Did you know that Paste owns the world’s largest collection of live music recordings? It’s true! And what’s even crazier, it’s all free—hundreds of thousands of exclusive songs, concerts and videos that you can listen to and watch right here at Paste.com, from Muddy Waters to The Rolling Stones to R.E.M. to LCD Soundsystem. Every day, we’ll dig through the archive to find the coolest recording we have from that date in history. Enjoy!
July 17 turns out to be a busy day in the Paste Vault, with too many tempting shows to choose from. We have The Band playing a 15-song set at the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Washington, D.C., in 1976 with all the fixins: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “The Weight,” “Ophelia,” and everything else you’d want to hear. (This was just four months before their farewell “Last Waltz” show in San Francisco.) We have the Wilson sisters leading Heart into L.A. on their 1977 tour behind Little Queen, with “Barracuda,” “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You.” There’s Devo playing the Orpheum in Boston in 1980 with “Whip It,” “Secret Agent Man” and “Uncontrollable Urge.” There’s even a great recording of the resurrected Miles Davis at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival, saving his career in one historic night with “Now’s the Time.”
Okay, that last one is probably the winner, if we really had to choose. But…we really don’t! Rather than leave so many of these remarkable recordings on the cutting-room floor, let’s zero in on one thing they all had in common, besides happening today in the spacetime continuum: amazing covers. Apart from The Band, who played all originals on July 17, 1976 (unless you want to count the Dylan collaboration “This Wheel’s on Fire”), all of the aforementioned performers sprinkled a great tribute into their sets, one of which became a hit in its own right.
We’ll start there. Devo’s 1977 version of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” was the band’s first charting single, and immediately cast the Ohio foursome as new-wave underdogs with promise. With its protruding angles and jumpy rhythmics, Devo’s “Satisfaction” was a perfect distillation of the original song, with a sense of nerdy awkwardness and agitation that fits the lyrics better than a cocksure guy like Mick Jagger could. In this 1980 recording, Bob Mothersbaugh’s guitar leads off with a mock-up of the Keith Richards riff before settling into fuzzy lockstep with the rest of the band.
Heart: “Rock & Roll”
Heart were supporting their second record, Little Queen, on their 1977 tour, with hits galore already at their disposal: “Barracuda,” “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” among them. They were also making the case that women could rock every bit as hard as the ‘70s hard-rock chart-toppers who inspired them, first and foremost Led Zeppelin. On this breakneck cover of “Rock & Roll,” recorded in 1977 at the Universal Amphitheatre in L.A., Nancy Wilson proves that the only singers who can really do vintage Robert Plant vocals justice are women (ironic, but makes sense)—and no one can do it better than her.
Miles Davis All-Stars: “Round Midnight”
Miles Davis’s appearance at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival marked something of a comeback for the trumpeter. Plagued by addiction in the early 1950s, Davis had disappeared from the stage for a couple of years. His Newport set on July 17 marked his return to the public arena, and a triumphant return it was. Joined by an impromptu band of all-stars—saxophonists Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan, and pianist Thelonious Monk—Miles relit his flame with this breathtaking take on Monk’s most famous tune, “Round Midnight.” After a dramatic trumpet intro, the ensemble settles into the dark, alluring ballad as Davis steals the show with electrifying performance. This is a truly one-of-a-kind recording.
BONUS: Ramblin’ Jack Elliot: “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
Elliot played a 10-song set on July 17, 1964, at the legendary Ash Grove in L.A., perhaps none so beautiful as this exquisitely finger-picked cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” from 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Elliot’s folk songs and guitar playing had been a huge influence on Dylan when the younger songwriter moved from Minnesota to New York, so much so that Elliot sometimes referred to Dylan as his son. Quickly, of course, the son usurped the father in the folk world, leading Elliot to introduce his Dylan covers, as he does here, by telling the crowd, “Here’s a little song that was written by my son and father, Bob Dylan.”