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Staff Picks: Take Two

There’s always more than one way to approach a tune. This month guitarist Adam Levy joins PG editors and our Reader of the Month to discuss cover songs we prefer over the originals.

There’s always more than one way to approach a tune. This month guitarist Adam Levy joins PG editors and our Reader of the Month to discuss cover songs we prefer over the originals.


Adam LevyGuest Picker
Name a cover tune you think outshines the original.

This may seem sacrilegious, as we recently lost the great singer Ben E. King—who wrote and first recorded this song in ’61—but John Lennon’s ’74 cover of “Stand by Me” trumps King’s for me. Deep groove, righteous vocal.
The instrumental section features two guitar solos at once. It should be a mess but it’s glorious, thanks to Jesse Ed Davis’ magic touch.

My current (guitar-related) obsession is: Miles Okazaki’s new book Fundamentals of Guitar. Much of it is esoteric, considering the f-word in the title, yet Okazaki addresses some of the real nuts and bolts of playing tonal—and not-so-tonal—music. This book inspires me and sometimes makes me question everything I think I know about the guitar.


Daniel PalmqvistReader of the Month
Name a cover tune you think outshines the original.
I think First Aid Kit’s version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” is just beautiful.

I like many styles of music, even though I’m a rock/metal guy at heart.
To me this performance is simply pure music, no cool riffs or flashy guitar solos, just acoustic instruments, a great song with fantastic vocals.

My current obsession is: Right now I’m trying to get comfortable playing my 7-string electric. I guess I’m 20 years late to start playing a 7-string since 8 or 9 strings seems to be the rage now, but 7 is heavy enough for my taste.


Perry BeanVideo Editor
Name a cover tune you think outshines the original.
Ryan Adams covering “Wasted Years” by Iron Maiden.

Turning a metal song into a tender love ballad can’t be easy, but Adams absolutely reinvents this one.

My current obsession is: Throwback shoegaze-y post hardcore. Quite a few bands are doing this now, and a few are killing it! Don’t believe me?

Check out a band called Citizen.

Tessa JeffersManaging Editor
Name a cover tune you think outshines the original.
Kings of Leon’s interpretation of Swedish pop goddess Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” blows me away.

Haunting guitar replaces synth, the melody is slowed, and they turn it into something vulnerable and sad, but beautiful.
And lots of well-placed bends!

My current obsession is: Since I can’t stop singing this, it must be Shakey Graves, “Dearly Departed.”

His duet with Esmé Patterson is a wonderful recipe: ghosts, fantastic harmony, a lovers’ quarrel, catchy phrasing, flirting, soul, and a whole lot of rhythm.

Rich OsweilerAssociate Editor
Name a cover tune you think outshines the original.
My friend and fellow editor Charlie Saufley will probably stop talking to me after this.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the Kinks and everything about the legendary “You Really Got Me,” but the boys from Pasadena and their nitrous-fueled rendition leaves the former at the starting line.

My current obsession is: Blast-from-the-past reunions.

I’ve seen some unfortunate performances by greats that might want to hang it up, but recently I saw Sleater-Kinney, the Replacements, and the Juliana Hatfield Three ripping it up as well or better than they did 20 years ago. Rock on!

While Annie Clark was named the 26th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2023, she couldn’t care less about impressing an athletic stamp on either her sound or her image.


Photo by Alex Da Corte

On her eighth studio release, the electroacoustic art-rock guitarist and producer animates an extension of the strange and singular voice she’s been honing since her debut in 2007.

“Did you grow up Unitarian?” Annie Clark asks me. We’re sitting in a control room at Electric Lady Studios in New York’s West Village, and I’ve just explained my personal belief system to her, to see if Clark, aka St. Vincent, might relate and return the favor. After all, does she not possess a kind of sainthood worth inquiring about?

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The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

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Mdou Moctar has led his Tuareg crew around the world, but their hometown performances in Agadez, Niger, last year were their most treasured.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On the Tuareg band’s Funeral for Justice, they light a fiery, mournful pyre of razor-sharp desert-blues riffs and political calls to arms.

Mdou Moctar, the performing moniker of Tuareg guitar icon Mahamadou “Mdou” Souleymane, has played some pretty big gigs. Alongside guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and bassist Mikey Coltun, Moctar has led his band’s kinetic blend of rock, psych, and Tuareg cultural traditions like assouf and takamba to Newport Folk Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, and, just this past April, to the luxe fields of Indio, California, for Coachella. Off-kilter indie-rock darlings Parquet Courts brought them across the United States in 2022, after which they hit Europe for a run of headline dates.

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U.S.-made electronics and PRS’s most unique body profile make this all-American S2 a feast of tones at a great price.

Many sonic surprises. Great versatility. Excellent build quality

The pickup selector switch might be in a slightly awkward position for some players.

$2,029

PRS S2 Vela
prsguitars.com

4.5
5
5
4.5

Since its introduction in 2013, PRS’s S2 range has worked to bridge the gap between the company’s most affordable and most expensive guitars. PRS’s cost-savings strategy for the S2 was simple. The company fitted U.S.-made bodies and necks, built using the more streamlined manufacturing processes of PRS’s Stevensville 2 facility, with Asia-made electronics from the SE line.

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