Sunday, 21 December 2008

Nobody does it better

Memo to self... you are not living in Greenwich Village Mean Time. Going to bed at 5am is not a good idea. Anyway, here are the good ones (N.B. not just good cover versions... better than the original ones):

1. Talking Heads - Take Me to the River
2. Marvin Gaye - Heard It Through the Grapevine
3. Aretha Franklin - I Say a Little Prayer
4. The Four Tops - Walk Away Renee
5. Johnny Cash - The Mercy Seat (with a hon. mensh to U2's One)
6. The Flaming Lips - Bohemian Rhapsody (because I am, of course, 'a ghastly snob')
7. Aztec Camera - Jump (when they did this, the Van Halen song, the NME said that the original was by Leonard Cohen - and I believed that for a long time)
8. Patti Smith - Because the Night
9. Soulwax - Wouldn't it be Good?
10. Teenage Fanclub - The Ballad of John and Oko. But then I'd go for almost anyone doing anything by the Beatles. I don't like the Beatles.


Paul said...

Walk on By - The Stranglers

Hounds of Love - forgot the name of the band that did it now

Kerry said...


I also like Artic Monkeys doing Diamonds Are Forever.

Kerry said...

Oops - that should have been Arctic Monkeys!

Anonymous said...

Didn't Springsteen write 'Because the Night' for Smith? Not strictly a cover then.

Best Bond cover is Magazine's 'Goldfinger'.

Kerry said...

According to this

he recorded a demo, she heard it, and basically nicked it, with his permission. So although he didn't actually write it for her, he never actually released it, except on a live album, so does it count as a cover...? Not sure.

And yes, Goldfinger's a good one. They're touring next year!

Stephen said...

I Fought the Law by The Clash - very topical in Greece at the moment I understand.....

Ben said...

I was with you until Mercy Seat. U2, really?

Nick Cave's album cut isn't great but my favourite is his acoustic version.

Fred Bloggs said...

How about Israel Kamakawiwo'ole´s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, takes my breath away. I like the Eva Cassidy version but Issy took it to another level...

Kerry said...

When I said U2's One I meant Johnny Cash's version of U2's One. Not U2's version of the Mercy Seat, which as far as I know, doesn't exist. I just think Nick Cave's version is a bit hammy. Johnny Cash is more believable. But it's a close run thing.

Anonymous said...

paul, that cover of Hounds of Love was NOT better than kate bush's!!! shame on you. kate bush is uncoverable. (ooh except the puppini sisters' version of wuthering heights - that one is worthy.)

fred, i also have to disagree about over the rainbow - i mean not about Israel Kamakawiwo'ole which i haven't heard, but i hate the eva cassidy version. she had a talent of making everything sound like it was composed for radio 2. before she got hold of it, that song used to have an actual melody, and some range.

from what kerry posted i'm not sure if we're allowed to mention covers released since 1990 ;-) i know what she thinks of my taste in music but these are the covers i think qualify as better than the originals:

- marilyn manson's version of 'tainted love' has to be on.
- madonna's cover of 'american pie' was admittedly poor but her cover of 'ray of light' was a masterpiece. her cover of 'don't tell me' is also much better than the original, unless you really like depressive country music.
- the scissor sisters' cover of 'comfortably numb' could arguably be mentioned?
- alison moyet's covers of 'whispering your name' (a bit obscure maybe!) and 'the first time ever i saw your face' would also qualify
- infernal's version of 'self control' rules, if you've heard it. also, i know all the old-timers will disagree, but their version of 'vienna' beats the original...
- also a bit obscure, but kylie's 'the one' is also a cover, and better than the original, though most people have never heard the original.
- know you have mentioned johnny cash - his version of 'hurt' is also better than the original
- erm... ahem... leona lewis' version of 'run' is better than snow patrol's *ducks objects being thrown at him*
- elvis costello's version of 'she' is better than the original, not that i like it that much
- oh and, geri halliwell's version of 'it's raining men' kicks the arses of the weather girls. deep down you know it's true ^_^

ok had enough for now

Kerry said...

Kieron, Kieron, Kieron.... Geri Halliwell? Please..... And Marilyn Manson? Although arguably Soft Cell's Tainted Love is better than Gloria Jones' version.

I didn't know Ray of Light or Don't Tell Me were cover versions.
How about Rolf Harris' Stairway to Heaven?

Anonymous said...

On the subject of Costello, is Robert Wyatt's Shipbuilding the cover or the original?

Kerry said...

I wasn't sure - which is why I left it out.

It - Wyatt's version - was certainly released first, and is better. But if the writer then records his own song, can that be regarded as a cover version of it? Could Burt Baccarach cover Walk on By, or just perform it?

Anonymous said...

"johnny cash - his version of 'hurt' is also better than the original" - I think Trent Reznor agrees.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Rainbow - awesome and a very moving video too.

And to horrify you - Slade's Born to be Wild over Steppenwolf's....but maybe that's a West Midlands thing.

Kerry said...

Am I allowed to prefer the Oasis version of Cum on Feel the Noize?

Anonymous said...

Not being a!

Kerry said...

I just find the Slade version a bit... screechy?

Does anyone else remember REM's Dead Letter Office? King of the Road? Actually, they do good covers: Have You Ever Seen the Rain, and I Am Superman... (our theme song for the next election!)

Kerry said...

I've just checked out the version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow you've been talking about...

Sorry, but it doesn't do it for me at all. In fact I found it a little... dare I say, irritating? Sorry!

Northern Lights said...

REM also did 'Love Is All Around' long before Wet Wet Wet did it