In 1964, The Beatles put together a one-off variety show, with musical numbers specially pre-recorded for the show, presented in the style of theater-in-the-round. Around the Beatles was aired in the UK and later that same year in the US, but never commercially released. The show includes The Beatles performing a scene from A Midsummer's Night Dream, with Paul McCartney as Pyramus, John Lennon as his lover Thisbe, George Harrison as Moonshine, Starr as Lion, and Trevor Peacock (the only actual actor in the lot) in the role of Quince. A color clip of that was posted previously, but you can watch the entire (almost) hour-long show with The Beatles' segments accompanied by seven other musical acts, on Dailymotion or YouTube, though it's in black and white. [more inside]
Jon Brion gets around. As a composer, he scored some of the best movies of last decade and change – Punch-Drunk Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, New York, and I ♥ Huckabees. As a producer, he's worked with Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Aimee Mann, and the excellent bluegrass outfit Punch Brothers. He writes pop music like the best of them – witness Meaningless, Knock Yourself Out, Here We Go, or Didn't Think It Would Turn Out Bad for a nice sampler of his style and range. His live shows are notoriously whimsical and eccentric – he's apt to perform Radiohead's "Creep" in the style of Tom Waits, or cover Stairway to Heaven as a one-man band, recreating all the parts to its climax on the fly.
In March of 2009, an R.E.M. tribute and benefit concert was held at Carnegie Hall. One of the most interesting covers of that evening was Ingrid Michaelson's take on "Nightswimming." Michaelson used a looping pedal to slowly build the harmonies, so that by the end of the song she was accompanied by a whole choir of her own voice. While the Carnegie performance isn't available online, you can see a pared-down but still extraordinary performance from her appearance at the Sirius XM studios. (YT)
Jazz group The Bad Plus play an appropriately discordant Karma Police, a slow-burn We Are The Champions, an tearfulfeariffic Everybody Wants To Rule The World, and also sort of smell like teen spirit.
Pop Songs 07 is a blog by Matthew Perpetua, founder of Fluxblog, in which he is attempting to write about every R.E.M. song eventually. With the recent release of Stereogum’s tribute to Automatic For The People, Drive XV, (free mp3s of covers of every track on the record by a range of indie rock acts) he was asked to write an essay about the album: Sweetness Followed: 15 Years After Automatic.