If you’ve followed our blog for a while you know we have a series we call ‘Messin With The Music’ where we take songs we like and do cover versions of them. We didn’t want to do mirror image covers of the songs. The fun is in taking the song and trying to do something a bit different with them. So far we’ve done that by playing the songs in a more stripped down acoustic fashion. At times that makes the songs have less instrumentation and other times the songs will have more instrumentation than the original. It all depends on where we want to take the song to add some of our own personality to it.
We’ve reviewed music by The Dead South before. They’ve taken the instrumentation and feel of Bluegrass and Americana and added their own twist to it. So you’ll usually see them using guitar, banjo, mandolin and cello to perform their songs. I especially enjoy watching the videos where they use the cello as the bass part and carry it like you would wear and play an electric bass. Again, a nice little change up that makes what they’re doing a bit more unique. Even with their instrumentation, they’ve always said that they’re not really a ‘bluegrass band’ since they don’t do the songs in a typical bluegrass style of playing.
I came across a couple of cover songs they’ve done videos for. I’m going to put a video of the original song along with it so you can hear the differences.
‘People Are Strange’ by The Doors
Originally recorded by The Doors for their album ‘Strange Days’ in 1967. The original is spooky with an almost carnival like feel especially with the way the keyboard sounds. The Dead South definitely kept the same feel going even with the difference in instrumentation. The percussive nature of bluegrass instrumentation keeps a beat going even without a drum kit. I also like the funny ‘flying banjo UFO’ video they came up with that really shows their off beat humor.
‘Money’ by The Beaches
The Beaches are a Canadian rock band that formed in 2013. Their original version is guitar driven pop punk. I like that The Dead South took a song that is not as well known to work in to a cover version. Their version adds a much more Americana based feel and beat to the song, especially the banjo parts. The video is a live version of the cover, so you get to hear it without any studio mixing and polish. By the way, The Dead South are also a Canadian based band. Good things from up north.
‘House Of The Rising Sun’ – traditional song, this version by The Animals
House Of The Rising Sun is a traditional folk song covered by a wide variety of artists. The version that is probably the best known was recorded by The Animals in 1964. That’s the version we’ll be looking at here along with the version by The Dead South. In this case we’re looking at two cover versions and the way two different bands decided to interpret a song. I like the comparison between these two versions as The Animals take on the song is heavy on electric guitar and keyboard so you can hear really hear some differences. In some ways The Dead South’s version is probably closer to the song’s origins as a folk tune. The Dead South version in the video sticks to the slower traditional feel until they speed it up and go full blast at around the 1:20 mark. Great stuff!