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Get Under the Covers

Perhaps this week's headline should should read "Pull up the Covers!" Or "Covering the Covers," would be even better. How about you pick which headline best suits this week's World Music Show (11/30)? In case you can't figure out the theme for this week's show from those three headers, I'll fess up. It's my annual "World Music Covers" show.

And when I say "annual," I hope you're not actually checking any calendars to verify that at the end of every November there is a "covers show." Because in reality, throughout almost every show, there are at least several cover tunes of the World Music variety. The reason being is simple--I just love hearing different takes on popular (and some not so popular) songs from artists from other parts of the globe. Which is why, every once in awhile, I like to stetch those several selections into a full-blown, two-hour show. So, let's pull off the covers off this week's show.

Starting off this show will be a tribute to the great Lou Reed. Since his normal genre can't really fit into the World Music format, I found a way to honor this legendary musician, who not only was a stellar solo artist, but of course was one of the founding members of The Velvet Underground. We'll hear one of his most famous songs, "Walk on the Wild Side," done by Spanish musician Albert Pla, who adds some flamenco flavor to the song--which by the way, is translated to "El Lado Mas Bestia de la Vida." Also in this first chunk of music will be a cover of the Hall & Oates song "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) by the female trio from Mali known as Les Go. And, we'll hear a cover of the 70s song "In the Summertime," done by the French/Salsa band Fatal Mambo. Ending this set will be one of two Smokey Robinson covers, "Tears of a Clown," done by The English Beat. The Beat, I think, were able to turn on a new set of listeners to Smokey through their cover (at least I hope they did). 

The second chunk of tunes will carry a Latin beat throughout. We'll start with a Portuguese cover of a David Bowie song done by the Brazilian Seu Jorge (who orginally performed a whole set of Bowie covers on the film "The Life Aquatic"). Then, we'll move next to hear one of the legendary founders of the Tropicalia movement, Sergio Mendes, who gets some help from The Black Eyed Peas. They'll cover the song "Mas Que Nada," orginally done by another Tropicalia pioneer, Jorge Ben. To keep the beat going, we'll head back to the 1980s--at least that's when this song, "Sweet Dreams," originally done by the Eurythmics, was first heard. The Latin cover of this track, however, will be done by a German DJ who goes by the name Senor Coconut. Also wedged into this set will be Coldplay, who partner up with members of the Buena Vista Social Club's Ibrahim Ferrer and Omar Portuondo (known as the Buena Vista Sound) on their song "Clocks." And because I love Seu Jorge's gravely voice so much, we'll hear him on another song, "Tropicalia," which was orginally done by Beck (and which features Beck, too). 

For the last set of tracks in hour one, we'll go all over the map and all over the decades. We'll start with a cover of Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes," done by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. But, before you write me and say, "Hey, they were part of the orginal song," I need to fess up and say, "Well, on this version, they're paired with Melissa Etheridge and Joe McBride." And, I'd also add that "you won't want to miss this upbeat version--it kills." Ending the first hour will be another Simon cover, this one--"Ceclilia," done Rhumba style by Jesse Cook. And we'll hear Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo knocking it out of the park or should I say auditorium, when she covers one of our first Rolling Stones songs, "Gimme Shelter," done from a live show she did in Boston with the help of Dianne Reeves.

To kickstart hour two, we'll continue with a little, mixed-up Rolling Stone/Mick Jagger salute when we hear him paired with Peter Tosh on the second Smokey Robinson song "(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back." And, I say a "mixed up salute," becuase for some reason I follow that song with another Angelique Kidjo song--her cover of U2's "Mysterious Ways." Then, we'll end the set with the rest of that Rolling Stone tribute by hearing the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want," done Mento style (which is Jamacian dancehall style) by a band whose members are actually older  than all the members of the Rolling Stones--the Jolly Boys. And we'll finish with another version of "Gimme Shelter," done Playing for Change style, which means it features a dozen global musicians, including Taj Mahal

Also off that same CD "PFC2," we'll hear one of two tribute/covers to Bob Marley, one being "Three Little Birds;" and another by the Brazilian singer Ceu, we'll hear cover the song "Concrete Jungle." To end this reggae chunk of music will be another legend of the genre, Jimmy Cliff. But instead of hearing a cover version one of his songs, we'll hear him, covering The Clash song "Guns of Brixton."

In our second musical tribute of the show to someone who recently passed away, we'll salute DJ Cheb i Sabbah. Cheb i Sabbah is well known in both the Indian/Electronic relm as well as in the dance clubs. He was a composer/producer known for combining Asian, Arabic, and African sounds into his compositions. Sabbah was of Jewish and Berber descent. He was born in Algeria into a family of musicians and moved to Paris as a teenager, where in 1964 he began his career DJing American soul music records. In 1984, settled as a DJ in San Francisco. And, In 1989 he began using the stage name "Cheb i Sabbah," which translates to "young of the morning." Many great musicians, such as Karsh Kale, Midival Punditz, Anoushka Shankar and more, have mourned his passing. We'll hear the track "Kese Kese."

To put a nightcap on this week's "Under the Covers," show, the fun--at least for me (and hopefully for you)--chunk will be this one. One you'll want to crank up. After the tribute to DJ Cheb, we'll hear a Brazilian medley of the songs "Billie Jean," and "Eleanor Rigby" done by Brazilian folk hero Caetano Veloso. Plus, we'll hear his tribute to another folk hero and songwriter, Joni Mitchell, when he covers her song "Dreamland." Then, to keep the Joni-vibe going (we'll actually get to hear a Joni song on the World Music Show!), I'll play her song "The Jungle Line," off of her "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" album. How is this possible? Well, the heavy drumbeats got me thinking about one of the other things I like to do on the show--and that is feature "World Music" style songs done (or attempted) by artists who you don't normally assoicate with World Music. That song is one example--the other is the song "It's Nearly Africa," done by one of my favorite 80s art/pop/smart band XTC, which you'll also get to hear.

So, as I mentioned, that chunk of music, at least for this week's show, is one of my favorites. What will be yours? Let me know below or via Twitter @wcveworldmusic. The World Music Show is heard Saturday nights from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio or online via this website.