Animal Collective Members Share Cover of Silver Jews’ “Ballad of Reverend War Character” | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, October 25th, 2020  

Animal Collective Members Share Cover of Silver Jews’ “Ballad of Reverend War Character”

Avey Tare and Geologist Cover is in Tribute to the Recently Deceased David Berman

Aug 30, 2019
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Animal Collective (in this case members Avey Tare, aka David Portner, and Geologist, aka Brian Weitz) have shared a cover of Silver Jews' "Ballad of Reverend War Character" in tribute to David Berman of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, who took his own life earlier this month. The original version of the song appeared on Silver Jews' second album, 1996's The Natural Bridge. The cover is available to buy from Bandcamp with all proceeds being donated to MusiCares and Music Health Alliance, which is per the request from Berman's family. Listen to the Avey Tare and Geologist version below, followed by Silver Jews' original.

Portner and Weitz had this to say about the cover in a joint statement: "A few weeks ago we planned on seeing Purple Mountains together. Instead we spent the night listening to David's records and talking about how much his music and art meant to us. He was an inspiration for decades. One we wouldn't be here without. We've been playing covers of his music since 1994 when we first picked up guitars together, so it felt like one of the few things we could do to get through the sadness. The next day we worked on this cover of 'Ballad of Reverend War Character.' It is available for download on Bandcamp. Per the request from David's family, all of the proceeds will be donated to MusiCares and Music Health Alliance, so pay as much as you want." 

The 52-year-old David Berman was best known as the frontman (and sole constant member) of Silver Jews. But he recently returned to music after a long hiatus with a new project, Purple Mountains. Last month Berman released the self-titled debut album under the Purple Mountains name via Drag City. It was Berman's first album in 11 years, since 2008's Silver Jews album Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. We posted our own tribute to Berman right after his passed. Then Drag City also posted a tribute. First Aid Kit also wrote a new song about Berman, "Strange Beauty," and covered Silver Jews' "Random Rules."

Berman was born in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1967 and formed Silver Jews in 1989 with two members of Pavement, Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, which was the same year that Pavement was formed. The band was formed in Hoboken, New Jersey, but Berman, Malkmus, and Nastanovich had all previously attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA together. Silver Jews started out as a recording project and didn't tour their first four albums: 1994's Starlite Walker, 1996's The Natural Bridge, 1998's American Water, and 2001's Bright Flight. Berman embraced touring for Silver Jews' last two albums, 2005's Tanglewood Numbers and 2008's Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. By then Berman's wife Cassie Berman had joined the band. Malkmus and Nastanovich would come and go over the years as Pavement's stature grew, as did other members, with Berman the sole constant, disproving the initial assertion that the band was simply a Pavement side project. In 2009 Berman announced he was retiring from music and Silver Jews played one final show on January 31, 2009 in some caverns 333 feet below the ground. Berman also released two books: Actual Air (1999) and The Portable February (2009). 

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