We've Got That Covered
Eleven Out There Cover Versions of Famous Songs
What This Is About
I thought I would put together a thirteen song playlist of cover versions that are a long way from the original versions.
I will avoid the Scissor Sisters' destruction of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, I love the Scissor Sisters and they feature in my article on band name origins (which ended up in Vocal’s Filthy community) if you don’t know what their name means.
I will avoid straight covers, and the contents of established stars' covers albums, although Bryan Ferry’s double drum version of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” outguns the original and his vicious take on Dobie Gray’s “The In Crowd” may sneak into this.
Also Big Daddy’s fifties reimaginings of songs are on my radar as well, plus comedy takes like Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias's version of The Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy In The UK”.
There may be loads that I miss so please let me know if there is a glaring omission.
So here we go
1: John Cale takes on Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”
John Cale is a respected classical musician who played with the Velvet Underground before setting out on an illustrious solo career. While “Heartbreak Hotel” is a dark song anyway Cale sets it to a monstrous loping riff making it one of the most impressive covers I have heard.
2: Ian Gomm covers Chuck Berry’s “Come On”
This was one of the first songs I played live cos I could sing, play rhythm and the guitar solo. Ian Gomm was the rhythm guitarist for Brinsley Schwarz and like John Cale’s “Heartbreak Hotel” he slows this down with a menacing riff and makes another amazing cover version.
3: Jimi Hendrix covers Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”
If I could only have one single song it would be this. Hendrix didn’t like singing because he never rated his own lyrics but on this he really lets himself go and we hear him as we should. The guitar playing is still phenomenal. It’s like Bob Dylan gave Jimi a rough plan and Hendrix delivered the finished article.
4: My Way Christopher Lee covers Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”
This was set to the music of the French song "Comme d'habitude" composed by Jacques Revaux with lyrics by Gilles Thibaut and Claude François and first performed in 1967 by Claude François. Its English lyrics were written by Paul Anka and are unrelated to the original French song then popularised by Frank Sinatra’s version.
Sud Vicious did a successful destruction of the song in the film “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, but this is blown own of the water by Christopher Lee’s Heavy Metal take on the song which he enunciates with gravitas rather than sings.
5: Big Daddy cover Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”
Big Daddy’s Modus Operandi is fifties covers of “current” songs though this is almost forty years old. They were among the first groups to create mashups - in this case, of "oldies" music and modern pop songs. The members of the band are voice actors, best known for portraying the voices of the animals in Lincoln Park Zoo, an animated short produced throughout the 1980s.
This one slows down the original to a last dance at the prom pace, and it works so well.
6: Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias take on the Sex Pistols “Anarchy In The UK”
I first heard this live at the King George's Hall in Blackburn and fell to the floor laughing. They took metal punk and turned it into Country and Western. Brilliant comedy.
7: Taken By Trees cover Guns and Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine”
I am not a fan of stripped-back covers although I have done many on my YouTube channel. “Sweet Child of Mine” was one that I sang and played with Spoon (the Geordie band) and that riff and the song is one of their best, and I think that this one does work.
8: Brian Eno covers The Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
Although mainly known for his ambient music, Brian or Eno has produced a lot of nearer to normal popular music but this was and is a totally unexpectedly beautiful cover.
9: Devo cover The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”
Virtually dispensing with the main driving riff and providing their own de-evolutionised rhythm Devo’s take is brilliantly unexpected.
10: Tom Waits covers Heigh Ho (The Dwarfs Marching Song from Disney’s “Snow White”)
This is a genuinely scary take on this song, Tom Waits is a true genius and I think this is probably like nothing you have heard before.
11: The Lenigrad Cowboys cover ZZ Top's "Gimme All Your Lovin'" with the Red Army Choir
The Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov Ensemble playes a huge concert at Senate Square, Helsinki on 12 June 1993.
This concert was also documented on film by Aki Kaurismäki.
This is just one of the amazing covers they did, a perfect closer for us.
12: Pixies - Que Sera Que Sera
For some reason I forgot about this even though it has been used as the theme from the series "From" . Taking the Doris Day light hearted original and turning it into a broooding menacing piece. And what started out as ten songs is now twelve.
13: Johnny Cash - Hurt
In his "America" series with Rick Rubin, Johhny Cash was responsible for some great cover versions, but this take on Nine Inch Nails "Hurt" brought Trent Reznor to tears. Absolutely heart rending, both the song and the video. Thank you to Madoka Mori for reminding me of this.
I have probably missed lots and have just noticed that thirteen songs would comfortably fit onto a vinyl album so maybe my youth is directing my choices.
Hope this opens your imagination a little.
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