Everyone loves a good old cover version right? You’d be hard pushed to find a band that at some point haven’t delved into their catalogue of guilty pleasures to roll out one of their personal favourite tunes – either as an actual recording for release or as an impromptu part of a live set.
The result is dependent on which side of the fence you sit – some purists will tell you these covers are sacrilegious, and yes to be fair some of them are look no further than Ronan Keating’s version of Fairy Tale Of New York. But some of these covers have embedded themselves so far into our psyche that they have become the quintessential versions. Infact a few of these records we were amazed to find were covers at all!
Even some of the original artists have lavished praise on those who have aped their tunes. Bob Dylan said of Jimi Hendrix’s copy of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ – ” “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day. Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”
We are celebrating these awesome (if unoriginal) works of art with our definitive top 10 of covers better than their original. Have we missed any out? Let us know below or over on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Hurt – Johnny Cash (orignally Nine Inch Nails 1994)
Where else to start? In 2002, Cash covered the song for his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. The lyrics were slightly altered to reference Christ and Cash’s devout Christianity. An all time classic.
I Fought The Law – The Clash (orignally The Crickets 1960)
Essentially a cover of a cover. This 60’s anthem was previously popularised by The Bobby Fuller Four but it was British punk legends The Clash who made it their own. The song sits well with their rebel and anti-establishment values.
Twist & Shout – The Beatles (orignally The Top Notes 1961)
Regarded as one of the finest examples of British rock and roll for its vocal performance, John Lennon was actually suffering from a cold during the recording and coughing is audible on the album, as is the cold’s effect on his voice and was drinking milk and sucking on cough drops to soothe his throat.
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley (orignally Leonard Cohen 1984)
Jeff Buckley, inspired by John Cale’s earlier cover, recorded one of the most acclaimed versions of “Hallelujah” for his only complete album in 1994. Covered by so many artists but this version is out favourite. Lyrical poetry at its best.
Tainted Love – Soft Cell (orignally Gloria Jones 1965)
This 80s disco classic was drastically reworked into a synth-heavy arrangement although few know the original was actually a Northern Soul classic for Gloria Jones back in 1965. Marc Almond and David Ball slowed the tempo down and was recorded in the key of G rather than the original C.
Whiskey In The Jar – Thin Lizzy (orignally The Dubliners 1965)
A famous Irish traditional song which was claimed by Thin Lizzy as their own as a faster, rockier version. American metal band Metallica also brought it to a wider rock audience in 1998 by playing a version very similar to that of Thin Lizzy’s, though with a heavier sound.
Valerie – Amy Winehouse (orignally The Zutons 2006)
Originally by the English indie rock band The Zutons and reworked by Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse on vocals giving the song a more bluesy/Jazz vibe. The huge royalties bought Zuton’s Dave McCabe a Liverpool mansion who conceded that the song now belongs to Winehouse.
Hounds Of Love – The Futureheads (orignally Kate Bush 1985)
In 2004 the English post-punk band The Futureheads recorded Bush’s classic for their self titled debut album. Almost unrecognisable from its parent track the cover features spikey guitars and tribe-esque chanting. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 89 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”.
A Message To You Rudy – The Specials (orignally Dandy Livingstone 1967)
Originally a 1967 rocksteady song by Dandy Livingstone s it is a portrait of social unrest among Kingston youth in the tradition of rudeboy cautionary tales (hence the title’s ‘Rudy’). Now synonymous with the English 2 Tone and ska revival band The Specials.
All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix (orignally Bob Dylan 1967)
Bob Dylan said of Jimi Hendrix’s copy of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ – ” “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day. Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”