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I remain unashamed by my musical tastes but there is a quirk in there which has recently surfaced. Regardless of the genre into which they are dragged, I do have a love of cover versions. At the moment Mark Ronson’s album, Version, seems to float to the top of my playlist. The reworking on Toxic, originally by Britney Spears, a favourite, closely followed by a version of one of my favourite Radiohead tracks, Just.

Previously, cover versions were the remit of live acts and the occasional B-Side. However, in the past few years, and this may just be because I’m starting to notice them, there have been a spate of entire albums of cover versions. Particularly of note are the Nouvelle Vague albums, taking punk tracks and reworking them into lounge acts with a little sprinkling of je ne sais quois, and the Johnny Cash American Recordings albums.

But what is the appeal?

For me it’s similar to hearing a track played live, hearing, sometimes for the first time, a distinct nuance or the use of a specific instrument. Such things are sometimes only revealed during a live gig, with the sound mix adjusted and the volume playing a significant part, or perhaps the arrangement is different, there are a variety of reasons I guess.

Anyway, I’ve started compiling a list of my favourite cover versions:

  • I Will Survive – Cake (original by Gloria Gaynor)
  • Feeling Good – Muse (original by Nina Simone)
  • Wind Cries Mary – Jamie Cullum (original by Jimi Hendrix)
  • Heart beats – Jose Gonzalez (original by The Knife)
  • Just can’t get enough – Nouvelle Vague (original by Depeche Mode)
  • Just – Mark Ronson (original by Radiohead)
  • You were always on my mind – Pet Shop Boys (original by Elvis)
  • Personal Jesus – Johnny Cash (original by Depeche Mode)

Of course, I’m not the only person to come up with a list of best cover versions, but I’m sure you all have some suggestions.

So, have at it, the comments are open, what’s your favourite cover version?

# ~ Music 32 Comments

Comments (32)

annaSeptember 2nd, 2007 at 10:18 pm

God, there are millions, I jsut can’t think right now. The Arctic Monkeys’ version of Girls Aloud’s Love Machine is a bit of a cracker, though.

PeterSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 12:43 am

I certainly know the worst one: that w*nker who did You Can’t Hurry Love. Phil Collins?

Probably the best cover was the Righteous Brothers’ version of Unchained Melody. (Previously by Jimmy Young, and doubtless various others.)

I think it’s pretty much universally accepted that the Whitney Houston performance of IWALY was superior to Dolly’s. (Not that Dolly’s all bad – her Jolene is a masterpiece.)

PeterSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 12:45 am

A strange question mark has appeared beside my comment, as if I were some “man of mystery”.

LyleSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 7:03 am

I’d say one of the best covers is Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”, originally by Nine Inch Nails

Or the Automatic’s cover of “Golddigger”, originally y Kanye West

grayboSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 9:27 am

It’s not a new phenomenon, for sure. Check out Siouxsie and the Banshees’ album Through The Looking Glass, which includes their excellent cover of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (originally by the excellent Mael brothers). Their splendid cover of the Beatles’ Dear Prudence is also a personal favourite.

GordonSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 9:57 am

Hi Peter, I don’t see a question mark other than the intended one…

Hi graybo, yes it’s not a new thing but seems to be a lot more popular currently? As ever, it may just be my exposure to such albumss.

anxiousSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 11:37 am

I can see the question mark – some sort of avatar/gravatar on the right hand side. Some people have black silhouetted heads and others have question marks. Lyle as a picture of a couple dancing. When you hover over it, it says “Click my picture to see my profile, favourite sites and more!”

PandoraCaitiffSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 12:26 pm

I love pretty much anything from Richard Cheese, although his cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” is a favourite.

Lyle’s already mentioned Johnny Cash’s excellent cover of “Hurt”.

Will I get shot for liking Steps’ cover of “Tragedy” or All Saints’ “Under the Bridge”? I dont care. I still like them!

ArminSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I think they’ve fallen out of favour a bit for being a bit too nice, but I still think Travis’ cover of Britney Spears’ “Hit me baby one more time” (or whatever the correct title for that song is) is one of the best evar.

GordonSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 1:03 pm

anxious/Peter – can you clear your browser cache.

Anyone else seeing ? or images (gravatars) on the right of the comments area? The code isn’t there to support them anymore, but guess it is lingering somewhere??

Mr MoonlightSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 1:08 pm

The Beatles cover Arthur Alexander’s “Anna”

GordonSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 1:20 pm

OK, I can see them in IE but not in Firefox. Which doesn’t make ANY sense…


Another item on the ‘fix this’ list then..

JonnyBSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 2:58 pm

Yes – ?’s all over the place. (Firefox

‘Summer Breeze’ – the Isley Brothers.

MattSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 5:32 pm

Personally I just can’t get enough of Mark Ronsons’ version of God put a smile on your face, mainly because that wanker Chris Martin isn’t singing in it. Oh, and because it rocks, obviously.

zSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Venerable? me? Er, thank you … I think

JackSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Revolting Cocks doing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.

LyleSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 9:50 pm

Oh, Jack, I’d forgotten that one…

LyleSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 10:03 pm

As for the gravatar things, the Jack Vettriano thing is only my avatar/icon on MyBlogLog ( ) – so it might be something to do with that, Gordon.

LyleSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Hmm, I’ve left a comment twice, and it’s not getting to t’site – check yer spam comments, Maclean!

GordonSeptember 3rd, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Ahh sorry Lyle, the link was stopping it coming through for some reason.

And yes, I’d gotten to that point myself, you can actually see the delay in IE, load the page and…. then the gravatars popup. Bloody hell. Thought I was going mad there!

LyleSeptember 4th, 2007 at 10:24 am

See, they’re gone now. :)

GregSeptember 4th, 2007 at 11:14 am

just a few off the top of my head

“Nobody Does It Better” by Radiohead
“Baby, One More Time” by Travis
“Tiny Dancer” by Ben Folds
“Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex” by Lostprophets
“Midnight Train To Georgia” by Indigo Girls
“Landslide” by Smashing Pumpkins
“My Way” by Sid Vicious
“Death Letter” by White Stripes

JamesSeptember 4th, 2007 at 12:38 pm

“Love Buzz” by Nirvana

Definitely thirding the Revolting Cocks version of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” :)

ArminSeptember 4th, 2007 at 11:43 pm

I doubt that many people in the UK will know it, but anyway:

“When I’m dead and gone” by Fury in the Slaughterhouse.

PeterSeptember 5th, 2007 at 6:46 am

You really should think about Microsoft Internet Explorer, Gordon. So easy to use. Included with most computers.

Cilla Black’s version of “Anyone Who Had A Heart” was a cover of the earlier recording by Mary Wells, I think it was. Or someone, anyway. Helped launch her career.

DragonSeptember 5th, 2007 at 11:25 am

How could you forget Tainted Love – Soft Cell (original by Gloria Jones) although you could take the Coil, Marilyn Manson or Skinny Puppy covers too.

Get Down, Make Love – Nine Inch Nails (original by Queen)
(You’re so) Physical – Nine Inch Nails (original by Adam and the Ants)
They’re coming to take me away – Lard (original by Napolean XIV)
Rawhide – Dead Kennedys (original by Frankie Lane)
How Soon Is Now – Tatu (original by The Smiths and yes, I do dare go there!)
Blue Monday – Orgy (original by New Order)
I Wanna Be Your Dog – Swans (original by Iggy Pop and the Stooges)
My Sharona – Polysics (original by The Knack)
Tower of Song – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (original by Leonard Cohen)

DragonSeptember 5th, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I forgot one!

Vienna – Vic Reeves (original by Ultravox)

Ok, it’s more a pisstake than a cover but it’s very good.

CatSeptember 5th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Oh, I’m late, but I’m with Lyle on Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt. Generally I loathe covers though, and that Mark Ronson album’s top of my hate list. (That said, I saw We Are Scientists doing a couple of fab covers last year, including Boyz II Men’s End of the Road, and they were absolutely fantastic.

CatSeptember 5th, 2007 at 7:48 pm


(Sorry, I’m obsessive about punctuation!)

mikeSeptember 6th, 2007 at 11:06 am

I like covers that offer a completely different perspective on the song, such as the Scissor Sisters’ version of “Comfortably Numb”. I hate indie bands trying to cover r&b tracks “ironically”, but I’ll make an exception for The Automatic’s live version of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”…. oh, and I’ve just remembered Cocorosie’s stunning subversion of Akon & Snoop’s “I Wanna Love You”.

Tabula Rasa » OriginalitySeptember 6th, 2007 at 9:01 pm

[...] as a parallel to Gordon’s post about cover versions of songs, I’ve found myself recently thinking about remakes of films. [...]

Andy CSeptember 19th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Best: ‘Ceremony’ by Radiohead.
Worst: ‘LWTUA’ by Paul Young.

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