"The Man in the High Castle," Amazon’s semi-fictionalized television series based on an alternate post-WWII reality, released a new compilation album on Friday. Titled Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album, the project was overseen by veteran musicians/producers in Sam Cohen (Norah Jones, Shakira) and Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells) and features 18 tracks made up of covers of pre-British invasion 1960s pop hits.
Amazon had initially approached Burton on recording a few cover songs for the show, which eventually turned into a larger project of finding which popular songs of 1962 fit the show’s darker theme.
“Because it was ‘62 -- pre-Beatles, pre-most stuff people celebrate now as far as rock and roll -- it was a chance to do something different,” Burton said about the project’s unique take on early 1960s music. Starting from a list of 150-200 songs, the two whittled down their options and hit their rolodexes to bring in some of the best recording artists in music to put their own creepy and gloomy spin on the classic hits.
So out of the 18 impressive covers heard throughout the new compilation LP, here are the five best covers heard on Resistance Radio.
5. “Spoonful” - Benjamin Booker
Benjamin Booker may be one of the few guitar players in music today with the soul and bluesy rock chops to channel this Howlin’ Wolf classic. The grit of his guitar, the natural raspiness of his vocals and the sharpness of an aged piano help to organically teleport the listener into some underground blues club that’s long since been forgotten.
4. “The End of the World” - Sharon Van Etten
The hauntingly beautiful song originally written and sung by Skeeter Davis has been covered by dozens of artists over the decades. The Carpenters, Best Coast, Bobby Darin, Cyndi Lauper, John Cougar Mellencamp and Lana Del Rey have all taken a swing at the classic hit, and now Sharon Van Etten can proudly say that her version is worth mentioning as well. While the song was originally written out of sorrow, Etten’s softer vocals laid over its lovely melody and easygoing tempo could easily brighten up anyone’s day.
3. “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” - Michael Kiwanuka
Anyone who has heard the opening track on Michael Kiwanuka’s 2016 'Love & Hate' LP knows that the British soul singer certainly has the chops to handle the older feel of this haunting song. “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” was originally written as a result of slavery in America in the 19th century but ended up gaining commercial success in the 1960s. Kiwanuka’s version certainly does the song justice and carries the musical spirit onward for those who sung the tune over a century ago.
2. “Who’s Lovin’ You” - Kelis
The famous “Milkshake” singer really outdoes herself on this soulful R&B tune originally sung by The Miracles. Smokey Robinson may not have had her in mind when he originally wrote this upbeat, horn-filled song, but her vocals work absolutely perfect to go with its retro Motown sound. If we didn’t know better, it may be the best performance of her career thus far!
1. “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” - Beck
Anytime music fans get some new music out of Beck, it’s worth paying attention to, even if he is borrowing a page out of the Presley playbook. The cover’s soft and organic sounding production almost makes it seem like it could have been included on his 2014 'Morning Phase' album. If you’re going to cover an iconic song like this, it’s best to stick to the script, and that’s exactly what he’s done here. Well played sir.