Modern Cover Question
January 17, 2005 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Nina Gordon has just recorded a cover of Straight Outta Compton. It rules. Johnny Cash did One, Jeff Buckley did Hallelujah, The Gourds did Gin and Juice. Any other Better-Than-The-First-Time covers?

More Nina Gordon covers on her site.

And I know covers is a rejected term in some circles, but I can't think of a better one that doesn't sound wank.
posted by bonaldi to Media & Arts (199 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
It's definitely funny, but better than the original? Nina Gordon's good, but she ain't Eazy. I think you just wanted to link to a song that you like.

That said, I love Billy Bragg, but Mary Lou Lord's version of "Ontario, Quebec and Me" is a vast improvement on the original.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:06 AM on January 17, 2005

Zumpano's cover of 'Changes' by the zombies. The original is spacious and plodding. The cover is sharp-edged, evolving pop. I'm hosting the file here.
posted by adamkempa at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2005

Shane MacGowan's cover of "Cracklin' Rosie" is really wonderful, and blows Neil Diamond's shmaltzy version away.
posted by kickerofelves at 10:13 AM on January 17, 2005

Uncle Tupelo's version of "Dead Flowers" blows the Rolling Stones' version away.
posted by jeffmshaw at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2005

Sid Vicious, "My Way".
posted by mlis at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2005

Nine Inch Nails' cover of "Memorabilia" beats the Soft Cell version any day of the week.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:16 AM on January 17, 2005

Um, this isn't better than the original at all. It's trying too hard to be funny and doesn't respect the "gist" of the original song at all while adding a new perspective--which a really good cover should do.

posted by nixerman at 10:17 AM on January 17, 2005

Son Volt's cover of Ron Wood's "Mystifies Me"
posted by Gortuk at 10:19 AM on January 17, 2005

I actually downloaded a fantastic cover of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You", but I have no idea who's singing. It was billed as Pedro The Lion, but I've heard his and it's not the same. Not Flickerstick, not Jewel. So..uhh..if anyone knows that...

And the Barenaked Ladies do a cover of Richard Cockburn's "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" that will cause you to rethink your opinion on the group (at least, if you view them as a novelty gimmick).
posted by redsparkler at 10:20 AM on January 17, 2005

Twist and Shout, the Beatles. Definitive.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:22 AM on January 17, 2005

Ooh, I think there's a ton, but off the top of my head ... the Gypsy King's killer cover of 'Hotel California' (see the Jesus bowling sequence in The Big Lebowski), Cash's cover of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' the Wedding Present's cover of Orange Juice's 'Felicity,' Cornelius' version of 'Brazil,' and live/bootleg Sex Pistols version of Iggy's 'No Fun.' Great reminisce question!
posted by carter at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2005

Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor's "Hurt."
posted by availablelight at 10:25 AM on January 17, 2005

Peter Paul & Mary, "Blowin' in the Wind"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:26 AM on January 17, 2005

The Ramones' 'Do ya wanna dance.'
posted by carter at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2005

Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah is NOT better than Cohen's.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2005

Foo Fighters doing "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty
posted by gwint at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2005

When I was looking for road-trip music, user baltimore directed me to coverville. I don't know how good a lot of the stuff is, but you might be interested in it.
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2005

The Bangles, "Hazy Shade of Winter."
posted by escabeche at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2005

Lydia Lunch and Rowland E. Howard's cover of "Some Velvet Morning" might be better than the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood version. Or it might just be eerier.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2005

I've not heard the original (so maybe I shouldn't comment), and Bob Mould didn't like it, but Therapy's cover of "Husker Du's" Diane was superb.

The Wildhearts' cover of Jason And The Scorchers' "White Lies" is stunning.
posted by TheDonF at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2005

I love the Scissors Sister's Comfortably Numb.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2005

Oh, there are loads. I'm slightly cover-obsessed, at the moment.

Afghan Whigs doing (deep breath) TLC's (rather than Radiohead's) Creep, Band Of Gold, Dark End Of The Street, Come See About Me, My World Is Empty Without You, When Doves Cry, If There's A Hell Below (we're All Gonna Go), and a ton more.

Creedence did a massive, 12-minute cover of Heard It Through The Grapevine; the Slits version is even better, and knocks even Marvin's take into a cocked hat.

Yo La Tengo's version of Sun Ra's Nuclear War

The Avengers, Fennesz, Acid Mothers Temple all wrecking Paint It Black.

Got to go eat; will dig out more later.
posted by Len at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2005

Oh, and Lydia Lunch doing Why Don't We Do It In The Road?
posted by Len at 10:37 AM on January 17, 2005

I still like Save Ferris' ska cover of Come On Eileen better than Dexy's Midnight Runners' original.
posted by Handcoding at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2005

Dinosaur Jr's cover of "Just Like Heaven". It's beautiful.
posted by cmonkey at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2005

Cibo Matto's "About A Girl" is way better and weirder than the original Nirvana version.
posted by luriete at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2005

Oh, and I like Skankin' Pickle's cover of "Gates of Steel" more than I like the Devo version.
posted by cmonkey at 10:42 AM on January 17, 2005

Fennesz did Paint It Black?
posted by xmutex at 10:42 AM on January 17, 2005

Joan Jett's cover of the Arrows "I Love Rock And Roll" springs immediately to mind. The Fastbacks cover of the Supersuckers' "On The Couch," is better than the (still very good) original.

Mitch Ryder's post Detroit Wheels hard rock band, simply called Detroit, did a phenomenal cover of the Velvet Underground's "Rock & Roll." It was so good, that Lou Reed is said to have stated "that's what I wanted the song to sound like in the first place."
posted by jonmc at 10:44 AM on January 17, 2005

Elvis Costello does wonders with almost any song he covers, including (but not limited to):
Brinsley Schwartz's "Peace, Love, and Understanding"
Yoko Ono's "Walking on Thin Ice"
Charlie Chaplin's "Smile"
Sleeper's "What Do I Do Now?"
...and the entire Almost Blue album

Another fave:
The Bee Gee's "I Started a Joke" as covered by Low.

Some good covers-only MP3 blogs include Copy, Right? and Chrome Waves.
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2005

Beezus does a great cover of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" which turns into a cover of Joe Hill's "Rebel Girl."

Also great are Cake's version of "I Will Survive" and Travis's version of "Hit Me Baby One More Time." And Wheatus does a really fun cover of "A Little Respect."

And, while OK Go's cover of "This Will Be Our Year" isn't too different from the Zombie's original, I still like it a lot.
posted by amarynth at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2005

I prefer Rufus Wainright's "Hallelujah" over either Cohen's or Buckley's. The Cowboy Junkies' cover of The Bruce's "State Trooper." Uncle Tupelo's cover of CCR's "Effigy."
posted by goatdog at 10:55 AM on January 17, 2005

Hurt covered by Johnny Cash. Made me cry.
posted by Mossy at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2005

- Ivy's cover of The Blow Monkey's "Digging Your Scene"
- Hooverphonic's cover of Depeche Mode's "Shake The Disease"
- John Martyn's cover of Portishead's "Glory Box"
- Cassandra Wilson's cover of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey"
- Cassandra Wilson's cover of Ann Peebles's "I Can't Stand The Rain" (same album as above)
- Robinella's cover of Irene Cara's "What A Feelin'"
- Neko Case's cover of Aretha Franklin's "Runnin' Out of Fools"

There are more. I'll keep thinking.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2005

xmutex: Fennesz did indeed cover Paint It Black
posted by soplerfo at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2005

Dar William's cover of Pierce Pettis' Family is one I like better. In fact, I heard him in concert once say that *he* liked it better, and asked how she did the recording. She apparently replied they'd done it in a hotel room, and he said something like "That's my problem! We've been spending money on these darn studios."

I was really into pop a'cappella for a while, a *very* cover based genre, since it's almost a contest to see what you can do next using only vocals. Much of the time it's a bit cheesy, but there are a few covers that I actually like better than the original. Two of these are on Best of Collegiate A'cappella Vol 1 -- the covers of the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Soul to Squeeze and Kate Bush's This Woman's Work are just excellent.

Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah is NOT better than Cohen's.

Have to disagree. Cohen's performance captures that "conned just like I woulda been by a televangelist" feeling, Buckley turned it into the pure, searing lament that I love. And I like Cohen quite a bit.
posted by weston at 11:05 AM on January 17, 2005

Phish covering Syd Barrett's (of Pink Floyd) Bike.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:06 AM on January 17, 2005

Both the Dictators and the Ramones covers of "California Sun," even though the original is still a fine stomper.
posted by jonmc at 11:07 AM on January 17, 2005

I don't really think it's better than the original (maybe just as good), but I love Big Star's cover of the Velvet Underground's Femme Fatale.
posted by willpie at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2005

Fountains of Wayne also covered "Baby One More Time" and did a fantastic job with it.

I also love REM's covers of "Academy Fight Song" (Mission of Burma) and "Wall of Death" (Richard and Linda Thompson). They do a lot of good covers, actually.

And I never knew Joan Jett's version of "I Love Rock and Roll" was a cover! I learn something new every day. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2005

Dread Zeppelin's version of "Your Time Is Gonna Come".
posted by Zonker at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2005

Oh yeah, and U2 does a live version of "Daydream Believer" that's really good.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:15 AM on January 17, 2005

And I never knew Joan Jett's version of "I Love Rock and Roll" was a cover! I learn something new every day. : )

SisterHavana, here's the backstory. I've heard the original, it's a good bar-band rocker, but Joan Jett's versions blows it away.
posted by jonmc at 11:16 AM on January 17, 2005

Prozak for Lovers - their renditions of Don't Fear the Reaper and Aqualung and such are quite good and quirky.
posted by mrg at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2005

Just talking this morning how much better Iron and Wine's cover of the Flaming Lip's "Waiting For a Superman" is.
posted by Quartermass at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2005

Wierd synergy, Alex Handcoding... just as I read your comment about Come on Eileen, it started playing on my iTunes. CREEPY!

Anyway, no one here has yet mentioned the ultimate example of this, and that is Jimi's cover of Watchtower. (As long as you think that Jimi's version is indeed better).
posted by Inkoate at 11:18 AM on January 17, 2005

Quartermass's post reminded me of what it probably my favorite cover -- Iron & Wine's cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" is terrific, and very different from the original. Some of my friends that like the original think the cover is depressing, but I think it seems much more intimate.
posted by amarynth at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2005

Also, while I have a soft spot for Sonny & Cher, I love Etta James' cover of "I Got You Babe," where she makes it funky somehow. The aforemetioned Dictators version of it on their classic first album is a masterpiece of goony humor, as well.
posted by jonmc at 11:25 AM on January 17, 2005

Ugh. I just downloaded Dinosaur Jr.'s cover of "Just Like Heaven". This is an improvement over the original? This is beautiful? Ugh.
posted by jdroth at 11:26 AM on January 17, 2005

The Pixies covers of The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Head On", and The Beatles "Wild Honey Pie"...

And "In Heaven" from Eraserhead, but that's not really a cover, I guess.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2005

- Stevie Ray Vaughan's cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)"
- Pet Shop Boys's cover of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" (incorporated into their cover of U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name")
- Jimmy Somerville's cover of Gloria Gaynor's "Never Can Say Goodbye"
- Rufus Wainwright & Ben Folds covering George Michael's "Careless Whisper"
posted by grabbingsand at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2005

I can't believe this hasn't been said yet, but Devo's version of "Satisfaction" is one of the greatest remakes ever.
posted by glyphlet at 11:33 AM on January 17, 2005

Oh yeah - Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect" brought the house down back then, still does today. How could I forget about that one.
posted by glyphlet at 11:34 AM on January 17, 2005

And sometimes, the opposite is true ...

Like Big Mama Thornton's thunderous 1952 original of Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog."
posted by grabbingsand at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2005

true, grabbingsand, but on the other hand his version of "That's Alright, Mama," is superior to Arthur Crudup's. Rod Stewart's "Reason To Believe," is better than Tim Hardin's mainly because Rod has the far superior voice and it's a perfect match of singer to song.
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2005

That Nina Gordon "Straight Outta Compton" is fantastic - I played it at a poker party last night a people were gasping for air. Here are more great covers - I'll host a couple of them that are hard to find:

Edson "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"
The Scala Choir "I Touch Myself"
Cat Power "Satisfaction"
Langley Schools Music Project "Desperado"
They Might Be Giants "Jessica"
Ben Folds "In Between Days"
Go To Blazes "OD'd In Denver"
Dennis Brown "Wichita Lineman"

and I may be crossing the cheeseline here but Gwyneth Paltrow's version of "Bette Davis Eyes" from the movie Duets is impossibly sexy.
posted by nicwolff at 11:40 AM on January 17, 2005

Also, Dion's (yes, that Dion) interpretation of Tom Waits' "Heart Of Saturday Night," is by no means superior to the original, but it's definitely an interesting take on the tune and it suits his voice well. I believe Waits himself once said it was his favorite cover of it.
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2005

oh, nicwolff, Kim Carnes' version of "Bette Davis Eyes," is a cover, too. Jackie DeShannon (of "When You Walk In The Room" fame) did it first.
posted by jonmc at 11:43 AM on January 17, 2005

Diana Krall's version of Cry me a river gives me goosebumps.
posted by ramix at 11:50 AM on January 17, 2005

Luther Wright and the Wrongs do a pretty good cover of Floyd in "Rebuild the Wall."
posted by sled at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2005

Plus Flatt & Scruggs' bluegrass cover of the Monkees' "Last Train To Clarksville," is terrific, too, and Skeeter Davis country interpretation of Little Peggy March's "I Will Follow," although to get the full effect of that number you need to hear March's own version, sung in Japanese.

Also, Vanilla Fudge had a breif heyday in the late sixties doing sludgy psychedic covers of songs like the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On," and the Impressions' "People Get Ready." They also spawned the career of journeyman hard-rock drummer Carmine Appice.

Fudge actually spawned some imitators, like Lexington Avenue Local who offerred their turgidbass-heavy cover of the Association's "Along Comes Mary."

Frijid Pink fuzz and wah-wah drenched cover of the folk chestnut "House Of The Rising Sun," belongs in a museum of wonderfully wretched excess as well. They unleashed the same treatment on "Heartbreak Hotel," belive it or not, with similar results.
posted by jonmc at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2005

OK, two last ones, The Chicago Line's stomping version of "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop," (featuring future Pretty Things drummer Viv Prince) makes Little Anthony & the Imperials sound positively anemic. And I'm a huge Marvin Gaye fan but The Band's version of "Baby, Don't Do It," ranks among Levon & the Boys best moments.

Alright, I'll shut up now.
posted by jonmc at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2005

Patti Smith, "Gloria"
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2005

....and from the band of a thousand covers (Pearl Jam)
Baba O'Reily (The Who) so good...

Rockin' In The Free World (Neil Young) makes me dance and scream and shout....

Patriot (Steven Van Zant) even better then the original
posted by ShawnString at 11:59 AM on January 17, 2005


Eye of the Tiger.

posted by emelenjr at 12:02 PM on January 17, 2005

NOFX - Vincent (Don McLean original)
posted by knave at 12:02 PM on January 17, 2005

That is, Eye in the Sky.

I think I'll just get up from my desk now.
posted by emelenjr at 12:03 PM on January 17, 2005

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes do a god job with almost everything they touch. Additionally, Travis did some terrific covers. There was a version of "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" floating around Napster at the same time as Fountains of Wayne's. In concert Travis did fantastic versions of The Band's "The Weight" and AC/DC's "Back in Black," though the covers veered a little too close to impersonations.
posted by yerfatma at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2005

Richard Thompson's version of ""Oops! I Did It Again"
posted by maurice at 12:11 PM on January 17, 2005

tori amos: "i'm on fire"
posted by katie at 12:14 PM on January 17, 2005

Lou Reed himself had high praise for Duran Duran's version of "Perfect Day." Not so much high praise for their cover of Public Enemy's "911 Is a Joke" but we won't talk about that.
posted by Dreama at 12:17 PM on January 17, 2005

Swamp Dogg's country soul version of John Prine's "Sam Stone."
posted by jonmc at 12:17 PM on January 17, 2005

Tori's cover of "I'm On Fire" is stunning ... however, the bootleg recording -- at least, the one I have -- is interrupted right after the first verse ... right in this little pocket of silence ... by some idiot fanboy screaming "I LOVE YOU!"

I hate you, fanboy.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2005

I'd like to second cmonkey's opinion of Dinosaur Jr.'s Just Like Heaven. It's truly transcendent.

Camper Van Beethoven's cover of Black Flag's "Wasted" is another inspired re-working. Both are tunes that sort of invert the original.

On preview: Tori Amos' version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is terrific, too, as is the Charlie Hunter Trio's jazz rendition of "Come As You Are" (which 'quotes' the opening riff from Teen Spirit). Guess I like covers that shift genres.
posted by jeffmshaw at 12:21 PM on January 17, 2005

Holy ... I forgot another.

- The Sunday's cover of The Rolling Stone's "Wild Horses"
posted by grabbingsand at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2005

Nina Simone's version of "I Shall Be Released" is far better than any other version.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2005

I'm late to the party, but Nevermore's version of S&G's Sound of Silence is my canonical example of a better-than-original cover song. (Not everyone would agree.)

Children of Bodom's The Final Countdown is another (hard to find) candidate.

And yeah, definitely the Richard Thompson version of Oops! I did it again.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:29 PM on January 17, 2005

Annie Lennox's "Train In Vain" (reluctantly and grudgingly)
posted by Heatwole at 12:31 PM on January 17, 2005

The Clash "I Fought The Law"
posted by thirdparty at 12:35 PM on January 17, 2005

Arguably, Talking Heads' cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River."
posted by booth at 12:35 PM on January 17, 2005

I second The Bangles, "Hazy Shade of Winter."

I also like The Cramps version of Fever (found on Songs the Lord Taught Us CD), it being better or not is I'm sure down to personal taste.
posted by ModestyBCatt at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2005

Nevermore's Sound of Silence is here; get it while it lasts.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:41 PM on January 17, 2005

Sarah Machlachlan's "Dear God" is amazing.
Andy Summers & Gustavo Cerati doing "Bring on the Night" in Spanish ("Traeme la Noche") is wunderbar, though it's not a pure cover as Summers played on the original version.
Goldfinger doing "99 luftballons". Not sure if its better than Nena, but it adds something.
posted by signal at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2005

- Violent Femmes do a great cover of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"
- I like NIN's version of "Suck" better than the Pigface original, but it's barely a cover since Reznor participated in the original.
- Nirvana's cover of "The Man Who Sold the World" isn't necessarily better than Bowie's, but it's really, really good.
- And speaking of Bowie, his cover of Iggy Pop's "China Girl" is sexier while retaining the inherent creepiness.
posted by me3dia at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2005

Bjork much? She has an entire album of jazz standards covered in Icelandic. Two songs are delivered in English: I Can't Help Loving That Man and Ruby Baby. Just great stuff.
posted by fatllama at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2005

Anything recorded in Jamaica from 1960 - 1974.
posted by Eamon at 1:18 PM on January 17, 2005

I find a lot of popsongs with wretched lyrics become quite pleasant in mandarin or cantonese versions.
e.g. Faye Wong's cover of the Cranberries' Dreams (aka Dream Person).
posted by Zetetics at 1:20 PM on January 17, 2005

This is said in utter sincerity - I think that Steve and Eydie's cover of "Black Hole Sun" is amazing and far better than Soundgarden's original.
posted by tristeza at 1:21 PM on January 17, 2005

Chris Smither's Desolation Row is right up there for me.
posted by The White Hat at 1:39 PM on January 17, 2005

This could just go on and on. One I can't believe no one mentioned is Aztec Camera's transcendent acoustic version of Van Halen's "Jump" -- my gold standard example of the cover that both radically changes the sound/approach of the original and leaves it in the dust.

And once Camper Van Beethoven was mentioned, I thought immediately of their almost straight-ahead cover of Ringo Starr's "Photograph" -- not the same thing, since they don't reinvent the song at all. But they give it a freshness and sincerity that made its appealing qualities stand out. (Or maybe I just liked it more because it was CVB?)

sonofsamiam is dead on about Patti Smith's "Gloria" too.

The covers of Roxy Music's "2HB" and "Ladytron" that appeared in Velvet Goldmine (Thom Yorke singing, and I forget who else in the band) are, in my view, improvements on the original performances. But I'm sure real Roxy Music fans would find this verdict unpalatable.

Finally, I think the Rickie Lee Jones/Joe Jackson cover of Steely Dan's "Show Biz Kids" crackles in a fantastic way, and elevates the song to a higher level than the original recording.
posted by BT at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2005

And then there's Moody Bluegrass, A Nashville Tribute to the Moody Blues.
posted by emelenjr at 1:43 PM on January 17, 2005

Senor Coconut "latinized" kraftwerk is fun even after repeated listening.
posted by Hash at 1:48 PM on January 17, 2005

Apocalyptica is pretty great. They're four Finnish cellists that cover various metal songs. Very cool.

Two geeks. A stack of synthesizers. The best version of "Hotel California" ever. The Moog Cookbook.
posted by glyphlet at 1:52 PM on January 17, 2005

I second The Bangles, "Hazy Shade of Winter."

Well, I wasn't gonna say it until it got seconded--but I prefer the original. Not that the Bangles' version isn't good, too.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:59 PM on January 17, 2005

Second Richard Thompson's "Oops! I Did It Again", and propose John Cale's "Heartbreak Hotel".
posted by kenko at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2005

Radiohead's cover of Can's "Thief" is really great. Seconded re: Hooverphonic's Shake the Disease.
posted by abcde at 2:12 PM on January 17, 2005

Coil's cover of "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell is by far the best, and here's why:

1) Its not just a cover, its a meta-cover (a cover of a cover).

2) The music is completely different, not just slightly updated.

3) Its not just a tongue-in-cheek parody. Coil sings the same lyrics but gives them an entirely different, darker interpretation merely through their inflection - turning a pretty run-of-the-mill breakup song into a commentary on HIV/AIDS.
posted by googly at 2:13 PM on January 17, 2005

I think Ben Folds Five brought something special to "She Don't Use Jelly", originally by the Flaming Lips.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 2:21 PM on January 17, 2005

Ragnar Bjarnason: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Joe Cocker: "With a Little Help From My Friends"
posted by TimeFactor at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2005

Old And In The Way (Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, John Kahn, Vassar Clements) doing a bluegrass version of the Jagger/Richards standard "Wild Horses."

Johnny Cash covering Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman."

Tom Jones and the Art Of Noise performing Prince's "Kiss."
posted by enrevanche at 2:35 PM on January 17, 2005

Coil's cover of Tainted Love is, indeed, fucking wonderful.

Also, Numb's cover of Goblin's "Suspiria".
posted by Jairus at 2:45 PM on January 17, 2005

I have to mention "Denis," by Blondie, which is a cover of "Denise" by Randy and the Rainbows. LOVE it.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:59 PM on January 17, 2005

Thanatos (mid 90's darkwave / Projekt group) did a great version of Body Count's infamous 'Copkiller' which turned it into a gothic anthem.

Would go well on a compilation disc with Nina's version of Compton.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the AC/DC bluegrass album. Great for clearing the room when the party has gone a bit too late.
posted by pandaharma at 3:07 PM on January 17, 2005

Uncle Tupelo's version of "Dead Flowers" blows the Rolling Stones' version away.

jeffmshaw, I think you mean Townes Van Zandt (see his album "Roadsongs"). It's a fantastic performance, and yeah, it blows the Stones' version away.
posted by funkbrain at 3:33 PM on January 17, 2005

The Sonics' cover of 'Jenny Jenny,' originally by Little Richard. Incredible. For those who might not know, The Sonics are the missing link between 50s rock and 70s punk... you can find their cover of 'Jenny Jenny' here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 3:48 PM on January 17, 2005

The Balanescu Quartet's version of Kraftwerk's "ROBOTS"

Snake River Conspiracy's version of The Cure's "LOVESONG"

and Beck's version of "DIAMOND DOGS" really gives Bowie's a run for the money.
posted by sciurus at 3:54 PM on January 17, 2005

Damn. Lots of good stuff recommended (I'll second Devo's take on Satisfaction, which I completely forgot about).

Some others:

Blondie doing Hanging On The Telephone (originally by The Nerves, though most people reckon it's a Blondie original).

Nouvelle Vague (they did an entire album of punk/post punk covers, including Too Drunk To Fuck and The Specials's Saturday Night, Sunday Morning) covering The Clash's Guns Of Brixton.

Cristina reworking Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is?

Arab Strap doing AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long.

The Delgados covering both California Uber Alles and ELO's Mr Blue Sky.

The Associates's covers of Heart Of Glass and Love Hangover.

Bis's take on Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, and their cover of A Certain Ratio's cover of Banbarra's Shack Up (all three of which I recommend).

Nick Cave's hilarious cover of Pulp's Disco 2000.

Husker Du doing The Byrds's Eight Miles High.

The Walkabouts (they've done so many covers, but these are my favourites) playing Dylan's Maggie's Farm, and Charlie Rich's Feel Like Goin' Home, which has the added bonus of having Mark Lanegan growling his way through the verses.

Oh, and that reminds me: Lanegan and Kurt Cobain covering Where Did You Sleep Last Night, a version that makes even the Nirvana Unplugged take sound tame.

Someone up-thread mentioned anything recorded in Jamaica between 1960 and 1974, and I'd second that, particularly anything touched by the hand of Lee Perry; I remember a great version of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow that he did, but there are literally thousands of others ...
posted by Len at 4:20 PM on January 17, 2005

The Sonics' cover of 'Jenny Jenny,' originally by Little Richard. Incredible.

The Sonics are fucking incredible, and they do give Little Richard a run for their money, which is saying a lot. For something in a similar vein, the Readymen's cover of the folk chestnut "Shortnin' Bread," is similarly insane.
posted by jonmc at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2005

While they usually annoy me, the Chili Pepper's version of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground was pretty sweet. I like Devo, but find their version of Satisfaction unlistenable. I'll second the Pixie's version of Head On, and while I can't believe I'm writing this (losing all my indie cred here) Bob Seger's live version of CCR's Fortunate Son is pretty kick ass.

Hmmm.... Camper Van Beethoven's Pictures of Matchstick Men.

Wall of Voodoo (along with 674 other bands) did a cool version of Ring of Fire.

Too Much Joy did a loving interpretation of Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun.

Mitch Ryder's post Detroit Wheels hard rock band, simply called Detroit, did a phenomenal cover of the Velvet Underground's "Rock & Roll." It was so good, that Lou Reed is said to have stated "that's what I wanted the song to sound like in the first place."

Jon, I thought Lou said that about the Cowboy Junkies' version of Sweet Jane, though I'll concede Rock & Roll sounds more likely.
posted by jalexei at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2005

Nina Simone's version of 'My Sweet Lord' is pretty cool. Goes for eighteen minutes if my memory serves me correctly but is definitely worth the wait. I will have others...
posted by bdave at 4:39 PM on January 17, 2005

Some of my favorites:

"What a Fool Believes" by Self (Doobie Bros on toy instruments!)
"I.G.Y. (What a Wonderful World)" by Howard Jones (sounds optimistic where Fagen sounded cynical)
"Be My Baby" by Ivy (slow and sultry version of this Spector classic)
"Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Emm Gryner (does for Def Leppard what Tori Amos did for Nirvana -- she did a whole album of covers called "Girl Versions")
"Round and Round" by the Meat Purveyors (another hard rock tune covered as bluegrass)
"Jump" by Aztec Camera (you'll wonder why you know the lyrics even though you've never heard the song before)
"Common People" by William Shatner (DUH!)
"Higher Ground" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (they 0wn this song, sorry Stevie)

Had a discussion about covers on my blog a couple years ago, you might find some more good suggestions there. I know I did! (I have a substantial Covers playlist in iTunes now.)
posted by kindall at 4:41 PM on January 17, 2005

Jon, I thought Lou said that about the Cowboy Junkies' version of Sweet Jane, though I'll concede Rock & Roll sounds more likely.

Yeah, mainly because that song needs to a) rock hard, which Ryder's band does, and it demands to be sung, and while Lou Reed is great at many things, Mitch Ryder far outstips him as a vocalist. And as much as Lou was influenced by the avant-garde stylings of John Zorn etc, a big part of his heart belonged to pure rock and roll of the variety Mitch specialized in.
posted by jonmc at 4:49 PM on January 17, 2005

Ummm, I also really like Gene Simmon's version of When You Wish Upon A Star.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In the same vein (i.e. from one of the Kiss solo albums) is Ace Frehley's cover of Back in the New York Groove which I think was by a band called Hello.
posted by bdave at 4:49 PM on January 17, 2005

Yup, it was indeed Hello, who themselves did a very nice cover of "Let's Spend The Night Together," which David Bowie covered on his whole album of 60's covers, Pin-Ups some of which were quite good.

Stop me before I morph into Matt Pinfield.
posted by jonmc at 4:57 PM on January 17, 2005

Bauhaus slays on T-Rex's "Telegram Sam" and Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust."
posted by black8 at 5:01 PM on January 17, 2005

Ooh yes. Pinups. Damn I used to love that album... saw Bowie last year, it was so good.

posted by bdave at 5:01 PM on January 17, 2005

I can't believe I'm writing this (losing all my indie cred here) Bob Seger's live version of CCR's Fortunate Son is pretty kick ass.

jalexei, actually it gains you cred with serious rock scholars, because Seger's early work (pre-nationwide breakout, esp. pre Against The Wind) was very rockin', mostly either credible blue-eyed soul or garage rock of almost proto-punk intesnity. The MC5 and Jon Landau said that when the went into record Back In The USA they used Seger's original version of "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" as their sonic model. And you don't get more cred than that, bro. And "Get Out Of Denver" (one of the great Chuck Berry lifts ever) was covered by Brit new wave pioneers, Eddie & the Hot Rods.
posted by jonmc at 5:02 PM on January 17, 2005

And as much as Lou was influenced by the avant-garde stylings of John Zorn etc

I never really though of Zorn as an influence on Lou Reed, more the other way around in some respects. Did you maybe mean John Cage?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:04 PM on January 17, 2005

Actually, you're right, PST. I have only marginal knowledge of that feild of music. Hopefully, my point made it out of my garbling intact.
posted by jonmc at 5:06 PM on January 17, 2005

Nearly anything by Richard Cheese if you're into smartass lounge-style pop covers. His take on Radiohead's Creep is remarkably catchy.

Dokaka multitracks himself humming death metal songs, mainly. His version of Smells Like Teen Spirit is spectacular.

Also, Hendrix covering Dylan's All Along the Watchtower is considered by many to be the definitive version. He also did a nice version of the American national anthem, if I recall correctly.
posted by Luther Blissett at 5:11 PM on January 17, 2005

Your ditch was indeed dug.

Not a better cover per se, but The Residents' Third Reich and Roll is an interesting medley of twisted covers from the sixties and early seventies. Particularly chilling is a limping version of Poppa's Got a Brand new Bag, sung in German, by a woman, with the horn stings from the original sampled in.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:11 PM on January 17, 2005

...oh and if my soapboxing failed, this picture of Bob hanging out with Handsome Dick Manitoba back in the day should cement Seger's punk rock cred.
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on January 17, 2005

My favorites follow, but a good resource for cool covers is here.

Arab Strap - Van Halen's "Why Can't This Be Love?"
Placebo - Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill"
Death Cab For Cutie - Bjork's "All is Full of Love"
Juno - DJ Shadow's "High Noon" as performed by a live rock band. Jaw dropping in concert.
Snow Patrol - Beyonce's "Crazy In Love"
David Byrne - Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
Built To Spill - Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" and Cheap Trick's "The Dream Police"
Cat Power - Mary J. Blige's "Deep Inside"
Sparklehorse - Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here"
Pavement - Echo and the Bunnymen's "Under a Killing Moon"
Nada Surf - OMD's "If You Leave"
The Postal Service - Phil Collin's "Against All Odds"
Tresspasser's William - Ride's "Vapour Trail"

Not Neccesarily better, but Ivy's cover of "Let's Go to Bed" is TERRIFIC
Second the Afghan Whig's version of TLC's "Creep." Seek it out.
posted by Heminator at 5:17 PM on January 17, 2005

Also, to get back to the original question, the Flamin' Groovies cover of "Absolutely Sweet Marie" cuts Dylan's original to shreds, as does Jason & The Scorchers version (audio here, scroll to row 3).
posted by jonmc at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2005

I prefer Lassigue Bendthaus' cover of "Angie" by the Rolling Stones. In fact most of the songs on Pop Artificielle are better than the originals I think.

Not sure if I would say better, but the Nouvelle Vague version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is good too. Their cover of "Teenage Kicks" however is not.
posted by too many notes at 5:51 PM on January 17, 2005

...oh and if my soapboxing failed...

I'm with you Jon - and even in his later era Chevy commercial schlock, it's clear the man has an amazing bucket o' gravel voice.

A few others I thought of doing dishes:

The Who's version of Young Man Blues off of Live At Leeds. It's easy to imagine that song was written for Roger Daltrey's voice (and Keith Moon's drumming). As a historical side note - when Jagger was busted for pot, The Who recorded versions of Under My Thumb and The Last Time to "keep the Stones' music out there for the people while they're suffering through this injustice." Magnanimous, I know - I'm sure some extra PR for The Who was the furthest thing from their minds...

My Drug Hell's version of Girl At the Bus Stop.

Robyn Hitchcock has lovely solo acoustic versions of the Psychedelic Furs' Ghost in You and Roxy Music's More Than This.

And one of my favorite cover collections is the Sweet Relief benefit album for Victoria Williams. Great versions of her material from Lou Reed, Matthew Sweet, Shudder to Think, Pearl Jam, Buffalo Tom, the Jayhawks, etc.

And I will still, to this day, harmonize loudly with Debbie Gibson's version of I Think We're Alone Now. You may hate me now.
posted by jalexei at 5:51 PM on January 17, 2005

....and Aretha Franklin's cover of The Band's "The Weight" dosen't surpass the original, but it is a great record, and it features a very young Duane Allman on guitar.

Sorry for all the recs, but it's not often I get to show off my expertise, and this thread is close to my heart, so thanks, bonaldi.
posted by jonmc at 6:09 PM on January 17, 2005

Hands down, Biz Markie's rendition of Bennie and the Jets. I heard it on a flexi that came in an issue of Grand Royal, though I'm sure it had to be released somewhere else
posted by cosmonaught at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2005

also "Wild Thing" by Senator Bobby (actor Bill Minken imitating Bobby Kennedy) has to be heard to be believed.
posted by jonmc at 6:30 PM on January 17, 2005

Thanks all. Beautiful things here. This is going to batter my bank account, once again.
posted by bonaldi at 6:33 PM on January 17, 2005

And some more:

(Since someone mentioned his covers album) LB doing Jealous Guy is frankly staggering, though this may be to do with the fact that it was an end-of-night staple at a friend's club, and is thus wrapped up in chemically-induced euphoria; even without that, though, it would still be amazing.

AC/DC doing Baby Please Don't Go; Anita Lane (with Nick Cave on backing vocals) doing Sexual Healing; Big Black doing Kraftwerk's The Model (honourable mention to Ride for covering the same, though it's more of a curiosity than anything else); both Bowie and Nina Simone covering Wild Is The Wind; James Chance and the Contortions doing Jailhouse Rock and I Got You (I Feel Good), because he injects a weirdo free jazz funk feeling into both; Carol Cool rendering Diana Ross's Upside Down as a lazy reggae swing number; Chris Farlowe (the original singer of Handbags and Gladrags, since covered by Rod Stewart and then desecrated by The Stereophonics) singing Paint It Black; Billie Rae Martin doing Throbbing Gristle's Persuasion (best line: "I've got a little tin, that I keep your panties in"); Sonic (Ciccone) Youth doing Madonna's Into The Groove(y), which is so much better than the original that it beggars belief; Diamanda Galas covering My World Is Empty Without You and making it sound like an invitation to join Satan's ranks; Electralane's take on Springsteen's I'm On Fire; The God Machine's spooky cover of Peggy Lee's Fever (and Lizzie Mercier Descloux's take on the same, where she reworks the lyrics to make the entire thing about a tumour); Grace Jones doing Joy Division's She's Lost Control; the Happy Mondays's cover of John Kongos's Step On; Dani Siciliano's version of Come As You Are; Jesus & Mary Chain's Surfin USA, which is about as far from shiny, sunny California as you can conceive; Julee Cruise's cover of It's The End Of The World As We Know It; Justus Koehncke covering Neil Young's Old Man; the Creepers's cover of Brian Eno's Baby's On Fire; Saint Etienne's cover of Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart; Schneider TM's heartbreaking, gorgeous cover of the Smiths's Ther Is A Light That Never Goes Out; Shellac doing AC/DC's Jailbreak; Teenage Fanclub doing Big Star's Free Again; Shinehead's cover of Billie Jean ...
posted by Len at 6:35 PM on January 17, 2005

Someone mentioned Neko Case's cover of "Running Out of Fools". She has a lot of amazing covers, including a version of Tom Waits' "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis," which I greatly prefer.

And I second Iron & Wine's version of "Such Great Heights."

Also, Joan Jett rocked a lot of covers. She does a version of the Mary Tyler Moore theme that makes me oh, so happy.
posted by SoftRain at 7:02 PM on January 17, 2005

No hate, jalexei. But of course, you didn't mean Ms. Gibson -- you warble along with Tiffany's cover of that Tommy James & the Shondells song.

And I third that vote for Iron & Wine's version of "Such Great Heights."

Ooh, ooh, one more: The Wedding Present's cover of "Felicity" has been mentioned, but they also tear apart and make better stronger faster Steve Harley's "Make Me Smile." (jonmc, that one is particularly worthy of your time if you don't already know it).
posted by BT at 7:11 PM on January 17, 2005

No hate, jalexei. But of course, you didn't mean Ms. Gibson -- you warble along with Tiffany's cover of that Tommy James & the Shondells song.

Ahh - thank you - I'm somewhat relieved I can't tell them apart.
posted by jalexei at 7:19 PM on January 17, 2005

BT, I'll hunt it down. BTW, where ya been, man?
posted by jonmc at 7:20 PM on January 17, 2005

One more random one:

James Brown covering David Bowie's "Fame"........or is it David Bowie covering James Brown's "Hot (I Need to be Loved Loved Loved Loved Loved)" ???
posted by googly at 7:25 PM on January 17, 2005

The Church's cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer".

Alternatively, Built to Spill's cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer".

The original ain't bad, either.
posted by Jimbob at 7:35 PM on January 17, 2005

I think JC Mellencamp does a fine job of the Hombres "Let it all hang out" (minus the classic spoken intro), Springsteen (who is the king of live, kick ass cover songs in my world) does great versions of "7 nights to rock", "Who'll Stop the Rain?" and of course "War" (originally done by Moon Mullican, CCR and Edwin Starr, respectively). I am another cover song junkie! Oh, Cassandra Wilson's version of "Shelter From The Storm", Shawn Colvin's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and Widespread Panic's take on "And It Stoned Me" have always been in heavy rotation.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 7:37 PM on January 17, 2005

How about PinkStainlessTail's holiday classic, the timeless re-imagining of Jingle Bell Rock? Aptly named Jingle Rock Bell.

I love these threads. I almost always find it refreshing to hear a song I previously enjoyed altered and re-thought. Also, The Dan Band does cool covers like Total Eclipse of the Heart in the movie Old School

Revolting Cocks - Do You Think I'm Sexy - a great edgier version than the Rod Stewart
Cake - I Will Survive - previously mentioned
Dynamite Hack - Boys in the Hood
Ozzy Osbourne - Stayin' Alive - a weak entry but an interesting cover nonetheless
Bigod 20 - Like A Prayer - has anyone been more covered than Madonna?
Zen Mafia - California - more of a re-imagining of Sweet Home Alabama but very cool

At, for your listnening pleasure.
posted by geekyguy at 7:42 PM on January 17, 2005

I've always liked the Bad Livers' cover of "Lust for Life" and even more so now that Iggy's sold the damn thing to Carnival Cruises.

More recently, White Magic's cover of "Plain Gold Ring" is sublime.

This thread makes me miss dobbs even more. If you're poking your head in and cursing us for all the good we've forgotten, then come on home, sweetie.
posted by melissa may at 7:54 PM on January 17, 2005

Fluid "Our Love Will Still Be There" (by the Troggs)
Junkyard Dogs "Gates Of Steel" (by Devo)
Afghan Whigs "Creep" (by TLC)
Moviola "Factory Girl" (by the Rolling Stones)
Paul K "$1000 Wedding" (by Gram Parsons)
posted by bkeaggy at 8:24 PM on January 17, 2005

L7 also does a good cover of "Hanging on the Telephone."

A couple more:

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers doing "So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star"

Cheap Trick doing "Ain't That A Shame"

Oh yeah, and Tesla's version of "Signs"
posted by SisterHavana at 8:28 PM on January 17, 2005

Hey, would somebody with an immense musical knowledge mind making a fairly objective top 10 or 20 list out of these suggestions? I'd like to get some of them on iTunes, but there's way too many listed here that sound worth trying out.
posted by Hildago at 9:26 PM on January 17, 2005

Geekyguy, you rule! Love those Revolting Cocks.

Shut up. You know what I mean. ;)
posted by bdave at 9:45 PM on January 17, 2005

I'm late to the party, but I have one to add:

Tom Jones (with Art of Noise) covering Kiss (the Prince song)
posted by anastasiav at 9:58 PM on January 17, 2005

Dwight Yoakam covered "Wichita Lineman" with some soaring pedal steel backing that just kicks the ass of the Glen Campbell original.
There's a local radio station that did an album of Chuck Berry tunes. the Bottle Rockets cover "baby come on" in the way only they can.
posted by notsnot at 10:13 PM on January 17, 2005

...and both the Yayhoo and Robbie Fulks versions of Dancing Queen make a new song of it.
posted by notsnot at 10:15 PM on January 17, 2005

Nina Simone's version of Cohen's Suzanne. Oh so beautiful.

" Barenaked Ladies do a cover of Richard Cockburn's 'Lovers In A Dangerous Time'"

And it's Bruce Cockburn, not Richard Cockburn.
posted by geekhorde at 10:30 PM on January 17, 2005

The Meters also cover Wichita Lineman on their album Struttin'... close call but in parts it's definitely got something on Glenn Campbell's version.
posted by bdave at 10:38 PM on January 17, 2005

Tom Jones' (with Stereophonics) cover of Three Dog Night's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" is the most rocking cover ever.

The fantastic cover of "Try a Little Tenderness" in The Commitments is better than Otis Redding's.

Also, Jack Black does a great job with Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" in High Fidelity.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:41 PM on January 17, 2005

Ooh, this is a good question.

I'll say this one, since all you kiddies will have finally heard it since a few months ago. Let me tell you, though, I had it on vinyls years ago:

Pavement's cover of the magnificent REM song "Camera," from their great work "Reckoning," is indeed better than the original.

Oh, and Aretha Franklin's cover of the great Sam Cooke's "A change is gonna come" is better than the original, although she wouldn't say so. And neither would I, if I knew the good Sam was watching. Which I know he is, so I shouldn't say it, should I?

On preview: yes, Heminator, the Pavement cover of "under a killing moon" is quite good. But I don't think it's better than the original. Nor is it as good as their cover of the Fall's "THE CLASSICAL!" (from that same e.p.) which is also not as good as the original. ("An old family favorite" indeed.) Let me take this opportunity to urge you all to BUY A COPY OF HEX ENDUCTION HOUR. This record by the Fall is one of the best records of the 80's. BUY IT NOW.
posted by koeselitz at 10:48 PM on January 17, 2005

also the who "summertime blues"

I could do this all night.
posted by koeselitz at 10:51 PM on January 17, 2005

And two cents for The Recliners. If you know who Richard Cheese is, it's very similar. Lounge-style covers of songs you know. I prefer them to Rich, myself.
posted by stovenator at 10:53 PM on January 17, 2005

Ah yes, the Recliners. There was a recent FPP about them. "Let it be" and all that. Paul Westerberg is great.
posted by koeselitz at 10:55 PM on January 17, 2005

Some of these are wacky, but some of them are surprisingly good: When Pigs Fly. The Fixx's cover of "These Boots are Made for Walking" is just surreal.
posted by kindall at 12:47 AM on January 18, 2005

For an awards show in the mid-90s, PJ Harvey and Björk performed "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones together and it's absolutely amazing. The two of them sound fucking awesome together. I call this as the best cover-that-beats-the-original I've ever heard. No official release but I'm sure it will be easy enough to find through a file-sharing network.

Johnny Cash's version of "I Hung My Head" sounds way more regretful and pained than the original by Sting which, to me, just sounds like Sting singing any one of his songs (although the timing of the original is cool). I think Johnny Cash's version of Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" is better than the original as well, although I do enjoy the original.

Coil's version of "Tainted Love," which I see has been mentioned, and more importantly, the reasons why. It really is amazing how Coil completely transformed that song.

KOMPRESSOR's version of Beck's "Debra." KOMPRESSOR's version is titled "KOMPRESSOR WANT TO GET WITH YOU." I also recommend KOMPRESSOR's version of "Girl From Ipanema" (video available here).

Tool's version of "You Lied" by Peach is colossally better than the original.

Oingo Boingo's version of "You Really Got Me." It's this weird kinda avant garde thing.

kindall mentioned the When Pigs Fly disc. I wouldn't say Ani DiFranco and Jackie Chan's (?!) version of "Unforgettable" is better than the original but it's certainly worth a listen. Jackie Chan sings exactly how you would imagine. Similarly, William Shatner's versions of "Rocket Man" and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" aren't what I would call superior to the originals but I would definitely recommend giving them a listen. The former is amusing and the latter is frightening. Ani DiFranco also sounds good doing a version of "Wishin' and Hopin'" but it's such a completely non-Ani song that I usually don't finish listening to it.

I prefer the Nine Inch Nails version of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" to the original. I prefer Moby's version of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades" as well. In fact, I think I prefer people covering Joy Division to actual Joy Division. And while it's not quite a cover, I think Nine Inch Nails' version of "Suck" is quite superior to the Pigface version (which NI?'s Reznor co-wrote, which is why I say it's not quite a cover). I also prefer the Nine Inch Nails version of Queen's "Get Down Make Love" to the original but I doubt anyone who's enough of a fan of Queen to own at least a couple albums would agree. (I like Queen but don't actually own any Queen albums.)

Also in the not quite a cover category, A Perfect Circle has a song called "The Hollow" and there's a "remix" of it, which is really a complete reworking and rerecording, by the band's former bassist Paz Lenchantin. This version is called the "The Hollow (constantly consuming mix)" and is very different (female vocals, piano focus). I like both versions quite a bit but I like the constantly consuming mix more.

Don't know if this qualifies but the Blind Boys of Alabama have a wonderful version of "Amazing Grace." It's the only version of that song I both appreciate and enjoy listening to repeatedly. Others (such as Ani DiFranco who has a really cool version of the song on Living In Clip) have versions I think are pretty good but are ultimately not ones I have much desire to listen to individually. I first heard the Blind Boys version when they opened for Peter Gabriel and it was breath-taking. The studio version I've heard since then doesn't have anywhere near the same strength but I still like it.

One to watch out for: There's an Irish rock band called Bell X1 and I've heard them do a cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya" that beat the original, in my opinion. I wouldn't be surprised if the group releases it as a b-side one day, considering there's a cover of a Justin Timberlake (I think... either him or one of those other former boy band pop guys) song on a Bell X1 single already.
posted by DyRE at 1:12 AM on January 18, 2005

Oh, and I forgot Marilyn Manson's version of "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)!" Oops.
posted by DyRE at 1:16 AM on January 18, 2005

Marilyn Manson's cover of "I Put a Spell on You" reveals the song for the creepy stalker anthem it always wanted to be.

Also: Art of Noise - Peter Gunn
Richard Cheese - Down With The Sickness (If you haven't heard this, download it now. Especially if you hate the original.)
Propaghandi - I Want You To Want Me
posted by Jairus at 2:13 AM on January 18, 2005

Liz Phair - Banana Splits Theme Song
posted by signal at 4:36 AM on January 18, 2005

I'm late, but want to add Sleater-Kinney's "White Rabbit" to the list. I don't think it's been officially recorded, but they used to sing it as an encore at shows for a while. Also, third/fourth the Afghan Whigs suggestions.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:59 AM on January 18, 2005

Also: the slew of solo-guitar covers of Bowie songs - sung in Portuguese! - in "The Life Aquatic." Demented and oddly compelling
posted by googly at 6:12 AM on January 18, 2005

The Donnas do an absoultely brilliant, satrical, and deeply disturbing rendition of REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You" as well as a neat, punk-ish version of "Da Doo Ron Ron." Jeff Buckley recorded a pretty surprising take on Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do." Los Lobos has an interesting version of "Hotel California": most of it is in Spanish, the rest in heavily accented English. Johnny Cash did "Rusty Cage"; it's beyond belief.

There are countless examples of modern muscians doing really old songs like "Amazing Grace" or "John Brown" and a lot of them are really, really good.

One quick note... A song that's been covered more times than anyone can count without any version ever improving on the original; Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watch Tower".
posted by Clay201 at 6:29 AM on January 18, 2005

One more from me!

Pansy Division's cover of "Flower," originally done by Liz Phair. Fantastic.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:31 AM on January 18, 2005

Fiona Apple's "across the universe" captures the drugged-out bliss better than the original (yes i know i will get hatemail for this)
I like Joe Cocker's "With a little help from my friends" better than the original
Patsy Cline's "Crazy" is technically a cover, i guess...

(and no i dont dislike the beatles, just their early stuff)
posted by softlord at 7:09 AM on January 18, 2005

The Futurehead's "Hounds of Love" is very much awesome.
posted by hughbot at 9:17 AM on January 18, 2005

The piano trio The Bad Plus have done remarkable renditions of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Heart of Glass" and "Iron Man." I cannot recommend them enough.

If you can locate the live Frank Zappa album The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life you will hear several delightful covers, including a version of "Stairway to Heaven" that is almost indescribably rad.
posted by the_bone at 9:17 AM on January 18, 2005

Which, I guess I should mention, is a cover of a Kate Bush song.

But you already knew that.
posted by hughbot at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2005

I'd just like to add Three Mile Pilot's version of Brian Eno's "By This River" and Piebald's stellar cover of Slayer's "South of Heaven" to this list.
posted by saladin at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2005

A song that's been covered more times than anyone can count without any version ever improving on the original; Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watch Tower".

Except, you know, Hendrix's, and Michael Hedges', and several others that are better than Dylan's.
posted by kindall at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

don't forget...

Crispin Glover - These boots were made for walkin'
Dead Moon - Time has come today
The Hunns - Time has come today (best version by far)
Hank Williams 3 - Gin & Juice
Veruca Salt - Bodies
The Hunns - I got your number (even with slightly different
and cooler lyrics this is pure Undertones)
Black Dahlia Murder - Paint it Black
Pig Destroyer - Down in the Streets
8 Bucks Experiment - Hey Joe
Nashville Pussy - Kicked in the Teeth
Six Feet Under - Rock & Roll Ain't Noise Pollution (released
on Graveyard Classics 2 they cover the whole Black in Black LP but Rock &
Roll Ain't Noise Pollution stands out)
posted by BMF at 9:26 AM on January 18, 2005

Husker Du's version of "Eight Miles High," while outstanding, is blown away by their cover of "Ticket to Ride," which blows away the original. HD puts the bereft feeling of Ticket at the forefront and makes it a masterpiece of sorrow: She don't care. My baby don't care.

As far as I'm concerned, Metallica is the world's greatest cover band, if Garage Inc. is any indication.

The New Bomb Turks do a killer "Summer Romance" (by the Stones) and a fun Phil Spector Christmas song--can't remember who did the orig.

I'm also partial to the Byrds' version of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," which is either a trad folksong or by Dylan. (Same thing at this point.)
posted by scratch at 10:28 AM on January 18, 2005

Stevie Ray Vaughn's instrumental cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" is not only my favorite cover ever, it's damned close to my favorite song ever.

obligatory denis leary quote: "Stevie Ray Vaughn is dead and they can't get Jon Bon Jovi in a fucking helicopter?!"
posted by cactus at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2005

Elbow does a cover of "Independent Woman" by Destiny's Child. This is a matter of taste, but I like the cover 100 times more than the original. See the unofficial video here.
posted by mds35 at 10:52 AM on January 18, 2005

So many great ones have been mentioned already, but I can't help but third or Fourthing the following: Dinosaur Jr.'s Just like Heaven (OG: The Cure). Cash's Hurt (OG: Nine Inch Nails). Built to Spill's version of Cortez the Killer (OG: Neil Young). I'd suggest versions performed by Coffin Break for these two songs that have been mentioned already: Diane (OG: Husker Du) and Freebird (OG: Lynyrd Skynyrd).

The Silkworm version of Ooh La La (OG: by The Faces) is pretty good at capturing a certain bile and bitterness.

Live covers (probably not too hard to find): Sleater-Kinney's version of Rock Lobster (OG: B-52s). Built to Spill's version of The Dream Police (OG: Cheap Trick) as well as BtS's cover of Take the Money and Run (OG: Steve Miller). Elliot Smith's cover of Jealous Guy (OG: John Lennon).
posted by safetyfork at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2005

The Unholy Trio - Bring the Noise ...which can be found on the Bloodshot Records 5-year anniversary compilation and in the iTunes Music Store (to name a few.)
posted by magnetbox at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2005

Jimi's cover of Watchtower

I would have to agree, but I love almost any cover of All Along the Watchtower. The Indigo Girls do a pretty rockin' version.
posted by jacobsee at 12:30 PM on January 18, 2005

.cat power's version of the velvet underground's "i found a reason"
.cat power's version of "bathysphere" is quite good too, as is her versions of "wonderwall" and "psychic hearts." i don't think they eclipse their originals--well, "wonderwall" yeah :)--but they're great covers and do what covers should do, as mentioned above--pay tribute but also find amazing niches to go into and rework and reilluminate
.pj harvey and bjork did a live cover of "satisfaction" that is AMAZING.
.not "good," but very very entertaining: belle and sebastian covers "gigantic" live and has random people in the audience sing it. it's funny and great.
.there's a pavement recording out there of a half-assed live version of joy division's "disorder"--it's neat but doesn't go anywhere
.kim deal and bob pollard's cover of the everly brothers' "love hurts"
.my morning jacket's cover of erykah badu's "tyrone"
.will oldham/bonnie "prince" billy's cover of bill withers' "the same love that made me laugh." this is especially good at will's live shows.
.fluf's cover of the spinanes' "entire" isn't better, but is a great reframe.
.rebecca gates' live cover of the pretenders' "talk of the town"
.tons of this mortal coil covers. personal favorite is probably big star's "kangaroo"
.superdrag's cover of big star's "september gurls." they also do a cover of husker du's "diane;" it's not bad, but i wouldn't say it's better or a refreshing change or anything
.madder rose's cover of the jackson five's "the love you save"
.sonic youth's cover of the crime's "hotwire my heart"
.the luna covers of harry nilsson's "everybody's talkin'" and serge gainsbourg's "bonnie and clyde" complete with laetitia sadier from stereolab!
.luna's guns n' roses cover "sweet child o' mine"
.mogwai's guns n' roses cover "don't cry"
.tugboat annie's version of posion's "every rose has its thorn"
.his name is alive's version of big star's "blue moon"
.the flying burrito brothers' version of james carr's "the dark end of the street"
.afghan whigs' kcrw live version of the supremes' "come see about me"

i'm sure i'm forgetting some!

this is a good resource for who-did-what with covers.
posted by ifjuly at 1:22 PM on January 18, 2005

Dwight Yoakam covered "Wichita Lineman" with some soaring pedal steel backing that just kicks the ass of the Glen Campbell original.

that reminds me! scud mountain boys did a cover of it too, and it's great.

seconding the callout for sleater-kinney's "white rabbit" too, and adding their version of boston's "more than a feeling."
posted by ifjuly at 1:28 PM on January 18, 2005

aaah i keep thinking of more. crooked fingers' version of prince's "when u were mine." i think you can even nab it off of epitonic.
posted by ifjuly at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2005

I'm late, but I love Lolita No. 18's cover of "Video Killed The Radio Star."
posted by MegoSteve at 1:48 PM on January 18, 2005

(Geekyguy, I was coming back to list that RevCo cover. 'Tis the rock.)

Urge Overkill do a great version of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" -- forever to be associated with Pulp Fiction.

Indigo Girls do a nice cover of Dire Strait's "Romeo & Juliet," but I prefer the original.

TV On The Radio's a cappela version of Pixies' "Mr. Grieves" is great.
posted by me3dia at 2:15 PM on January 18, 2005

Hooters, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
posted by kirkaracha at 2:28 PM on January 18, 2005

/Rubs sleep from eyes...

Brook Benton's version of Tony Joe White's Rainy Night In Georgia as well. People will disagree.
posted by bdave at 2:53 PM on January 18, 2005

Bauhaus' cover of Eno's "Third Uncle" rocks the house.
posted by googly at 3:05 PM on January 18, 2005

The Circle Jerks, on "Golden Shower of Hits" -- the song by the same name -- hardcore medley of "Along Comes Mary", "Close To You", "Afternoon Delight", "Having My Baby", "Love Will Keep Us Together", and "D-I-V-O-R-C-E"

(Such was my youth that I listened to this compulsively long before I was aware that these were, you know, real songs. To this day, I sometimes hear one of these originals on a radio somewhere and think, man, that just doesn't sound right.)
posted by cloudscratcher at 8:05 PM on January 18, 2005


Black Flag's (the old Black Flag) cover of "Louie, Louie".

Luna's '95 cover of "Bonnie & Clyde" is no better than the original, but it's haunting just the same. It's the American-accented French, singing about one version of America, that gives it some strange effect.
posted by cloudscratcher at 8:09 PM on January 18, 2005

Most of Stina Nordenstam's People are Strange. But not Sailing.

Suzanna and the Magic Orchestra's cover of Jolene.
posted by monkey closet at 3:21 AM on January 19, 2005

And I know covers is a rejected term in some circles, but I can't think of a better one that doesn't sound wank.

Why not just call 'em what they are? Remakes.
posted by xhepera at 6:47 AM on January 19, 2005

Stray Cats did a great version of "You Can't Hurry Love" (and a pretty good version of "16 Candles"). The Housemartins' acapella version of "Caravan of Love" is very good, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2005

Whoops, I forgot Blind Melon's "Three is a Magic Number" and Better Than Ezra's "Conjunction Junction" from Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:24 AM on January 19, 2005

Forgive me for the name, but Anal Cunt does a fantastic, mellow folk version of "Last Caress" (also covered by Metallica, original by the Misfits?)
posted by codger at 9:28 AM on January 19, 2005

I've had Aimee Mann's cover of Coldplay's The Scientist in my head for weeks now. It's a pretty accurate replica of the original, just done in Aimee's fantastic voice.
posted by pokeydonut at 2:04 PM on January 19, 2005

i have a long eclectic list of favs:

ike & tina "proud mary" (originally CCR)
biz markie - "bennie and the jets" (elton john)
dynamite hack = "boyz in the hood" (NWA)
eddie vedder = "masters of war" (bob dylan)
iron maiden - "women in uniform" (some australian band)
hendrix - "killing floor"
john martyn - "glory box" (portishead)
nancy sinatra - "bang bang" (sonny & cher)
nirvana - "where did you sleep last night" (ledbelly)
pearl jam - "leaving here" (cover of the who covering somebody else)
white stripes - "one more cup of coffee" (bob dylan)
zwan - "number of the beast" (iron maiden)
diana krall - "frim fram sauce" (nat king cole)
sinead O'Connor - "all apologies" (nirvana)
blind melon - "three is a magic number"

and three versions of "i put a spell on you" by nina simone, CCR, and marilyn manson
posted by spunkster at 2:15 PM on January 19, 2005

Can't believe I neglected to mention Mike Ness' (Social Distortion) solo album of covers of tradityional roots and country music (hank williams, et al) "Under The Influences"
posted by softlord at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2005

one more, i can't resist because i love it so. the slits' version of "i heard it through the grapevine." best song to sing along to into your hairbrush while dancing around in your bedroom.
posted by ifjuly at 11:04 AM on January 22, 2005

Ani Difranco - When You Were Mine (Prince)
Ben Harper - Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye)
Limp Bizkit - Faith (George Michael)
Alkaline Trio - Exploding Boy (The Cure)
The Starting Line - I'm Real (J. Lo)
Colin Meloy - Every Day Is Like Sunday (Morrissey)
Postal Service - Against All Odds (Phil Collins)

are all excellent renditions
posted by gtmcknight at 2:09 PM on January 23, 2005

Can't believe i forgot Tricky's version of "Black Steel" (originally Public Enemy)
posted by spunkster at 2:21 PM on January 27, 2005

The Fall covering The Kink's "Victoria".
Killdozer covering Skynard's "Sweet Home Alabama".
The Doors covering Van Morrison's "Gloria" (haven't heard Patti Smiths)
Love and Rockets covering The Temptation's "Ball of Confusion".
Judas Priest covering Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manaleshi".
Laibach covering the Beatle's entire "Let it Be"(?)
The Clash covering Junior Murvin's "Police & Thieves" (?)
Beach Boys covering the traditional "Sloop John B"
Blondie covering John Holt's "Tide is High"

...and no way Tricky's version of "Black Steel" touches P.E.s, although it is an interesting cover.
posted by hellbient at 1:29 PM on February 16, 2005

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