Monday, January 16, 2012


There were so many great releases towards the end of 2011, so if you have missed this gem I'll give you a pass.  But it's time to catch up!  (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered is a tribute to U2's classic Achtung Baby LP from 1991. The original is one of my favorite albums ever, so I was a bit worried about this... but the talent lineup on it is incredible.

By the way, this was originally available only in the UK, it came with an issue of Q magazine. In the US, you can download it at iTunes, with proceeds going towards Concern, an organization dedicated to working with the world's poorest people to improve their lives.

The album starts out with Nine Inch Nails covering "Zoo Station," which is surprising on several levels. One, I thought Trent Reznor was done with NIN.  I guess not?  Second, I thought he didn't like U2, although I guess if he liked any of their albums, it would be this one (when it came out, I thought it sounded like U2 were influenced by NIN's debut, 1989's Pretty Hate Machine). Third, NIN's versions is so different.  It's much more subtle, and a bit creepier than U2's.

Patti Smith, one of U2's biggest influences, honors them with her piano based cover of "Until The End Of The World." Accompanied by her sons on piano and guitar, and a bass player, it's much different and more sober, and maybe more sad, than the original.

Garbage, who opened for U2, makes their return to active duty with "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?"  Like U2 during this era, Garbage wrestle with getting soul into the intersection of humans playing instruments and programmed computer music.  Few do it well, but U2 and Garbage both did. I look forward to hearing Garbage's comeback album.

Depeche Mode, a peer of U2's, picked the perfect song for themselves with "So Cruel." It's interesting to hear them cover something from this era, since Achtung Baby (and Zooropa and Pop) are the closest U2 came to Depeche Mode's electronic sound. I've always thought that this is one of U2's most underrated songs (if I remember correctly, it's the only song from the album they didn't play on the tour).  Depeche Mode really put their own spin on it.

Friend of U2 Gavin Friday takes one of my favorites, "The Fly," and makes it sound a bit sneakier.  It's a bit more electronic, and like NIN's "Zoo Station," mostly strips The Edge's badass riff from the song.  It almost sounds like he's covering a remix. It's very cool though.

One of my favorite artists, Jack White closes the album with a very emotional "Love Is Blindness," the closest thing to a blues song U2 has ever done.  The Edge wrote that one when he was going through a divorce, and sadly, Jack just went through one. He brings a lot of sorrow to the song,  it's the highlight of the album for me, and one of the best songs of 2011.

I don't love every song on the album, and of course you can just buy the songs you like, but because the money goes to a worthy cause, I downloaded the whole thing.

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