Lately, I have been listening to an awesome selection of Rolling Stone Cover albums. Having heard these songs over the course of 4 decades, a little freshening up can go a long way. These 4 albums present the songs you know oh-so-well in a fresh new way.
• Paint It Blue: Songs Of The Rolling Stones: Given how freely the Stones borrowed from American blues greats, it only seems fair that these same blues players cover the Stone’s best known tunes. Somewhere between musically incestuous and ironically absurd, the covers by the bluesman (who influenced the originals) works stunningly well.
Luther Allison practically makes You Can’t Always Get What You Want his own (flavored with some of Lou Reed’s doo do do dos); Larry McCray gets funky on Midnight Rambler. Derek Trucks’ slide guitar burns thru Tumblin’ Dice; Junior Wells turns (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction into churning swamp funk.
Turnabout sure is fair play!
Favorite cut: Taj Mahal’s Honky Tonk Women
• All Wood and Stones: Imagine what the Rolling Stones would have sounded like if Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were gnarly California dudes, with acoustic guitars ala CSNY.
That was the totally original idea behind James Lee Stanley and John Batdorf recording — take 11 Rolling Stones classics and turned them into something the likes of which you have never heard before. They wildly succeeded.
Enchanting acoustic guitars, joyous vocal harmonies, surprisingly inspired arrangements completely rewrite classic Stones.
Favorite cut: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
• Bossa Nova: I love these wacky, bizarre, all female covers of the Stones’ catalog. The mix of Bossa Nova, Reggae, electronica, and — dare I say it — almost Muzak — combine to create a truly unique disc.
Its an odditiy — fun, weird, amusing, but there is an indefatigable sincerity that permeates all of these covers. Sure, the breathy female vocals are pretty thin, but the amusement factor more than make up for that.
It all somehow works.
I admit, you must have a musical sense of humor to enjoy these (think Barenaked Ladies). I especially like mixing some of these covers into a playlist, and watching people do double takes, as they try to make sense of the melody they recognize, with the arrangements.
Favorite cut: Beast Of Burden and since this is a double disc, I am adding: Fool To Cry
• Stripped: OK, its not quite a cover album. But the Stones going not-quite unplugged presents their own catalogue in the same spirit of fresh, new takes on old favorites. Its not quite acoustic, but its about as close as the boys ever come.
Rather than use do the mega-hits — Honky Tonk Women, Satisfaction, Sympathy for the Devil, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, etc. Stripped is filled with the unjustly neglected Stones B-Sides: Wild Horses, Street Fighting Man, Not Fade Away, Shine A Light, Let It Bleed, Angie, etc. The disc contains terrific versions of many of their lesser known hits, stripped of excess production.
Favorite cut: Like A Rolling Stone