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Thursday, 23 December 2010


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And leave off the 'Queen of Covers' * go at Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner's ** "Fields of Gold" on the album "Live at Blues Alley" ?

* Eva Cassidy
** Sting

I would suggest the Cowboy Junkies' cover of Sweet Jane. Simply fantastic.

"Crossroads" by Cream, from Robert Johnson.

"With a Little Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker, from the Beatles.

Sid Vicious, "My Way" --- not your parents' Sinatra. It runs during the closing credits of "Goodfellas."

I must admit that I never heard of the 'Hurt' cover before now - a quick jaunt to YouTube and now I sit here slightly stunned...

Cash was a genius. Period.

A personal favorite.... Stevie Ray Vaughn covering Jimi's "Little Wing". Distilled a weaker Jimi sound down to a true southern blues-rock number, eschewing the vocals to focus on the guitar. I wish my fingers were so inclined.

Thanks for the list, Mike. Merry Christmas!

I have something of a fascination with unexpectedly great covers. Here are some of my favorites:

Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"
Roy Buchanan's cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River"
Bonnie "Prince" Billie's cover of Elton John's "Daniel"
Gil Scott Heron's cover of Bill Callahan, nee (Smog)'s "I'm New Here"
My Morning Jacket's cover of Erykah Badu's "Tyrone"
Bill Callahan's cover of Kath Bloom's "The Breeze/My Baby Cries"
Chan Marshal's cover of The Rolling Stones' "I Can't Get No Satisfaction"

Baby Blue- The Animals

Can't Get Next To You- Savoy Brown

I agree about the Hendrix 'All along the Watchtower' in comparison to Dylan's first recording, but the version Dylan did in the critically panned 1979 'Bob Dylan at Budokan' rips - Dylan was reportedly very angry at the situation in both Japan and his career at that point, and it shows.


Very good list of top ten covers. 3 out of 10 I agree with you, 6 out of 10 I understand your reasoning, two songs I didn't know and all of them great. Have a good Christmas

Peter Lenz

"Time After Time" has been covered by many artists from Willie Nelson to Miles Davis. Several are interesting, but I'm particularly fond of Anne Hampton Callaway's rendition.

For comedic value, I'm fond of the Brentwood Bach Society's varied renditions of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, available from iTunes. Try the steel drum version for full effect.

Kindly disregard if already mentioned- the ultimate cover song:
My Way- Sid Vicious


Hallelujah - K.D. Lang. Rufus Wainwright did a nice cover of it too.

Elvis Costello, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" written by Nick Lowe. Comparable to the O'Connor Prince cover on your list in that it's inescapably clear the song was simply meant to be recorded by Costello. Lowe thought of it as a kind of parody of pretentious pop singers, but Costello turned it into an almost ferocious anthem and absolutely made it his own. Classic of the era.

Janice could as well as anyone, maybe better sing with the most raspy, dirty screaming voice then turn it so sweet she'd melt you. A true one of a kind talent that will never be matched in my book.

Isn't it strange that Jimmy, Janice and Jim were all peaking around the same time and all died too young in the same basic time period? Maybe it was my age or maybe "the" age but I've never felt as moved as I did by the music of that era. They don't make em like they use to.

Rats, I wish I'd remembered that. I would have put it into the #8 slot ("Respect" is sort of a rote choice). I've probably listened to that thing 110 times....


Nina Simone's cover of The Beatles "Here Comes The Sun". Sometimes the ridiculously good can be even better. Whenever I hear it, much like Cash's "Hurt", I am reminded that music can have a sort of truth that trancends.

Mike, you never cease to amaze me. This post demonstrates to me an understanding of music accross different genres that few people have. It makes me want to sit down and talk with you about all sorts of stuff. The covers you mentioned by Lennon, Joplin, and cash are especially significant to me. Cash's "Hurt" haunts me at times.


Earth Wind and Fire, Got To Get You In To My Life

John Mayer, Axis Bold As Love

Darlene Love, Marvelous by Walter Hawkins (I'm prejudiced, I'm her bandleader)

Hmm. Not sure these are in any particular order.

1) Cat Power "Still In Love" Great cover of a Hank Williams song

2) Primitives "I'll Be Your Mirror" I actually like it more than the Velvet Underground original.

3) The Pogues "Maggie Mae". Rod Stewart just didn't sound like his heart had been ripped out. Shane MacGowan does.

4) Camper Van Beethoven "Pictures of Matchstick Men". Sorry, Status Quo, this one was taken away.

5)Joan Jett "Love Is All Around". Sure, it was the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. But Joan Jett noticed that there was actually a good song there and did something with it.

6) John Cale - "Hallelujah". Leonard Cohen wrote a fantastic song, but I think Cale really brings it into its own.

Both of these just floored me the first time I heard them:
7) Devo "Satisfaction"
8) B-52's "Downtown"

9) Breeders "So Sad About Us" A nice, tight cover of a less-remembered song by The Who

10) Dinosaur, Jr's version of "Show Me the Way". I'll admit that I like this one for all the wrong reasons - I've always hated the Peter Frampton original. The song had it coming.

Husker Du covered the theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore show. just a couple of minutes long but really amazing.

Cake covered I Will Survive on an early album--more unexpectedly good stuff...

Mike, Great list! I have long maintained that Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower" should be in the top five greatest rock songs ever, and definitely holds the top cover spot in my book.

I have to throw in one of my personal favorite covers: it's an obscure version of "Message In A Bottle" by a punk band called Co-ed, and the only recording I know of it is on a compilation album called "Punk Rock Strike." The rest of the 3 disk set is great too, and contains a fantastic version of "Redemption Song." Any punk fans out there would definitely have fun with this set (plus it is only $8 on Amazon!!).

I'd vote for Placebo's cover of "la ballade de Melody Nelson", written and originally performed with great success by Serge Gainsbourg.

In a more specialized genre, "Stripped" by Depeche Mode has been covered by Rammstein, and then remixed by Charlie Clouser of NIN. The track is named "Heavy Mental mix" - there have been over remixes by Günter Schulze (see http://www.guenterschulz.com/ for his photography work) of KMFDM (FKK mix) or Johan Edlund (Psilonaut mix).

Hey Mike one more from me. Here it is. One of the all time great rock songs Jumpin' Jack Flash covered by one of the all time great and under appreciated rock/blues lead guitarists Johnny Winter. He makes the Stones sound like a garage band in comparison. (Scuse the video quality here and do hang out long enough to hear Johnny play.



Co-incidentally, my friend just sent me this link the day before, relating directly to # 2.


Peace & stuff,
Dean (who doesn’t really know anything about jazz, but recently with the help the internet and his local Tsutaya [CD / DVD rental chain] is learning)

Joe Cocker's version of Leonard Cohen's 'Bird on a Wire'...from Mad Dogs and Englismen.

Johny Winter's live tribute version of Dylan's 'Highway 61'.

May be getting to this a little late, but Ellen McIlwaine's cover of Steve Winwood's – "Can't Find My Way Home" gives me goosebumps every time I hear her sing it.

Jennifer Warnes' covers of Famous Blue Raincoat or Joan of Arc both by Leonard Cohen.

It's like hearing all four seasons emerge from an autumnal leaf.


In memorian - Jean-Pierre Leloir (1931/2010)


His site :


French humanism in jazz photography, and not just jazz

C'est la vie.

Metallica's cover of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page."

Willie Nelson, "Georgia on My Mind."

Cross Canadian Ragweed's cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Wanna Rock and Roll"

Lucinda Williams' cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top"

Nouvelle Vague's cover of Bill Idol's "Dancing With Myself."

And if you really, really need to get your mind blown,
Bryan McKnight's cover of "Me and Bobby McGee."

Spooky Tooth's version of the Beatle's "I am a Walrus" is much better; the slower tempo and the voice give "Semolina Pilchards Climbing up the Eiffel Tower" so much more meaning.

I think my favourite cover is "Oh Carol" by the Rolling Stones. It appeared on their first LP back in the Sixties and what they did was take a gentle number and turn it into a rollicking rock and roll song.
Far out dudes!

To my ear many covers are pale versions of the originals (Madonna doing American Pie anyone?). This is particularly true for songs by very well known artists and groups. You really need to do something special with the song, put your own interpretation into it, such as not to be compared to the original (in a bad light).

Can't remember the first time I heard that cover of Hurt but it really opened up my eyes to Cash. Simply awesome and penetrating.

As for All along the watchtower I recall a quote by Dylan basically stating that Jimi had made the song his own and that the cover was better. Had a quick look around the web but couldn't find it.

One I'd consider adding is the rock cover of Girl you'll be a woman soon by urge overkill (can be found on the pulp fiction soundtrack).

I like Patti Smith's cover of Springsteen's "Because The Night."

James Taylor pretty much owns Carole King's "You've Got A Friend."

Check out Monte Montgomery's version of the Hall & Oates classic "Sara Smile":


Little Feat's version of Allen Toussaint's "On Your Way Down." Koko Taylor's many renditions of "Wang Dang Doodle."

Manfred Mann's cover of "Blinded By The Light," and Patti Smith's taking "Because The Night" to a higher level.

Lucinda Williams' "It's A Long Way To The Top."


Good list and many good suggetions in comments. I would like to have Beth Orton - Sisters of mercy by Cohan on my list.

Say you want to listen to covers of Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley songs, but you want them done to a reggae beat and by an Elvis impersonator - well you're in luck! Dread Zeppelin is the band for you!

Last week I heard a group of 20-somethings do the complete Blood on the Tracks as a benefit for MS here in Somerville MA. Small venue, young crowd, just fantastic. Cambridge/Somerville is folksinger ground zero, but still, this was such a treat. Individual interps of all the songs, capped off with a slow, minor keyed, mandolin-accompanied Waits-voiced, Brechtian "Buckets of Rain." My faith in song (and young people) renewed once again. Thanks for great, great web log....

One I've just stumbled across is Patti Smith's cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Complete change of tone from the original, and utterly captivating.

But no love for the Stranglers Walk On By? ;-)

OK, I'm guessing you didn't include this one because you've never heard it. Try Petra Haden's "The Who Sell Out". Not just a cover of a song, but the whole album redone, but totally a cappella (by a single person). Petra is the daughter of Charlie (yes, that Charlie Haden). It is uneven at times (how could it not be), but it is weird and wonderful. While you're at it, pick up Charlie Haden's "Rambling Boy", which is mostly covers of old country songs and mostly great. For those not in the know, Charlie Haden is a very famous and talented jazz bassist.

Rhythm and blues artists have done wondrous things with the Beatles catalog.

George Benson's take on the Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" is a favorite, along with Aretha Franklin's "Eleanor Rigby" and Earth, Wind and Fire's "Got to Get You Into My Life."

Lakeside's "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" was great for "belly rubbin'" at high school dances.

And while it's never been released as a single, Prince guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" at his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 is a jaw-dropper (you can find it on YouTube).

My personal favourite: Motorhead's cover of Stand By Your Man.

Johnny Cash's Hurt was the best piece of recorded music in 10 years. I can't think of any song since that grabbed me on the first listen like Hurt.

A wonderful list Mike, and let me take this opportunity to wish you, and all the TOP regulars, a Merry Christmas!

I don't have much to add to your list - maybe Taj Mahal's version of Six Days On The Road. But certainly the Roxy Music version of John Lennon's Jealous Guy. And I would like to point out that there is an entire double album of Tom Waits material by Holly Cole - Temptation.

If I recall my music lore correctly, Bob Dylan changed the way he did All Along The Watchtower to be more like Jimi Hendrix's version. And the Beatles version of Twist And Shout was a cover/copy of the Isley's version.

"Nothing Compares 2 U" is simply fantastic.

I'd add David Bowie's cover of "White Light/White Heat" to the list. Also, Scott Walker's Jacques Brel cover album is great.

Annie Lennox "Train in Vain (The Clash) audio only:

Devo "Satisfaction" Mick Jagger said this was his favorite version of the song.

Loan Jett "Love is all around"

Luther Wight and the Wrongs "Comfortably Numb" Sounds like a parody but it isnt


Richie Haven's covers of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" and Dylan's "Just like a Women" are on my list.

Give Nina Simone's haunting "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" a listen. Stunning.

This is a great OT.

Album cover art next?

IMO, nobody can cover "Redemption Song." Bob Marley owns that song. RIP, Bob.

Janis Joplin's cover of Summertime.
Jeff Beck & Tal Wilkenfeld cover of Day in a Life.

Let's add a couple more Tom Waits songs to the list. Ol' 55 covered by the Eagles, Jersey Girl covered by Sprindsteen. Perhaps with the Tom Waits covers people should go listen to the original versions as they are the least known.

Patty Smith Group's cover of "Gloria" outranks any other.

Joan Baez' "Tears of Rage" sung a cappella.

Cyndi Lauper's "Money Changes Everything", live in Paris 1985. Look it up on Youtube.

The Indigo Girls do a really tight cover of "Tangled up in Blue" on their double live album 1200 Curfews.
Cincinnati band Over the Rhine does a nifty cover of the Beatles "Blackbird" and a great cover of "Paper Moon".
My favorite cover moment was a night at Bogarts in Cincinnati when me and 20 or thirty close friends saw the Rembrandts play. This was before they did the Friends soundtrack, so only dedicated college rock listeners had even heard of them. And they finished by getting the entire audience onstage to sing "Ruby Tuesday" with them.

PS. OTR does a great Ruby Tuesday as well.

I would like to mention the Judas Priest cover of Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust" and The Be Good Tanya's cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry" classics by each artist.

Jeff Buckley also has a great, great version of "strange fruit".

And while we are with Buckley, his Hallelujah is for me the best cover ever. I mean, Leonard Cohen's original is already one of the best songs ever written. How good do you have to be to dare cover that song and totally own it?

Brazilian singer Marisa Monte's "Bem que se quis" is a gorgeous and sexy version of Pino Daniele's original "E po' che fa'"


Andrea Marcovicci has her way with a collection of covers on her album 'Here, There and Everywhere'. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/marcovicci4

Led Zeppelin's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", after Joan Baez.

Aretha's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", by Simon and Garfunkel.

I like your picks."Because the night" wasn't really a cover or was it? I just heard it on the newly released album "The Promise" The Ramones were so good at doing covers that I can't pick one...I wonder what your pick would be for the worst cover of all time...

"IMO, nobody can cover 'Redemption Song.' Bob Marley owns that song. RIP, Bob."

I agree. The thing about covers is that lots and lots of them might be well done, and might add something interesting to the song or offer a different perspective. But if they don't transcend the original decisively, then I'm not much interested unless I've just heard the original too much and it's grooved in my brain and I need the variety.

(Funny comment...a friend once said that he had nothing against symphony orchestras except "they're all cover bands.")

Another interesting category for a list might be songs that just can't be covered...i.e., that are so perfect the way they are that nobody can touch them. For example, Linda Ronstadt covered "Tumbling Dice" but that's a song that just doesn't need covering--the Stones' version is unimprovable. On the other hand the Stones tried to cover "Just My Imagination" by the Temptations, and that's another song IMO that can't be improved by anyone else.

Fun stuff....


The Gourds, Snoop Dog's "Gin and Juice"...


Who would've thunk... TOP, a Tricky fan!

I like Steve Ray Vaughn's version of "Voodo Chile". Even better than Jimi's I think. Coming in second Elvis Costello's version of "Don't let me be misunderstood"

Angelique Kidjo does a wonderful version of George Gershwin's Summertime. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7cNtjQW4Mc

Jimi Hendrix of course!
Anyway, Merry Christmas Mike and all TOP readers.

Just for texture, the Clash did a nice cover of "I Fought the Law." The Bobby Fuller original was our class song in first-year law school---we sang along at all the Friday night beer bashes.

The White Stripes cover of Son House's "Death Letter Blues"

I demoted "Respect" (Aretha Franklin's cover of the Otis Redding tune) in order to make room for "Little Wing" which I forgot about until I was reminded of it by Jayson Merryfield in the Comments. "Respect" gets a lot of respect...maybe too much, but why not? It just seemed a little bit too much of a rote choice for my list...it's not a personal favorite, and it makes *everybody's* list of great cover songs.

Anyway, in case anybody cares, here's the original entry from the post:

8. Aretha Franklin, "Respect." A breakout song both of the movement for black civil rights and for feminists, and a helluva great dance number, "Respect" has a nice twist to it. It was originally recorded (successfully enough, by Otis Redding, in 1965) as a song sung by a man to his woman or wife, asking for "a little respect when I come home." By switching the genders around, Aretha's funkier, lustier version seems to say, in effect, "YOU want respect?! You men need to respect us!" I always think of this song along with Martha and the Vandellas' 1964 hit "Dancing in the Streets," and, like that one, it makes me picture the same sort of riotous block party. Granted, the "sock it to me" chorus seems a bit dated now (as does the lyric "TCB," which meant "takin' care of business"), and there's nobody left on Earth who hasn't heard it a few times too many, but the old song still soars.


Please record one vote for Toots and the Maytals' version of John Denver's "Country Roads", on the Funky Kingston album, I think.

Also, 25 years ago or more I heard Bruce Springsteen bring down the house with a version of the Animals "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."

Merry Christmas everyone!

I really enjoy Gary Jules' haunting rendition of "Mad World," originally done by Tears for Fears.


Perhaps not exactly cover versions in the strictest sense, but (as it's Christmas!) Sufjan Stevens' takes on Away in a Manger & Joy To The World are excellent.

In the spirit of the great Whip Your Hair cover, here's Craig Ferguson doing a sort of cover of the Doctor Who theme song. Normally that's an instrumental, but he wrote his own lyrics did a dance number for it. This was supposed to be an opener for his show a little while back, but at the last minute the network pulled it because they hadn't secured the music rights. Thanks to the glory of the intertubes, you can watch it:

Backstory: http://www.tvworthwatching.com/blog/2010/12/-in-previous-recent-posts.shtml

This would be a good time to mention the greatness of the Coverville podcast at http://www.Coverville.com. Brian has been doing cover song podcasts for years now, and has an amazing back catalog of shows. The annual Top 40 Cover songs podcast is must-listening, and is running right now. Brian pays his licensing fees every year to legally broadcast the music, so it's all good.

Meanwhile, I'll nominate a rare Weird Al Yankovic cover: the polka version of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Great list. "Hurt" by Cash raises above all others. The song was incredible and the music video directed by Mark Romanek was probably one of the best music videos of all time. I remember playing it for my father, who is close to Cash's age and not a fan of country music and he sat there stunned at the end saying that was the most powerful video he had ever seen.

I'll add in another "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Cover, done by Tori Amos.

Just for tonight!! "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" written by rock & roll songwriter Leon René -- it was a 1948 R&B hit for Mabel Scott, but I love the Patti Page version (1950!) - a great singer pulling out all the stops- man, who has that much fun these days??


This is fun.

I have to add one of my favorites--The Talking Heads' version of Al Green's "Take Me to the River."

Al Green, by the way, did a beautiful, slow version of the Doors' "Light My Fire."

And another one of Salomon Burke's terrific covers is his version of "The Judgement" by Elvis Costello--it's a micro-opera.

The Animals covered everyone better than the originals; House of the Rising Sun, We gotta get out of this place, Get back to Memphis, etc. etc.

'Wild Thing' by The Goodies. For years this was the heaviest version anyone had ever recorded.


This 30 odd year old video isn't very sharp, but it's still well worth watching.

Season's greetings to you Mike, and to all the rest of you snappers out there, whatever you call this time of year. Even if you just call it "too cold"

Lynyrd Skynyrd cover of Jimmy Rodgers "T for Texas" performed live in England in 1976. Kick butt rock and roll. In my opinion LS was the best band around in 1977. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY63KTMrkTM. Check out other clips of the England concert while at youtube.

Percy's song, written by Bob Dylan, covered by Fairport Convention.

Hearty agreement on Cash's hurt. I've been a Cash fan ever since I read his autobiography (the newer of the two...). That's a great read for all you Kindle folks out there.

Sinead O'Connor's version of House of the Rising Sun gives me goosebumps everytime. Haunting.

Dear Mike,

3) Anything that Patti Smith or James Taylor cover.

2) Jennifer Warnes blood-chilling cover of "First We Take Manhattan"

and #1 with a huge bullet:

1) The Boss' cover of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town!" My all-time favorite Xmas song.

pax / Ctein

Eastern Sierra Community College's cover of Handel's Messiah.

Social Distortion doing "Ring of Fire" has always been a favorite, as well as Richard Cheese's "Gin and Juice." I'm not necessarily a rap fan, but when he loungifies it and you can understand the lyrics, it's hilarious.

Springsteen's "Racing in the Street" covered by Serena Ryder:

I'm kinda partial to Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin & Paul Motian's cover of Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" (which is track 1 on the ECM album "Goodbye").

R.E.M.'s cover of The Clique song "Superman."

One of my favorite covers of all time is Eric Burdon and The Animals version of "Paint It Black". The Stones version was great but The Animals cover is awesome. Google it and see for yourself!

Mike Bloomfield,Al Kooper, Steven Stills cover of Donovans "Season of the Witch".
There are two mixes one of which has horns added.

Wow. The comments here will keep me busy for months. . .

Greg's suggestion of Angelique Kidjo covering Gershwin reminded me of Herbie Hancock's "Gershwin's World," which is an amazing album. I am not really sure if it is a cover of Gershwin's work or a new entity into itself, but it is an amazing album (and VERY well recorded).

One of the best jazz bands working today - the Bad Plus - known and loved for approaching the songbook of recent decades.

Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (live)

They also have a version of "Smells like Teen Spirit" worth checking out. (and of course a large catalog of originals)

Some covers that come to my mind:

Aretha Franklin's "Respect". Originally by Marvin Gaye as I recall.

Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary". Originally by CCR.

Elton John's "Pinball Wizard". Originally by The Who.

Aerosmith's "Come Together". I know it was recorded by the Beatles, but did they cover it as well or was it originally theirs?

Eric Clapton's "I Shot the Sheriff". Originally Bob Marley's.

Jeff Healey's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Originally by George Harrison.

Finally, perhaps not a true "cover" per se, but Ray Charles' duet with Elton John of "Sorry is the Hardest Word". It is from his Genius Loves Company album before he passed away. As I understand it, this was either the last song he recorded before he died, or the last song recorded for the album. It has become the definitive version of the song to me. Plus, Ray Charles covered many songs in diverse genres throughout his career as well, putting his own stamp on them.

When you look at the covers that we consider having met or "surpassed" the original, it is not surprising to see established artists covering other artists' songs. They usually have a deep interest and appreciation for their art. Yet, their style has become so ingrained into them that when they approach a cover, it ceases to be a copy and becomes a new entity all of it's own. It is one of the ways that I find the performing arts to be conceptually different from the visual arts like photography. The life of a performance art is in the performance itself, and that can't be copied even in a cover ... haven't we all heard "bad" covers?

Oh, and Elvis' "Hound Dog" was also a cover.

Jayson, Mike, thanks for the intro to Stevie Ray Vaughn; his Little Wing, whew. Jack White, White Stripes, and Dylan's "One more Cup of Coffee"from Dylan's great "Desire" album, featuring as a backup singer, a then somewhat unknown, Emmy Lou Harris. Wow. Great stuff.

Mike, keep up this off topic stuff; as Edward Taylor says, and I paraphrase, you have your MOJO on! Ben and Sweets, and now this; I bet the economy took a huge jump after this.

I have SRV's "Little Wing" running on repeat, for about the last hour; it's how I listen. I don't know how I missed him.

"Wow. The comments here will keep me busy for months. . ."

Maybe not exactly months, but same here...lots of fun to have so much new-to-me stuff to check out.


I gotta recommend The Bad Plus, specifically their cover of the Aphex Twin song, "Flim"

for reference, here's Aphex Twin's version

and here's The Bad Plus

"Because The Night" wasn't really a cover or was it?"

Matt, Springsteen wrote the original version for his "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" album but he was unsatisfied with it. The tape was given to Smith and she "recast" it. You make a good point because in the strictest sense it might not be considered a cover song since Patti Smith essentially co-wrote it, but then again if The Boss never originally created it the song never would have reached Smith. What I'm saying is 'I don't know.' :)

Natacha Atlas, "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Sheryl Crow, "The First Cut Is the Deepest" by Cat Stevens

Steve Earle, "Colorado Girl" by Townes van Zandt

The Lovemongers (Ann and Nancy Wilson), "Battle of Evermore" by Led Zeppelin

Lastly, Pink Martini's cover of Doris Day's signature song, "Que Sera Sera."

The Rod Stewart cover of "Have I told you lately".

Merry Christmas to you, Mike. Thanks for a wonderful year of great writing and thoughtful discussion stimulus.

I used to strongly feel that Siouxsie and the Banshees' cover of the Beatles "Dear Prudence" was sheer genius, but 25 odd years later I'm not so sure. The original holds up really well now.

Many covers are unique and are easily 'co-equal' to the originals but few definitely surpass the originals. After all, their intrinsic superiority is why the originals do get covered.

In that sense, Joe Cocker's many covers all measure up to the originals, but even his most famous covers, "With a Little Help From My Friends" or Traffic's "Feelin' Alright", original interpretations and strong performances though they are, don't really eclipse Ringo's version or Dave Mason's-they stand side-by-side with the originals.

I do think there is a limited parallel to celebrity portraiture here. The originals are the celebrities, and the covers are the portraits, and in both photography and music the familiarity of the original boosts the impact of the portrait or cover so inextricably that it's really hard to judge the cover against the original.

There are exceptions of course, IMHO, and Mike Johnston's list is a very well considered list compared to many of our humble suggestions. Sinead O' Connor is phenomenal in her cover of Prince's "Nothing Compare 2 U", and the song stands on its own even if you have never heard the original.

I don't think I feel the same way about the Rolling Stones' Chuck Berry covers (though their live versions on 'Get Yer Ya Ya's Out' are very good indeed). You still need the original somewhere in the back of your head to make them stand out.

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