Tag Archives: Five From the Archive

Five From the Archive: Elliott Smith’s Best Covers

Elliott Smith always picked interesting songs to cover. Some that were well known, some that were more obscure. But they were all good. They certainly hit my musical sweet spot. These five selections are just a sampling — he was a serial covererist — and you can find more just browsing through the shows available on the Internet Music Archive.

1. Elliott Smith – “Harvest Moon”. I’ll be honest. I’m a huge Neil fan, but not that big a fan of this song. Or the album it comes from. But this is a really tender cover of the song, and I think Elliott brings out the best in the song. I think I prefer this version over Neil’s. Full show:  April 5, 1999 – Ludlow’s, Columbus, OH

2. Elliott Smith – “Jealous Guy”. He played this a lot in 1998. His whistling is a little weak in this version — which is why he usually asked the audience to whistle with him — but the sound quality is outstanding. Soundboard recording. Full show: April 17, 1998 – Black Cat, Washington, DC

3. Elliott Smith – “Ballad of a Thin Man”. “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is… do you, Mr. Jones?” When it starts, just Elliott playing his guitar, you can hear the telltale rustle of the snare as he strums. It’s about to get loud in there. Full show: October 11, 1998 – 400 Club, Minneapolis, MN

4. Elliott Smith – “Isn’t It a Pity”. “Isn’t it a pity? Isn’t it a shame? How we break each other’s hearts, and cause each other pain?” Lyrically, it’s a perfect cover choice for Elliott. Heartbreaking vocals accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. A soundboard recording. Full show: August 12, 1998 – Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ

5. Elliott Smith – “Out on the Weekend”. This is the poorest quality recording of the bunch. It’s still going to blow your mind. It wraps up with about two minutes of mumbling into the microphone, but I can’t understand what he’s saying… From: December 21, 2001 – Showbox, Seattle, WA

Five from the Archive: Warren Zevon solo in 2000

Warren Zevon Warren Zevon turned 53 early in 2000. He was doing a lot of touring that year to support Life’ll Kill Ya, which was released towards the end of 1999. He didn’t yet know he had lung cancer. That would come a little bit later.

Along with his acoustic guitar and an electronic keyboard, Zevon traveled the country in a camper, hitting a well-honed list of friendly towns, and all the faithful would show up. Zevon’s audience had dwindled over the years, but in 2000 he was in the early stages of a creative resurgence. And his playing was generally energetic and creative. He was on an upswing.

Thanks to the generosity and forethought of his son Jordan, much of Zevon’s available recorded live performances are available for free on the Live Music Archive. We’ve looked at some Zevon recordings from 1978 before. Today we’ll take a look at a few solo performances from 2000, starting with “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” from the Moore Theater in Seattle on April 22, 2000. A great recording and a vocally playful delivery of the song.

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Five from the Archive: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace PotterI first saw Grace Potter & The Nocturnals at Rothbury last year. Before that, I only knew them from this cover of Neil Young‘s “Cortez the Killer”, which Grace did with, among others, Steve Kimock and Joe Satriani (who I loved in this). The video was from the Jammy’s, where they apparently get people from different bands to get together and, well, jam. On different songs.

So I hadn’t seen her with the Nocturnals before Rothbury, where I was right up front. It was in the afternoon, on a hot summer day, and it was non-stop rocking the entire set. Grace is an awesome presence on stage, either behind her organ or out in front with the band. I had a great time watching them play. Until the suntan lotion started dripping into my eyes. And temporarily blinded me. So I had to stumble off into a shady place and flush my eyes out until the pain stopped. But that’s another story…

This band is a touring machine, and finely honed because of it. Follow the jump for a sampling of covers they’ve played while touring across the country this past year, hitting seemingly every nook and cranny of the continental U.S. along the way.

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Five from the Archive: Weir Does Dylan

WeirBob Dylan is arguably the greatest modern songwriter, and certainly the most influential. People all over the musical spectrum cover his songs. But there a special few who specialize in covering Dylan. For me, Jerry Garcia has always been the premiere Dylan interpreter. If you don’t believe me – or if you do – you should check out the Garcia Plays Dylan collection. Particularly the “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”

But now I have to say that Jerry’s old partner in crime, Bob Weir, is giving Jerry a run for his money these days. Bobby has always been adept with the occasional Dylan cover, but he and RatDog have really embraced it. They play a Dylan cover at well over half their shows.

Below are five of the best from the 2009 RatDog shows available in the Live Music Archive.

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Five from the Archive: Zevon in ’78

ZevonIt’s been just over six years since Warren Zevon died. He left behind an impressive body of work.

In 2005, Jordan Zevon gave the Live Music Archive permission to host unreleased live recordings of his pop’s work. All the tracks listed here are from shows in 1978, the year he released Excitable Boy, which had his biggest hit, “Werewolves of London.”

Below are five of the best tracks from the four shows available, all part of the Warren Zevon’s Traveling Circus tour.

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Top Five Covers by Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey's McGee at RothburyUmphrey’s McGee is a jam band, which means they’re great to see live.

At Rothbury this year, they played a great cover of “Comfortably Numb” (YouTube). They have a reputation for playing good covers, particularly Floyd. So I was stoked when a buddy of mine told me about the upcoming show at Michigan Theater on October 2. I got tickets, and it got me thinking about their repertoire of covers. How varied? Eclectic? Well executed? Lucky for you and me, they let people tape their shows, and they let those tapers post their recordings to the Internet Music Archive.

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