Sunday, August 7, 2016

Led Zeppelin's Out on the Tiles

Not one of the most popular Zeppelin songs generally, but fairly popular among cover bands. The trick, I think, is to get the deceptively-simple rhythm just right. Unfortunately, a lot of the covers on Youtube of this song have been muted because of copyright BS, but here's what I could find.


I usually try to only highlight amateur bands, but this Black Crows cover with Jimmy Page is awesome:

On to the covers: Here's a band apparently called "BSB," who do a great job. The lead guitar is spot-on.
Here's another band (couldn't figure out a name) playing in a basement. It's a pure instrumental but I love their energy. puts out a great lesson, sorry I don't know the player's name:
Ok, I usually hate acoustic covers of rock classics, but this is something...interesting from The Student Loan:

Did I miss something? Let me know! 'Till next week. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Who's Can't Explain

Really simple song this time, the Who's Can't Explain:
I watched dozens of covers, and most were not very good.  Each had its own issues, but the most common problem: LACK OF ENERGY.  Either a lead singer with no presence, or a lead guitar that does not attack the main riff.  Here's what I found:

1. Lecompt.  Good guitar work and lyrics:
2. PreGeneration.  Have to give these kids some props, with A for effort:
3. Boss Martians. Great energy.
4. Made in Rock.  Solid.

5. The Rejections.  Awesome opening.  Another A for effort, just rocking out in the street...wait for the little girl on the bike to ride by!

Friday, May 15, 2015

AC/DC It's a Long Way to the Top

Another song that is often butchered when covered.  I listen for two things: the main guitar rhythm riff is dominant and unwavering, and the the vocals are not horrible.  Why is that so much to ask?

For guitar reference, here is a great guitar instructional on the song with an opening that is awesome to listen to over and over again, and Justin does a great job of explaining the main riff.  Crank up your volume and bass to get the full effect!:
For vocal reference, check out this guy on Australia's version of American Idol:
Here's an old live cut of AC/DC:
Any bands up to it?

1. Hells Belles.  Recording quality on this one is not great, and I think the bagpipes were a gimmick, but this all-female band in the Pacific Northwest rocks.  I strongly suggest you follow youtube links and listen to some of their other AC/DC covers.  They are quite possibly the best AC/DC cover band out there.  I sh*t you not.
2. Paisan.  Awesome performance.  Ingenious substitution of accordion for the bag pipes:

3. Skyline.  German band.  Solid band and vocal performance.
There are probably several hundred covers of this on youtube and no way I can check them all.  Please give suggestions in the comments!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blondie (Debbie Harry) One Way or Another

This one was painful.  There are a great many covers of this on youtube, and most are unbearable.  It was really torture.

I think the problem is that it is a fairly easy song for a band to perform, but for some reason very difficult to sing correctly.  The most common problem is for the singer to forget the song is about a stalker girlfriend, and the delivery needs to tell that story.  A ton of singers deliver it like it's some kind of up-beat lovey pop song, and that completely ruins it.

Also I don't understand the urge to over vocalize the song.  It seems best sung in a subtle, narrow range with jazzy voice.  Growls should be used sparingly.

Here's Blondie live for reference:

1. Kate Nash.  Arguably better than the original if you like the modern jazzy vocal style.  Shorter song though.  I didn't care for the band so much.

2. Rock Legs.  Quirky band from Brazil.  Not the greatest vocals but solid delivery of theme.  Hard to tell if the delivery was intentional or just coincidence, but either way it works.  As a side note, the band handles the fast tempo very well...many bands fell apart on this song with a fast tempo.  Solid base line that helps drive the song too.

3. Sunday Girl.  This tribute band deserves an A for effort.  Amazing how it could be so much better than hundreds of other covers just by doing the basics of the song correctly!

If you don't think these are that great, trust me--browse youtube for yourself and suddenly these will seem pretty good.  Send me any gems you find!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater Revival

Apparently this is a hard song to cover well, because I watched dozens and found only a few to recommend.  Here is CCR live in their prime for reference:
1. A band called Stars out of Australia.  The lead singer captures the spirit of the lyrics but makes them his own with a few melodic and rhythm twists.  The band nails the rhythm and tone, but again puts their own signature on it.  Classic rock stage presence.  Great recording for 1979.

2. Jesse Kinch.  This guy nails the lyrics.  Usually it is the lead singer that dooms the cover on this song, some singers just don't feel the lyrics right.  They either go through motions like a wedding singer, or they overdo it.  But this guy has it.  Odd venue, like a fish out of water, but he still does it.

3.  Little Nails (?).  Not sure if I got the name of the band right.  Nothing fancy, they just do it!  So many bands try to make this song something it is not.  The band is tight, and the lead singer gets it right.  They have that "talented garage band" stage presence that I love.

Feel free to recommend any I missed.  But if you recommend your own band, don't get upset if I give constructive criticism and a thumbs down.