Monday, October 16, 2017

Country in the NEWS: Where New Country meets Old Country....October 16, 2017 (country music covers of popular songs)

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15 Great Country Music Covers: Critic's Picks

  Blake Shelton

There’s an old saying that goes, "a good song is a good song regardless of whoever sings it." Well, that’s not always totally true. Sometimes, an artist might be a huge fan of a singer or a song, but it doesn’t translate to their style. Then, there are instances where an artist comes very close – or (in a rare case) surpasses the original.
We’ll let the reader decided just how close these country artists came to re-creating the magic exuded by these Pop classics, but here are fifteen versions of classic Hot 100 hits that we think got some fine treatment from some of Nashville’s (or in one case, Bakersfield) finest.
Here's a list of 15 great country music covers of popular songs over the years.


15. Blake Shelton covers Kenny Loggins - "Footloose" 
In 1984, Kenny Loggins reigned supreme in the musical world with the title song from the box office smash. In 2011, when the movie was remade, Blake Shelton shined on an energetic take of the song, but The Voice judge showed that he hadn’t forgotten where the classic came from – inviting Loggins to appear with him during his performance of the song on the CMA Awards that fall.
14. Steve Wariner covers The Fab Four -- "Get Back"
The Fab Four topped the Hot 100 for five weeks in the spring of 1969 with this rollicking classic that was somewhat of a throwback to their early hits. The song made quite an impact on a young Steve Wariner, and when the singer was asked to participate in a 1995 Country tribute record to the Beatles, Come Together: America Salutes The Beatles, there was no question what song he would contribute to the cause. The singer / guitarist nailed the cover, which made a minor dent on the country songs chart.
13. Anne Murray covers Bruce Channel - "Hey Baby"
Bruce Channel topped the Hot 100 with this bouncy classic – with some impressive harmonica work from a young Delbert McClinton – in 1962. Anne Murray successfully covered the song in 1982, and five years later, the song re-entered the stream of public consciousness via its’ inclusion in the film Dirty Dancing. A few months ago, when the film was remade by ABC in musical form, critics universally panned the effort. But, a listen to the soundtrack revealed a few undeniable jewels, including a fun and flirty take on the song from Lady Antebellum.
12. Martina McBride covers Pat Benetar -- "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" 
The similarities between Pat Benatar and Martina McBride are many, with the most striking being the fact that both women have such an incredible range. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the iconic rocker is one of McBride’s biggest influences, something that was very apparent on her 2008 release Live In Concert, where she delivered a flawless rendition of the Benatar classic.
11. Vince Gill covers The Eagles - "I Can't Tell You Why"
In 1993, when many of the day’s biggest Country stars teamed up to raise funds for the Walden Woods Project via the release of Common Thread: Songs of the Eagles, there was no denying that Vince Gill stole the show with his jaw-dropping version of the group’s 1979 hit. Though Timothy B. Schmit is still a member of the group, it comes as no surprise that the newest Eagle is none other than Vince Gill.
10. Buck Owens covers Chuck Berry - "Johnny B Goode" 
In 1965, Buck Owens took out an ad in Billboard and other trade publications stating that he would never record a song that wasn’t a Country one. Four years later, purists felt as if he abandoned that promise with the release of this Chuck Berry classic, taken from a live album in London. Owens thought the lyrics about a boy and his guitar were nothing but Country, and stood by his pledge. Besides Owens’ delivery of the classic, the song is notable for an unforgettable guitar solo from Buck’s “right hand man”, lead guitarist Don Rich.
9. Sugarland covers The Dream Academy - "Life In A Northern Town"
The Dream Academy notched a No. 7 performance on the Hot 100 in 1985 with this song, penned as a tribute to British musician Nick Drake. In 2007, Sugarland began performing it in their live shows, eventually including a concert version on the deluxe edition of their excellent 2008 disc Love On The Inside. The track, which hit the Top-30 despite never being worked as a single, also featured the duo’s opening acts at the time, Little Big Town and Jake Owen.
8. Ray Stevens covers Johnny Mathis - "Misty"
Listening to Ray Stevens’ 1975 cover of this Johnny Mathis evergreen might not seem so revolutionary now. But, perhaps the biggest showing of Stevens’ musical genius was in his ability to transform the Pop standard into a Bluegrass-sounding showcase performance that earned him one of his biggest hits – and a Grammy Award for Music Arrangement of the Year.
7. Sammy Kershaw covers The Crickets - "More Than I Can Say"
A song that was a cover several times over. The Crickets recorded the original in 1959, becoming a minor hit in the United Kingdom. It was there that the Beatles heard the song, and performed it during their early stage show, but never recorded it. Leo  Sayer introduced the romantic mid-tempo number to American audiences in 1980, peaking at No. 2 on the Pop chart. Nearly two decades later, Sammy Kershaw delivered a perfectionist take on the classic for his album Maybe Not Tonight.6. Conway Twitty covers Brook Benton - "Rainy Night in Georgia" 
It would be easy to put this song on the list out of a sentimental notion, as it was one of the final recordings from Conway Twitty prior to his death in June 1993. But, a listen to this evocative cover of the Brook Benton classic featuring Twitty and Sam Moore proves that this might be one of the most sonically perfect recordings of all time. A big statement? Sure. But, listen to the song – and prepare to be blown away. Twitty told producer Don Was after completing this track for the album Rhythm, Country, and  Blues that he would love to do an album of a similar form one day.  Was told him to call him. If only that conversation could have taken place.
5. Ronnie Milsap covers Joe Henderson - "Snap Your Fingers"
Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist Grady Martin paired with tunesmith Alex Zanetis for this soulful groove, which Joe Henderson took to No. 2 on the R&B chart in 1962. A teenage Ronnie Milsap must have been listening, as the singer tipped the covers hat to Henderson a quarter-century later, releasing this as the first single from his 1987 album Heart & Soul.
4. Travis Tritt covers Faces - "Stay With Me"
The biggest pop hit for Faces, this 1971 single from Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and company captivated listeners’ imagination over the years concerning the identity of the femme fatale known simply as “Rita.” Though that is still subjective to the individual imagination of the listener, Travis Tritt turned in a raucous romp through the song that was a highlight of his 2013 album The Calm After.
3. Eddy Arnold covers John D. Loudermilk - "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"
Many people consider Eddy Arnold’s 1968 recording of this John D. Loudermilk composition to be one of the great Country cover songs of all time. And, that’s very much true. But in more ways than you think. Arnold was no doubt inspired to record the song that became the final of his twenty-eight trips to the top after hearing The Casinos’ No. 6 chart hit on the Hot 100 from the year before. However, what you might not realize is that the Casinos version was also a cover. The song was first cut by singer / golfer Don Cherry -- who was also once the voice of Mr. Clean in television commercials -- in 1962.
2. Eddie Rabbitt covers Dion - "The Wanderer"
In 1961, Dion took this seminal rock and roll classic to the runner-up position on the Hot 100, but couldn’t get the song into the top spot on the charts.  In 1988, with throwback songs all the rage, Eddie Rabbitt -- for the only time as a solo artist -- released a cover song as a single, and the song became a highlight of the Country Music radio airwaves in the summer of 1988.
1. Mickey Gilley covers The Miracles - "You Really Got a Hold On Me"


The resume of Mickey Gilley includes tips of the hat to classics such as “Stand By Me,” “True Love Ways,” and “Bring It On Home,” but perhaps his finest moment as an interpreter of a classic hit came with this faithful version of The Miracles’ iconic 1962 love ballad. Gilley was truly in a zone on the song, and the song stopped just one notch shy of the number one position on the country charts upon its’ release in the winter of 1984.

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