Saturday, February 17, 2007

Podcast Review: Take a Trip to Coverville for the Best, and Worst, in Cover Songs

One of the best music podcasts is Brian Ibbott's Coverville. Think of it as a trip into the good, the bad, and the ugly of cover songs. Some of the tunes are great cover versions that you may not have heard; others are campy send-ups or just plain unintentionally bad covers that started out as homages to the original versions, but somehow went horribly wrong.

In a weekly show that runs about an hour or so, Ibbott offers full-length versions of a number of songs structured around some kind of theme. The latest edition of Coverville features remakes of songs that were originally done in 1973, including two versions of Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" and one of Aerosmith's "Dream On."

Coverville also covers particular genres; heavy metal was a recent choice. And Ibbott occasionally does shows of listener requests.

One of my favorite recurring features is Ibbott's "Cover Story" episodes, which feature different artists covering the songs of one performer or songwriter, such as The Who, The Clash, or Britney Spears (which included the only acoustic folk verion of her hit "Toxic" that you're likely to hear). One episode featured covers of the songs of Leonard Cohen.

Another fun feature is the "Originalville" themed shows, in which Ibbott spins the original versions of songs that became well-known when covered by someone else. For example, the original Bessie Banks version of the early Moody Blues hit "Go Now," or the Hall & Oates tune "Every Time You Go Away," which became a hit for Paul Young.

Of course, there are the obligatory holiday-themed shows--Valentine's Day, Christmas and Hannukah, and even Groundhog Day. And one recent show features an interview with Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens, discussing the group's recent album of Beatles cover songs.

And sometimes the songs are slotted into the wrong themed show: "I Want Candy," the English Beat's "Save It For Later," and Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" were, for some reason, included in the heavy metal show. Well, whatever. Coverville's song choices and approach are so much fun that it's easy to forgive them a little misplaced genre selection.

There are a lot of music podcasts out there, but Coverville is without a doubt one of my favorites. And one of the favorites of many other people as well, from music lovers to musicians. Although Coverville has long been known to podcast fans, it has gained many new fans thanks to's new category allowing users to "digg" podcasts. I'm hoping that Ibbott will keep bringing us his dispatches from Coverville for a long time to come.

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