Skip

I want more satisfaction.
September 24, 2007 6:36 AM   Subscribe

What are some cover versions of well known songs that have refashioned or rearranged the piece so dramatically as to seem not exactly the covered song, but more of a unique work in and of itself?

Example: Devo's version of Satisfaction.
posted by flapjax at midnite to Media & Arts (97 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Straight Outta Compton" by Nina Gordon

"Gin and Juice" the Gourds
posted by socratic at 6:40 AM on September 24, 2007


erm, NSFW lyrics in both instances.
posted by socratic at 6:41 AM on September 24, 2007


Sonic Youth's Superstar
posted by the cuban at 6:42 AM on September 24, 2007


Particularly interesting (as it is the original artist doing the "cover") is Eric Clapton's version of "Layla" from the MTV Unplugged series.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:42 AM on September 24, 2007


I really like Travis' version of Hit Me Baby One More Time.

I also really like Canadian Indie Starlet Em Gryner singing Beat It.

Soft Cell's cover of Tainted Love is also fairly different from the Motown original. (And I'm guessing the Soft Cell version is more famous.)
posted by chunking express at 6:42 AM on September 24, 2007


"All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix (I wonder how many people think he wrote the song..)

"Always on My Mind" by the Pet Shop Boys
posted by socratic at 6:44 AM on September 24, 2007


Previously, Previously, and Previously
posted by i love cheese at 6:44 AM on September 24, 2007


"All Along the Watchtower" is the one that comes to mind for me. The Jimi Hendrix version is very different from the original Bob Dylan version. Dave Matthews covers this song at most of his shows and his version is different still. Plus there have been dozens of other artists who have covered it in one style or another.
posted by cabingirl at 6:49 AM on September 24, 2007


Cat Power's Satisfaction sounds absolutely nothing like the original.
Nirvana's Man who Sold the World
posted by dinty_moore at 6:51 AM on September 24, 2007


I'm partial to by the Cardigans and Tom Jones. Takes the old Talking Heads hit, turns it upside down and inside out, and ramps up the soul. And the pairing of the Cardigans and Tom -- who'd a thunk it? Brilliant.
posted by Gordion Knott at 6:58 AM on September 24, 2007


(Most extreme example first) It's very hard to tell if Fennesz's "Paint it Black" and "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" actually incorporate any elements of the original songs.

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Tortoise collaborated for a very strange covers album including "Thunder Road" and "Pancho."

Nouvelle Vague's bossa nova covers of punk and post-punk songs are pretty dramatic reworkings.

As are Richard Cheese's lounge parodies of vulgar 90s hits.

There's a great recording of Ted Leo covering "Since You've Been Gone" live and transitioning to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps."

TV on the Radio's cover of the Pixies' "Mr. Grieves" is slow and creepy, unlike the original.

I mean, a cover isn't really good unless it brings something else to the table, so there are a lot of examples...
posted by themadjuggler at 7:00 AM on September 24, 2007


Jonathan Coulton's Baby Got Back.

Ben Folds' Bitches Ain't Shit.

Start Me Up from A Mighty Wind.
posted by blueshammer at 7:01 AM on September 24, 2007


Link didn't get in. That's:
Burning Down the House by Tom Jones and the Cardigans.
posted by Gordion Knott at 7:03 AM on September 24, 2007


'Walk On By' as covered by Isaac Hayes from the album 'Hot Buttered Soul'. It's the same tune but it's much more gritty and epic and ends with a very cool drum solo that I've no doubt must have been sampled numerous times.
posted by ob at 7:03 AM on September 24, 2007


I Will Survive by Cake
posted by fallenposters at 7:06 AM on September 24, 2007


And by 'the same tune' I mean the vocal melody is to all intents and purposes the same, but the instrumental arrangement makes it really a very different piece of music.
posted by ob at 7:08 AM on September 24, 2007


Great answers so far, folks! Many thanks! And for those of you with the time and inclination, extra comments about why the cover is so different or noteworthy (like in ob's comment above) will be very welcome indeed. Let your inner music critic come out!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:09 AM on September 24, 2007


Jose Gonzalez cover of Heartbeats
posted by phil at 7:09 AM on September 24, 2007


Dynamite Hack - "Boys In The Hood "
It really is great!
posted by doorsfan at 7:16 AM on September 24, 2007


"Comfortably Numb" covered by the Scissor Sisters is disco-awesome.
posted by olinerd at 7:19 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


XTC 'reimagined' All Along The Watchtower by making it pretty much unlistenable. And I say that as one of their biggest fans.

Too Much Joy did an alterna-rock cover of an LL Cool J song, "That's A Lie". I don't know if this is the first rock cover of a rap song to get any kind of MTV rotation, but I have to wonder.

Stevie Wonder's cover of "We Can Work It Out" is probably my favorite cover of a Beatles song.

"Heard It Through the Grapevine" has been covered all to hell and back (and Marvin Gaye's version itself wasn't the original), but the version by the Slits is different in kind and quite impressive.
posted by kimota at 7:23 AM on September 24, 2007


Jose Feliciano is a rich seam to mine. His versions of California Dreaming and Sunny are good 'uns
posted by the cuban at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2007


M Ward's cover of Bowie's Let's Dance.

I was also going to mention Cat Power's Stones' cover. I hate the original but heres is quite wonderful. She leaves out the chorus which is impressive, I think.
posted by dobbs at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2007


MIA's 20 dollar is sort of a cover of pixies where is my mind, but totally different.
posted by alkupe at 7:27 AM on September 24, 2007


The Ukrainian's version of Venus in Furs
Dolly Parton's version of Stairway to Heaven
Anything by Nouvelle Vague or Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
posted by iamkimiam at 7:29 AM on September 24, 2007


Johnny Cash - Hurt
posted by caddis at 7:34 AM on September 24, 2007


-"Running up that Hill" covered by Placebo. Originally recorded by Kate Bush.
posted by adustum at 7:35 AM on September 24, 2007


I can't believe Alanis Morissette's My Humps hasn't been mentioned yet. It's almost tolerable like this!
posted by wallaby at 7:35 AM on September 24, 2007


Electrelane's The Partisan (link is to emusic--you can hear 30 seconds worth), which is generally thought of as a Leonard Cohen track, is very different sounding.
posted by dobbs at 7:36 AM on September 24, 2007


The Residents' Third Reich and Roll is two side length medleys of totally destroyed covers of hits from the 60s and 70s. Very nightmarish: Poppa's Got a Brand new bag sung slowly in German by a woman (though with the original brass stings intact), Doubleshot of My Baby's Love as a kind of Zombie chant, an off key version of 96 Tears immediately followed by an offkey version of It's My Party, and a bunch of other stuff. Hilarious and genuinely disturbing at the same time.

They also did an album of Elvis covers called the King and Eye, but those are mostly just boring and sterile.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:46 AM on September 24, 2007


"Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- Tori Amos
"Boys in the Hood" -- Dynamite Hack
posted by junkbox at 7:48 AM on September 24, 2007


One of the highlights of Coverland (I just made that up and I quite like it...) should be Booker T and the MG's McLemore Avenue an instrumental cover of the whole of the Beatles Abbey Road album. Some of it is great, much of it is rather cheesy and all-in-all it's quite, quite odd.
posted by ob at 7:50 AM on September 24, 2007


Tori Amos's cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit": it's wispy and mournful.
posted by bassjump at 7:50 AM on September 24, 2007


Drat. Junkbox got there first.
posted by bassjump at 7:51 AM on September 24, 2007


There is of course Paul Anka's cover album Rock Swings which contains quite a few tracks that are really quite different from the original. Incidentally, this album is a million times better than Pat Boone's cover album. Seriously.
posted by ob at 7:52 AM on September 24, 2007


Lastly, if you don't know it, the Mike Flower's Pops version of Oasis' Wonderwall is fun. Right, I'll stop now!
posted by ob at 7:54 AM on September 24, 2007


Chris Cornell's cover of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean takes on quite a different meaning from the original.
posted by edverb at 7:54 AM on September 24, 2007


Luka Bloom's cover of LL Cool J's "I Need Love"
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on September 24, 2007


Cat Power's cover of "Crazy" (gnarls barkley) is fantastic

Afghan Whigs.. "Creep" (TLC)
posted by citron at 7:55 AM on September 24, 2007


Cat Power and Ryan Adams competing versions of "Wonderwall." Aztec Camera's version of Van Halen's "Jump." Fun Boy Three's cover of the Go-Go's "Our Lips are Sealed."
posted by Ironmouth at 8:03 AM on September 24, 2007


Devo's cover of "Satisfaction", off their first album, is almost the exact opposite of the original song.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:04 AM on September 24, 2007


whoops (always read the entire question, duh)
posted by doctor_negative at 8:05 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Soft Cell's cover of Tainted Love is also fairly different from the Motown original. (And I'm guessing the Soft Cell version is more famous.)

I'll see your Soft Cell version of Tainted Love and raise you Coil's version - which not only completely changes the musical feel of the song, but also gives it an entirely different, darker interpretation merely through their inflection - turning a pretty run-of-the-mill breakup song into a commentary on HIV/AIDS.

BTW, previous version of this question here.
posted by googly at 8:06 AM on September 24, 2007


No mention yet of Joe Cocker's version of "With a Little Help From My Friends?"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:28 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Blind Boys of Alabama did Amazing Grace, but used the music from The House of the Rising Sun.
posted by Gungho at 8:39 AM on September 24, 2007


Ry Cooder seems to revel in taking an old favorite and reinventing it. He does this to great effect on the Elvis classics Little Sister and All Shook Up. Little Sister, in particular, has completely different chords from the original, yet it works beautifully. He also gives the same treatment to the Stones' All Over Now, creating a great reggae tune from it.
posted by wsg at 8:41 AM on September 24, 2007


Richard Thompson's cover of "Oops I Did it Again."
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on September 24, 2007


Speaking of Soft Cell, Marc Almond's Marc and the Mambas did an amazing, transformative cover of Syd Barrett's "Terrapin."
posted by ROTFL at 8:49 AM on September 24, 2007


"Stranger in Moscow" by Transformer di Roboter
posted by arcticwoman at 9:15 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


NIN -- Hurt (live)
Johnny Cash -- Hurt (cover)

(mentioned above, but I gotta do something with these youtube links...)
posted by LordSludge at 9:19 AM on September 24, 2007


Minor Threat's cover of the Monkee's "Steppin' Stone"
The Minutemen's cover of Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love"
Husker Du's version of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, "Love Is All Around"
Killdozer's cover of "Sweet Home Alabama"
Butthole Surfers' "Sweat Loaf", a deconstruction of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf"
Kronos Quartet's cover of "Purple Haze"
Meat Puppet's cover of "Tumblin' Tumbleweed" (unlistenable)
Patti Smith's version of Them's "Gloria"
Robbie Fulks' cover of Cher's "Believe" (it RAWKS!)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2007


I enjoy Elbow's cover of "Independent Woman." (It features a glockenspiel? I think.)

Also Tilly and the Wall's cover of "Hey Ya."
posted by dorothy humbird at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2007


Manfred Mann's version of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By The Light."
posted by amyms at 9:47 AM on September 24, 2007


Tori Amos' version of the Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays."
posted by amyms at 9:50 AM on September 24, 2007


Flaming Lips covering "Can't Get You Out of My Head," by Kylie Minogue (the first video is silly, but the song's the right version)

Dismemberment Plan covering "Crush," by Jennifer Paige

Gary Jules covering "Mad World," by Tears for Fears (cover version was in Donnie Darko and the dancing in the TfF video at about two minutes is AWESOME.)
posted by lauranesson at 9:54 AM on September 24, 2007


Tom McRae's cover of "Wonderful Christmastime" from this album.
posted by penguinliz at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2007


Devil's Workshop Big Band - Morning Bell
The Bad Plus - Smells Like Teen Spirit
The Bad Plus - Heart of Glass
posted by emelenjr at 10:07 AM on September 24, 2007


A good chunk of Laibach's work.
posted by Opposite George at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2007


Husker Du/Eight Miles High
Crazy World of Arthur Brown/I Got Money
anything by Black Velvet Flag
Negativland/Cara Mia
posted by AJaffe at 10:33 AM on September 24, 2007


Johnny Cash's cover of U2's "One."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:52 AM on September 24, 2007


Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 did some awesome covers. For my money, their breezy, exotic version of you-know-who's "Fool on the Hill" is the definitive one.
posted by zebra3 at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2007


John Coltrane's cover of My Favorite Things, which sometimes stretched over and hour when played live, is very very different from the original.
posted by OmieWise at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2007


If you are going to bring up Satisfaction, then I think it's worth remembering Otis Redding's rendition, which really struck me the first time I heard it. And, on the subject of Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin's cover of his "Respect" is a much different song.

As for Tainted Love by Soft Cell, I think it's only more famous than the Motown version among people of a certain age. There are a lot of boomers who know the Motown version

Re: All along the watchtower. Story is that Dylan was so impressed by Hendrix's rendition that he did his performances Hendrix's way.

Nina Simone's rendition of Mood Indigo.
posted by Good Brain at 11:27 AM on September 24, 2007


David Gray's cover of Soft Cell's "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye"
Cap'n Jazz doing "Take on Me"
William Shatner's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Mr. Tambourine Man"
Jeff Buckley and "Hallelujah," of course.

But really, the only one you really need:
Schneider TM covering "There is a Light that Never Goes Out"

If you're looking for total, ground-up reworkings, though, you'll have more luck in remix territory. Check Erase Errata's Dancing Machine or Dismemberment Plan's A People's History Of.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:29 AM on September 24, 2007


There's a new album called "Guilty Pleasures" where indie rock people do covers of their favorites and they're usually huge departures from the original (like an a cappella version of a Journey song, sung by a woman)
posted by mathowie at 11:58 AM on September 24, 2007


Sting - Little Wing
posted by Justin Case at 12:07 PM on September 24, 2007


For complete re imaginings of songs, essentially 'same-lyrics-all-new-music' you really should check out Renegades by Rage Against the Machine. To Wit: "It consists entirely of cover songs and includes covers of artists such as Bob Dylan, Minor Threat, EPMD, MC5, the Rolling Stones, Cypress Hill, and Devo."

My favorite on that album is the cover of Erik B & Rakim's Microphone Fiend.

Along those same lines, A Perfect Cricle's last studio album eMOTIVe has 10 covers, including a reworking of John Lennon's Imagine as a minor key dirge. I really like the reinterpretation of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On on this album.

While one the subject of A Perfect Circle, they also covered Failure's The Nurse Who Loved Me re-imagined as a string arrangement that s both sing-along-able and troubling at the same time.
posted by chocolate_butch at 12:10 PM on September 24, 2007


I'm amazed that the Iron & Wine cover of "Such Great Heights" hasn't been mentioned yet.
posted by tylermoody at 12:11 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bill Frisell's instrumental cover of Hank Williams' "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry" (from Ghost Town).

Pretty much everything Johnny Cash did with Rick Rubin.

Greg Laswell's cover of Cindy Lauper's Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun.
posted by wheat at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2007


Ooh, and the Shins' "We Will Become Silhouettes." Which I think actually takes the re-imagining further than Iron and Wine's Postal Service song.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:38 PM on September 24, 2007


Any of John Oswald's Plunderphonics recordings.
posted by AJaffe at 12:41 PM on September 24, 2007


The Atari's doing Don Henley's "Boys of Summer".
posted by wafaa at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2007


One of the highlights of Coverland

You mean Coverville
posted by kindall at 2:19 PM on September 24, 2007


The Postal Service covered The Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??". You can hear a snippet of it here I've always thought of it as Super Mario Bros. on crack... but in a good way.

I thought Mika (love him or hate him) did a great and hysterical cover of Shakira's "Hip's Don't Lie". Too bad the accompanying slide is something less than inspiring.
posted by moonshine at 3:06 PM on September 24, 2007


Sting's version of Little Wing is a literal rendition. It's not refashioned or rearranged in any way.
posted by wsg at 3:12 PM on September 24, 2007


Damn! This has been an avalanche of answers! Many thanks to all!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:39 PM on September 24, 2007


Oh, and thanks to wsg for his clarification on the Sting version of Little Wing. Saved me the unpleasantness of having to listen to Sting!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:47 PM on September 24, 2007


Nina Simone sang 'Here comes the sun' and did an incredible job. She gave it a lot more depth, rhythm, and it gives her voice amazing scope as well.

She also covered Dylan's 'We Shall Be Released' and, again, turns the song around so that it is something that appears entirely new but has that note of similarity within it that makes it even richer.
posted by twirlypen at 4:40 PM on September 24, 2007


Sorry, I got the name wrong. It's Guilt By Association as the title.
posted by mathowie at 5:11 PM on September 24, 2007


These are my favorite type of covers; in songs I previously disliked, I often discover just how tight a melody exists.

Tori Amos is a perfect example; Smells Like Teen Spirit has already been mentioned, but her live covers of "Living on a Prayer" and "Can't get you out of my head", (harder to track down) are pretty awesome. Easier to track down are "Whole Lotta Love", "Do It Again" and her whole album of covers, "Strange Little Girls".

Matt Weddle's acoustic version of "Hey Ya" (first posted on Metafilter) is possibly my favorite cover of all time.
posted by chronic sublime at 6:01 PM on September 24, 2007


Alien Ant Farm's version of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."
posted by amyms at 6:57 PM on September 24, 2007


The F-Ups have a fast-paced version of "All The Young Dudes" that starts out kind of obnoxious, but feels pretty darn blissful by the chorus... When I first heard it, I was like "WTF?" but now I love it.
posted by amyms at 7:11 PM on September 24, 2007


Do Puff Daddy's reimaginings count as "covers" or are they just considered heavy sampling? I'm thinking of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" reimagined as "Come With Me" and The Police's "Every Breath You Take" reimagined as "I'll Be Missing You."
posted by amyms at 7:24 PM on September 24, 2007


As it happens, Sparks did The Greatest Cover of All Time: an indescribable take on the Beatles' 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.' Speaking as a Beatles fan, it's the greatest version of the song ever recorded. If slow and schmaltzy is your style, you've got to track it down. My copy of Big Beat has it as a bonus track.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:36 PM on September 24, 2007


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds covered "Wanted Man", a song which Dylan had written for Johnny Cash. The Bad Seeds version was so different from the original that the band had to get Dylan's permission to release it under the same name. You can hear it on an album called "The Firstborn is Dead".
posted by bunglin jones at 9:23 PM on September 24, 2007


Nina Simone reworked "House of the Rising Son" and "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

The Flying Lizards - It was pretty much half their shtick
This Mortal Coil, likewise, only it's obviously not a shtick. (Although some might say affectation.) Along with Eugene Chadbourne, they made me a huge fan of Tim Buckley long before I knew he existed.

I like of Daniel Johnston, and I get a kick out of the many reworkings of his songs by musicians who can, oh, carry a tune. "Walking the Cow" has been covered by fIREHOSE, Pearl Jam, K. McCarty, and TV on the Radio (film student fan video).

The Sun City Girls did an album of covers called Midnight Cowboys from Ipanema, probably while under the influence of something pretty strong. Depending on your perspective, "Fly By Night" is either a triumph or an embarrassing wide miss.

What about traditional songs that get reworked in various styles? Check out Josh White's version of "In My Time of Dyin'", then try the versions by Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and Tom Brosseau. For even more examples, Sound Opinions traced the evolution of "In the Pines" from Leadbelly to Nirvana and more. You can see the list (scroll down to footnote #5) and download the podcast here.

Speaking of Leadbelly, Ram Jam!
posted by hydrophonic at 11:00 PM on September 24, 2007


Also, no one has mentioned the White Stripes/Joss Stone "Fell In Love With a Girl/Boy" dyad. Stripes = high energy, punky; Joss = v. bluesy and soulful. Honestly can't remember which came first at this point.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:08 AM on September 25, 2007


One more:

Galaxie 500 - Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste. They turned the Modern Lovers a cappella version into an extended dreamy guitar dirge.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:50 AM on September 25, 2007


The Sun City Girls did an album of covers called Midnight Cowboys from Ipanema, probably while under the influence of something pretty strong. Depending on your perspective, "Fly By Night" is either a triumph or an embarrassing wide miss.

Their version of "Tell Me Something Good" is really quite something too.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:10 AM on September 25, 2007


Break My Body (Pixies) by Hanne Hukkelberg
posted by hootch at 2:32 PM on September 25, 2007


The Supremes' You Keep Me Hanging On covered by Vanilla Fudge and then by Kim Wilde (whose version is actually probably closer to Vanilla Fudge's)
posted by evilcolonel at 11:09 PM on September 25, 2007


Following up on the earlier mention of The Cardigans, they do several Black Sabbath covers, all fairly straight but with a nice pop twist. Their Emmerdale disc has "Sabbath Bloody Sabath." First Band on the Moon has "Iron Man."
posted by wheat at 1:47 PM on September 26, 2007


Apocalyptica - One. Four cellos instrumental cover of Metallica's "One." They released a whole album of just Metallica covers.

I have to say, I've never seen that video until just now. They rock pretty fucking hard during that song. I dig the tailpiece cam.
posted by jeversol at 7:11 PM on September 26, 2007


It's an old folk tune so i'm sure lots of people have done versions, but compare Nick Cave's version of "Stagger Lee" to "The Great Stacker Lee" done by Jonny & Shugee Otis.
posted by robotot at 6:50 PM on September 27, 2007


I gotta third Nouvelle Vague. I really like its covers of "Dancing with Myself" and "Guns of Brixton."
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:40 PM on September 28, 2007


This q seems to have spawned a post on the blue in which more interesting covers can be found.
posted by caddis at 7:10 AM on September 29, 2007


Yeah, I'd noticed that, caddis. Somehow I'm not surprised this post didn't get a via, though...

And thanks once again to all you hiveminders out there!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:19 AM on September 29, 2007


« Older "Who's got a good ghost s...   |  I love the piano in Piazzolla'... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post