Covers

I remain unashamed by my musical tastes but there is a quirk in there which has recently surfaced. Regardless of the genre into which they are dragged, I do have a love of cover versions. At the moment Mark Ronson’s album, Version, seems to float to the top of my playlist. The reworking on Toxic, originally by Britney Spears, a favourite, closely followed by a version of one of my favourite Radiohead tracks, Just.

Previously, cover versions were the remit of live acts and the occasional B-Side. However, in the past few years, and this may just be because I’m starting to notice them, there have been a spate of entire albums of cover versions. Particularly of note are the Nouvelle Vague albums, taking punk tracks and reworking them into lounge acts with a little sprinkling of je ne sais quois, and the Johnny Cash American Recordings albums.

But what is the appeal?

For me it’s similar to hearing a track played live, hearing, sometimes for the first time, a distinct nuance or the use of a specific instrument. Such things are sometimes only revealed during a live gig, with the sound mix adjusted and the volume playing a significant part, or perhaps the arrangement is different, there are a variety of reasons I guess.

Anyway, I’ve started compiling a list of my favourite cover versions:

  • I Will Survive – Cake (original by Gloria Gaynor)
  • Feeling Good – Muse (original by Nina Simone)
  • Wind Cries Mary – Jamie Cullum (original by Jimi Hendrix)
  • Heart beats – Jose Gonzalez (original by The Knife)
  • Just can’t get enough – Nouvelle Vague (original by Depeche Mode)
  • Just – Mark Ronson (original by Radiohead)
  • You were always on my mind – Pet Shop Boys (original by Elvis)
  • Personal Jesus – Johnny Cash (original by Depeche Mode)

Of course, I’m not the only person to come up with a list of best cover versions, but I’m sure you all have some suggestions.

So, have at it, the comments are open, what’s your favourite cover version?

32 Comments

  1. anna said:

    God, there are millions, I jsut can’t think right now. The Arctic Monkeys’ version of Girls Aloud’s Love Machine is a bit of a cracker, though.

    September 2, 2007
  2. Peter said:

    I certainly know the worst one: that w*nker who did You Can’t Hurry Love. Phil Collins?

    Probably the best cover was the Righteous Brothers’ version of Unchained Melody. (Previously by Jimmy Young, and doubtless various others.)

    I think it’s pretty much universally accepted that the Whitney Houston performance of IWALY was superior to Dolly’s. (Not that Dolly’s all bad – her Jolene is a masterpiece.)

    September 3, 2007
  3. Peter said:

    A strange question mark has appeared beside my comment, as if I were some “man of mystery”.

    September 3, 2007
  4. Lyle said:

    I’d say one of the best covers is Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”, originally by Nine Inch Nails

    Or the Automatic’s cover of “Golddigger”, originally y Kanye West

    September 3, 2007
  5. graybo said:

    It’s not a new phenomenon, for sure. Check out Siouxsie and the Banshees’ album Through The Looking Glass, which includes their excellent cover of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (originally by the excellent Mael brothers). Their splendid cover of the Beatles’ Dear Prudence is also a personal favourite.

    September 3, 2007
  6. Gordon said:

    Hi Peter, I don’t see a question mark other than the intended one…

    Hi graybo, yes it’s not a new thing but seems to be a lot more popular currently? As ever, it may just be my exposure to such albumss.

    September 3, 2007
  7. anxious said:

    I can see the question mark – some sort of avatar/gravatar on the right hand side. Some people have black silhouetted heads and others have question marks. Lyle as a picture of a couple dancing. When you hover over it, it says “Click my picture to see my profile, favourite sites and more!”

    September 3, 2007
  8. I love pretty much anything from Richard Cheese, although his cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” is a favourite.

    Lyle’s already mentioned Johnny Cash’s excellent cover of “Hurt”.

    Will I get shot for liking Steps’ cover of “Tragedy” or All Saints’ “Under the Bridge”? I dont care. I still like them!

    September 3, 2007
  9. Armin said:

    I think they’ve fallen out of favour a bit for being a bit too nice, but I still think Travis’ cover of Britney Spears’ “Hit me baby one more time” (or whatever the correct title for that song is) is one of the best evar.

    September 3, 2007
  10. Gordon said:

    anxious/Peter – can you clear your browser cache.

    Anyone else seeing ? or images (gravatars) on the right of the comments area? The code isn’t there to support them anymore, but guess it is lingering somewhere??

    September 3, 2007
  11. Mr Moonlight said:

    The Beatles cover Arthur Alexander’s “Anna”

    September 3, 2007
  12. Gordon said:

    OK, I can see them in IE but not in Firefox. Which doesn’t make ANY sense…

    *sighs*

    Another item on the ‘fix this’ list then..

    September 3, 2007
  13. JonnyB said:

    Yes – ?’s all over the place. (Firefox 2.0.0.6)

    ‘Summer Breeze’ – the Isley Brothers.

    September 3, 2007
  14. Matt said:

    Personally I just can’t get enough of Mark Ronsons’ version of God put a smile on your face, mainly because that wanker Chris Martin isn’t singing in it. Oh, and because it rocks, obviously.

    September 3, 2007
  15. z said:

    Venerable? me? Er, thank you … I think

    September 3, 2007
  16. Jack said:

    Revolting Cocks doing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.

    September 3, 2007
  17. Lyle said:

    Oh, Jack, I’d forgotten that one…

    September 3, 2007
  18. Lyle said:

    Hmm, I’ve left a comment twice, and it’s not getting to t’site – check yer spam comments, Maclean!

    September 3, 2007
  19. Gordon said:

    Ahh sorry Lyle, the link was stopping it coming through for some reason.

    And yes, I’d gotten to that point myself, you can actually see the delay in IE, load the page and…. then the gravatars popup. Bloody hell. Thought I was going mad there!

    September 3, 2007
  20. Lyle said:

    See, they’re gone now. 🙂

    September 4, 2007
  21. Greg said:

    just a few off the top of my head

    “Nobody Does It Better” by Radiohead
    “Baby, One More Time” by Travis
    “Tiny Dancer” by Ben Folds
    “Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex” by Lostprophets
    “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Indigo Girls
    “Landslide” by Smashing Pumpkins
    “My Way” by Sid Vicious
    “Death Letter” by White Stripes

    September 4, 2007
  22. James said:

    “Love Buzz” by Nirvana

    Definitely thirding the Revolting Cocks version of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” 🙂

    September 4, 2007
  23. Armin said:

    I doubt that many people in the UK will know it, but anyway:

    “When I’m dead and gone” by Fury in the Slaughterhouse.

    September 4, 2007
  24. Peter said:

    You really should think about Microsoft Internet Explorer, Gordon. So easy to use. Included with most computers.

    Cilla Black’s version of “Anyone Who Had A Heart” was a cover of the earlier recording by Mary Wells, I think it was. Or someone, anyway. Helped launch her career.

    September 5, 2007
  25. Dragon said:

    How could you forget Tainted Love – Soft Cell (original by Gloria Jones) although you could take the Coil, Marilyn Manson or Skinny Puppy covers too.

    Others:
    Get Down, Make Love – Nine Inch Nails (original by Queen)
    (You’re so) Physical – Nine Inch Nails (original by Adam and the Ants)
    They’re coming to take me away – Lard (original by Napolean XIV)
    Rawhide – Dead Kennedys (original by Frankie Lane)
    How Soon Is Now – Tatu (original by The Smiths and yes, I do dare go there!)
    Blue Monday – Orgy (original by New Order)
    I Wanna Be Your Dog – Swans (original by Iggy Pop and the Stooges)
    My Sharona – Polysics (original by The Knack)
    Tower of Song – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (original by Leonard Cohen)

    September 5, 2007
  26. Dragon said:

    I forgot one!

    Vienna – Vic Reeves (original by Ultravox)

    Ok, it’s more a pisstake than a cover but it’s very good.

    September 5, 2007
  27. Cat said:

    Oh, I’m late, but I’m with Lyle on Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt. Generally I loathe covers though, and that Mark Ronson album’s top of my hate list. (That said, I saw We Are Scientists doing a couple of fab covers last year, including Boyz II Men’s End of the Road, and they were absolutely fantastic.

    September 5, 2007
  28. Cat said:

    )

    (Sorry, I’m obsessive about punctuation!)

    September 5, 2007
  29. mike said:

    I like covers that offer a completely different perspective on the song, such as the Scissor Sisters’ version of “Comfortably Numb”. I hate indie bands trying to cover r&b tracks “ironically”, but I’ll make an exception for The Automatic’s live version of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”…. oh, and I’ve just remembered Cocorosie’s stunning subversion of Akon & Snoop’s “I Wanna Love You”.

    September 6, 2007
  30. […] as a parallel to Gordon’s post about cover versions of songs, I’ve found myself recently thinking about remakes of films. […]

    September 6, 2007
  31. Andy C said:

    Best: ‘Ceremony’ by Radiohead.
    Worst: ‘LWTUA’ by Paul Young.

    September 19, 2009

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