I mentioned in last weekend’s round up of February posts, February Stars, that I was planning two new occasional series. I’ve now decided on a third, and this is the first of those. The more observant of you – or those with better memories – will recall that in my annual review of my 2020 posts, 2020 Hindsight, I highlighted a strange phenomenon with one of my posts from 2019. This was Under The Covers, and as I said then it has developed a life of its own – so far this year it is my most viewed post, as it was for the whole of last year. I think this probably means that I have caused great disappointment to many would-be readers, who were probably expecting something much steamier than cover versions of songs, but at least it shows that I didn’t completely waste my time doing that MBA in Marketing all those years ago. Advertising: good. Product delivery: debatable. But if there really is a market out there for song covers, I thought I might as well dip into it. So this is now the second of my occasional Under The Covers series, a mere 15 months or so after the first one.
The original post that started this off was intended to show how much good music there is to be found on YouTube, amongst the not so good, and not necessarily by acts of which you may have heard. For this new series I’m going to be including cover versions from a wider range, but still trying to keep away from the big names. It seems fitting to begin with one of the bands from that first post:
Obviously, Foxes And Fossils have been unable to perform live during the pandemic, but have taken instead to releasing new videos recorded in band leader Tim Purcell’s home studio. In case you didn’t know, this was an Everly Brothers song, originally released by them in 1959, and reaching #7 in the US and #13 in the UK. The pandemic has allowed F&F to unite all three of their Foxes, who all have great voices. The lead on this one is taken by Maggie Adams, and the harmonies of the other two Foxes – Sammie Purcell and Chase Truran – plus Tim, support her so well. This is, simply, stunningly beautiful. One thing the band has also done during the pandemic is to widen their approach to social media, with the result that their YouTube viewing figures have rocketed upwards: this one has over 200k viewings in the 20 days since it was published, a figure that would be more than acceptable for many mainstream bands.
In a completely different vein, how about a bit of AC/DC played in bluegrass:
As you may have noticed from the video, this isn’t your traditional bluegrass band – all that snow is a bit of a giveaway, really. Steve ‘N’ Seagulls are from Finland and started off in 2014, with a series of covers of rock songs done in their own style. They have released four albums so far, but I can’t find any sales figures for them. Their YouTube statistics are impressive, however: their first video was also an AC/DC cover, Thunderstruck, which has over 100m views. This one ‘only’ has nearly 18m, but I prefer the song, and this video is hysterical. Both tracks are on the band’s debut album, Farm Machine. I wonder if any other band has made a video with their women’s national ice hockey team? Somehow, I doubt it. The band has over 884k YouTube subscribers, which is testament to their success. If you liked this, there are plenty more to explore.
If bluegrass from Finland was a bit strange for you, is Norway any better? Those Scandinavians know good music when they hear it:
The Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra have been around since 2017, I think. This was their first song, and they have finally followed up with their debut album, Migrants, which came out yesterday, though several of the tracks have previously been released as singles. This one isn’t on the album, though, but is still available as a single. Strictly speaking, perhaps, this isn’t a cover, as the song has been in existence for around 200 years and is very much a traditional part of American music. But this is lovely, and I had to include it! I first heard the version recorded by Emmylou Harris, but there have been several other recordings, including those by Johnny Cash, Jack White and Burl Ives. The song also featured in the WW1 movie drama 1917. The plaintive voice of Rebekka Nilsson is a perfect fit for the tale of someone seeking family and refuge in hard times, I think, and is a good metaphor for our current times.
Having started in the States, and then to Finland and Norway, it seems right that my journey continues to another country. How about Germany? I mentioned to a fellow blogger the other day that a friend of mine, who is a classically trained soprano, has recorded this next song, but haven’t been able to find the video she sent me. So, from the sublime, how about this? There are loads of covers of this song on YouTube, but none are quite like this:
Utterly bonkers, but I love it! Just over 6m views in under two years says that I’m not the only one, either. Underneath the humour, and the initial shock of seeing GnR played in oompah band style, there is some seriously good musicianship going on here, notably in the trumpet intro and the sax solo. And Conny Kreitmeier steals the show – she usually does, to be honest. I’m also hugely impressed with the timing of the guy eating the plate of German sausage – perfect synchronisation with the end of the song. The band has two self-released albums to their name: this is on the second, Circus Oberkrain, which came out in 2019. Pandemic permitting, they are scheduled to play five shows in the UK this coming November – should be fun! And if you were wondering about the band’s name, ‘heimat’ means ‘home,’ and ‘damisch’ means ‘stupid.’ Seems about right!
I thought I’d bring my little bit of musical globetrotting to a close by visiting Canada. Regular readers will not be in the least surprised about this: you know what’s coming, don’t you? But the question is, which of their many cover versions is it? I think I may have shared this one before, but it is one of my favourites and it is good to see the original band together, including the much-missed Mike Taylor (aka Beard Guy). The puppets are great, too:
That has over 6m views, and WOTE now have more than 4m YouTube subscribers. Richly deserved, in my opinion.
A final note. All of these videos have one thing in common: the cover versions take the original and remake it in their own style. The three ‘comedy’ ones don’t lose sight of the original song, and the reinventions are creative in their own right. The two which stay closer to original or accepted treatments are both beautiful in their own way, too, and add that beauty to the original. What more could you want from a cover version?
See you again soon for another trip under the covers – we can have so much fun here!