Sunday, January 2, 2011

Insert “Cover” Pun Here: My Top 6 Live Covers of 2010

Whether or not I write up a comprehensive review of 2010 in music, I got a wild hair up my ass to share this with you.

Somewhat pretentiously, you could call it an account of a blind man’s view of an elephant’s leg.

Much less pretentiously, you should call it the best live cover songs I saw this year.

After the jump, an explanation of why this picture was chosen…


Are you kidding?

This picture was on my Christmas card this year (email me if you want one, I’ve got extras thanks to UPS).

I’m thinking of eating nothing but photo cakes with this image.

I’m starting a math rock band that does nothing but play 20+ minute jams based on the binary information stored within the JPEG of this picture. 

While it may be nothing more than a stolen moment in/near a hot tub on the roof of a Vegas hotel, it makes me smile every time I see it.

Much like when a band I love annexes a song from another band and makes it their own.

Thanks to everyone who recorded these songs (including me). There are some cases where the specific version I saw doesn’t exist, so I found clips of those songs from other shows.  Hopefully you can forgive me.

Now let’s 15% Casey Kasem this shit!

6. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”

Oct. 22 – North Star, Philly

Tough choice between this and “Atlantic City” (see below), but I gotta go with this perfect example of Mr. Isbell’s Southern Soul.

This was part of a legendary 9 shows in 11 nights run that I wrote about and of which you can read if you click the link contained in this here sentence.


5. Unnamed Supergroup (Rhett Miller, Nicole Atkins, AC Newman, & A Guy I Don't Know From The Wrens) – Traditional Gospel Song - “Long Road to Freedom”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn

On a night of good covers (see #1), this breezed through the room and gave us hope for a Cowsills reunion.  Rhett Miller (Old 97s) was the only artist I was familiar with as an individual, but have been eager to check out more Nicole Atkins).


4. My Morning Jacket – Bob Dylan - “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You”

Oct. 21 – Terminal 5, Manhattan

MMJ has always delivered good covers.  An earnest, straightforward, somewhat obvious version of a Dylan song wouldn’t normally take precedence over a Lionel Richie cover (see below), but well, here we are.


3. Titus Andronicus – Weezer - “Undone (The Sweater Song)”

Apr. 15 - The Barbary, Philly

This is the second post in a week I’ve included this clip.  It’s that good.  I love the impromptu reimagining of the spoken word banter.  So damn good.


2. Corin Tucker Band – Elvis Costello - “Party Girl”

Oct. 28 – First Unitarian Church, Philly

Another tough choice (yes, see below).  A rocking punk cover and a raucous version of “The Glamorous Life” provided stiff competition.  But this… this…

This is sexy.  This is forceful.  This is playful.  This is a torch singer breathing hot fire.  This is 5 pounds of quadraphonic sound stuffed into a 2 pound bag.

This fucking rules.


1. Lauren Ambrose & The Leisure Class– Bob Dylan - “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn

This definitely wins the award for most unexpected delight. Didn’t know the actress from Six Feet Under and Can’t Hardly Wait (see below) was musically inclined, but apparently is a classically trained opera singer.  This, however, is not opera.

She leads a kick-ass swing/ragtime band and this Dylan cover blew me the hell away.  Her energy is infectious and the joy on her face is as wide as the Great Wall and equally visible from space.


The Rest

Ted Leo – The Impressions - “Keep on Pushing”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young – Will Smith - “Fresh Prince Theme”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


Unnamed Supergroup – Seekers - “A World of Our Own”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


fun. – Queen - “Radio Gaga”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


Quasi – The Who – Medley

Apr. 23 - Johnny Brenda’s, Philly (from a different show, however)


Levon Helm & Friends (members of Felice Brothers, Edward Sharpe, Low Anthem, and others) – Bob Dylan - “I Shall Be Released”

Aug. 1 - Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI (a recap of my Newport weekend)


April Smith – Melanie - “Brand New Key”

Aug. 1 - Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI (from a different show, however)


O’Death – Pixies - “Nimrod's Son”

Aug. 21 – Rock Shop, Brooklyn (from a different show, but it’s the same borough)


Those Darlins – Johnny Kidd and the Pirates - “Shakin’ All Over”

Sep. 19 – Kung Fu Necktie, Philly (different show)


Two Cow Garage – The Replacements - “Can’t Hardly Wait”

Oct. 19 – Mojo on Main, Newark, DE (different show)


Greg Dulli – The Who - “Pinball Wizard”

Oct. 20 – Johnny Brenda’s, Philly


My Morning Jacket – Lionel Richie - “All Night Long”

Oct. 21 – Terminal 5, Manhattan


My Morning Jacket – The Band- “Makes No Difference”

Oct. 21 – Terminal 5, Manhattan


Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Bruce Springsteen - “Atlantic City”

Oct. 22 – North Star, Philly


Corin Tucker Band – Au Pairs - “It’s Obvious”

Oct. 28 – First Unitarian Church, Philly


Corin Tucker Band – Sheila E - “The Glamorous Life”

Oct. 28 – First Unitarian Church, Philly

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