This is the celebrated journal of Mr. Simon Collison A.K.A Colly

The best cover versions ever made?

1st June 2008

Partly because some friends and I were discussing classic cover versions in the pub, but mostly because (as regular readers will be aware) I love making music lists, I decided to finish a list I started ages ago.

In no particular order, I present what I think are the best cover versions ever made. To prove I am not a music snob, I have even included (gasp!) Pet Shop Boys and Sinead O’Connor in there. Feel free to shout at me or do the classic “Hey you missed out X” if you so desire, as though you and I have the same taste. Lets argue!

Updated: I’ve linked to any appropriate versions that exist on YouTube. Newer live or inferior versions of the covers I love have not been linked - and if anyone can find The Fall or The Wedding Present you win a biscuit.


# Mearso responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Laibach - Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)

Laibach - One Vision (Queen)

The Breeders - Happines is a warm gun (The Beatles)

Are ones that spring to mind.

# Ben Saunders responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Nina Gordon’s Straight Outta Compton (NWA)

# Rasmus responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Chris Cornell’s cover of “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson). Especially the live version rocks.

# Mike Stenhouse responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

I love a good list! A few random but rather marvelous ones to add to the list:

Micah P. Hinson - Yard Of Blonde Girls (Jeff Buckley)
Nostalgia 77 - Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)
The Gourds - Gin and Juice (Snoop)
Bolt Action Five - Dance Magic, Dance (David Bowie)
Seu Jorge - Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats (The Knife)
John Joy - Teardrop (Womack & Womack)
Gus Gus - Don’t Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)
Florence and Kid Harpoon - Going Down (Bruce Springsteen)

# Simon Collison responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Ben Saunders: Now, that is class. Did you know that I can sing Straight Outta Compton to the tune of We Are The Champions? Bit of a party-piece is that. Requires vodka.

Mike Stenhouse: Ooh, I got that Micah P Hinson cover of Tim Buckley - “very seeexy…wo-e-wooah-wo”. Love it, and most of his stuff actually. I should have included it here. Now, must track down the Gus Gus cover - big fan of them.

# Sam Rayner responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Rogue Wave - Debaser (Pixies) is also great (MP3). It’s definitely my favourite off The OC Mix 6, which is all covers.

# Sam Rayner responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Oh, and Mat Weddle (Obadiah Parker)‘s Hey Ya! cover is another favourite.

Ben, Nina Gordon’s cover rocks. Thanks for that :)

# ryan responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Great list, Simon. I just have one to add (maybe more later)

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)

# Jason Armstrong responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Great list!

The thing that stands out most to me about this list (and great covers in general) is that these are such great covers that if you were a youngster and didn’t know who originally performed the song, these would all stand on their own as great original songs.

Or am I stating the obvious?

Oh well, anyway, thanks for sharing!

# Matt Wilcox responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Good list, but missing two absolute classics:

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra - Love Will Tear us Apart ( )

Apocalyptica - Nothing Else Matters ( )

# Adam responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Great list. I’m a sucker for “Best of” music lists, too.

A few that I’d add:

1. The National - Mansion on the Hill (Springsteen,
2. The Sea and Cake - Sound & Vision (Bowie)
3. Springsteen - Jersey Girl (Tom Waits)
4. Iggy Pop - China Girl (Bowie)
5. Patti Smith - When Doves Cry (Prince)
6. Grace Jones - Breakdown (Tom Petty) and La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf)
7. The Jayhawks - On the Beach (Neil Young)
8. The White Stripes - Lovesick (Dylan)
9. Wilco - I Shall be Released (The Band)

And that Prince cover of “Creep” that keeps getting pulled off YouTube is pretty sweet, too.

# gterez responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Great list Simon! I hadn’t heard Radiohead’s Ceremony, it was really a revelation. I got two more to add to the list:

Kraftwerk’s Showroom Dummies transformed beyond description by Señor Coconut Y Su Conjunto.

Depeche Mode’s Master and Servant is given a sublime lounge workover by Locust (Mark van Hoen)

# Mearso responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Right, come up with a link for Laibach’s Gebert Eniner Nation

I especially like the bit where he seems to be asking for ‘a light beer’ I think this is a good for being very different.

# Chris responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Where’s the Johnny Cash? He’s done some great covers, Springsteen’s Further on up the road is a personal favourite.

# Simon Collison responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Sam Rayner: Yep, that Matt Weddle cover of Hey Ya! is incredible. My colleague Jamie showed me that a while back. Wonderful.

Adam: Trying to find that Patti Smith cover of When Doves Cry, but it appears the little purple bastard has had his copyright people on that, like everything else. I’d love to hear that.

Chris: Where’s the Johnny Cash?! I do believe I put his “makes me cry every time” cover of Hurt in my list. I could have picked ten or so off the “American Recordings” albums of course. Incidentally, listening to “At Folsom Prison” as I type. Spooky.

Everyone else: Great to find so many other great (and, erm, not so great) covers from you all. I’m utterly adoring that Gus Gus cover of Don’t Fear The Reaper. Eerily, scarily wonderful.

# Adam responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Simon: It’s actually a studio cut on the Land compilation.

Amazon mp3 link

# fathima responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

oh have you heard Rufus Wainwright’s version of Hallelujah?
also, Rachid Taha’s cover of the Clash’s Rock the Casbah is excellent
and finally, i much prefer Ryan Adams’ Wonderwall to the original by Oasis

# Adrian Madrid responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

You can’t mention Siouxie & The banshees and forget “The Passenger” (Iggy Pop). Man, those are the 80s I miss. I also really like 311’s “Lovesong” (The Cure). BTW, that soundtrack is full of good reggae covers. And though you might hate for it I’ll throw Frente!’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” (New Order).

# Jack-B responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

The Cure - Just Like Heaven (Dinosaur Jnr)
The Black Keys - The Wicked Messenger (Bob Dylan)
Ride - How Does It Feel To Feel (The Creation)
Sonic Youth - Rouche Rumble (The Fall)
The Black Crowes - Hard To Handle (Otis Reading)
oh.  And Ian Browns Thriller & Billie Jean.. Oh.  And Sonic Youths Simpsons Theme..

# Simon Clayson responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

More Dylan:

The Byrds - My Back Pages
Fairport Convention - Percy’s Song

Stuff BY the Pixies:
Winterlong (Neil Young)
and the quite amazing
I’ve Been Waiting for You (Neil Young)
Head on (Jesus and Mary Chain)

# Debbie responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

I’ve always liked this version of Nothing Else Matters done by Bif Naked. I heard this several years ago before I ever heard Metallica’s. I had not heard Apocalyptica’s that Matt Wilcox mentioned earlier. I really like that cover as well.

# Richard Bateman responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Nirvana unplugged doing “The Man Who Sold The World” originally by Bowie.

Amazing version.

# Simon Rudkin responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Anything by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. But especially Miss Dy-na-mi-tee.

# olly responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

Here’s the link to the blimmin brilliant Elbow cover of Independent Wimmin by Destiny’s Child.
Pass me a pie, ahm gooin out fer a dance our kid, eh?

# olly responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

...and if anyone would like to hear that Wedding Present cover it’s here…

# Shad responded on 2nd June 2008 with...

I’ve always thought A Perfect Cirle’s cover of “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zepplin was one of the most unique covers ever, which I guess was also a cover based on the original tune by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie.

# Andy responded on 3rd June 2008 with...

Good list. I always liked (perhaps even preferred) Guns N’ Roses’ cover of Sympathy for the Devil.

How about you do the worst cover versions ever, and slap the Scissor Sisters at number one with their swashbuckling(?) rendition of Comfortably Numb!

# Simon Collison responded on 3rd June 2008 with...

Adam: Ah, thanks. Purchased!

Fathima: Wainwright? Yep, not bad, but not a patch on Jeff Buckley in my opinion. Not sure if Ryan Adam’s Wonderwall is better than the Oasis original, but it is still exceptional. Love it. Sadly, Songza won’t let me play that Rock El Kazbah tune.

Adrian Madrid: yep, that’s a good cover of Bizarre Love Triangle- and I’m usually very cautious about anyone covering New Order. As for 311’s cover of Love Song, well, I’m not sure that should ever be touched. The Cure own that song.

Jack-B: I never knew that Just Like Heaven was a cover. Blimey. Great cover.

Olly: Nice one for the link to The Wedding Present on Nobody should turn off until after the 15 second reverb pause and it all kicks in again. Class. Oh, and that Rather Good video for Elbow - I once proclaimed that the best thing on the internet, which was rather bold.

Everyone else: I’m gradually catching up with your suggestions. Keep ‘em coming - and link them if you can.

By the way, I just recalled a cover I utterly, utterly LOVE, but had forgotten about. As featured on The Big Lebowski soundtrack - The Gypsy Kings doing Hotel california. Wait until it kicks in. Epic!!!

# Gratis Webwinkel responded on 3rd June 2008 with...

Funny thing is the cover is sometimes better then the original.

# FullCreamMilkMan responded on 3rd June 2008 with...

In all the following cases, the covers and originals are both brilliant.

Aretha Franklin - Respect (Otis Redding)
Van Morrison - Bein’ Green (Kermit - I kid you not)
Otis Redding - A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
Peggy Lee - Fever (Little Willie John)

# Chris responded on 3rd June 2008 with...

I’ve just about got over this one being hijacked by the film Juno: Sonic Youth - Superstar (The Carpenters)

# Peter responded on 3rd June 2008 with...

Lacuna Coil - Enjoy The Silence (Depeche Mode Cover)

# Mike Stenhouse responded on 4th June 2008 with...

One more I just found in my library…

Deer Tick - Beautiful Girl (Sean Kingston)

This one’s not a favourite but for randomness it’s worth a look. I think I have it on 10” somewhere:
Roots Manuva - Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

# Mirthe responded on 4th June 2008 with...

Let’s see, anything in iTunes marked as cover and starred:
Celestial Season - Vienna
Fields Of The Nephilim - In The Year 2525
Opera IX - Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Type O Negative - Summer Breeze
Slayer - In-a-gadda-da-vida
Callenish Circle - When The Lady Smiles
Machine Head - Message In A Bottle
Type O Negative - Black Sabbath
Paradise Lost - Small Town Boy
Queensrÿche - Scarborough Fair
Katatonia - Nightmares By The Sea
Nevermore - The Sound Of Silence
In Flames - Everything Counts
Life Of Agony - Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Nonpoint - In The Air Tonight
Devo - (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Disturbed - Land of Confusion
Foo Fighters - Baker Street
Cathedral / Ulver - Solitude
Megadeth / Type O Negative - Paranoid
Opeth - Soldier Of Fortune
Placebo - Johnny and Mary

And anything by Richard Cheese.. :-)

# Tobi responded on 4th June 2008 with...

Tainted Love is the Killer! Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’
from 1981, original from 1964 Gloria Jones 1964 and Marilyn Manson - Tainted Love both cover versions are brilliant!

# Web Design Company responded on 6th June 2008 with...

Marilyn Mason -Sweet Dreams

# olly responded on 6th June 2008 with...

My mate Jamie has just played me this. Shinehead covering Billy Jean. What do you make of that?

# Jack-B responded on 7th June 2008 with...

Last week i listed some faves, some serious ones..
My mates band does a ton.. of not so serious Kazoo ones
Masters Of The Kazooniverse

# Guy Roberts responded on 9th June 2008 with...

Can I suggest The Sundays cover of Wild Horses originally by the Stones.

Voice and guitar working beautifully together. Soppy but gorgeous.

Its great to see Song to the Siren in the list.  I’ve listened to it for twenty years and only realised it was a cover version a couple of months ago when I listened to a John Peel tribute CD.

# Samantha Armacost responded on 13th June 2008 with...

During my high school days I went through an obsessive covers phase, and owned all of the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes albums.
But as for my suggestion of a cover that I have been into of late, Youth Group‘s version of Forever Young originally by Alphaville.

I am however surprised by the lack of a mention of Gary Jules’ take on Tears for Fear’s Mad World.

# Natalie responded on 15th June 2008 with...

I love Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah. I accidentally discovered Chris Cornell, whose harsh voice gives me goosebumps - the guy is really good.

# James Ford responded on 17th June 2008 with...

The Maximo Park cover of The Proclaimers 500 miles is fantastic!

# mark responded on 25th June 2008 with...

respect aretha franklin is the best

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