4th of July’. I found that Evanescence has done a live cover of Soundgarden’s ’4th of July’, but I try to stay away from live covers (especially if they have never been recorded to an album).
Then came the band Early Winters to the rescue. Posted to their website as a free download just three days ago (it’s still there as of this writing, link below) it’s a cover of my favorite Independence Day song ever, ’4th of July’ by seminal L.A. punk band X. I saw X perform this song at an outdoor festival on the Fourth of July and it was defiantly one of the highlights of my musical life.
Early Winters – 4th of July
X – 4th of July
Song: Shock The Monkey
Cover Artist: Coal Chamber (w/ Ozzy Osbourne)
Album (Year): Chamber Music (1999)
Original Artist: Peter Gabriel
Keeping with the theme from the last post, here’s another original song by a Genesis vocalist gone solo. Peter Gabriel recorded this song for his fourth album in 1982 and it became his first US hit. Just as strange lyrically as anything Gabriel wrote before or since, it nonetheless is a genius piece of 80s rock.
Goth Metal group Coal Chamber hooked up with Ozzy Osbourne to record the song for their 1999 album Chamber Music. Fuzzed out guitars and Ozzy’s distinctive vocals give this synth rock masterpiece a new feel while still retaining the essential sound of the original.
Coal Chamber (w/ Ozzy Osbourne) – Shock The Monkey
Peter Gabriel – Shock The Monkey
Song: In The Air Tonight
Cover Artist: Nonpoint
Album (Year): Recoil (2004 )
Original Artist: Phil Collins
I’ve always been a fan of Genesis’ and Phil Collins’ darker songs. Domino from Genesis’ Invisible Touch album has always been one of my favorites, as is this Phil Collins masterpiece from his 1981 debut solo album, Face Value. There’s just something about a generally poppy artist doing songs about rivers of blood and drowning victims that I find fascinating.
Nonpoint takes Phil’s atmospheric detachment, gives it a bit heavier crunch, and ultimately just nails a picture perfect cover version, complete with the awesome drum fills that have always brought out the air drummer in everyone who’s ever heard this song.
Nonpoint – In The Air Tonight
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
Cover Artist: Anberlin
Album (Year): New Surrender – Deluxe Edition (2009)
Original Artist: Danzig
I love this song. It’s one of the few songs my band in college covered mostly because the deep bass vocals are just so much fun to sing. Danzig recorded this song on their 1988 eponymous debut as a response to Tipper Gore & the PMRC, who at the time were busily trying to vilify artists for corrupting America’s youth, and ultimately were the cause of the Parental Advisory stickers which allowed kids to have a much easier time identifying albums they wanted to buy.
Anberlin recorded a much tamer version of Mother for the deluxe edition of their album New Surrender. The bitterness and anger are gone from this version. Honestly, given a choice between Glenn Danzig or Stephen Christian dating my daughter (and ignoring the crazy age differences), I think I’d have to go with the Anberlin vocalist, he just doesn’t scare me enough. Sorry Glenn.
Anberlin – Mother
Danzig – Mother
Song: Various Irish Traditional Songs
Cover Artist: Various Alternative, Metal & Punk Artists
Original Artist: Traditional
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!!
Every song today is a cover of a traditional Irish tune, therefore I can’t very well link to the originals. So we’ll make up for that in quantity. If you aren’t feeling a little more Irish after listening to these tracks, well then there’s not much I can do for you.
Cruachan – The Rocky Road To Dublin
Dropkick Murphys – Finnegan’s Wake
Off Kilter – The Irish Rover
Metallica – Whiskey In The Jar
Carbon Leaf – Mary Mac
The Pogues – Whiskey, You’re The Devil
Song: Rusty Cage
Cover Artist: Johnny Cash
Album (Year): Unchained (1996)
Original Artist: Soundgarden
This song comes to you courtesy of an argument I had with a completely brain-dead ex-boss I used to have. He insisted that Rusty Cage was a Johnny Cash original. Nevermind that Soundgarden recorded it for their 1991 album Badmotorfinger and Cash’s version didn’t come out until 1996 (on Unchained, an album almost entirely filled with various cover songs, no less). When I subsequently played the Soundgarden original for him, he claimed that Soundgarden had ruined Cash’s song. Seriously, some people shouldn’t be allowed to breathe.
Stupid ex-bosses aside, here we have two of the greatest vocalists in music history performing the same song in their signature styles. Chris Cornell and Johnny Cash both rank in my top ten vocalists of all time, and both of these versions are awesome interpretations of this song.
Johnny Cash – Rusty Cage
Soundgarden – Rusty Cage
Song: That’s a Lie
Cover Artist: Too Much Joy
Album (Year): Son Of Sam I Am (1988)
Original Artist: LL Cool J
This song is responsible for introducing me to one of the most underrated bands of all time. I got to see Too Much Joy twice in concert back in the early 90′s while they were still together and both shows still rank in the top 5 shows I’ve ever seen in my life (which is currently clocking in at over 200). Too Much Joy plays songs that are quirky, make you feel good, are immanently singable, and are a staple of every road trip I’ve ever taken since 1989.
“That’s a Lie” was an album cut on rapper LL Cool J’s platinum selling debut ‘Radio’. It’s a somewhat funny little bit of 80′s rap, but Too Much Joy’s rendition on 1988′s ‘Son Of Sam I Am’ really brought the song to its true potential. Adding a few guitars and a much more playful delivery they not only breathed new life into the song, they amped up the humor in it as well.
Too Much Joy – That’s a Lie
LL Cool J – That’s a Lie