Which cover versions improve on the original?

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"massively unpopular opinion: Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music" was much improved when the Beatles did it."

"The Beatles version of 'You've really got a hold of me' is better while I'm listening to it (that clomping piano!).

Other Beatles covers that improve on the originals- "Baby It's You" and "Money" (not as good as The Flying Lizards tho.)

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 9 September 2002 11:36 (12 years ago) Permalink

Apart from the fact that nothing could ever possibly piss over Aretha Franklin, the original "Respect" is actually by Otis Redding.

i feel such a fool.

michael w., Monday, 9 September 2002 11:50 (12 years ago) Permalink

The Tom Jones and Cardigans' cover of "Burning Down The House" shits all over David Byrne.

Tom (Groke), Monday, 9 September 2002 11:58 (12 years ago) Permalink

(He wishes)

Tom (Groke), Monday, 9 September 2002 11:58 (12 years ago) Permalink

Scooter's version of "The Logical Song".

tigerclawskank, Monday, 9 September 2002 12:07 (12 years ago) Permalink

Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane and Im So Lonesome I Could Cry
Eric's Trip - Open Your Heart
Husker Du - 8 Miles High
Big Star - Femme Fatale

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Monday, 9 September 2002 12:39 (12 years ago) Permalink

Spirit's take on Like A Rolling Stone is fucking incredible.

Roger Fascist, Monday, 9 September 2002 13:13 (12 years ago) Permalink

Die Kreuzen's version of "Land of Treason" by the Germs is light years ahead of the original.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 9 September 2002 13:16 (12 years ago) Permalink

Inner Life's version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" slaughters the original.

Andy K (Andy K), Monday, 9 September 2002 13:20 (12 years ago) Permalink

that's the winner!

michael w., Monday, 9 September 2002 13:32 (12 years ago) Permalink

That one dude who set his guitar on fire and then choked on vomit did a pretty good cover of this song by that one nasal Northern Minnesota guy with the Jew-fro. I think it was about the Jehova's Witnesses or something.

(Well, it's a tired answer. I had to make it interesting somehow.)

Also, the Ramones' version of "Let's Dance" is ace.

Nate Patrin, Monday, 9 September 2002 14:25 (12 years ago) Permalink

It's Cat Power. It's Wonderwall. It still hasn't been officially released.

And I dunno if it's better, but Cinerama's version of London runs the Smiths very, very close...

I also remember Paul Heaton doing a fantastic version of Lean On Me a few years ago too, the Radio 1 Christmas Carols thing.

Mr Swygart (mrswygart), Monday, 9 September 2002 14:30 (12 years ago) Permalink

Neu!'s Weissensee covered by Autechre is so much more addictive/hypnotic than the original. The best thing I know of Autechre.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Monday, 9 September 2002 15:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Aztec Camera's version of "Jump."
Bob Dylan's version of "Belshazar."
Elvis Presley's version of "Hound Dog."

Burr, Monday, 9 September 2002 16:37 (12 years ago) Permalink

The Wedding Present covering "Red Shoes By The Drugstore".

Poppy (poppy), Monday, 9 September 2002 17:03 (12 years ago) Permalink

Actually, the Wedding Present's take on "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones is completely ejacutastic!

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 9 September 2002 18:23 (12 years ago) Permalink

Scooter's take on "The Logical Song". Having said that, my left testicle's cover of "The Logical Song" would be better than the original.

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Monday, 9 September 2002 18:25 (12 years ago) Permalink

My favourite cover of Song To the Siren is by Elvis impersonator The King. There are literally thousands of covers that improve on the original. The best ever, for me, might be Al Green's version of the Bee Gees' How Can You Mend A Broken Heart. Aretha's Respect, already mentioned, and I Say A Little Prayer (Dionne Warwick was first), and Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Gladys Knight was first) all leap to mind too.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 9 September 2002 19:11 (12 years ago) Permalink

The King, oh no, not the guy who covers songs as Elvis, like "Come As You Are" etc.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Monday, 9 September 2002 19:15 (12 years ago) Permalink

Yes, a whole album of covers of songs by other dead stars, called Gravelands. The first three tracks on it (Come As You Are, Love Will Tear Us Apart and Song To The Siren) are all terrific, though most of the rest is rather less good.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 9 September 2002 19:45 (12 years ago) Permalink

Apart from the fact that nothing could ever possibly piss over Aretha Frankli,

I bet Ronan could!

There are several gothy/new beat versions of early Depeche Mode songs on _I Sometimes Wish I Was Famous_ that I vastly prefer to the originals. I'm thinking in particular of Systema The Affliction's "Shouldn't Have Done That", Pouppe Fabrik's "Photographic", Signal's "My Secret Garden" and Ater Koma's "The Sun And The Rainfall". S.P.O.C.K's "Ice Machine" comes very, very close to beating the original.

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Monday, 9 September 2002 20:02 (12 years ago) Permalink

Joan Jett's "Crimson and Clover" and Eugene Chadbourne's "Oh Yoko" belong on the list.

dan (dan), Monday, 9 September 2002 20:05 (12 years ago) Permalink

GRACE JONES - she´s lost control (joy division) BEN WATT - you´re gonna make me lonesome when you (B.Dylan) BYRDS - my back pages (B.Dylan) CARL BEAN - i was born this way (Valentino) DRAGONS (they are cchinese and have a violin!) - anarchy in the uk (sex pistols) get off my cloud (rolling stones) SCHNEIDER TM - the light 3000 (smiths) Y PANTS - off the hook (rolling stones) Jay-Z Foxy Brown - Ain´t no nigga (Four tops) are a few of them
'

Jens (brighter), Monday, 9 September 2002 20:25 (12 years ago) Permalink

The Raincoats' "Lola" is one of the best covers ever.

mike a, Monday, 9 September 2002 20:38 (12 years ago) Permalink

wedding present "let's make some plans" - the definitive version of an anaemic original.
napalm death "nazi punks fuck off" - it just gives it the anger it was always meant to have.
14 iced bears "summer nights" - a revelation, i always thought i hated that song.
and mr swygart is right - cinerama's "london" is the peerless, partly because it's almost a rewrite.
the fall "lost in music" - the original just doesn't sound right any more.

kieron, Monday, 9 September 2002 20:57 (12 years ago) Permalink

Bob Dylan's version of "Belshazar."

Better than the Johnny Cash original?! This is something I have to hear.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 9 September 2002 21:04 (12 years ago) Permalink

Yes, a whole album of covers of songs by other dead stars, called Gravelands. The first three tracks on it (Come As You Are, Love Will Tear Us Apart and Song To The Siren) are all terrific, though most of the rest is rather less good.

"Gravelands" was ace but by the time "Return To Splendour" was released the joke had pretty much worn thin (I mean, "Under The Bridge"? "CHILD Of A Preacher Man"??)

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 9 September 2002 21:26 (12 years ago) Permalink

Otis Redding's version of Daytripper

Peaches version of Rock Show

Dave Beckhouse, Monday, 9 September 2002 22:28 (12 years ago) Permalink

Hmm. From my perspective, it seems like Weird Al's "Polka Power" and "Alternative Polka" improved on a number of originals each, and were also the most entertaining things he produced.

Captain Sleep (Captain Sleep), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 06:19 (12 years ago) Permalink

Luna's cover of Beat Happening's "Indian Summer."

Sonic Youth's cover of Neil Young's "Computer Games."

nickn, Tuesday, 10 September 2002 06:39 (12 years ago) Permalink

Glad to see someone namecheck the Dragons. But the best cover of Anarchy I know of was the version by Frazier Chorus - a B s-de - made it spookily menacing, fragile and beautiful. A gem.

I'll think of some more in a minute. My mind's gone blank.

jon, Tuesday, 10 September 2002 09:38 (12 years ago) Permalink

Cat Power - Satisfaction. By taking away the melody and the chorus Chan Marshall strips away everything that sucks about this song. I am not sure if what is left after is beautiful, but it grates less, for sure.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 10:09 (12 years ago) Permalink

Sorry, I missed the Elvis remix thread...anyway, the best cover ever and I can't believe I forgot it upon first posting is Killdozer's version of the Jessi Colter single "I'm Not Lisa."

Ryan McKay, Tuesday, 10 September 2002 10:34 (12 years ago) Permalink

Sonic Youth's cover of Neil Young's "Computer Games."
Hyou mean "Computer Age", yes?

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 13:01 (12 years ago) Permalink

Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" as done by the Blue Aeroplanes. Even Paul Simon fans (egh) like it.

.. Vanilla Fudge's version of "You Keep Me Hangin' On"

dave225 (Dave225), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 18:46 (12 years ago) Permalink

Oh, and Johnny Cash's versions of "One" and "Rusty Cage" - FAR superior.

dave225 (Dave225), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 18:48 (12 years ago) Permalink

Just listening to Bethany Curves cover of Gouge Away which is far more scary than the Pixies original.

My Bloody Valentine's cover of 'Map Ref 41°N 93°W' ever so slightly improves it also.

bis's recent cover of 'Shack Up' was better than the A Certain Ratio version they were covering (it was an ep of Factory covers) but not as good as the Banberra original.

That's all Ican think of at the moment that hasn't been mentioned.

Chewshabadoo (Chewshabadoo), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 20:43 (12 years ago) Permalink

mr bungle doing billy squire's "the stroke" is AMAZING

chaki (chaki), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 20:48 (12 years ago) Permalink

Some more:
- I wouldn't say that Low's version of Transmission is better than the original but the slow motion is a new interesting perspective of the song.
- The Motorcycle Boy's Run, Run Run is much better than VU's original. One reason is the voice of the female singer.
- The Dandy Warhols version of AC/DC's Hells Bells is quite nice. Pretty slow and melodic.
- The Red House Painters version of Kiss Shock Me is more classic than the original which I don't even remember.
- The AC/DC cover album of Mark Kozelek/RHP is very nice as well.
- Johnny Cash's version of Nick Cave's The Mercy Seat is brilliant and more impressive than the original (his voice is better and his phrasing as well).
- Stina Nordenstam's Purple Rain version is quite bizarre but I like it.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Tuesday, 10 September 2002 21:38 (12 years ago) Permalink

lovejoy's second attempt at biff bang pow!'s 'the beat hotel' is better than the original, i've not actually heard lovejoy's first try.

keith, Wednesday, 11 September 2002 02:36 (12 years ago) Permalink

i'm surprised no one's said this but, hendrix's 'all along the watchtower', or 'hey joe', or probably anything he ever even thought about covering completely annihilated the original.

brian badword (badwords), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 04:22 (12 years ago) Permalink

The best covers are transformations of catchy songs by artists who feel whole universes of emotions beyond those of the originators (as opposed to covering a Hank Williams song, which no one could possibly screw up). So I'll pick the Pet Shop Boys' "Go West" - takes the Village People's fun-but-cheesy original, adds some earnestness and thus intensifies the joy a hundredfold, and then adds a tragic undercurrent (you only Go West if there's something you need to escape from).

B:Rad (Brad), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 05:32 (12 years ago) Permalink

To be fair to the Village People the particular undercurrents (AIDS escapism and the fall of Communism) the PSB put in weren't actually available in 1979.

Am I the only person who prefers Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" by far? I don't think it's a very good song in the first place and I think Hendrix' version gives it a gravitas it really doesn't earn, and unearned gravitas = horrible bombast, nice guitar work or no.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 05:41 (12 years ago) Permalink

Wall of Voodoo -- "Pretty Boy Floyd."
Radiohead -- "Rhinestone Cowboy" (okay, I don't like the original all that much, which makes it too easy)
Kate Bush -- "Rocket Man" (and I -do- like the original, and would ordinarily prefer the best of Elton to the best of Kate).
David Bowie -- "My Death" (does it count as a cover if it translates the lyrics?)
Elvis Presley -- "Sweet Caroline"
Radio Iodine -- "These Boots Were Made For Walkin"
Luxt -- "Genie in a Bottle"
Razor Skyline -- "One Night in Bangkok"

Tep (ktepi), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 05:57 (12 years ago) Permalink

idunno how many songs mentioned here have, uh, gravitas but, hendrix just blew things up, i think.

brian badword (badwords), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 06:11 (12 years ago) Permalink

And I'm reeeeeally tempted to say Bowie's cover of the Pixies' "Cactus" (which is saying something, as a former Masshole), but the novelty hasn't worn off enough yet for me to say for sure.

Tep (ktepi), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 06:12 (12 years ago) Permalink

Nice guitar work (sorry blowing things up) w/no relation to song is no better than Whitney vocal-diva stuff w/no relation to song.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 06:17 (12 years ago) Permalink

As a Dylanite, off the top of my head I can't think of any cover that improves on his Bobness (especially true of "Mr Tambourine Man"). "Watchtower" might get close (the guitar work at least fits the theme), but Dylan could sing better.

B:Rad (Brad), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 06:23 (12 years ago) Permalink

I think The Byrds' "Mr Tambourine Man" is as good as the Dylan track. I'm a Dylan fan too but I think he's written a few dull or rubbish songs and unfortunately his most famously covered ones ("Watchtower" and "Knocking on Heaven's Arsing Door") are two of them.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 06:26 (12 years ago) Permalink

well, if you put it that way, whitney made 'i will always love you' hers too. whether anyone likes it/her/the original or not (i sure don't). i don't particularly think a song needs to have any substance whatsoever to be good music anyway...

brian badword (badwords), Wednesday, 11 September 2002 06:28 (12 years ago) Permalink

John Coltrane's My Favourite Things (Sound Of Music), Flamingoes I Only Have Eyes For You (think it was a broadway musical).
LOve Little REd Book
Roberta Flack No Way To Say Goodbye, First Time Ever I saw Your Eyes.
several Steeleye Span tracks from the first couple of lps, though the Dubliners' versions are also pretty great and that was presumably the source.
Gun Club Run Through The Jungle or at least I certrainly listen to it more than the CCR track it reinvents
MC5 I WAnt You? another major reinvention as regards the Troggs source, though I do like the Troggs

Stevolende, Saturday, 28 April 2012 18:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

Coltrane's version is great but I prefer Mark Murphy's.

I Only Have Eyes For You is indeed from 1934 but it was written for this film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dames

That one is a great suggestion.

Moka, Saturday, 28 April 2012 18:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

(from the spiney-shivery thread)

Cecil Taylor's "This Nearly Was Mine" (South Pacific)

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Saturday, 28 April 2012 20:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

not sure as i never heard the original but i cannot imagine a better version of susie q than the one by creedence clearwater revival.

alex in mainhattan, Saturday, 28 April 2012 21:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I like CCR version better too.

Still a good time to plug the original. Such a small place the world's been lately.

pplains, Saturday, 28 April 2012 21:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

Wrong Hawkins pplains. The original is by Dale Hawkins not Ronnie Hawkins and it's miles better than that one you posted. The CCR is really good and I'd also say it's an improvement even tho I love Dale's version.

Moka, Monday, 30 April 2012 07:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Galaxie 500's version of 'Ceremony' by New Order

fishermen are coveted by whores & stoners (Pillbox), Monday, 30 April 2012 09:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

On that tip, I'll add that Luna's version of 'Indian Summer' by Beat Happening.

fishermen are coveted by whores & stoners (Pillbox), Monday, 30 April 2012 09:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

Aw, Hawkins cousins be cousins.

pplains, Monday, 30 April 2012 13:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

Love Cave and the Bad Seeds version of "All Tomorrow's Parties." Great squalls of guitar and the frantic drumming...

kwhitehead, Monday, 30 April 2012 23:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

who is Love Cave? Nick's daughter?

one dis leads to another (ian), Monday, 30 April 2012 23:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

I hadn't realised until someone pointed it out the other day that Adeva ‘Respect’ was THE Respect. I really should pay attention to lyrics.

Chewshabadoo, Monday, 17 June 2013 10:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

10 months pass...

Elvis Presley -- "Sweet Caroline"
^^this. Elvis and the TCB Band take a good song and give it that little extra push over the cliff.

Kid Creole Meets Señor Coconut at a fIREHOSE Show (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 April 2014 20:45 (7 months ago) Permalink

Jeff Buckley's version of "Lilac Wine".

vmajestic, Monday, 21 April 2014 20:51 (7 months ago) Permalink

Well, The Flamingos' 1959 cover of 'I Only Have Eyes for You' still knocks pretty much every other version of the song out of the water, but it sure beats the first recording by Ben Selvin from 1934.

sikeclops, Monday, 21 April 2014 23:32 (7 months ago) Permalink

Niece knew there was an original of that, thought that was it. Although I thought the same thing of the Marcels's "Blue Moon" for longer than I should admit.

Kid Creole Meets Señor Coconut at a fIREHOSE Show (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 22 April 2014 03:45 (7 months ago) Permalink

Wilson Pickett - "Hey Jude"
Fotheringay - "The Way I Feel"
Fairport Convention - "Time Will Show the Wiser"
Grateful Dead - "Morning Dew"

cwkiii, Tuesday, 22 April 2014 15:22 (7 months ago) Permalink

I'm a huge fan of Dillinger Escape Plan's cover of Come to Daddy, featuring the radiant vocals of Mike Patton

octobeard, Wednesday, 23 April 2014 04:51 (7 months ago) Permalink


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