Wednesday, July 4, 2012

100 Cover Versions #61: Michael Stipe covers 'Wichita Lineman' by Glen Campbell

Wichita Lineman is another of my all time favourite songs. It has that timeless quality that just transports you back in time. It was written by Jimmy Webb and was first recorded by Glen Campbell. I think it is one of those songs that a combination of country, a ballad and pop. In 1968 it was a top 3 hit for Glen Campbell on the Billboard Hot 100 and it January 1969 it went to number 7 in the UK charts.

REM covered Wichita Lineman in the 1990s and it appeared on their 1996 EP Bittersweet Me.

Here is Michael Stipe singing his version of it with Patti Smith's band in the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on New Year's Eve 2011. Patti watches the performance off stage and comes on stage near the end.

Turn Up The Radio - Madonna

Turn Up The Radio will be the third single from Madonna's MDNA album. It will be released on August 3rd in Ireland and on the 5th in the UK. It is only a few weeks now to her concert in Aviva stadium here in Dublin on July 24th. I really hope the tour generates a hit single or two for the album. 

I love the image above too which I found today on

100 Cover Versions #60: Patti Smith covers 'Helpless' by Neil Young

It is only in the past few years that I come to appreciate the truly powerful songs of Neil Young. One of finest songs is Helpless which was first recorded by him with his band Crazy Horse and he then recorded with Crosby, Stills and Nash when he joined the trio in 1969. 

There are some really beautiful versions of it. It is a song that many music fans will have their own  particular favourite version of. The version that I choose to highlight is by Patti Smith. It featured on her album Twelve in 2007. 
I have been lucky to see her twice in concert here in Dublin. Both times with my darling friend Brian. The first time was in Vicar Street a few years ago. The second time was in April of this year when she took part in a benefit concert for new playwriting at the Abbey Theatre with Sam Shepard. It was an evening of music, poetry and prose readings. Sam's daughter Hannah Jane played cello and also sang and it was one of those all time unforgettable evenings in Dublin. Sam Shepard sang bluegrass songs and Hannah Jane even sang in Irish. She looks so like her mother Jessica Lange, she has that same quality that made her mother a screen legend. 

One of the highlights of the evening for me was hearing Patti sing The Jackson Song. There is something so special about a great singer making a performance of a song sound like it is truly for that moment, you listen knowing you will always remember it. I think that is why music and song is art.

Here is a performance of Helpless by Patti Smith and features her son Jackson on guitar and her daughter Jesse on piano. It was filmed in Paris at the Fondation Cartier in 2008.

Here also is The Jackson Song was written for her son and featured on her Dream of Life album in 1988.

100 Cover Versions #59: Deon Estus & George Michael cover '1-2-3' by Len Barry

Wishing Deon Estus a very birthday today. He is without doubt one of the nicest singers and musicians on Twitter. He interacts with every one of his fans through social media and I know every one of his fans appreciates his friendliness and good heart. When I look back on some of my favourite Wham! videos and concert performances I love seeing him playing bass or singing beside George, Andrew, Pepsi, Shirlie and the other members of the band. Deon also has his own wonderful songs. One of which is Heaven Help Me which George Michael sings backing vocals on.

Here is Deon and George with a live in Wembley concert performance of a wonderful cover version of 1-2-3 which was a hit for Len Barry in 1965.

Under African Skies

Paul Simon and LadySmith Black Mambazo play two nights in concert in Dublin's 02 Music venue next Thursday 12th and Friday 13th July. 
Under African Skies; the documentary about his return to South Africa on the 25th anniversary of the recording of his Graceland album is also showing in cinemas at the moment. Under African Skies is directed by Joe Berlinger and features Paul Simon talking about the making of, the history and the powerful legacy of Graceland and also features contributions by people such as David Byrne, Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Steve Van Zandt.  There are screenings of it in The Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield here in Dublin at 650pm next Sunday 8th and at 615pm on Thursday 12th July.

Here is the trailer for Under African Skies

Here are some of the great songs from the 1987 Grammy winning Album of the Year Graceland.

The first is one of the most famous music videos of the 1980s; You Can Call Me Al. In 1987 it  also won the Grammy for Record of the Year.

The second is Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.

The third is The Boy in the Bubble.

and here is a live in concert performance of the documentary's title song  Under African Skies from 1987.