Studio: Brian Ibbott
What It Is
Brian Ibbott plays cover songs in various categories, like Cover Stories dedicated to a single artist or a series of covers related to a particular theme or, sometimes, just a nice random assortment.
The older episodes run around an hour or so and dropped two or three times a week. The show has switched format to an hour and a half or so per episode and drops once a week. The show’s been around for years and they’re right on the cusp of the 1,100th episode. The iTunes page features the thirty-five most recent episodes; the show’s official website features the entire archive. Sound quality, by the way? Pristine.
What About It
There are a lot of interesting music podcasts out there, but this one is my favorite of all the ones I’ve come across. Ibbott uses both his own knowledge and the knowledge of his listeners to find incredibly obscure covers of songs we all know and love. I actually preferred the older format, where Ibbott would dedicate a whole forty-five minute episode to covers of, for example, Led Zeppelin or have a whole episode dedicated to random covers listeners had alerted him to. Now, he does longer episodes with mini-cover story segments lasting fifteen to twenty minutes or so and mixes in a lot of random covers. Occasionally, he’ll dedicate an entire ninety-minute episode to one artist, if they’re significant enough. Format change aside, it’s still a ton of fun. The show ranges across styles and genres to perfection. You can start listening, prepared to hear old-school country, blues, rock, hip-hop and just about anything else. Yes, even Gregorian chant (not my favorite genre, but hey, whatcha gonna do?). There was an amazing episode that had two mini-cover stories, one dedicated to Natalie Merchant, the other to Shaggy. Consider that dubious pairing for a minute. It wasn’t my favorite episode, but where else would I have heard it? Or anything like it? I’ve heard some amazing music on the show; occasionally, the show hits a patch I don’t particularly care for, but most of the time each episode will have at least three or four songs that I really love. Most of the time the covers are offbeat, which adds to the charm; covers that are slavishly faithful to the original need not apply, unless they’re just superlatively done.
You absolutely love hearing new twists on classic songs.
Avoid Like the Plague If
Your attitude to the great canon of song is pure reverence.
Best Entry Point
There are some fantastic episodes to pick from here. For the past ten years, Ibbott has been doing an hour and a half Beatles episode every Thanksgiving and I think we all know how good that’s got to be. Here’s the most recent one. The end of the year countdowns are always fun. Here’s the countdown for 2014: parts one & two. We’ll be getting 2015 editions of the Thanksgiving Beatles show and the end of the year countdown soon, so keep an eye out. And I’ll throw out one really old recommendation: Coverville 893: The Isaac Hayes Cover Story II from September of 2012. Isaac Hayes needs no defense at this late date and the covers of Hayes songs are fantastic. Ibbott included some covers by Hayes himself and, yes, he closes with Hayes’ twelve minute cover of The Beatles’ Something; that right there should have you racing to download the episode immediately.