Category: The Kinks

(Re)Covered XI: More covers of and from
Beck, The Kinks, Wilco, and a Contest Week wrap-up

July 5th, 2009 — 04:15 pm

Our popular (Re)Covered series, wherein we recover songs that dropped through the cracks too late to make it into the posts where they belonged, generally provides an opportunity to check in on previously featured artists, songs and themes. Today, I’ve also included an omnibus reminder to enter our Contest Week contests before entries close on Monday at midnight.

But first, thanks to other blogs, artists and label notices, fan submissions, and other agents of serendipitous universe, here’s the scoop on some new songs, new takes, and new discoveries.

We made a case for Beck-as-folksinger way back in the early weeks of Cover Lay Down; as I suggested at the time, the stripped-down, almost funereal acoustic side of the popular genre-pushing artist is closer to his heart and history than most popular music fans realize.

Since then, Beck has continued to ride the line between hiccuping electronic pop and the more pensive works which have wormed their way into the heart of grungefolk audiophiles everywhere, though it’s hard to justify his most recent compilation appearance, a beat-heavy, fuzzed out rock cover of Dylan’s Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat which appeared on recent indierock compilation War Child: Heroes, as anything but the radio-oriented track it is intended to be.

But in the last few weeks, news of a new project has hit the blogs, sure to appeal to fans of his weary troubadour sound: Beck has grand plans to record a series of one-shot in-studio sessions covering classics with a host of well-seasoned friends and fellow musicians, releasing them through his website as Beck’s Record Club, and if the three retro-grungy Velvet Underground covers which already grace are any indication, the project is well worth watching. Here’s the first taste, plus a favorite older cover for continuity’s sake:

We closed out last summer with a feature on The Kinks, and the subject proved popular: In the days that followed, I received plenty of encouragement, and a handful of tracks from readers. Most were on the syrupy side — I’m not sure why Ray Davies’ songwriting lends itself so well to torch songs. But a few were keepers.

Here’s a trio of vastly different but equally summery Kinks covers which have come to my ears since then, and stuck: a delicate solo uke version of Victoria from Ema and the Ghosts, a lighthearted retro-rocker from Holly Golightly, and an older typically british folkrock take on Days from Kirsty MacColl.

We featured Sam Jacobs, who fronts the loose collaboration of friends now performing under the moniker The Flying Change, way back in our very first New Artists, Old Songs post, and a few Wilco covers when ex-Wilco member Jay Bennett passed a few months ago. Now, thanks to Sam himself, we bring this exclusive, endearingly lo-fi take on Wilco’s Pieholden Suite, recorded live with full band, including oboe and sax. It’s not exactly folk, but it starts off that way, and stays pretty mellow throughout. Great stuff from a maturing artist.

I’ve also included Jacobs’ wonderfully Cohen-esque cover of Tom Petty’s Yer So Bad, recorded under the name Lipstik, which we first posted back in April of 2008, and a great ragged Daniel Johnston bonus cover from Bennett’s last album, which is available for free download here.

Finally, our very first annual Cover Lay Down contest week has been quite the adventure. But since geography, availability, and other factors seem to be keeping most folks from entering our two festival-related contests, to make it easier, I’m making each prize for those contests available separately. In other words: EACH contest includes at least one highly-recommended CD, and each CD can be won without stress or commitment.

Here’s the list, with linkbacks good until midnight Monday; click on each for contest entry details. If you’re only in it for the CDs, make sure to include the phrase “CD ONLY” in your entry.

Contest #1: Win 26-song all-covers indiefolk CD sampler Before the Goldrush

Contest #2: Day passes for both Friday and Saturday at Grey Fox Bluegrass Fest, July 16-19, PLUS new CDs from both newgrass angel Sarah Jarosz and cajun & swing combo Red Stick Ramblers

Contest #3: Two four day camping passes to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, July 23-26 PLUS Susan Werner’s most recent all-covers chamberfolk CD Classics

Cover Lay Down posts new coverfolk features each Wednesday, Sunday, and the occasional otherday. Coming up later this week: Cover Lay Down hits the Hype Machine top 100 pop charts, and we use the occasion to ponder the definitive nature of popular folk songs.

1,442 comments » | (Re)Covered, Beck, CONTESTS, The Kinks

Covered in Folk: The Kinks (Ana Egge, Kate Rusby, Trappers Cabin, Sia, Old 97′s and more)

August 30th, 2008 — 10:08 pm

For most of my life, The Kinks have been one of those bands that other kinds of people listened to. That I respect these people, and appreciate their inclusion of the odd Kinks tune on mixtapes and playlists, is kind of moot; the end result has been that while I like the poppy sound The Kinks bring to the table, it’s the kind of music I accept as background music, enjoyable but already there, part of that diverse mix of sound which fills the air around us. And the continued prominence of Kinks classics on soundtracks and classic rock radio has served the occasional itch in a surprisingly timely manner, leaving me perfectly happy to let the songs come up through the environment, rather than seeking them out.

There’s a hole in my musical education that swallows the British Invasion wholesale, in fact. Some of this is purely an issue of age and experience — growing up in the seventies in a household centered on Blues, Soul, and the American Folk Revival, I heard plenty of music that had been influenced by the jangly guitars and quirky, almost pre-punk pop sensibility, but very little of the actual Brits themselves; by the time I moved on to my own record collecting, it was the late eighties, and I was so excited by the emerging hip-hop, grunge and new folk scenes to find the time to go back and discover their musical roots.

But the more I hear The Kinks catalog done tenderly and with feeling, the more I regret missing out on developing a real love for this music. So many musicians have made real things of beauty out of The Kinks songbook that I have to assume there’s beauty to be found in the originals.

So for a while, I’ve been collecting Kinks tunes where I find them, both originals and covers, letting the bloggers I trust (that’s them on the sidebar) bring the right tracks to my attention; Divinyl sent along a few greats recently, lending fuel to the fire. And when three great covers came to my attention in the past few weeks, it seemed high time to share the best of a growing collection of tributes and covertracks from the pen of Kinks mastermind and songwriter Ray Davies.

Here, then, are Kate Rusby‘s gorgeous-voiced britfolk version of The Village Green Preservation Society, a delicate lo-fi bedroom cover of Shangrai-La from the huge collection of downloadable covers and originals at the Trappers Cabin website, and a sliding, bluesy take on Sitting in the Midday Sun from southernfolk fave Ana Egge, who is currently offering her wonderful all-covers album Lazy Days for under four bucks over at Amie Street (where the code “coverlaydown” will net new members $3 free towards your purchase). Plus a few more of my favorite, folkiest Kinks covers, just to make a proper playlist of it all.

Cover Lay Down posts new coverfolk content Wednesdays, Sundays, and the occasional Friday and Holiday. Coming up in the next few weeks: more old songs from new artists, one final summer folk festival preview, and yet another installment in our Single Song Sunday series. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

406 comments » | Ana Egge, Dar Williams, Kate Rusby, Mark Anthony Thompson, Mark Lanegan, Old 97's, Ray Lamontagne, The Kinks, Trappers Cabin