Saturday, March 15, 2008

Top 10 cover versions

I don't know if anyone has done this before but how about a list of cover versions that are better than the originals?

I'd be amazed if it wasn't on RR but I can't be arsed to look.

Anyway, list out 10. Here are mine;

Jimi Hendrix "All along the watchtower"
The Byrds "Mr Tambourine man"
Siouxsie and the Banshees "Dear Prudence"
Rage against the machine "The ghost of Tom Joad"
The Grateful Dead "Walk me out in the morning dew"
Bryan Ferry "Jealous Guy"
Pet Shop Boys "Always on my mind"
Tim Buckley "Dolphins"
Jeff Buckley "Hallelujah"
Guns and Roses "Live and let die"

Love to see what other people come up with.

One thing struck me though, the number of Dylan songs that have brilliant cover versions.


nilpferd said...

I think this was the opening theme of the ill-starred, Audi TT-sponsored Observer music site, which seems to have died. It was also discussed extensively in a GU music blog sometime in November if memory serves.
The only two true covers, as opposed to remixes or jazz, in my top ten would be MBV's "we have all the time in the world" and "Hard day's night" by Joyce and Banda Maluca.

ejaydee said...

You won't be amazed Carole, it was on RR close to the beginning, but it seems to be one of those RR columns that disappeared.

Blimpy said...

I think I'll weigh in, with the first ones off the top of my head:

1. "Da Da Da" - Elastica (orig. Trio)

2. "Mrs Robinson" - Lemonheads (orig. Simon and G'funkle)

3. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" - Them (orig. Dylan)

4. "Hallelujah" - John Cale (orig. Cohen)

5. "Sloop John B" - Beach Boys (trad folk or The Weavers)

6. "Love Buzz" - Nirvana (orig. Shocking Blue)

7. "Super Trouper" - Camera Obscura (orig. Abba)

8. "My Boyfriend's Back" - Raveonettes

9. "Crazy For You" - Groove Armada (orig. Madonna)

There's millions more, must dash - or the dinner'll burn!

ToffeeBoy said...

Everything But The Girl's version of Alfie is one that springs to mind and there are also excellent EBTG versions of Where's The Playground Susie, Always On My Mind and Downtown Train.

I've always had a soft spot for The Chimes' take on U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. In fact many years ago I put it on a tape for my brother and several years later he was amazed to hear U2 doing a version of it. He should get out more!

Talking of U2 covers, I also love Johnny Cash's recording of One. Whether it's better than the original or not, I'm not sure.

Same goes for Kirsty MacColl's A New England against the Billy Bragg original - both have a lot going for them and they're different enough to be able to enjoy both versions.

Sinead O'Connor's version of Nothing Compares To U is, in my opinion, far superior to the rather shaky Prince recording.

glasshalfempty said...

When you're as old as me, the upside of a poor memory is you play the same game over and over and it's just as much fun. I don't, therefore, recall the original RR go at this, but hey. First into my head is Chaka Demus n Pliers brilliant re-run of Twist and Shout. (The other problem of a poor memory is it takes a while to recall the songs that qualify - especially when you can't just search iTunes for 'sleep' 'dream' 'insomnia' or whatever). More posts when the good ones pop into my grey cells...

TonNL said...

MBV - Map Ref 41N 93W (Wire)
they turn an already great song into something quite magnificent, check for yourself:

Secret Machines - Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan)

John Cale - Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

CAN - Third Man Theme (Anthony Czardas)

Husker Du - Eight Miles High (the Byrds)

Transmissionary Six - Dream Weaver (Gary Wright)

Richard Thompson - Oops I did it again (Britney Spears) this the first mention of Britney Spears on the 'Spill?

DarceysDad said...

As above, I too am fairly sure it WAS a RR topic, but before my time.

Agree about the Dylan thing. Personal fave Zimmerman covers include, Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower, Sophie B. Hawkins' I Want You, Steve Adey's Shelter From The Storm, The Blessing's Sweetheart Like You, and Somebodys Brother's I Shall Be Released.
Dylan fans almost certainly hate the lot!

Donds for ToffeeBoy's preferences for The Chimes and Sinead. I'm firmly on Kirsty's side over A New England, I'll take U2's original One over the Cash cover, but JC's Hurt blows Reznor away for me.

Others worth a mention from me include This Mortal Coil's versions of Song To The Siren and I Am The Cosmos, Judas Priest's Green Manalishi, Cracker's White Riot, Molly Hatchet's version of the Allmans' Dreams (I'll Never See), The Silencers' Wild Mountain Thyme, Black Crowes' Hard To Handle, Dread Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven (the original is all worn out chez DD), Lone Star [70s Welsh rockers, not Texan mommies favourites]'s She Said She Said.

I normally love any Mark Kozelek cover, though not at the expense of the originals as he's never faithful, but re-interprets.
And for a whole album's worth of covers that I (unfashionably) love to death, try Jimmy Barnes' fantastic Flesh & Wood album.

I could go on and on and on, but won't now. If I have the time tomorrow, I might PodBean a Fave Five.

ejaydee said...

Found it!,16373,1684705,00.html

Blimpy said...

@TonNL - thanks for the mp3 - i hadn't heard that before.

Don't suppose you have the mp3 for "We have All the time In the World" perchance?

Is anyone going to see MBV? I'm considering it...

nilpferd said...

Blimpy- best I can do re MBV-
I think a friend has it on a compilation, wasn't it on a charity album, or am I mixing it up with something else.
(Answers own question via Wikipedia)

CaroleBristol said...

Sophie B. Hawkins' I Want You, ,,,,,,,,,,,,
Dylan fans almost certainly hate the lot!

I dunno, DD. I love that version and I count myself as a Dylan fan.

Sophie is pretty amazing though. She is like an unstoppable force of nature, I think. Ever heard her live album?

TMC's "Song to the siren" is wonderful. I love the Cocteaus. Can't think how I forgot to list it.

nilpferd said...

Blimpy- MBV also available here:

Blimpy said...

I just found the mp3 here:

thanks for the helps, everyone!

Mnemonic said...

Any idea where I can find that Secret Machines track. It's not on either of the albums I already have and isn't on iTunes either.

Did anyone else pick up that cover of Stay Another Day by Maps just before Christmas. I think I got it from Pinglewood.

I also like the Czars cover of Song to the Siren.

Dylan's own reworking of "I Want You" live on Budokan is the only track worth buying the album for, but it is quite spectacular.

DarceysDad said...

@ Carole - No, never heard SPH's live album, 'cause I didn't know it existed. Searching now... ;o)

TMC's Song To The Siren is the song my coffin will disappear from view to; it's written in my will as a funeral instruction.

And you, probably more than any other regular contributor, are my ideal target audience for the Jimmy Barnes album. PLEASE seek it out if you don't already have it. If you only know him as a coarse rocker, this is a revelation. I got it as a double album package twinned with Heat.

Covers of The Weight, Guilty, Love Me Tender amongst others. I nominate his duet with Deborah Conway on Let It Go at every conceivable opportunity, however tenuous . . . oh, er, hello Dorian! Didn't see you there, um...

CaroleBristol said...

Hi DarceysDad, I'll look the Jimmy Barnes out.

Thanks for the recommendation.

ToffeeBoy said...

I'd forgotten all about This Mortal Coil's beautiful Song To The Siren. One of those that I must dig out of the attic asap.

saneshane's PodBean list includes the wonderful Frazier Chorus version of Anarchy In The UK - if you haven't checked it out already, you really should - and it reminded me of another slightly off-the-wall cover version: namely, The Trash Can Sinatra's 'White Horses' which was available on the CD single of Circling The Circumference. Memories of Sunday mornings watching TV just come flodding back - Alias Smith and Jones is on next, followed by Little House On The Prairie...

steenbeck said...

I like some of REM's covers--of the Everly Brother's Dream song, and of Pylon's Crazy. I like Aretha Franklin's Bridge over Troubled Water, I like Hendrix All Along the Watchtower, and I like Caetono Veloso and Gilberto Gil's cover of Hendrix's Wait til Tommorrow. I like Belle and Sebastian's Baby Jane. I like some of the Arctic Monkeys' covers--Baby I'm Yours and You Know I'm no Good. I like Talib Kweli's versions of Can I and Four Women, but I don't think even he would say they're better than the originals (at least w/4 women). I think it's possible to like a cover without claiming it's better than the original. For instance, I like Tricky's Black Steel, but I don't think there are many songs that are better than Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos. I would have had a hard time if I'd been around for that RR playlist. I can imagine it being a very contentious topic.

saneshane said...

Camper van beethoven doing the entire 'tusk' album.

flying pickets doing 'get off my cloud' ('only you' is the well known one) bizarre

Laibach 'sympaphy for the devil'
'bout ten styles

Ciccone Youth 'into the groovey'

I so love the trashing some songs get (some great..some rubbish)

treefrogdemon said...

Tim O'Brien has done an album of Dylan songs called 'Red on Blonde' - it's ace. I will post some.

Personally I don't like the word 'cover' as it has kind of a pejorative ring: maybe that's because I remember when all the decent pop music was American and the UK was churning out imitations of US hits in the hope that the great British public wouldn't know the difference. (Often the originals weren't available here anyway.) These were, indeed 'covers'.

AND does anyone else remember that Woolworth's used to make its own records that were even worse?

Proudfoot said...

Ah, you mean those Top of The Pops on Pickwick. They did Bo Rhap in 20 mins! Johnny Rotten sounded like Norman Wisdom! Walk on the Wild Side sounding like Perry Como!
There's a website here; & paste, I have only just learnt to do bold.

Proudfoot said...

Watchtower donded but can't agree with many of the other choices. My brother and I nearly came to blows over This Mortal Coil.Like many bloggers I'm not happy with 'better than'...some faves though:
Rave On - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
I'm Down - Adrian Belew
The Price of Love- Mr Ferry (again!)
My Favourite Things - John Coltrane
Percy's Song - Fairport Convention
Magdalene Laundries - Emmylou Harris.
This Flight Tonight- Nazareth
Money - The Flying Lizards
Somebody's Gonna get Their Head Kicked in Tonight- Rezillos
Hallelujah- Jeff Buckley
The Last Time - Rolling Stones
Hey, that's more than 10! Can't get Busted in...

Proudfoot said...

Grrr. Can't stop this now.
David Watts - The Jam
Stop Your Sobbing - Pretenders (There are a lot of good Kinks covers but I'll stop there)
I fought the Law - The Clash (They couldn't touch 'Police & Thieves' though.)
Sparks - We Are The Clash.(This is funny. Gives the song exactly what it deserves. Imagine Russell Mael singing "Punk rockers, hip-hoppers
Brit poppers, show stoppers
Beboppers, hair droppers
Are you ready to sing?" and you'll get the picture)Sparks of course 'covered' their greatest hits to mostly brilliant effect on the Plagiarism album.
Can't make my mind up about No Regrets. Not Midge Ure though.
I'm a believer/ Shipbuilding - Robert Wyatt
AAaaaaaaaaaaargh! Just remembered someone showed me a Telegraph article about the best 50 covers of all time.I've found it and it's got nearly everything I've suggested. The Telegraph! I feel soiled.