“Black” (Pearl Jam Cover)

Originally posted 2008-05-23 21:15:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff Copperthite:

Good evening! Welcome to your Friday installment of The Laptop Sessions. I hope you are ready to celebrate a three-day weekend, and plan on seeing family, friends, and perhaps enjoy a nice cookout or two in the process.

Meanwhile, I get to bring to you one of my favorite songs. It’s Pearl Jam tonight with a song from their first album Ten. Track #5 is Black from that album and that is the song I bring to you tonight.

It has a great background electric guitar and Eddie Vedder sings a wonderful vocal melody in the entire song. Vedder is known to go in between styles back and forth and this song showcases that talent of his. From the soft verses to the emotional outro of the song, I attempt to emulate what Eddie can do. I think I do a good job, but then again i’m no Eddie Vedder. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Also, this song translates wonderfully to acoustic guitar, and I substitute a minor change in the guitar part at the end of the song instead of the vocal “do do doo doo do do dooo” that the recording has. And as with all songs that fade out, I picked the chord that sounded best to end on and went with that.

I want to thank all of you for visiting, commenting, rating, and subscribing. This is among the sessions I am most proud of.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Jim’s latest session, then come Sunday we bring another special week of songs to you. You’ll have to check out Chris’s session on Sunday to find out just what that is!

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!

“Off He Goes” (Pearl Jam Cover)

Originally posted 2009-05-12 06:44:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another week and another all-new Monday edition of the Laptop Sessions.  It’s been quite a weekend, and it’s going to be quite a week!

On Friday night, I stayed late at school for as long as I could, but I just couldn’t resist going to see the newly released Star Trek movie.  For once, a movie lived up to the hype!  I picked up Nicole for the trip to the theater, and although we’ve seen a lot of good movies together (not to mention a decent number of flops), this has to top them all.  Although I’m more of a Trek geek than she is, I think it’s fair to say we were equally excited during and after the movie.  If you love the classic series and films, then you’ll appreciate the respect paid to these characters.  If you know nothing about the franchise, then this is the perfect film to watch first.  I can’t wait to find an excuse to watch it again very soon…

Saturday was a crazy day for me, as my sister Jaime graduated from Nyack college at 2 pm in New York.  I got up early (for a Saturday, at least!) and drove to New York for my least favorite of all activities: ceremonies like a graduation.  That being said, it was worth it to see my sister graduate.  We met as a family later on for dinner and that was great, too.  It was great to have Nicole join us, too, and she made what could have been a long, boring drive with lots of downtime an enjoyable little day trip.  Sunday was more of the same, as it was Mother’s Day, and my sister is only home for a week before returning to New York to work.  We got to hang out, talk music, and watch an episode of The Twilight Zone that gave her nightmares as a young child.  We didn’t get to play The Office board game, but there will always be time for another round in the future.  (And I’ll be ready this time! 😉 )

Tonight finds me watching the Mets.  After a seven game winning streak, it appears that they’re going to lose one.  I’m loving this iPhone “MLB.com – At Bat 2009” application.  It makes listening to games and staying in touch with the stats and standings soooo easy.  It’s been a great week for watching Mets baseball, and I don’t want to complain.  But I don’t quite get why they seem unable to score runs when Johan Santana is pitching.  Maybe they get subconsciously complacent, since he’s such a great pitcher.  Even tonight, although he got into a couple sticky situations, he worked his way out of each one — until they pulled him out 1/3 into the seventh inning.  What truly amazes me is his ERA; as of tonight, it is .78!  Games with Santana on the mound would have to get busted open wider than Abyss during a Pay-Per-View for weeks straight for him to reach the ERA’s of the other Mets starters…

But, enough of blogging for blogging’s sake — I should probably introduce the song I’ve recorded for tonight’s acoustic cover song music video.  “Off He Goes” is a track from Pearl Jam’s 1996 album No Code.  This album was the first to break from their previous sound a bit and some fans disapproved.  I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite album in the Pearl Jam catalog by any stretch, but there are some great tracks on it.  “Hail, Hail” is one of the most rocking and catchy songs in their catalog.  “Present Tense” is one of my favorite Pearl Jam tracks, if only for the combination of lyrics and gradual instrumental buildup.  “I’m Open” is a cool spoken-word track — yes, those do exist!

This track, “Off He Goes,” is perfect material for an acoustic cover song.  Initially, after having this song come up on my iPod this weekend, I thought it would be an easy song to record.  Ironically, I almost decided not to learn it and record it for fear of being criticized for recording too many simple songs.

Well, that’s simply not the case…

As Jim can attest to, I spent over an hour and fifteen minutes and about 40-50 takes of this song to get it anywhere near where I wanted it to be.  There are still a couple of discrepancies I hit while singing the tune, but I also nailed a few of my favorite subtleties in the song.  What recording this song taught me was how truly difficult it is to make a slow, deceptively simple song like this really translate into a great performance.  I have even more respect for Eddie Vedder than I did before, especially for the fact that he plays guitar and sings in concert on this one.  The chords are so easy — really, just F, C, and Am — but the strumming pattern was difficult to hit in a few places.  (**The best part about recording these sessions, undoubtedly, is spending all that time, posting on YouTube, and waking up to find that two people have viewed it, one of whom has one-starred it and left no comment.  Thanks for that.**)

That’s enough for one Monday.  I hope you enjoy the session (more than my first YouTube viewer did) and hurry back all week for great new acoustic cover song music videos.

See you next session!

Music Review: Pearl Jam’s “Backspacer”

Originally posted 2009-09-21 22:41:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  4 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

This most recent Pearl Jam release is aptly titled; in many ways, Backspacer is closer in focus and energy to Ten than any of their more recent efforts.

Most reviews have wasted little time in pointing out that this album holds the band’s record for brevity — 37 minutes from the first guitar strum to the final vocal fade.  This can, of course, be interpreted in one of two ways, the worst case scenario being that the album was hurriedly prepared and produced.

This could not be further from the truth.

Backspacer is a strong, purposeful album comprised of eleven very upbeat, very direct tracks that leave little room for the listener to catch his breath over the record’s half hour span.  For the most part, these tight, three minute tracks are energizing and satisfying, catchier and cooler than anything Eddie Vedder and company have turned out in a long time.

This is, of course, a mixed bag.  After all, short, to-the-point pop rock is fun when done properly — which, by the way, it certainly is here.  Still, the electric soundscapes of 2000’s Binaural and the distortion-drenched protest of 2002’s Riot Act were excellent installments in the Pearl Jam catalog, even if their respective values have been minimized by critics who seemed more concerned with comparing them to early releases like Ten and Vs.

It should be noted that 2006’s Pearl Jam lacked cohesiveness as an album, although several songs on that release are among the best of their career (“World Wide Suicide” or “Marker in the Sand,” anyone?).  This eponymous release is an album of wild energy and abandon, which works particularly well in the first half of the track listing.  That being said, Vedder rips his vocal chords to shreds in his effort to sing without holding any emotion or effort in reserve.  This works well in some places, and yet crackles to pieces in others.

Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" (2009)

On Backspacer, Vedder has somehow been able to amp up his emotions and energy, and yet his vocals stand out as some of the best of any Pearl Jam recording to date.  Some songs, like the opener “Gonna See My Friend,” harken back to the roughly shouted vocals of Pearl Jam.  Most, however, feature Vedder at his best.

The opening track is also notable for a strumming pattern that is evocative of some mid-1950s Chuck Berry-esque riffing — with a decidedly grunge rock twist to it, of course.  “Gonna See My Friend” is a catchy track but certainly does not stand out among the other excellent album starters of their career.

From the first millisecond of “Got Some,” there is suddenly evidence that this might be an excellent album.  Jeff Ament’s collaboration with Vedder is a nice addition to the other outstanding Ament contributions — think: “God’s Dice,” “Ghost,” and “Low Light;”  if you’re really kind, forget “Pilate.”  The best part of “Got Some” is that, by the time it has finished, you haven’t even heard the single yet.

“The Fixer” comes next, a tour-de-force taken on very convincingly by Vedder.  I have vacillated about three or four times a day since I picked up the album on Sunday, and I’m still not certain whether I like “Got Some” or “The Fixer” better.  I suppose I’ll just have to keep listening…

As the album continues, there are other rockers performed at breakneck speed (“Johnny Guitar,” “Supersonic”), as well as considerably slower, more instrospective numbers (“Just Breathe,” “The End”).  These latter tracks were clearly influenced by Vedder’s recent solo project, writing and recording the soundtrack for the Sean Penn film Into the Wild.  The fingerpicking patterns that open these songs are reminiscent of his solo tracks, yet these songs clearly show the progress Vedder has made in such a short time, particularly in terms of structure.

For once, I am forced to agree with Rolling Stone‘s assessment of this album.  Their four star rating is a simple means of stating that Backspacer is an excellent album, but not a masterpiece.  From track 6 to “The End,” the album takes some repeated listening to really be appreciated.  At first, I felt that some of these tracks were too tight and traditional to ever truly stand out.  As I’ve listened, more and more of these songs have stood out, like the soaring “Amongst the Waves” and the excellent “Speed of Sound” (listen to Vedder’s vocals in the first few lines as he momentarily invokes Leonard Cohen).

Backspacer may not be the next Ten, but it is silly to even entertain that desire.  (If you read music reviews in the major magazines, you wouldn’t know it though!)  What this release does offer is an energetic, cohesive Pearl Jam album — and that, for me, has always been more than enough.

The Best of the Bob Dylan Covers – Playlists on Parade

Originally posted 2010-11-20 12:40:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

With some sources placing Bob Dylan as the #2 most covered artist (behind the Beatles, of course), there are some excellent performances of his songs.

Predominantly, though, there are hundreds and hundreds of inferior versions of his work, ranging from mediocre all the way down to openly offensive.

As a Dylan fan now for over a decade, I have accumulated quite a number of covers.  Folk?  I have it.  Bluesgrass?  Regrettably, yes.  Gospel?  You betcha!  Reggae?  For reals.

Suffice it to say, there’s some utter crap.

I’ve been thinking for weeks now about putting together a playlist of my favorite Dylan covers.  Finally, after coming across a Jimi Hendrix recording of “Tears of Rage” on iTunes today, I sorted through the archives and pieced together eighteen of my favorite recordings.  For those who don’t know me, you should understand that I’m often the guy who will remind you that, “This song was actually written by…” or ask you, “Have you ever heard the original?”  So, for me to say I love these songs means that they’ve truly made the cut for me.

And I hope you’ll enjoy them as well!

The artists are as wide ranging as George Harrison and Beck.  They go back as far as the sixties, with a sampling of classics by the original masters of the Dylan cover the Byrds, and are as recent as the Dead Weather, that super-ish-group co-fronted by Jack White.  In the case of the former, I love the Dylan versions about as much as Roger McGuinn and company’s, but in the case of the latter, a forgettable Street Legal track was revived and successfully reimagined.

There are some that you absolutely must listen to the originals – “Simple Twist of Fate” for one, and “Born in Time” for another (that is, if you find the Bootleg Series version).  There are some that are, frankly, better as covers – I’m thinking of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” here.

So, go explore.  Visit Amazon and iTunes.  Expand your Dylan horizons.  And, most of all, remember why Bob Dylan was, is, and forever shall be the freakin’ man.

1)  “Mr. Tambourine Man” – The Byrds

2)  “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” – Beck

3)  “All Along the Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix

4)  “If Not for You” – George Harrison

5)  “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind / A Fraction of Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie” – Jack Johnson

6)  “Masters of War” – Pearl Jam

7)  “New Pony” – The Dead Weather

8)  “Simple Twist of Fate” – Jeff Tweedy

9)  “My Back Pages” – The Byrds

10)  “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – George Harrison

11)  “Tears of Rage” – Jimi Hendrix

12)  “I Shall Be Released” – The Band

13)  “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” – Eric Clapton

14)  “Mississippi” – Sheryl Crow

15)  “John Wesley Harding” – Wilco

16)  “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – The Byrds

17)  “Born in Time” – Eric Clapton

18)  “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – Warren Zevon