Monday, July 6, 2009

Time-wasting Frivolity: Best Cover Ever

Talking Heads' "Take Me to the River" gets my vote as best cover version ever.

I think The Damned's "Help," The Dickies' "Nights in White Satin," Devo's "Satisfaction," and Tom Waits' "Somewhere" round out the top five. The Clash's "Police and Thieves" figures in there somewhere too. And maybe 7 Seconds' "99 Red Balloons," is top ten.



Tod said...

Easily Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah". Johnny Cash's "Hurt" is certainly up there.

729 said...

I'm with you on "Take Me to the River." Patti Smith, "Because the Night" and/or "Gloria." Also, Siouxsie and The Banshees' "Dear Prudence" and/or "Gun." Pretenders, "Stop Your Sobbing." The Residents' cover of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," "Constantinople." Except for this one, the Residents' covers are, I think, in a class by themselves, One of the greatest live performances I've ever seen was their "Cube-E: The History of American Music in Three E-Z Pieces.'' The show was mind-blowing, but I just don't have it in me to listen to this period of the Residents much anymore.

Justin said...

Sweet Jane, Cowboy Junkies; I can See Clearly, Screeching Weasel; Gin and Juice, The Goards; Hurdy Gurdy Man, Butthole Surfers; Stepping Stone, Minor Threat; All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix; Proud Mary, Ike and Tina Turner; Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley; Respect, Aretha Franklin; Tainted Love, Soft Cell; Girl You'll be a Woman Soon, Urge Overkill; Redemption Song, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros; Higher Ground, Red Hot Chili Peppers; I will Survive, Cake; Jolene, The White Stripes.

Anonymous said...

Stevie Wonder, "We Can Work It Out"

Anonymous said...

Any covers done by Scarlett Johansson.

Also, ICP covered Sly Fox's 'Let's Go All the Way'. Pretty damn sweet.

In all seriousness, The Sonics' 'Have Love Will Travel' and Cramps' Surfin Bird.

Anonymous said...

Nirvana's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" has gotta be up there.

Glaucon said...

I'm with you on Talking Heads and Devo (Scorcese's use of the original and cover of "Satisfaction" in *Casino* merits a special category), but I nominate Aretha Franklin's cover of Otis Redding's "Respect" as greatest ever -- it's so much hers that it hardly seems a cover.

I saw Arcade Fire do a great cover of Bowie's "Five Years" a few years ago. My sentimental favorite: Yo La Tengo's cover of Cat Steven's "Here Comes My Baby."

Clayton said...

Ray Charles' "Eleanor Rigby"
The Ramones'"Needles and Pins"
Yo La Tengo's "You Can Have it All"

Also, isn't Hendrix's "Hey Joe" a cover?

Platowe said...

With you on TH and Devo completely. Tod's right about "Hurt"--needs to be there. Justin's right too--there should be no other "Proud Mary","Respect", or "Tainted".

Worst: Madonna's tone-deaf, bloodless "American Pie".

Dr. Killjoy said...

Sorry, folks. All must bow before the might of

The Meatmen cover of "How Soon is Now" by the Smiths. Tesco Vee and his Meat brethren actually make the Smiths sound menacing.

729 said...

Platowe: The Flaming Lips got Madonna back for that horror with a cover of "Borderline."

ellekay said...

Eddie Vedder does an excellent take on 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away' which tops my favorite covers list but I'd also certainly vote for Cash's 'Hurt' Siouxsie's 'Dear Prudence' and Cake's 'I Will Survive' all previously mentioned

Anonymous said...

In addition to many already mentioned,

Ride's "Eight Miles High" (orig Byrds)
Brad Mehldau's "Knives Out" (orig Radiohead)
DeVotchka's live version of "Venus in Furs" (orig Velvet Underground)

and William Shatner's "Common People" (orig Pulp).

No joking about the Shatner. Find it. It is amazing.

Justin said...

I don't know if "Hey Joe" counts as a cover? Hendrix wasn't the first to record it, but I had thought that it was a traditional song. Guess wikipedia is saying that it was written by Billy Roberts. If versions of traditional songs count, then Gillian Welch doing "Make me down a pallet on your floor" is one of my absolute favorites.

Anonymous said...

...oh, and the Black Keys version of "She Said, She Said" is pretty great too.

Anonymous said...

"Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except for me and Monkey" performed by the Feelies.

Tod said...

Forgot Fiona Apple's "I Want You".

Anonymous said...

I would agree about Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" and add Sonic Youth's "Hot Wire My Heart" originally by Crime.

Anonymous said...

Cracker's "Rainy Days and Mondays"

Anonymous said...

Two kings of the cover version: Nick Cave, the Afghan Whigs. They managed to take songs that were first-rate to begin with, make them completely their own (sometimes by changing them almost beyond recognition), with the result being at least as good as - often better - than the original. This applies to most of the (many) covers recorded by Nick Cave in 1984-88 and the Afghan Whigs in 1990-94.

Favorite covers by Nick Cave:
(1) Wanted Man (Dylan/Cash)
(2) Avalanche (Leonard Cohen)
(3) Long Time Man (Tim Rose)

Favorite covers by Afghan Whigs:
(1) Little Boy Blue (Nina Simone)
(2) Come See About Me (Supremes)
(3) Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Shirelles)
(4) I Keep Coming Back (Tyrone Davis)
(5) Mr. Superlove (Ass Ponys)
(6) Dark End of the Street
(7) Band of Gold (Freda Payne)

Spiros said...

Anon 11:13:

Damn right about Cave's "Long Time Man." Genius.

The Brooks Blog said...

...and here I must break from the rest. My votes (in no particular order) must go to:

Thin Lizzy, 'Whisky in the Jar'
Slayer, 'Dissident Aggressor'
and Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald album of Gershwin covers re: Porgy and Bess

Robert said...

Rod Stewart (the '70's Rod) was one of the best, if not the best, interpreter of Dylan. And his version of Tim Hardin's 'Reason to Believe' was stellar.
Also, I've always loved the Saints' version of 'Kissin' Cousins'.
I'll second the Cramps' 'Surfin' Bird'.

Gabriel said...

Bedhead's cover of Cher's "Believe". It might be a bit obscure, but it is well worth a listen. It's on the ep Macha Loves Bedhead.

Glaucon said...

Sorry for the late post (and the double-dipping), but I heard this one on the radio: if "Country Honk" counts as a cover of "Honky Tonk Women" then it should be high on the list; perhaps there should be a special category for self-covers (live versions excluded).

At the risk of giving testimony to a misspent youth, I'd lime to point out that the Grayeful Dead did some great covers over the years, both of genuinely classic rock (Chuck Berry, "Johnny B. Goode"; Buddy Holly, "Not Fade Away") and country gems, as well (Johnny Cash, "Big River"; Merle Haggard, "Mama Tried"). The latter sort were the main (only?) way that suburban twits like me were introduced to country.

Santa said...

What about The Damned's version of "Ball Room Blitz" or the princess Die-ana themed satire version "Big Fat Tits"?

Santa said...

and I almost forgot Chris Whitley's haunting re-interpretation of the Dorrs' classic "crystal Ship". I think that may be my favorite cover, for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

Slayer - Abolish Government
Toots and the Maytals - Country Roads

Anonymous said...

and Calexico's version of Guns of Brixton

Spiros said...

As for Chris Whitley, I'll take his "Perfect Day" over the Doors cover.

Dave2 said...


The Residents' "Constantinople" is no cover, it's an original. It was They Might Be Giants who most famously covered the old song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)".

The Residents' cover of "Satisfaction" is also good (it predates Devo's version by about a year). And how about Renaldo and the Loaf's cover of "16 Going on 17"?

Also Obituary's cover of Celtic Frost's "Circle of the Tyrants" and Hoyry-Kone's cover of Iron Maiden's "The Trooper".