The good old cover version, you gotta love it. Some are so ill advised that they’re cringeworthy – All Saints ruination of ‘Under The Bridge’ by the Chilis immediately springing to mind – but every now and again the cover becomes more famous or respected than the original. I mean, can Bob Dylan really say ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’ or ‘All Along The Watchtower’ are still his songs? One strange thing about covers is that when a pop band does a rock/alternative tune, a few notable exceptions aside, it’s more often a miss than a hit, whereas the opposite tends to be true; it’s probably a credibility thing I guess. Anyway, a good cover version involves paying tribute to the original while putting just enough of a twist on it to make it your own. There have been some surprisingly awesome (unlikely) cover versions over the years and here are a handful I particularly like. Check em out.
Jane’s Addiction – Sympathy
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is such a quintessential Stones song that it borders on the untouchable, but on their live self-titled debut album Perry Farrell and Co. pretty much nail it. Their version of Velvet Underground‘s ‘Rock n Roll flows neatly into ‘Sympathy’, which fits Farrell’s voice perfectly, his unusual vocal style giving the track an intensity way beyond the woo-hoos. Throw in the understated guitar rhythms, Dave Navarro‘s scorching soloing and the rich percussion sound of bongos and tambourines that build to the final meltdown and we have a superb version of a classic on our hands. They actually did a second version a few years ago, and although it’s beautifully arranged and is a damn cool version of the song, it lacks the passion and intensity of their original cover.
Chris Cornell – I Will Always Love You
Watch this and try to not get goose bumps.
Florence & the Machine with Dizzee Rascal – You Got The Dirtee Love
There’s only one thing better than a good cover and that’s two good covers (Ok, one and a half) in a mash up! ‘You Got The Love’ has long been Florence’s own, the ‘Candi Staton’ original barely a memory, and Dizzee’s reworking/sampling of The Adventures of Stevie V classic ‘Dirty Cash (Money Talks)’ worthy of respect, but when the two came together for this unlikely collaboration, the Brit Awards were ecstatic and a partnership formed. A few other live performances followed its release as a single, which entered the UK charts at number 2, this version from Glastonbury being nothing short of amazing. Check it out.
Mary J Blige – One
The vocal performance on Mary’s own version, not the one with U2, is so sick that she totally wipes the floor with the original. It’s got so much power and emotion that Bono sounds bland by comparison (maybe because he is).
Stereophonics – Nothing Compares 2 U
The Prince penned heart breaker originally made famous by Sinead O’Conner got dusted off and reworked by the Stereophonics for an NME/Warchild compilation back in 2002. It stays true to the original, but Kelly Jones raspy voice adds an emotional edge to this already classic break up song. Pass the tissues.
Cake – I Will Survive
This version of the Gloria Gaynor banger has got it all; funny yet stylish with its own louche cool, pure genius.
Leona Lewis – Run
Radio One’s Live Lounge has thrown up all kinds of killer performances over the years and one of the most notable is Leona Lewis’ version of Run by Snow Patrol. Leona succeeds in taking it to a whole new level. Damn that girl can sing.
Disturbed – The Sound of Silence
Oh. My. God.
How powerfully epic can you get?
Homeless Mustard – Creep
Left me speechless.