All posts filed under: (un)plugged

The Staves’ I’m on Fire

In today’s “The cover is better than the original”, we chose The Staves’ I’m on Fire. The original song is by Bruce Springsteen.   Why it’s better: Springsteen came up with this song in the early 80s when he was playing around with a Johnny-Cash-like rhythm in the studio. The song is part of Springsteen’s near perfect album “Born In the USA.” It’s difficult to top a Springsteen classic, but The Staves’ version of the song makes it more intimate. The melody is stripped down to guitar chords and vocal harmonies. The English trio of sisters creates a different ambiance with their folky voices. There have been other worthy covers, like AWOLNATION’s version for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack or John Mayer’s take, which was a bonus track for his “Battle Studies” album. The Staves change the song inadvertently by infusing it with heartfelt vocals which other versions lack. Listen for yourselves and decide which one is better.      

Portishead’s SOS

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Portishead’s SOS. The original song is by ABBA. Why it’s better: We all know that the Swedish group is an iconic pop phenomenon with a lot of catchy and emotional pop songs. ABBA has a definite style that you can recognize in any of their songs, the soft vocals and 70s vibe. Portishead’s cover strips down the lyrics and applies their own signature of “alternative rock.” The video for the song came out as a response to Labor Party Member of Parliament Jo Cox’s assassination. She was a young politician that advocated for immigrants in the U.K. among other issues. The political message, Beth Gibbons’ vocals, the band’s arrangement and the powerfully simple video transform a catchy tune into a haunting and beautiful plea for unity. The video ends with this poignant quote from one of Jo Cox’s speeches.

Johnny Cash’s Hurt

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Johnny Cash’s Hurt. The original song is by Nine Inch Nails. Why it’s better: Nine Inch Nails original song is quite impressive with Trent Reznor’s classic distortions and his voice rising in the right moments. The original has an aggressive edge that the cover lacks. But Cash’s interpretation of the song and the video that goes along with it are incredibly poignant due to the fact that you are watching pieces of this man’s life and his inevitable decay. The appearance of his wife, June Carter Cash, watching over him is equally moving. The lyrics accompanied an incomparable life that is no more. Although Reznor’s original is entirely different his lyrics are to be admired because they could fit the despair of very different men.

Physical Graffiti [Disco 2]

El segundo disco del álbum doble Physical Graffiti de Led Zeppelin, lanzado en 1975, abre con “In the Light”. La canción es un recorrido por las etapas de Zeppelin. inicia por un sonido distorsionado, creado por Page y su arco de violín sobre su guitarra eléctrica, para luego liderar la canción por un sonido que recuerda a la épica “Stairway to Heaven”. En lugar de convertirse en una grandilocuente réplica de la anterior, la canción es su propio viaje con elementos de rock y balada por igual. El segundo track es “Bron-Yr-Aur” de 2:07 minutos. Un pequeño track acústico donde la guitarra es el elemento principal. Una rendición corta pero igualmente poderosa. Le sigue “Down by the Seaside”, que de acuerdo con Rolling Stone es “una de las primeras canciones ‘verdes’ del rock”. Una semi-balada que recuerda a los 60s cuando las protestas se hacían a través de la música pero justo a la mitad se transforma en un himno de los 70s. Se balancea entre ambas décadas imperceptiblemente. La cuarta canción “Ten Years Gone” …

Russian Red’s All My Little Words

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Russian Red’s All My Little Words. The original song is by The Magnetic Fields. Why it’s better: Although both interpretations are similar, Russian Red’s is better because her version is stripped down and more emotional. The original song is nice and slow but for this song Lourdes Hernández’s (Russian Red) voice is better suited than Stephin Merritt’s. Below you can also listen to this cover by Russian Red in Spanish. If you want to know more about Russian Red, please click here.

Physical Graffiti [Disco 1]

Physical Graffiti el sexto álbum de Led Zeppelin salió al mercado el 24 de febrero de 1975. El álbum doble compuesto por 15 canciones es la obra que muestra la versatilidad de la banda y la acumulación de sus experiencias musicales. El disco 1 abre con “Custard Pie” una canción que recuerda el inicio de Zeppelin cuando concentraban su energía en sus instrumentos y los resultados eran “rough around the edges”, aún así no olvidaron impregnar la canción con el virtuosismo característico de sus integrantes. Le sigue “The Rover” con una intro de Bonham y Page de más de un minuto. Es una canción que muestra lo que Zeppelin hace mejor, crear de la simplicidad de sus instrumentos melodías rockeras. La canción encaja a la perfección en las escenas dónde el personaje “más cool” sale de su carro. Page lo expone mejor, “The whole thing about ‘The Rover’ is the whole swagger of it, the whole guitar swagger”. El tercer track es la canción más larga del repertorio de Zeppelin, “In My Time Of Dying” …

Postmodern Jukebox’s Creep

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Postmodern Jukebox’s Creep feat. Haley Reinhart. The original song is by Radiohead. Why it’s almost better: The original song is a 90s classic but let’s face it, it has been covered incessantly by anyone who can hold a guitar. It’s refreshing to listen to a version of this song done à la big band and with a female vocalist. Radiohead’s original interpretation is a perfect blend between ballade and rock. But Haley Reinhart’s voice adds a mixture of seduction and craving reminiscent of the great Etta James that the angsty original lacks. Creep cannot be surpassed but Postmodern Jukebox’s cover is a great contender.    

Eagle Eye Cherry’s To Love Somebody

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Eagle Eye Cherry’s To Love Somebody. The original song is by the Bee Gees Why it’s better: The Bee Gees wrote great songs but there are covers of their songs that are way better than their originals. Eagle Eye Cherry’s cover of To Love Somebody is a great example. It’s different from the original song because it has an upbeat tempo, more 90s. Eagle Eye Cherry’s version is kind of bittersweet. I listened to it for the first time in a Mexican movie called “Y Tu Mamá También”, it certainly added another level to the song and now it connects with my youth self in more ways than one.

Houses of the Holy

El quinto álbum de Led Zeppelin “Houses of the Holy” salió al mercado el 20 de marzo de 1973, pero no fue muy bien recibido por la crítica en ese momento. Rolling Stone lo describió como “pueril y rudimentario” y se refirió a la banda como “blanda y flácida”. Pero Jimmy Page argumenta que “[Houses of the Holy] no es como aquellas grabaciones que captas a la primera, eso es lo mejor de todo. Tienes que sentarte a escuchar y ponerte a pensar”. El álbum ha envejecido maravillosamente para convertirse en el disco más upbeat de Led Zeppelin, donde se zambullen en géneros inesperados. “Houses of the Holy” abre con “The Song Remains The Same”. Inicialmente era la intro de la segunda canción del álbum pero rápidamente tomó vida propia para convertirse en un clásico de la vida en el camino. El segundo track “The Rain Song” es una canción lenta de casi 8 minutos. Cuenta la leyenda que la canción fue una respuesta a un comentario que les hizo George Harrison acerca de que …

Hozier’s Do I Wanna Know

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Hozier’s Do I Wanna Know. The original song is by Arctic Monkeys. Why it’s better: Even if the original song by Arctic Monkeys is an outstanding tune. Hozier’s rendition is his own. It sounds like a completely new song. It might not be better but it’s quite different and unexpected. Thanks in part to his natural voice, his interpretation is unique and melancholic. But his backup singers and the entire band did an amazing job blending their instruments perfectly.