Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nine Great Covers from the '90s You May Have Missed

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 5:03 AM

Evan Dando, king of the cover song. - PRESS PHOTO VIA OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

By Jeremy Essig

UPDATE: Dando has cancelled the remainder of his current tour, including his STL stop. From his booking agency: "We are very sorry the upcoming Evan Dando show is cancelled. Evan has been struggling with sickness while on the road and is unable to perform. Refunds are available at point of purchase." Original post continues below.

With a catalog ranging from the New Kids On the Block to G.G. Allin, the Lemonheads' Evan Dando may be indie pop's king of the cover song.

While the band's sped-up version of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" eventually introduced the group to a wider audience in 1992, Dando -- its only constant member -- has been cultivating a cover repertoire during his career so varied it might make Pandora crash.

From his dalliances with Charles Manson and Susanne Vega in the punkier, early version of the Lemonheads to his acoustic takes on the Misfits and Metallica after becoming a college rock darling in the mid-'90s, Dando has always displayed a unique eye for reinterpretation. His last album, 2009's Varshons, was a complete cover affair -- drawing influence from both Leonard Cohen and Christina Aguilera.

In honor of his current tour -- hitting Blueberry Hill this Saturday, February 21 -- let's take a look at some other great '90s covers you may have missed

9. Pavement - "Camera" (R.E.M. Cover)

For Pavement, a band that literally sang R.E.M.'s praises a year before on "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence," this cover wasn't a huge surprise. The interpretation, however, is definitely unique. While both songs follow the same musical blueprint -- Pavement's version adding a bit of wah-guitar under the mix -- Steven Malkmus veers almost completely away from Michael Stipe's original prose, with "you were born to be a camera" being the only line that links the two pieces.

While the original still shines as one of the two or three best songs off R.E.M.'s Reckoning, Pavement's version sounds -- in the best way possible -- like something a band might play around with at the end of practice as the intoxicants start taking hold and technical concerns fade into a goofy musical bliss.

8. Hindu Love Gods - "Raspberry Beret" (Prince Cover)

Joke/bar band/cover outfit in the mid-'80s, the Hindu Love Gods was composed of R.E.M's Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry, with Warren Zevon taking vocal duties from Michael Stipe. When Zevon went into the studio to record 1987's Sentimental Hygiene, he hired Buck, Mills and Berry as his backing band. During a looser evening during the session, the four recorded a ten-song cover set of mostly blues numbers and this Prince track.

Stripping away the synth drums and keyboards from Prince's original and replacing them with Buck's slightly overdriven guitar and Berry's hi-hat/snare heavy drum part makes it quickly apparent that this song also works as a fine piece of power-pop. Plus, it's Warren Zevon and R.E.M. doing a Prince song -- a way more interesting combination than, say, anything Kanye West and Paul McCartney might come up with.

7. Sonic Youth - "Get Into The Groove(y)" (Madonna Cover)

From littering 1987's Master-Dik with the pop star's last name (Ciccone), to naming the group's side project Ciccone Youth Thurston Moore made it abundantly clear that the material girl was on his mind -- a fascination that lead to Sonic Youth covering her 1985 hit "Get into the Groove."

Beginning with dark, heavy bass line and sprinkling in cuts of Madonna's original version, the song sounds like many of the mash-ups that float around YouTube -- not all that remarkable, until you realize this was produced in the late '80s.

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