Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cover versions - top ten

Blimey, I've never been hassled into doing something on this blog by readers, but two of you have given me a nudge about getting round to doing the top ten cover versions I thought about a couple of weeks ago.

I was tempted to include a couple of Oasis songs which are more derivatives - Shakermaker and Don't Look Back in Anger - and chose not to include Neil Diamond written songs because you get into that grey area about whether it's a song written FOR the writer or for others to perform. By the same token, one of my favourites from the Bruce Springsteen concert was Because The Night, which I first knew as a Patti Smith song, but it's not strictly a cover as they co-wrote it. I've also gone for songs that meet two essential criteria, they sound great irrespective of their origin, and the original was great too.

Here goes, in reverse order:

Valerie - Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse step up the Zutons
Where the Street Have No Name - Pet Shop Boys camp up U2
Always on my Mind - Pet Shop Boys then do the same to Elvis
Temptation - Moby strips back New Order
I Fought the Law - Clash squat a Bobby Fuller classic and make it their own anthem
Knockin' on Heavens Door - Guns N Roses power up Dylan
Could it be Magic - Take That double the BPM on Barry Manilow
Man who Sold the World - Nirvana unplugged and upstage David Bowie
One - Johnny Cash makes this U2 tune actually sound sincere

And the greatest cover ever is this:

Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley performs the perfect song, as originally performed and written by Leonard Cohen.


Steve Downes said...

What no Patti Smith - Them's 'Gloria'? Shame on you Michael.

Voices From The Below said...

Michael! You've missed Straight Outta Compton', covered by Nina Gordon, surely some mistake?

Michael Taylor said...


Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

They don't write lyrics like that any more. Top choice MT

I might have gone for Johnny cash's version of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails and there's a version of ticket to ride by echo and the bunnymen i'm very fond of but not much to quibble about otherwise.

Oh i must dash, David bentley has just pulled up to view the house next door!


Bah. You moved the goalposts. It's easy to think of bands who made a bad song good, but I'm having problems remembering how many songs have been done really well more than once.

A New England, Kirsty MacColl
Spirit in the Sky, Dr & The Medics
Love is All Around, REM
Irish Rover, The Pogues
Maggie's Farm, The Specials
This Land is Your Land, Billy Bragg
Hippy Hippy Shake, The Beatles
Sweet Thing, Waterboys
Teenage Kicks, Saw Doctors

All ridiculously subjective of course, but the BEST cover version I have heard is Johnny Marr singing Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. It was on some old UNCUT compilation and you can't get it on itunes, but if anyone wants a copy then email me and I'll sort it out. Know what I mean? nudge, nudge etc...


Michael Taylor said...

Thanks for the feedback, people.

There are a couple that are "bubbling under" - including Sweet Thing by the Waterboys - though I'm not a huge Van fan. Good choice, Nigel.

Two that I forgot compltely, but could well muscle in ahead of the Pet Shop Boys are:
The Day Before You Came by Blancmange and Sinead O'Connor's Nc2U.