The Fortnightly Playlist, February 16th, 2020: Covers, Reimaginings, and Samples

Doing something a little different this time around…

Now this is far from exhaustive. I’ll tentatively say this is a part one because I could easily feature many more songs in this. It is something that I may revisit again. What I have here is a collection of some favorite covers and samplings alongside the originals.

Now we know some of the greatest samplers are in the golden age of hip-hop, but in some cases this is why those records are unavailable on streaming sites. De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Risin’ is perhaps the greatest example. The overwhelming amount of samples woven together in a genius record led to so many lawsuits that the group lost money on the masterpiece. A vinyl copy of the record now runs about $180 because of this. I have imagined many times coming across a cheap copy at a garage sale where someone doesn’t realize what they have. In the playlist today, I’ve not included a best of sampling, but just a few favorites of my own. It’s just that perfect sampling is can set the stage just right. Whether it is deep and lyrically dense or a party track, the right sample selection can make or break the song.

Covers are a tricky thing. Does it make you hear the song differently than the original? Does it add something or change the way you think about the song? Now in some instances the approach to a song may go so far that it isn’t the same song anymore. It’s not so much a cover as it is a full on reimagining of the song. Where the line is on this is blurred of course, but for me one key aspect is whether that main vocal melody remains intact. An examply from this playlist is Charles Bradley’s version of “Stay Away” which is so unrecognizable from the Nirvana original that I wouldn’t call it a cover anymore. I love both versions of course, but you can hardly call them two versions of the same song. Some have told me that Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings version of “This Land is Your Land” is also in this category, but personally I still think that is a cover.

Of course, there are some of those that I just had to include. Angelique Kidjo’s reimagining of the entire Talking Heads album, Remain in Light, is always a favorite, and on “Born Under Punches” she brings power to the song that you don’t hear in the original. And on “The Globe”, Mick Jones famously samples is own wild yell from the intro of “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.

There is plenty of new music being released, and I’ll return to featuring that again next edition of the Fortnightly. Hope you enjoy this one. There are a million other songs I could have included here, but I may do this again. What are some of your favorite covers and samples?

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tracklist:
Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – This Land is Your Land
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – The Game Gets Old
Akala – Mr. Fire in the Booth
Soundgarden – Smokestack Lightning
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightnin’
Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
Spanglish Fly – Chain of Fools
Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good
Spanglish Fly – You Know I’m No Good/Chica Mala Mambo
Bob Marley – Redemption Song
Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer – Redemption Song
John Vanderslice – Rebel, Rebel
David Bowie – Rebel, Rebel
David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World
Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World
Nirvana – Stay Away
Charles Bradley – Stay Away
Talking Heads – Born Under Punches
Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches
M.I.A. – Paper Planes
The Clash – Straight to Hell
The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Big Audio Dynamite – The Globe
The Kinks – You Really Got Me
Sly & The Family Stone – You Really Got Me
Gayngs – Faded High
P.O.S. – Faded

The Fortnightly Playlist, February 2nd, 2020

Over the last few years I’ve adhered to a certain set of rules of my own making for this blog. It was new music. It seems from a dip in readership that I might have found myself in a bit of a tired formula. I plan to change things up more this year. For now, here is a collection of my favorite new music out there, and it includes a number of longtime favorite bands and artists.

Let’s talk Smokey Brights. I love seeing this group live, and they get better each time. They’ve been teasing on social media that they have a big year ahead of them with a lot of new music coming soon. The first thing out of the Smokeys camp are two brilliant remixes of songs off their recent EPs. “Different Windows” is remixes by Gold Casio, and “Flash Your Lights” remixed by Rudy Willingham. Smokey Brights released two EPs in 2018 that showed off a ton of growth in their writing since their last full-length, Hot Candy, came out back in 2016. I’m looking forward to new material from them this year.

I’m a big fan of Drive-By Truckers, and I would argue there are few songwriting partnerships in music today like Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. I’ve included here a brilliant tune sung by Cooley that is a mournful commentary of our divided political landscape. They’ve never been a band for pulling punches, and they’ve been more direct in recent years. Current events being what they are, I tend to think it is the right call.

Other favorites this edition are the new Pearl Jam single, Wye Oak, Gorillaz, Polica, Algiers, Andy Shauf and Eliza Shaddad.

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tracklist:
Andy Shauf – Changer
Eliza Shaddad – One Last Embrace
Gary Clark Jr – This Land [remix featuring The Roots]
Pearl Jam – Dance of the Clairvoyants
Ghostpoet – Concrete Pony
Gorillaz – Momentary Bliss (feat. slowthai & Slaves)
Smokey Brights – Different Windows (Gold Casio remix)
Smokey Brights – Flash Your Lights (Rudy Willingham remix)
Moby – Power is Taken
Polica – Feel Life
Wye Oak – Fear of Heights
Nada Surf – Something I Should Do
Wolf Parade – Out of Control
Nap Eyes – Mark Zuckerberg
Torres – Good Scare
Algiers – There Is No Year
Drive-By Truckers – Grievance Merchants