Great covers come from a myriad of sources. But the coverlover’s collection is founded on a finite set, where coverage runs fast and free: deep wells that sustain us, pouring forth the volumes that pepper our mixtapes and shore up our artist-centric features, from “homage houses” like Reimagine Music and American Laundromat Records to ongoing YouTube tour-stops like AV Undercover and the pop-up microstudios of Dutch field recorder Onder Invloed.
Back To The Source, our newest feature concept, dives deep into these wells, seeking to celebrate and reveal just what makes their waters so prolific and life-sustaining. We kick things off today with a look at MOJO, who in just over a decade has produced dozens of tributes to seminal albums and artists, sealed lovingly in plastic alongside their monthly music magazine; read on for beautiful interpretations of seminal songs from Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, and more, plus more Beatles covers than you could ever imagine.
I love used CD stores, where a quick skim of the liner notes can reveal treasures previously unnoticed or unheard, and rarities abound, from live local radio compilations to label tributes long out of print. And so, a few weekends ago, in a last gasp effort to enjoy the waning days of summer, we found ourselves in Brattleboro, VT, where Turn It Up records has recently relocated to new digs. I begged a few minutes from the end of a great meal, and headed for the stacks.
And there, in the three for five bucks tray, was a treasure trove: someone’s entire collection of Mojo Records CDs.
It was an incomplete set, to be sure – about 5 year’s worth, of a total collection that so far spans a dozen. But I walked away with ten separate tribute albums, most otherwise impossible to find. And after steeping in them for two weeks, it was just too good not to share.
A little history here: Mojo Magazine has included a free CD with almost every issue since late 2004; not all tackle covers, but many do. Two-disc set Beatlemania, which emerged in September of that year, and Cash Covered, released that November, were the first covers compilations to appear as part of a series that yaws wide enough to define the broad tastes of Mojo itself, where punk, soul, pop and indie all have their place in the pantheon, and authenticity is the name of the game.
For the first few years, Mojo’s CDs tended to compile previously recorded material, maybe with a brand new track or two; the joy here was in the collection and organization, which generally trended towards a broad genre spectrum held together marvelously, resulting in a growing cache of eminently listenable long-plays. In more recent years, Mojo has included a number of bespoke CDs in their collection, with songs solicited and recorded exclusively for their projects. Either way, their taste is impeccable: it is these collections, in fact, which have introduced me to The Staves, Neville Skelly, Jeb Loy Nichols, and other up-and-comers, while renewing my love for Woodpigeon, Phosphorescent, Yim Yames, Sam Amidon, Emily Barker, Thea Gilmore, Jim White, and many more artists pushing the envelope beyond easy genre categorization.
In the end, as a collection, the Mojo tribute CDs stand almost unparalleled – a fitting beginning for a new feature series, and a great way to celebrate the magazine and its tastemakers as they continue their search for the source in the songscape. Read on for our favorite, folkiest tracks from a close-to-complete chronology of cover albums, from that Beatlemania set to Blonde on Blonde Revisited, last month’s delight of a Dylan tribute.
Mojo Magazine’s Best Covers (2004-2016)
A Cover Lay Down Mix [zip!]
- Charles River Valley Boys: I’ve Just Seen A Face (orig. The Beatles)
(from Beatlemania: An All-American Tribute To The Fab Four, September, 2004)
- Jeb Loy Nichols: Worried Man (orig. Johnny Cash)
(from Cash Covered, November 2004)
- Andrew Bird with Nora O’Connor: Oh Sister (orig. Bob Dylan)
(from Dylan Covered, September 2005)
- Richard Thompson: Legal Matter (orig. The Who)
(from The Who Covered, February 2006)
- Mark Lanegan: Nothin’ In This World Can Stop Me Worryin’ Bout That Girl (orig. The Kinks)
(from The Modern Genius of Ray Davies, March 2006)
- Michael Weston King: For No One (orig. The Beatles)
- Thea Gilmore: I Want To Tell You (orig. The Beatles)
(from Revolver Reloaded, July 2006)
- Chris Whitley: Drifting (orig. Jimi Hendrix)
(from Experienced, November 2006)
- Steve Almaas and Ali Smith: The Lonely Sea (orig. The Beach Boys)
(from In My Room, January 2007)
- Fionn Regan: Getting Better (orig. The Beatles)
(from Sgt. Pepper…With A Little Help From His Friends, March 2007)
- Billy Bragg: She Smiled Sweetly (orig. Rolling Stones)
(from Stoned, September 2007)
- Lau: Dear Prudence (orig. The Beatles)
(from The White Album Recovered No. 0000001, September 2008)
- Neville Skelly: Mother Nature’s Son (orig. The Beatles)
(from The White Album Recovered No. 0000002, October 2008)
- Josh Ritter: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (orig. Leonard Cohen)
(from Cohen Covered, December 2008)
- Jeffrey Lewis: Octopus’ Garden (orig. The Beatles)
- Karima Francis: She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (orig. The Beatles)
(from Abbey Road Now!, October 2009)
- Woodpigeon: Mother (orig. Pink Floyd)
(from The Wall Re-Built! Disc One, December 2009)
- North Sea Radio Orchestra: Vera/Bring The Boys Back Home (orig. Pink Floyd)
(from The Wall Re-Built! Disc Two, January 2010)
- Robyn Hitchcock: Dark Globe (orig. Syd Barrett)
(from The Madcap Laughs Again!, March 2010)
- John Grant: Two Of Us (orig. The Beatles)
(from Let It Be Revisited, August 2010)
- Sam Amidon: The Needle And The Damage Done (orig. Neil Young)
(from Harvest Revisited, February 2011)
- Doug Paisley: Us And Them (orig. Pink Floyd)
(from Return To The Dark Side Of The Moon, August 2011)
- Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou: Your Love Is Forever (orig. George Harrison)
(from Harrison Covered, November 2011)
- Ren Harvieu: Sister Morphine (orig. Rolling Stones)
(from Sticky Soul Fingers, January 2012)
- Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo: Master Song (orig. Leonard Cohen)
(from The Songs of Leonard Cohen Covered, March 2012)
- Tom McRae & The Standing Band: Sloop John B. (trad./arr. Beach Boys)
(from Pet Sounds Revisited, June 2012)
- Jim White: All Together Now (orig. The Beatles)
- Thea Gilmore: All You Need Is Love (orig. The Beatles)
(from Yellow Submarine Resurfaces, July 2012)
- The Staves: Songbird (orig. Fleetwood Mac)
(from Rumours Revisited, January 2013)
- Chris Difford: All My Loving (orig. The Beatles)
(from We’re With The Beatles, August 2013)
- Hiss Golden Messenger: Black Country Woman (orig. Led Zeppelin)
(from Physical Graffiti Redrawn, April 2015)
- Phosphorescent: I Want You
(from Blonde On Blonde Revisited, July 2016)
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