Music Mondays: Five cover versions I really love

It's been a while since I posted one of these lists, that's for sure. A couple of weeks ago someone on Twitter posted a link to the Tool version of led Zeppelin's No Quarter. "No that's cool!" I thought to myself. Wouldn't it be fun to add that to a bunch of other great cover versions and do a Music Monday post. And here we go.

All of this brings up the endless debate on cover versions: close copy as homage or total re-invention? I like both so I won't take sides. And a few of each are included below.

  • No Quarter. A Led Zeppelin song covered by Tool.
  • Young Man Blues. A Mose Allison song covered by The Who.
  • Hand of Doom. A Black Sabbath song covered by Slayer.
  • Mustang Sally. A Mack Rice song made famous by Wilson Pickett here covered by Buddy Guy.
  • Tumbling Dice. A Rolling Stones song covered by Johnny Copeland.
  • 30 Days in the Hole. A Humble Pie song covered by Gov't Mule. (OK, six songs, but who's going to complain?)

What are some of your favourite cover versions of songs?

(Sadly, I can't remember who it was that tweeted the YouTube video that got all this started. If it was you, please feel free to identify yourself in the comments.)

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There are a lot of cover versions I really like. My favorite is What a Wonderful World covered by Joey Ramone. When I first heard it on the radio the DJ seemed to agree. He said that was the most fun he'd ever had in two minutes twenty three seconds and played it a second time..

Here's a few more of the re-inventions I like off the top of my head:

Science Fiction Double Feature covered by Joan Jett

Money, Money, Money covered by St. James

These Boots Are Made for Walkin' cover by The Fixx

It's the End of the World As We Know It covered by Saint Eve

Ohio covered by Devo

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers - I Can't Go For That (Hall & Oates cover)

Afghan Whigs - Creep (TLC cover)

Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)

Obadiah Parker - Hey Ya (Outkast cover)

Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover)

Dynamite Hack - Boyz-N-The Hood (N.W.A. cover)

My quick 5:
Al Green's version of "To Sir With Love"
"Southern Man" covered by Merry Clayton
Yo La Tengo's version of "You Tore Me Down" by the Flamin' Groovies
"What Goes On" by Bryan Ferry...
...and also by The Feelies

Well, OK. 6:
Dash Rip Rock's version of "I Saw the Light"

Bob Dylan's cover of Jimi Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's "All along the Watch Tower"

There aren't many cases where I have both original and cover in my music library, but here goes:

"Early Morning Rain" by Gordon Lightfoot, covered by Peter, Paul and Mary.

"Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)", originally recorded by Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans, covered by They Might Be Giants.

"The Times, They Are A-Changing" by Bob Dylan, covered by Simon and Garfunkel.

The Wendy Carlos album Switched-On Bach features several pieces by J. S. Bach played on the then recently invented Moog synthesizer. I also have traditionally orchestrated versions of some of these pieces, including Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, "Air on a G String", and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".

Peter Schickele (best known for his alter ego, P. D. Q. Bach) did a quasi-sportscast of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, complete with inane commentary from a "color man".

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 Aug 2013 #permalink

Too many to be, uh, covered in just 5 (or six) selections:

Judy Collins's cover of the Beatles 'In My Life'.

Tom Rush's cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Urge for Goin''.

The King's Singers' cover of Billie Joel's 'And so it Goes'.

Billie Joel's 'borrow' of Beethoven's Pathetic Sonata, 2nd movement for 'This Night will last Forever'.

Rheingold Beer's borrow of Waldteufel's Estudiantina

And, yeah, six, Nina Simone's 'cover' of Gershwin/Heyward's 'I loves you Porgy'.

I tend to prefer re-inventions. Close-to-the-copy are nice to listen to, but usually forgettable when compared to the original. Re-inventions stand on their own.

My favorite cover versions:
Nirvana's cover of The Man Who Sold the World (originally David Bowie)
Tori Amos's cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit (originally Nirvana)
Placebo's cover of Running up that Hill (originally Kate Bush)
Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah (originally Leonard Cohen)
The Door's version of Alabama Song/Whisky Bar (originally from a 1920s German musical)

Placebo also get marks for their sciencey name. I know a teenager who found out what a "placebo" was because she googled the band.