If you're like me, you are reluctant to get excited about a covers album. More and more covers albums have become the go-to for bands who are either out of material and/or money and simply want to put out an album. When I heard that the Counting Crows were doing a covers album, their first album since the celebrated Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings released in 2008, I wasn't too impressed. Now that I've listened to the entire album, I can't believe how different this album is.
Lead singer Adam Duritz called Underwater Sunshine a "music geek's cover album" and he is 100% right about that. Only true music fans will listen to this album and be amazed at who the Counting Crows chose to cover. Seriously, where else can you find covers of Gram Parsons ("Return of the Grievous Angel"), Pure Prairie League ("Amie"), Bob Dylan ("You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"), and the Faces ("Ooh La La") all on the same album?
Here's Adam Duritz performing "Like Teenage Gravity" with Kasey Anderson, a cover of this song appears on Underwater Sunshine, at SXSW last month:
In the one pass through of the album today, I found myself loving the Gram Parson's cover best, but having never heard "Like Teenage Gravity" before, I can see myself returning to it. The lyrics to the Kasey Anderson track are available on his website. The only song I really wasn't digging was the cover "Borderline" by Madonna. That's not bad for an entire album of covers.
What's great about this album is that not all of these songs are easily recognizable. It's almost a rebirth for a few of them and for a few, some recognition for songs that just haven't received much play since their recent release. All good choices on the part of Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows.
While I was looking for videos of the songs on the album, I ran across two great covers of Counting Crows songs that I absolutely must share. First, Sara Bareilles says "Sullivan Street" is one of her favorite songs and performed it here with Joey Ryan, Javier Dunn and the great Jay Nash (NSFW). An amazing band in their own right, Dashboard Confessional covered "Angels of the Silences" and did it justice. What is it they say about being imitation and flattery?
Go give Underwater Sunshine a listen, it will be a pleasant surprise.