Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Also hailing from the snowy north shores of Canada...

...that's how Abdominal introduces fellow Canuck rapper D-Sisive on the DJ Format track 3 Feet Deep and also when I first realized Abdominal was Canadian. Though really, the hockey reference in The Hit Song should have been a dead giveaway. Today's post is all about Abdominal and a bunch of other interconnected artists from in and around the Toronto music scene.

The seeds for this post were planted when CBC Radio 3 started posting the archived streams from the show Fuse, wherein two musical acts are fused together to make new music together. What caught my eye was the combination of Abdominal with Henri Fabergé & The Adorables. I was familiar with Abdominal since he contributed raps to six tracks on DJ Format's Mature for the Mature B-Boy and If You Can't Join 'Em... Beat 'Em. On the other hand, I'd never heard of Henri Fabergé & The Adorables, though I was soon to become an instant fan.

Abdominal - T-Ode (feat. Notes to Self)
DJ Format - Vicious Battle Raps (feat. Abdominal)
Abdominal AKA Andy Bernstein hails from Toronto, a fact he proudly touts on the track T-Ode (featuring a hilariously awkward intro from Toronto mayor David Miller) from his 2007 debut solo record Escape From the Pigeon Hole. Vinyl Frontier, an earlier collaboration with partner-in-crime DJ Fase, ended up in the hands of DJ Format who was so impressed he invited Abs to the UK to work together. Soon Abdominal would make his name known internationally with his fast, clever rapping on tracks such as The Hit Song, Ill Culinary Behaviour, and Vicious Battle Raps, the latter of which was accompanied by an impressively coordinated single-shot time-shifting music video directed by Ruben Fleischer.

DJ Format - Ill Culinary Behaviour (feat. Abdominal)
DJ Fase & Abdominal - Fast Food
Abdominal - Big Track
Big Track is a hilarious rap aimed at taking advantage of a dubious promotion that paid rappers to insert Big Mac references into their lyrics. A recurring theme in Abdominal's lyrics is his penchant for food... fast food, in particular, so he was more than up for the challenge. I thought Abs made up this bizarre corporate scheme, but as it turns out he didn't. Not sure what the ad execs were expecting, but I'm sure they would have been thrilled by lyrics like: "Beef from a hundred different cows in that? Of course, you must be talking about... the Big Mac."

Henri Fabergé & the Adorables - Crawl Back
Henri Fabergé & the Adorables - O! Ella
After listening to the entire Fuse session with Abdominal, I decided to track down the self-titled debut of Henri Fabergé & The Adorables. And by track down, I mean visit their myspace site where I learned that their CD is available at various Toronto music establishments, in Japan(?), as a digital download from Zunior, or "randomly at one HMV, in Vancouver at the Robson and Burrard location". Uh, that one random HMV was sold out when I went so ordering directly from the label Fuzzy Logic Recordings was the best bet, plus mine came wrapped in a random tour poster with some stickers too. The Adorables are a musical collective from Toronto with a rotating door of musicians from several bands including The Bicycles, Born Ruffians, Spitfires & Mayflowers, Woodhands, and more. The band has held up to 13 members at times (heck, probably more), though a constant is gangleader Henri Fabergé AKA Henry Fletcher. Their music is usually described as catchy or poppy, and I'll add infectiously sing-a-longable. Oh yeah, Laura Barrett's also an Adorable, which is just bonus incentive.

Abdominal & Henri Fabergé and the Adorables - Move Your Feet [originally by Junior Senior]
You can listen to the Abdominal and Adorables Fuse session here, though one song that's conspicuously missing from the playlist is a cover song. And what a glorious unexpected combo it is: Junior Senior's Move Your Feet, a song that I first became a fan of due to its awesomely lo-fi animated music video. Major kudos to Abdominal for likely being the only rapper to have name dropped Ian Hanomansing and Peter Mansbridge. Add a sample of Corey Hart's Sunglasses at Night and you've got a recipe for a cover that should bring smiles to any Canadian listener. Well, smiles to any listener really, but bonus smiles for Canucks! By the way, Mansbridge fans should check out an amusing clip from The Mercer Report video archives (click on the last clip from episode 11).

Laura Barrett - Deception Island Optimists Club [from Ursula EP]
Abdominal - Pedal Pusher
Laura Barrett was a nominee for the first annual SOCAN ECHO Songwriting Prize in 2006 for Deception Island Optimists Club, which appeared on her Earth Sciences EP and was later re-recorded on her follow-up EP Ursula released a couple months ago. Coincidentally, the SOCAN ECHO Songwriting Prize for 2007 was awarded to none other than Abdominal for Pedal Pusher, a song about his days as a bike courier for which he attributes his ability to rap for long sequences without taking a breath (further elaborated on his track Breathe Later). Unintentionally good timing on this post... Laura Barrett is featured on this Saturday's Fuse with The Hylozoists.

Abdominal - Open Relationship (feat. Elizabeth Shepherd)
On this candid track, Abs raps about an unorthodox relationship "experiment" with now ex-girlfriend and Do Right Music labelmate, jazz phenom Elizabeth Shepherd. Apparently that didn't work out, but they still remained on friendly terms, recording the track together nearly a year after the fact.

Elizabeth Shepherd Trio - The Price is Right [originally composed by Edd Kalehoff]
Elizabeth Shepherd Trio - Beauty & The Beast [originally written by Alan Menken/Howard Ashman]
Elizabeth Shepherd's 2006 debut Start to Move, nominated for a Juno for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, closes with a cool scat cover of The Price is Right theme, in which she also does her album thank-yous. I first heard a sample of The Beauty & The Beast cover on the Do Right Music myspace site and I knew I had to find it. Unfortunately, it's only on a Japanese compilation called Modal Jazz Loves Disney curated by Sunaga Tatsuo, which is generally pricey and/or unavailable. This version is ripped from a radio stream that was playing a vinyl record, so it's not great quality but it'll have to do for now. Luckily I know a couple people heading to Japan in the next few months that I intend to send on an errand (hint, hint).

Jaymz Bee & The Royal Jelly Orchestra - Fly Like an Eagle (feat. Elizabeth Shepherd) [originally by Steve Miller Band]
If you thought Seal finished off Fly Like an Eagle with his cover from the NBA/Looney Tunes movie mash-up Space Jam, definitely take a listen to this smooth groove cover. On the Price is Right track, Elizabeth Shepherd gives a shout-out to Jaymz Bee and the RJO who she collaborated with on Toronto Launch Pad, a collection of covers performed by the RJO with various featured vocalists. An early version of Elizabeth Shepherd's Start to Move is the only non-cover on there. Presumably the album served its purpose, helping to launch Shepherd into the limelight. More good timing on this post... her sophomore album Parkdale comes out next Tuesday!

Jaymz Bee & The Royal Jelly Orchestra - Sunglasses at Night (feat. John Southworth) [originally by Corey Hart]
Before Richard Cheese started lounging up contemporary songs, Jaymz Bee and the Royal Jelly Orchestra were giving the lounge treatment to Canadian hits like You Oughta Know, Superman's Song, Safety Dance, and more on 1997's Cocktail: Shakin' and Stirred. A 2002 follow-up Sub Urban featured lounge hip-hop hits. Currently Jaymz Bee is a host on JAZZ.FM91, a jazz station based in Toronto. In fact, my teenage cousin in T.O. was a guest host with Jaymz Bee twice last year... so there's my Kevin Bacon connection to Abdominal and DJ Format!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Concert Alert for Torontonians

There's a sure-to-be-great show shaping up in Toronto on June 19th. A fundraiser for The Blue Marble Music Fund, the line-up already includes Hawksley Workman, Sarah Harmer, Great Lake Swimmers, and Fong Songs faves Danny Michel and Serena Ryder. $30 + fees at Maple Music, Ticketmaster, and at Soundscapes and Criminal Records in Toronto. Jealous!

DJ Format Unsampled

Alright, now that I've got all that Raconteurs business out of my system, here's a post that's long overdue. I first caught wind of UK hip hop artist DJ Format about 5 years ago when the music video for We Know Something You Don't Know made the internet rounds. Breakdancing mascots is all you need to know. It wasn't until a couple years later when I saw the music video for 3 Feet Deep and began to take notice. After some, uh, "scrounging" I listened to a few more DJ Format tracks and liked what I heard, even though I didn't (and still don't) really listen to any hip-hop or rap. I eventually bought his debut album Music For The Mature B-Boy when I was in England a couple years ago and several tracks have become constants on the ol' iPod playlists. None moreso than The Hit Song featuring Canadian rapper Abdominal (more on him next time). The Hit Song can be summed up by its self-referential chorus:

"I use the word 'hit' in many sen-tences,
Listen how many 'hits' I manage to condense in the first verse,
In the second, I'm trying to rhyme as many words I can find that sound like 'hit',
In the last third verse, hit-related metaphors.
Example: I write more hits than Matt's got hit samples.
(Note: those are the lyrics as best as I can figure since other transcriptions available online aren't overly helpful)

DJ Format - The Hit Song (feat. Abdominal)
It's catchy, it's funny, and it's perhaps too clever by half, but then again, part of the fun lies in deciphering its lyrics.

Similar to digging up cover originals, I find it fascinating to uncover the sources of sampled music whether it's learning the sources of Fatboy Slim's big hits (check out A Break from the Norm for an earful) or breaking down Deee-Lite's Groove is in the Heart into its constituent parts. Naturally, after numerous listens to The Hit Song I began to wonder about the James Brown-like coda that ends the song. What I found out was that it's a sample of the song Hit Record performed by soul singer Mickey Murray, who indeed sounds remarkably like the Godfather of Soul. And as it turns out, Hit Record itself is a cover song, originally performed by Brooks Benton.

Mickey Murray - Hit Record [originally by Brook Benton]
Brook Benton - Hit Record
The song is a cheeky step-by-step guide on how to make a hit record. Ironically, I don't think any of these songs were really hits.

Razzy Bailey - I Hate Hate
Another ingredient that finds its way into The Hit Song is a sample from this anti-hate anthem by Razzy Bailey. If you're well-familiar with The Hit Song you'll find a nice surprise in the middle of this track.

DJ Format - Here Comes the Fuzz
Also from Music For The Mature B-Boy is the instrumental track Here Comes the Fuzz, which is built entirely around a repeated bass riff that's heavy on the fuzz.

The Quartertones - Here Comes the Fuzz (Remix) [originally by DJ Format]
Though labeled as a remix, this b-side to The Hit Song single is a cover of Here Comes the Fuzz performed by Toronto-based jazz/funk/fusion group The Quartertones.

Now that you've given Here Comes the Fuzz a spin, you've got to be asking yourself where that funky riff originates... and would you believe, it's from The King himself, Elvis Presley. Change of Habit is from the 1969 Elvis film of the same name, in which The King stars as an inner city doctor that falls for one of his nurses, who unbeknownst to him is secretly a nun. So many things seem wrong with that synopsis, but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time! Mary Tyler Moore stars as the undercover nun and for Elvis, this would be his final acting role. Now you know where the Fuzz came from.
Elvis Presley - Change of Habit

A couple bonus tracks:
DJ Format - Stealin' James, pt. 1
DJ Format - Stealin' James, pt. 2
DJ Format cuts and pastes together James Brown samples on these tracks, two sides of a 12" vinyl tribute released by TD Records. In this interview, he says he doesn't mind if people download it for free since he made it for fun and the record itself is "a totally dodgy release and breaks all copyright laws". That said, both DJ Format albums Music For The Mature B-Boy and If You Can't Join 'Em... Beat 'Em are definitely worth owning if you dig these tracks.

Hey, if you have any more insight into DJ Format samples, give me a shout or drop a comment. I'd love to know the origins of Last Bongo in Brighton.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Border Song addendum

One more Border Song for you that needs to be heard: an Italian cover by singer Mia Martini. Yes, it is one of my favourite Elton John songs if you're wondering why I have all these covers.
Mia Martini - Io straniera (Border Song) [originally by Elton John]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Border Songs

Where are you going?
What is the purpose of your visit?
I'm going to a concert.
A what?
Um, a rock concert.
You're in a band?
Uh, no.
Where is this show?
Uh, Neumo's or Neomo's... something like that.
Where's your ticket?
Uh, I'm supposed to pick it up from the venue.
You got a receipt or something?
Uh, no. To get in, I just need a photo ID and my credit card.
Who're you going to see?
The Raconteurs.
The Racon-what?
How do you spell that?
R. [starts typing]
Consolers of the Lonely?
Yeah, that's them.
Are you lonely?
Uh, no.
[repeats] Consolers of the Lonely.
Yeah, that's the name of their new album.
Okay, we're finished here.


Aretha Franklin - Border Song [originally by Elton John]
Eric Clapton - Border Song [originally by Elton John]
Diana Krall - Border Song [originally by Elton John]
Boko Suzuki - Border Song [originally by Elton John]

The White Stripes - Tennessee Border (live) [originally by Hank Williams]
The Raconteurs - Headin' For the Texas Border (live at Austin City Limits) [originally by The Flamin' Groovies]


Where do you live?
Where you coming from?
When did you arrive?
What for?
A concert.
Who was playing?
The Raconteurs.
How much were tickets?
Uh, to the show?
This $37 you have marked here-- for those posters you got there?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Raconteurs Tonight Too!
Part 2: Brendan Benson

The first time I remember hearing about Brendan Benson was when Pitchfork listed their top 5 music videos of 2005. That list first exposed me to Jason Forrest's wicked (song and video) War Photographer, re-introduced me to Supergrass via Low C, and introduced me to Brendan Benson via the video for Cold Hands, Warm Heart with cute and vaguely sadistic stick figure animations. BB generally gets the short shrift when people talk about The Raconteurs. Despite having three solo albums and co-writing almost all of the material on both Raconteurs albums, I guess he can't escape the media calling them Jack White and some other guys. Judging from this Newsweek interview, it's a wee bit tiresome for him. But whatcha gonna do? He's already recorded his next solo album, but it won't be released until probably next year once all this Raconteurs business is out of the way.

Brendan Benson - Folk Singer
Brendan Benson - Good to Me

The White Stripes - Folk Singer [originally by Brendan Benson]
The White Stripes - Good to Me [originally by Brendan Benson]

The Mood Elevator - Money City Maniacs [originally by Sloan]
Now this here is actually the impetus for these last two posts. Saturday being Record Store Day, I paid a visit to Zulu Records and bought a handful of CDs including a compilation called One Scene to Another: Plumline Record's Tribute to Canadian Indie Rock. Now really, with a title like that who could resist? From the CD insert: "our favorite Detroit bands from the present cover songs by our favorite Canadian bands from the past. Hope you enjoy." The Canadian bands being covered include Sloan, Joel Plaskett, Thrush Hermit, Jale, The Super Friendz, Eric's Trip (former band of Julie Doiron), The Hardship Post, The Inbreds, Hayden, Plumtree, and Zumpano (former band of A.C. Newman, frontman of The New Pornographers). Note: this album can be bought online here.

Admittedly, I bought this just to hear a Money City Maniacs cover, so imagine my surprise when I skim the liner notes and see that Brendan Benson is credited for "snaps, backing vocals" on the track. As it turns out, Brendan Benson was also in a band called The Mood Elevator, a re-arranged line-up of Brendan Benson & The Wellfed Boys. Nifty.

Terry Reid - Rich Kid Blues
The Raconteurs - Rich Kid Blues [originally by Terry Reid]
Of course you should have Consolers of the Lonely already, but if not, check out this cover of Terry Reid's Rich Kid Blues. Sound a little Zeppelin-esque to you too? Reid was Jimmy Page's first choice to be the lead singer of his new band after The Yardbirds, but he declined and suggested someone by the name of Robert Plant...

Terry Reid - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) [originally by Sonny Bono; performed by Cher]
The Raconteurs - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (live) [originally by Sonny Bono; performed by Cher]
The Raconteurs played this a bunch on their last tour (including on Austin City Limits). Perhaps Terry Reid's version is partially responsible for that cover choice...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Raconteurs Tonight!
Part 1: Patrick Keeler & Little Jack Lawrence

Big show tonight at the Commodore Ballroom: The Raconteurs. Ahem, you know the "other" band of that guy. We're going to focus on the guys in the band who don't really get their fair share of the limelight. Using the liner notes of Consolers of the Lonely, we've got "Little" Jack Lawrence ("Bass, Banjo and Back-up Vocality"), Patrick Keeler ("Drums and Repercussions"), and Brendan Benson ("Sing, String, Ring, Ding, Dong").

Okay, okay, it's nearly impossible to talk about the Raconteurs without mentioning Jack White III ("Vocals, Frets, Stylophone, Pianos and Vital Organs"). You'll learn quickly that all these guys are inter-connected in curious ways dating back way before their 2006 debut as the Raconteurs, so we're going to end up playing a little six degrees of separation (but more like 3 degrees).

The first time I saw Patrick and Little Jack, they were two-thirds of The Greenhornes, the opening band for back-to-back White Stripes shows here in Vancouver in 2005. I remember after the second show, hanging around the side door in vain just in case The White Stripes came out, which they didn't. I did end up shaking Patrick's hand and getting his autograph, which I promptly lost. The Greenhornes are a garage rock band, reviving the sound of the 60's with influences such as The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Animals, and so on. Their official website seems to have changed since I last saw it (now it's basically an image of a horse with "coming soon" underneath) and judging by comments from Brendan Benson, The Greenhornes' indefinite hiatus may be ending soon...

The Greenhornes - Nobody Loves You
The Greenhornes - I've Been Down
A couple of my favourite Greenhornes originals.

The Greenhornes - Lost Woman [originally by The Yardbirds]
This Yardbirds cover was a hidden track on Sewed Soles, an album made of selected tracks from their previously releases...almost like a Greenhornes sampler.

Loretta Lynn - Have Mercy
Loretta Lynn & Jack White - Portland Oregon
The Raconteurs - Portland Oregon (live in Portland, Oregon)
The White Stripes - Rated X [originally by Loretta Lynn]
I didn't realize at the time, but Patrick and Little Jack were both involved as the rhythm section for Loretta Lynn's 2004 album Van Lear Rose produced by Jack White.

The Greenhornes - Shelter of Your Arms
The White Stripes - Shelter of Your Arms [originally by the Greenhornes]
From The Greenhornes' 2005 East Grand Blues EP, produced by Brendan Benson. Perhaps in a little bit of cross-promotion, The White Stripes covered it as a b-side to The Denial Twist single.

The Greenhornes - There is An End (with Holly Golightly)
Holly Golightly - There's An End
The White Stripes - It's True That We Love One Another (with Holly Golightly)
The third member of The Greenhornes is lead singer/guitarist Craig Fox who wrote There is An End. British singer Holly Golightly sings on two versions of the song, the latter from her 2003 album Truly She is None Other, which has liner notes by Jack White. She also joins Jack & Meg on the great track It's True That We Love One Another, a cheeky little ditty from Elephant.

Now it's time for fun trivia with cult filmmaker Jim Jarmusch:

  • There is An End was used as the theme to Jarmusch's 2005 film Broken Flowers starring Bill Murray
  • Jack & Meg White both appeared in a sequence of Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes
  • Jarmusch directed one of two music videos for The Raconteurs debut single Steady, As She Goes.
  • At the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, The Raconteurs (serving as the house band) were joined by Jim Jarmusch to sing "Internet Killed the Video Star"
  • Jarmusch produced a "First Nations remix" of The White Stripes Blue Orchid, featured on a 12" vinyl with another remix by Michel Gondry

OK, before this post gets too unwieldy, I'm going to cut it off here and talk about Mr. Brendan Benson tomorrow. I'll also be off at 7am to catch a bus to Seattle to see Raconteurs, round 2! Let's see how well this blogger post-dating thing works...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Record Store Day!

For the record, today's a holiday. Record Store Day! Celebrating the existence of independent record stores across the US and Canada, and probably elsewhere. Hundreds of special events going on: sales, free stuff, prizes, exclusive merchandise, and such. You and I know both know the first artist that comes to mind when you think "indie record store"... Metallica! Um, yeah, so they're kicking off the festivities with a in-store signing and fan meet & greet at Rasputin Music in Mountain View (near San Francisco).

450+ record stores are participating in the events. Lots of local bands performing in-store. An incomplete sample of artists involved can be read here and here.

  • If you live in Massachusetts and have a Newbury Comics near you, check the list of events here. Coolest in my mind, at the Newbury Comics in Cambridge, Brian Viglione and Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls will be acting as "employees" between 2 and 5pm. In addition to helping out at check-out, Brian will be acting as store DJ and Amanda will be painting a picture that will be given away at the end of the day. Coming soon from the Dresden Dolls: No, Virginia a collection of b-sides and newly recorded versions of songs left off Yes, Virginia. There's a pre-order contest here. Grand prize? A wicked-looking toy piano (a baby baby grand), a copy of their new songbook The Virginia Companion (literally a Dresden Dolls tome), and pair of tickets to every Dolls concert in North America and Europe that you can physically get yourself to. 5 runners-up get all of the above minus the piano. Nice.

  • Concerts all day at Sunrise Records (click for full line-up) on Yonge Street in Toronto. Hey, at 4:30pm, Fong Songs fave Laura Barrett will be performing there.

  • Check here for events across Canada as compiled by the folks at CBC Radio 3. Here in Vancouver, I've heard there's a few indie record places to check out: Red Cat Records, Zulu Records, and Scratch. Since moving here I've only been to Red Cat which is probably closest, but today I may just do a little circuit to see what's going down. Unbelievably it hailed and snowed last night-- hopefully it warms up soon.

So yeah, support your local record stores. Sure it's all fun to download and stuff, but nothing beats flipping through stacks of CDs and finding gold.

Record Store Day Grab Bag!
Mates of State - Starman [originally by David Bowie]
Long Goners - Ball & Biscuit [originally by The White Stripes]
The Bad Plus - Velouria [originally by The Pixies]
Metallica - Stone Cold Crazy [originally by Queen]
Furillo - The Final Countdown [originally by Europe]
Cansei de ser Sexy - One Way or Another/Teenage Kicks
[originally by Blondie/The Undertones]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cover of the Coverville Times

Big thanks again to Brian Ibbott, host of always awesome Coverville, for inviting a bunch of us bloggers to discuss and debate (or in my case, ramble and trail off) about our chosen field of expertise: cover songs. 'Twas a distinguish panel that I was proud to be a part of: Liza of Copy, Right?, Steve of Cover Freak, Joshua of Cover Lay Down, and with Kurtis of Covering the Mouse and myself providing the Canadian Content.

It was lots of fun, even though I had a tendency to go into Coverville listener mode and forget I was supposed to be participating. I also got kinda rambly and nonsensical when I started ranting about movie soundtracks, but the real cover culprits that I was getting at (but couldn't think of at the time) were the music factories that churn out stuff like Kidz Bop, Picking On..., Rock-a-Bye Baby, K-Tel Records, and String Quartet tributes. Like a bad SNL skit, they take what may have been a novel idea at first then stretch it out and beat it like a smashed piñata that's run out of candy. The franchising of cover songs is not exclusively an American phenomenon, but I'm sure it's more prevalent in the States than anywhere else. Anyway, I'm glad Joshua was there to rein us in and highlight the under-the-radar cover albums from the US that we conveniently ignored.

Let the campaign begin... Danny Michel's cover of Young Americans is my official nomination for the 2008 Coverville Countdown. Like all great covers, you can lose yourself in it and forget there even was an original.
Danny Michel - Young Americans [originally by Danny Michel]

Also, because you really need to listen to it, here's the Dan Kelly cover of Nothing Compares 2 U that Brian played a sample of in the show. If I had actually heard it last year, it'd be one of my top covers of 2007.
Dan Kelly - Nothing Compares 2 U [originally by Prince]

Yesiree, bob. Dawggum, made it on Coverville, yes I dids.
In grade 12 English class, we had to do an oral presentation on a poet of our choice. I talked about Ogden Nash in an awful multimedia performance, in which I read the poem "We Would Refer You to Our Service Department, If We Had One" in a dreadful "southern" drawl that I cooked up. Yikes, I just cringe thinking about it. Another student did a presentation on Shel Silverstein (ooh, good choice!) and what I learned that day was that in addition to his classic children's books and poetry, he was quite the songwriter, probably most famously for A Boy Named Sue which became a big hit for Johnny Cash. While most of the oral presentations were a slog to sit through, I still remember when that student put a CD in the ghetto blaster and out came Cover of the Rolling Stone. Shel Silverstein was a frequent songwriter for Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show including this one, which was also featured in a memorable scene from Almost Famous. Not thinking much of it initially, soon its infectious playfulness and catchy sing-a-long chorus won me over.

Poison - Cover of the Rolling Stone [originally by Dr. Hook]
Other than cranking the tempo up a notch a minute into the song, this cover is surprisingly faithful down to the vocal intonations and even background banter, which would normally seem uninspired, but here comes off as an oddly endearing tribute to the original.

R. Stevie Moore - Cover of the Rolling Stone [originally by Dr. Hook]
I'll admit having never heard of R. Stevie Moore, though he has an intriguing wikipedia entry that explains he is an American musician from Tennessee who has, in addition to many indie label releases, "self-issued approximately 400 cassette and CD-R albums". Check his official website here.

Buck Owens - On the Cover of the Music City News [originally by Dr. Hook]
Here Buck Owens does a country-fied variation, substituting The Music City News, which as you might have guessed is a country music magazine.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tonight on Coverville...

Hey folks, if you're not subscribed already (which you should be), head on over to Coverville tonight for The Cover Blog Roundtable! Yours truly was invited by Brian Ibbott to join a guest panel with such cover luminaries as:

More later once I give it a listen, so I can make excuses for how ridiculous I sound. :)

Electric Six - Radio Ga Ga [originally by Queen]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Trews & Stuff

Going to see The Trews tonight at the Commodore Ballroom. They're a rock band from Nova Scotia that I first saw when they opened for Robert Plant in 2005. They remind me a bit of The Black Crowes, perhaps without so much of the heavy blues influence. That set ended with a lively cover of Bohemian Rhapsody and I'm curious to see if they'll play some covers tonight since some Stones covers have also been known to show up. No Time For Later, their latest album, was released in February though I haven't heard it yet. My friend and roommate is a big fan, so Den of Thieves their second album from 2005 has been getting a lot of spins lately.

The Trews - Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me
I distinctly remember this from that show as they impressively sung the harmonized a cappella intro from what I consider the standout track from Den of Thieves.

The Trews - Naked [originally by Tracy Bonham]
This cover is also from Den of Thieves.

The Trews and Ron Hynes - Mull of Kintyre [originally by Paul McCartney]
Last year, The Trews appeared with Ron Hynes, a folk singer from Newfoundland, on the great CBC Radio program Fuse, where two artists are brought together to fuse with each other's songs, or in this case Paul McCartney's song. Coming up soon on Fuse: Basia Bulat with the Hylozoists.

Michael Kaeshammer & Hayley Sales - Happy Xmas (War is Over) [originally by John Lennon & Yoko Ono]
This past weekend on Fuse, they re-broadcast a show from December featuring singer-songwriter Hayley Sales and jazz pianist/singer Michael Kaeshammer. There are numerous covers of the John Lennon's classic song, though most are very faithful and often embellish the bittersweetness of the tune. This is a playful cover that for once puts the "happy" in Happy Xmas.

Tift Merritt - The Long and Winding Road [originally by The Beatles]
Look, I'm not even trying and we got three Beatles-related covers in a row! Last Friday I went to see Tift Merritt live at the Plaza Club... sort of by accident. I bought the ticket meaning to see Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek who was the opener, though I completely missed her since I was at a birthday dinner for an acquaintance. This is perhaps the first time in history that the show started soon after the doors opened. I've been to shows where the opening act came on three hours after doors opened and typically a couple hours seems safe. Doors were at 7pm, I arrived at 8:15pm, Tift Merritt came on at 8:30pm. The whole time I figured Sara Watkins didn't even perform since she wasn't listed on the ticket or anything, but Tift thanked Sara at the end of the night and her CDs were being sold at the back. Kinda sucked to miss her, but I did see her perform already in L.A. a couple months ago and Tift Merritt put on a great show anyway.

Tift Merritt - It's the Shame [originally by Stillhouse]
Honestly, I'd never even really heard of Tift Merritt, though she's been nominated for a 2004 Grammy and been on Austin City Limits among other things. Though born in Houston, Texas, she moved to North Carolina at an early age, which of course is where two of my favourite bands are from, Ben Folds Five and Squirrel Nut Zippers. In fact, Tift Merritt's drummer Zeke Hutchins also drums for Hotel Lights, a band started by former Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee. This cover is from Songs For Sixty Five Roses, a charity compilation benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The album features North Carolina bands "re-working the North Carolina jukebox" and here, Tift covers a band called Stillhouse, which as I learned from their website has a drummer named... Zeke Hutchins. How many bands does this guy drum for? The answer: several.

Dolly Parton with Nickel Creek - Blowin' in the Wind [originally by Bob Dylan]
While I missed Sara Watkins perform, I did find out from a little postcard-like thing I grabbed on the way out that she's got a new solo album coming out soon. Her solo myspace site is here and my jaw was dropping as I read her some blog posts... she and her brother Sean flew out to London in December for the LED ZEPPELIN reunion! *JEALOUS* And how did they score tickets? Well, I guess it helps to have John Paul Jones as a pal and colleague. JPJ has been known to sit-in as a guest on The Watkins Family Hour at the Largo and he's producing her solo album, which features as her band Sean Watkins, Glen Phillips, Greg Leisz, Benmont Tentch, Pete Thomas, Davey Faragher, and Luke Bulla. When I was in L.A. at the end of January, going to see The Watkins Family Hour at the Largo was a definite must-see, even though it was absolutely pouring that night. It's heavy on the ground rules (no electronics including cellphones, no talking during show, minimum dinner charge, etc.), but totally worth it for a pure music-loving atmosphere. I don't know for sure, but I figure you could only squeeze 100 people in there, so it's as intimate as you can get outside of a show in your living room. As awesome as the show was, I couldn't help but pout when I read that two weeks later Jon Paul Jones and Jon Brion were guests. Sigh. Based on blog post, Sara had a nice first look at Vancouver and may be back this fall in conjunction with her new album.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stones! Covers!
They're just a click away, they're just a click away...

I saw Shine a Light a couple days ago and have come to the conclusion that I don't particularly like watching concert films, though as far as concert films go, it's pretty awesome. My main beef is that I was just sitting there with my arms alternately folded or propping up my head on the armrest. IMAX, larger than life, like being there... except you're not. It's missing the exhilaration of watching a LIVE performance unfold before your eyes and ears, and simply being engulfed in the music. Maybe it was just me. A woman next to me distractingly danced in her chair, and by "dance" I mean she made little fists and awkwardly moved them up and down to no particular beat. Luckily she only danced for the songs she knew, which were not many. And this was to the great benefit of the film too, as their big hits were limited to the beginning and end of the film. I was somewhat surprised by the diversity of the set, expecting mostly hits to be churned out. If you were to use the Forty Licks album as a template for their greatest hits, only seven of those were played, which makes up less than half of Shine a Light. Before the concert, we see Mick Jagger poring over pages and pages of potential songs that he uses to compile setlists. The songs are amusingly listed under headings of "well-known", "medium known", and "songs we should never play live". So it was a treat to hear the lesser known songs come out to play. But even the songs that have probably been played and rehearsed to death, they still manage to make electric.

The easy comparison is to the last Imax concert film I saw, U2 3D, and there's quite a difference. The Rolling Stones are more lively for one thing. Watching Mick Jagger is remarkable; he's got more moves and energy than people half his age (and then some). At one point Keith Richards remarks that when he's out on stage he stops thinking and just feels. The intimacy of Shine a Light shares that sense of feeling the music. Sure, the Stones occasionally wink at the crowd or do the ol' "I can't hear you" shtick, but other times, particularly when Buddy Guy joins them for a stunning Muddy Waters cover, the crowd seems to fade away and they are just plain having a blast on stage with each other. Special guests Jack White and Christina Aguilera inject some excitement to an already buzzing show, even if they're just a marketing ploy to pull a younger demographic into the seats. And guess what, it worked. Cut Scorsese and White from the credits, and I probably would not be inclined to check it out.

Be warned that even though the concert was being directed by Martin Scorsese with a crack team of Oscar-winning/nominated cinematographers (There Will Be Blood, The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Children of Men, Kill Bill, The Aviator, etc.) with 16 cameras covering every angle, like any concert these days it is not immune to idiots proudly holding up their crappy cell phone cameras to snap blurry 2MP close-ups of Mick or even worse "filming". You're in the front row, people-- enjoy it!

Now, a handful of my all-time favourite Stones covers.

Ruth Copeland - Gimme Shelter
Even though Gimme Shelter appears in three Scorsese films (Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed), I guess it just didn't make the setlist this time around. Gimme Shelter has been covered numerous times by the likes of Merry Clayton (the female vocalist on the original), Patti Smith, Grand Funk Railroad, Angélique Kidjo with Joss Stone, Mitch Ryder, and most recently the Stereophonics. But my favourite cover of Gimme Shelter has has got to be singer Ruth Copeland backed by George Clinton and members of Parliament. Copeland, a British folk/blues singer, was a co-producer on Parliament's debut album Osmium and her association with George Clinton and Parliament extended to her first two solo albums Self Portrait and I Am What I Am, both later collected and released as Gimme Shelter: The Invictus Sessions. At just over 8 minutes, it's an epic funk tour-de-force. Eschewing the trademark rhythm guitar opening, it starts off with just the drums, before the main chords are dramatically pounded out on a piano. Then, enter the fuzz. Warbling, wah wah, fuzzy guitars featuring a blistering Jimi-like lead by Parliament's Eddie Hazel. And Ruth Copeland's soulful wails of War! Children! Rape! Murder! cement this as the winning cover. Halfway through, the drums crawl to a stop, replaced by a slow organ with whispered vocals of the chorus, which swell to a chaotic climax as the band bursts back in and "love's just a kiss away" is repeatedly chanted like it's the end of the world.

Choro Azul - Paint It, Black
RLM & Katsuhiko Sakamoto & Ikuko Harada - 19th Nervous Breakdown
The blandly titled Japanese compilation A Tribute to the Rolling Stones is paradoxically filled a bunch of good to great Stones covers that play unexpectedly with several over-covered Stones hits. I love this Choro Azul cover that transforms Paint It, Black into a Brazilian samba with Nina Simone-like vocals. And I love this 19th Nervous Breakdown cover, an upbeat piano jaunt with liberal use of a flute. With a near incomprehensible accent, the lead singer sounds like he has heard the original so many times that he knows the lyrics down pat by sound, if not necessarily meaning.

Alicia Keys featuring Adam Levine - Wild Horses
I'm going to reveal my ignorance of Alicia Keys and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine... when I first heard this cover, I thought the initial voice heard singing was Alicia Keys. Only when the clearly female vocals kick in for the second verse did I realize that oops, that was Adam Levine earlier. Gender bending vocals aside, I really like this piano-based cover-- even that curious key change every time they sing "...couldn't drag me away".

Moist - Miss You
Mid-90's Canadian rockers Moist ditch the disco vibe of the original.

Tori Amos - Angie
In 2001, Tori Amos released Strange Little Girls, a cover concept album where she re-interpreted twelve songs written by men. The 1992 EP for the single Crucify also featured three covers that would have fit the bill: Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Led Zeppelin's Thank You, and this cover of The Rolling Stones' Angie.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Canadian Cover Content #8: Juno Wrap-up

There's a new Juno juggernaut and her name is Leslie Feist. After winning 3 Junos during the non-broadcast gala on Saturday, Feist completed the sweep last night with two more (Album and Pop Album of the Year), winning all 5 of her nominations. Celine Dion who led all nominees with 6 nominations and Avril Lavigne who had 5 were both shut out. Wintersleep won New Group of the Year, Blue Rodeo won Group of the Year, and Paul Brandt won best country recording. Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé proved to not be such a juggernaut after all, only taking home the Doritos Fan Choice Award. Bublé joked as he accepted the award, "This is for all those people who said I couldn't vote for myself enough times to win. I’d like to thank Doritos for making such tasty treats... Sometimes when I eat them it makes my fingers go orange—but it’s worth it!” I'm just listening to the CBC's Q podcast right now and host Jian Ghomeshi thinks Bublé would make a good host for next year's Junos which are being held here in Vancouver. I agree. He's a natural performer with an irreverent sense of humour. Equal parts artist and entertainer, a fan favourite, and a hometown Vancouver boy, I can't think of a more appropriate host for the Junos '09.

Michael Bublé - This Love [originally by Maroon 5]
From his Caught in the Act DVD, Bublé riffs through a goofy sing-a-long version of the Maroon 5 hit, ending with a little operatic flourish.

Feist - Inside + Out (Apostle of Hustle UnMix Live at the BBC) [originally by The Bee Gees]
Another version of Feist's cover of The Bee Gee's Love You Inside Out from her album Open Season, a collection of Feist "remixes and collabs".

Feist - Sealion [traditional; popularized by Nina Simone]
A traditional folk song that goes by many names: Sea Lion Woman, See Line Woman, Sea-Line Woman... It was first recorded by Christine and Katherine Shipp in 1939 for the Library of Congress and is available on a CD called A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings. The liner notes to that even offers some more variations: See [the] Lyin' Woman or C-Line Woman. Nina Simone recorded her version See Line Woman for the 1964 release Broadway-Blues-Ballads. At last night's show, Feist performed a show-stopping version of Sealion from her now Juno-winning album The Reminder.

Remember how I mentioned that there was a controversy about who was on the Best Album list that shouldn't have been? Quick recap: Anne Murray was left off the nomination, but after recalculating the figures for Best Album (one of several categories where nominations are based on sales) they added her to the ballot, so now there was an extra nominee. Up against two Celine Dion records, Michael Bublé, Avril Lavigne, and now Anne Murray, I sort of suspected that it may be indeed Feist who was the odd one out. I really couldn't imagine her outselling the other nominees, each of whom have huge demographics driving their sales. Please forgive the broad generalizations, but Avril has her teen/pop crowd; Celine has Québec and Oprah; Anne Murray skews to an older, nostalgic crowd with a gauntlet of superstar guests; and Bublé kinda appeals to everyone. What about Feist? Indie types and people who liked that iPod commercial? Weeks ago Anne Murray told the Canadian Press, "The person who is not supposed to be in there could conceivably win..." And I don't mean this as a slight against Feist, but rather the methodology behind the nominations. For example, a couple years ago you know who was up for Album of the Year? Nickelback, Bublé, a Diana Krall Christmas album, and TWO Canadian Idol contestants. That about sums it up right there. I just found out that Anne Murray flub wasn't the only Juno "logistical error" this year. After the nominations were announced, they also added Jill Barber to the New Artist list and rapper Classified was all out replaced by JDiggz because his album was already nominated last year. Whoops!

McNutt blogs about Feist's "mistaken victory" here and notes that this has happened before, not too long ago...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Canadian Cover Content #7: Juno Weekend, Part II

As it turns out almost all of the Juno awards were given out last night at a gala dinner except for the 7 major awards in the televised portion, which is on tonight hosted by comedian Russell Peters. Feist already claimed two Junos for Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. She's also up for three more tonight. Blue Rodeo was the other double-winner for Adult Alternative Album and Best Video. The Arcade Fire's Neon Bible won for Best Alternative Album. I was rooting for Serena Ryder and she did in fact win for New Artist of the Year. Way to go! There's too many to mention, but a PDF of the non-broadcast winners can be looked at here.

Serena Ryder - Good Morning Sunshine (remix) [originally from the musical Hair (MacDermot/Rado/Ragni)]
The music of Hair was written by Montréal-born Galt MacDermot with lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. I wouldn't have realized the Canadian connection without this cover from Serena Ryder's collection of covers by Canadian songwriters If Your Memory Serves You Well. The alternate mix of Good Morning Starshine is a hidden track on the album.

Boy Kill Boy - Maneater [originally by Nelly Furtado]
Panic! at the Disco - Maneater [originally by Nelly Furtado]
Richard Clapton - I'm Like a Bird [originally by Nelly Furtado]
Nelly Furtado - Crazy [originally by Gnarls Barkley]
Last year, Nelly Furtado hosted the Junos and ended up sweeping all 5 of her nominations. This year the only category she's up for is the Fan Choice Award, though she is a "friend" on the multi-nominated Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends.

Rufus Wainwright - Puttin' on the Ritz [originally by Irving Berlin]
Rufus was up for Adult Alternative Album and Songwriter of the Year, going home empty-handed after last night's ceremony. This cover is from his Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall live album where he re-created Judy Garland's 1961 Carnegie Hall concert backed by an orchestra with special guests, including a duet with Judy's daughter Lorna Luft.

Relient K - Manic Monday [originally by The Bangles; written by Prince]
I didn't know Relient K were Canadian... and they're not really. Lead singer/songwriter Matthew Thiessen was born in Ontario before moving to Ohio at an early age, meeting best friends and future band mates Matt Hoopes and Brian Pittman in elementary school. So I guess there's enough Canadian blood in the band to satisfy Juno criteria. They were up for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year, which was won by Brian Doerksen. This is from a Punk Goes 80's compilation.

Holly Cole with Bob Belden - Purple Rain [originally by Prince]
From the jazz tribute album Blue Note Plays Prince. Holly Cole was up for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, which was won by Sophie Milman.

Jake Shimabukuro - My Heart Will Go On [originally by Celine Dion]
Celine Dion - I Wish [originally by Stevie Wonder]
Universally loved and hated, I debated about including some Celine, but she is Canadian and she does lead all nominees with 6 nominations. I'm a fan of ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro so if you've been looking for a palatable version of the Titanic theme, here you go. Plus, her Stevie Wonder cover gives you the rare opportunity to hear Celine Dion reminisce about her days as a "nappy-headed boy".

Tegan and Sara - Rebel Rebel (featuring Grace Nocturnal) [originally by David Bowie]
Tegan and Sara were in a tough category for Alternative Album of the Year with Arcade Fire (who won), Holy Fuck, Patrick Watson, and Wintersleep rounding out the nominees. This Bowie cover is from all-girls The Spiders From Venus compilation released by the soon-to-be-defunct label Skipping Discs, though it's still available on CD Baby.

The Arcade Fire - Five Years [originally by David Bowie]
While we're on the topic of The Arcade Fire, Bowie, and compilations... here's The Arcade Fire's live cover of Five Years from the 2-disc Bowie cover compilation .2 Contamination.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Canadian Cover Content #6: Juno Weekend

This weekend is Juno weekend and I don't mean last year's much-beloved indie film, even though that does has more than its fair share of Canadian content-- director Jason Reitman, Ellen Page, Michael Cera... even Jason Bateman has a Canuck connection: he's Paul Anka's son-in-law! Anyway, the Junos are the annual music awards given out by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Think Canadian Grammies. Ironically, Juno (the film), despite being filmed in Vancouver with its Canadian stars and director, was ineligible for this year's Genies (think Canadian Oscars) because it wasn't made with Canadian money...

No, not Juneau, though coincidentally the Junos are named after Pierre Juneau, one-time head of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and architect of our Canadian content regulations. This year's Junos are being held tomorrow night in Calgary, Alberta with host Russell Peters.

There's a bit of controversy this year's awards. At first, Anne Murray's album Duets: Friends and Legends (which has some covers on it, FYI) was left off the list of best album nominees due to an error in the way sales figures were calculated. They've since added her to the nomination, but now there are 6 nominees, leaving everyone wondering who's the weak link of the category... The other nominees are Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion (with two nominations), Michael Bublé, and Feist. A lot of nominees for the major categories are based purely on sales and there's even a Doritos (ugh) Fan Choice award. I have no idea what's the deal with the "International Album of the Year" category with this year's nominees Bon Jovi, Fergie, Josh Groban, Rihanna, and Timbaland. Clearly a celebration of Canadian music. Juno nominations have always been a little suspect: in 2004, Fong Songs fave Danny Michel was once nominated for Best New Artist after his 5TH album since 1997, eventually losing to Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé.

Record sales and stuff aside, at the very least the Junos remind us how awesome Canadian music can be. To celebrate here's a tasty sampling of covers by and of some of the nominated artists.

Danny Michel - After the Gold Rush [originally by Neil Young]
One Juno nominee honours another. Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II is nominated for Best Adult Alternative Album (whatever that means) and Danny's live DVD is nominated for Music DVD of the year. His newest album Feather, Fun & Fin just came out a couple weeks ago and he's currently on a cross-country tour with a stop in Calgary for the Junos. His live shows are not to be missed and I'll probably be seeing back-to-back shows here in Vancouver at the end of the month.

Serena Ryder - Some of These Days [originally by Shelton Brooks]
Serena Ryder - It Doesn't Matter Anymore [originally by Buddy Holly; written by Paul Anka]
Serena Ryder is nominated for Best New Artist of the Year and my vote's for her, though admittedly I'm pretty unfamiliar with the other artists (Belly, Jeremy Fisher, Justin Nozuka, Suzie McNeil, and Jill Barber). I'm still not sure what the criteria for this category is since her debut album is from 2005 while her collection of Canadian cover songs If Your Memory Serves You Well came out in 2006. Her soulful renditions of Some of These Days and It Doesn't Matter Anymore just floor me. I was also blown away when I found out that deep rich bluesy voice was attached to someone in her mid-20's... in fact, younger than me by a few months. Très bizarre.

Suzie McNeil - Remedy [originally by The Black Crowes]
Another of the New Artist nominees is Suzie McNeil, a former contestant on the reality show Rock Star INXS who came in 4th overall. In fact, of the 15 contestants vying to be lead singer for the Aussie rock band, three were Canadian including the eventual winner JD Fortune. From the show's official soundtrack, she does an okay job covering the Black Crowes.

James Keelaghan & Oscar Lopez - Follow Me Up There, Carlos [originally Follow Me Up to Carlow by P. J. McCall; traditional]
James Keelaghan & Oscar Lopez first teamed up in 1997 for the album Compadres, combining Latino and Celtic influences into what they dub "Celtino". I first heard them at the 2000 Edmonton Folk festival and became hooked on that album, which features this traditional Irish tune. I didn't even realize it was a cover until I heard a Celtic punk cover last year. Their long overdue follow-up Buddy, Where You Been? is nominated for a Juno in the category of Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (Group).

Feist - Inside and Out [originally Love You Inside Out by The Bee Gees]
Feist - We Can Work It Out (with Arthur H) [originally by The Beatles]
Jack Penate - 1234 [originally by Feist]
Feist, who's already won a few Junos in past years, could walk away with a few more this year with 5 nominations including Album, Artist, Pop Album, Single (1234), and Songwriter of the Year. Her Beatles cover with French singer Arthur H is from the French TV show Taratata, which I'm starting to realize is a great source for live cover songs. In 2006, Feist was even nominated for a cover song! Her Bee Gees cover was up for Single of the Year, eventually losing to Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé.

The Corb Lund Band - Sixteen Tons [originally by Merle Travis]
Corb Lund's Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! is nominated for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (Solo). The first time I heard of Corb Lund he was playing a show in the basement theatre of the downtown library I was working at. Earlier this week, he and his band The Hurtin' Albertans played to a hometown crowd of 6000 fans at Rexall Place, home to our Edmonton Oilers (who are now packed up for the golf season). What a difference a few years makes. Even just last night I happened to catch a feature story about him on The National (Canada's national news broadcast). I'm one of those people who say "I listen to everything... oh yeah, except country music". Of course there are always exceptions to that and Corb Lund is one of them. His debut album Modern Pain was released on cassette in 1995 with only 1000 copies in circulation. It was re-released in 2003 with some bonus tracks including this live cover of Sixteen Tons. To me, the deep baritone of Tennessee Ernie Ford's version of Sixteen Tons will forever be associated to Grade 12 art class where this and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue seemed to be in constant rotation (no complaints though, I love 'em both!).

Jamie T - When the Night Feels My Song [originally by Bedouin Soundclash]
English singer/songwriter Jamie T performed this cover of Bedouin Soundclash's biggest hit on Jo Whiley's Live Lounge show. This year, Bedouin Soundclash is nominated for Pop Album of the Year and Video of the Year. A couple years ago, When the Night Feels My Song was nominated for Single of the Year, eventually losing to Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé.

Pascale Picard - Wish You Were Here [originally by Pink Floyd]
Québécois artist Pascale Picard is in tough against Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Feist, and Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé for Artist of the Year. Not sure how Picard's only nomination ended up in this category. Artist of the Year with no other nominations? Her debut album came out last year and she's not even up for Best New Artist! Silly Junos. She contributed this cover and a great Shine On You Crazy Diamond to the compilation album Pink Floyd Redux, an underrated album that I've posted about a few times.

Michael Bublé - I'm Your Man [originally by Leonard Cohen]
From this year's nominee for Best Album, Call Me Irresistible, Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé swings Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man. He's also up for Best Pop Album, Artist, Single, and the Doritos (ugh) Fan Choice Award. Call Me Irresistible has already won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at this year's Grammies down south. Bublé was nominated in that same category at last year's Grammies too for his Caught in the Act, eventually losing to Tony Bennett's Duets: An American Classic... featuring Juno juggernaut Michael Bublé.

Tune in tomorrow on Juno night for more Canadian covers!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Les Inrocks Cover Contest

I got an interesting e-mail from JD Beauvallet, chief editor of the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Rough Trade Records, they are running a Rough Trade songs cover competition on their website for "new talent" called The competition is opened to any unsigned bands and runs until May 12th, when the winner will be decided by Geoff Travis, founder of Rough Trade Records, and JD Beauvallet himself. And the winner will get to record a single for Rough Trade. Pretty snazzy.

Of course the major by-product is we get to hear a bunch of new covers based on artists in the Rough Trade catalogue. And they have quite the catalogue indeed. Artists on the legendary Rough Trade label include The Smiths, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, The Arcade Fire, Belle & Sebastian, The Hidden Cameras, The Strokes, Wire, Jonathan Richman, The Fall, The Libertines, Fiery Furnaces, Violent Femmes, and many, many more.

So from now until May 12th keep checking back at to hear some new covers. At the moment there are about 20 covers on there so far... check 'em out. And if you're musically inclined maybe you can even enter the competition!

EDIT: I forgot to mention that Les Inrockuptibles are responsible for a number of notable tribute albums over the years including I'm Your Fan (Leonard Cohen), The Smiths is dead, and Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Okie Dokie, Back to Business

So as I'm sure some of you may have figured out, yesterday's post was in honour of April Fools' Day and Fong Songs was temporarily spammed to hell. I'm not usually prone to making pranks of any kind, so I even surprised myself by getting sucked into the delicate art of writing spam. Believe me, writing fake spam is harder than you'd think. All the examples were based on spam in my gmail spam box, catered to my whims. The astute reader, and I know there were more than a few of you, would have been able to decipher my cryptic clues to find links to appropriate cover songs:

Jason Mraz & Chrissie Hynde - The Joker/Everything I Own [originally by the Steve Miller Band/Bread]
Pocket Lent - The Joker [originally by the Steve Miller Band]
Snooper - Lovefool [originally by The Cardigans]
Michael Gum - Lovefool [originally by The Cardigans]
Maná - Fool in the Rain [originally by Led Zeppelin]

There were also bonus covers hidden in the comments, including a few from an unsolicited spammer that was not in fact me... Miss Chechen Lindstrom of Kenya, taking a cue from some buddies in Nigeria, left me a nice message. Apparently she's a fan of Britney!

Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - The Fool on the Hill [originally by The Beatles]
Hoja - Foolish Games [originally by Jewel]
The Commitments - Chain of Fools [originally by Aretha Franklin]
Go Home Productions - Crazy Little Fool [Queen vs. The Beatles]

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