Which cover versions improve on the original?

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Fairly simple, this one: over the weekend I was subjected to the A-Teens' unspeakably awful cover of Elvis's "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" on the telly, prompting me to utter a sentence I swore I'd never see fit to say about *anything* - "I prefer the UB40 version" - it made me think about cover versions in general...I'll start the ball rolling with Joe Cocker's "With A Little Help From My Friends" - way better IMHO.

Charlie, Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:11 (eighteen years ago) link

Fuck off.

Graham (graham), Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:19 (eighteen years ago) link

(Sorry, in joke. No offence meant, though don't knock the A-Teens in future)

Graham (graham), Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:19 (eighteen years ago) link

"Song To the Siren" by Tim Buckley was improved upon not once, but twice. This Mortal Coil first, and then The Czars.

paul cox, Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:40 (eighteen years ago) link

Some days I actually prefer Bauhaus' version of "Ziggy Stardust", but then I just love that squalling feedback, so.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:43 (eighteen years ago) link

Neil Hannon and Tom Jones - "All Mine" (Portishead)

Continuing on the subject of Mr. Hannon, I'm sometimes like The Divine Comedy's cover of "there is a light that never goes out" to the original.

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention - "Happy Together", live at the Fillmore 1971(?) ... though there were a couple of Turtles present, so maybe it isn't strictly speaking a cover.

Captain Sleep (Captain Sleep), Sunday, 8 September 2002 23:00 (eighteen years ago) link

the A-Teens cover of ICHFILWY is grebt

Chupa-Cabras (vicc13), Sunday, 8 September 2002 23:06 (eighteen years ago) link

I'll start the ball rolling with Joe Cocker's "With A Little Help From My Friends" - way better IMHO.

On a similar tip -- I prefer Siouxsie's "Dear Prudence" to the Beatles'. That song was just MEANT to be gothed up.

Jody Beth Rosen, Sunday, 8 September 2002 23:09 (eighteen years ago) link

the A-Teens' unspeakably awful cover of Elvis's "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You"

I like Klaus Nomi's version.

Jody Beth Rosen, Sunday, 8 September 2002 23:29 (eighteen years ago) link

I meant to add, Wayne Coyne's version of "If I Only Had A Brain" is pretty fucking astonishing.

And nothing, ever, in the past, present or future, is ever going to convince me that the A-Teens deserve to share the planet with right-minded souls. So wrong. And this comes from someone happy to tolerate the Star Girls From Planet Groove, so you'll see my threshold is pretty low as it is...

Charlie, Sunday, 8 September 2002 23:32 (eighteen years ago) link

such indignation! shame the pics didn't work on my PC...boo.

Charlie, Monday, 9 September 2002 00:24 (eighteen years ago) link

You seem to be pretty interested in talking about them, so what do you dislike about them? I can't hear anything at all objectionable about the song you mention.

Graham (graham), Monday, 9 September 2002 00:32 (eighteen years ago) link

The arrangement is objectionable, none of the band seem to give a shit about making an effort or even know what it is they're singing (cf. Sugababes "Freak Like Me"), and - most importantly - they made me think something positive about a UB40 cover version, a situation I never considered finding myself in before.

Please, somebody tell me what's to like about them? Or am I suffering from an irony bypass (again)?

ps. pics now working, miraculously - annoyingly, they look like I *should* like 'em...

Charlie, Monday, 9 September 2002 02:12 (eighteen years ago) link

speaking of covers by the divine comedy,i saw them do an excellent version of radioactivity by kraftwerk live once,and speaking of covers of smiths songs,i think the light 3000 by schneider tm is also an improvement on the original..

robin (robin), Monday, 9 September 2002 02:16 (eighteen years ago) link

massively unpopular opinion: Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music" was much improved when the Beatles did it. (the original is a dull r&b shuffle which Berry doesn't take all that seriously; it was self-conscious mythmaking even at the time. the Fabs' cover is great because they BELIEVE in that myth and Lennon in particular sounds almost tearfully happy.)

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Monday, 9 September 2002 05:15 (eighteen years ago) link

Eels' take on "Damn, Wish I Was Your Lover" removes the AM radio emotion of the other one, and replaces it with a kind of hangover cleansing of emotion. Which is obviously a good thing.

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Monday, 9 September 2002 05:20 (eighteen years ago) link

"I'm sometimes like The Divine Comedy's cover of "there is a light that never goes out" to the original."

Wow! This sentence makes me look like an idiot. Nice.

Captain Sleep (Captain Sleep), Monday, 9 September 2002 05:28 (eighteen years ago) link

everything but the girl doing bruce springsteens' "tougher than the rest".

the orig. does NOTHING for me.

and it's not like i hate bruce or anything.

amykins, Monday, 9 September 2002 05:39 (eighteen years ago) link

all covers are better than the original, because they are more recent

mark s (mark s), Monday, 9 September 2002 07:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The Whatnots (from Santa Cruz, CA) cover of "You Play Glockenspiel, I'll Play Drums (by Beautiful South) is heart/gut-wrenching.

If you would consider a remix a cover, then on the topic of Elvis the single "A little less conversation" (Elvis vs. JXL) also improves rather than simply changing/modernizing.

Ryan McKay, Monday, 9 September 2002 08:31 (eighteen years ago) link

Good one, Ryan. Obv you missed A. Houston's thread about the song. ;-)

nathalie (nathalie), Monday, 9 September 2002 09:03 (eighteen years ago) link

I refuse to believe any cover of Can't Help Falling In Love With You can be worse than the UB40 version.

Matt DC (Matt DC), Monday, 9 September 2002 09:16 (eighteen years ago) link

Pretty much all Klone Records covers were improvements - locating handbag-schmalz gold within some of the dreariest records ever made. Are they still going?

Tom (Groke), Monday, 9 September 2002 09:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Mark S you pretty and daring flaneur! Money by the Flying Lizards - and that cover of 'Like A Rolling Stone' by a garage band I have to admit I've forgotten the name of - on the first Pebbles compilation?? Where they don't know any of the words but: "How does it feel to be on your own" and they follow it up with "Yeah do you feel alright" ... it's an improvement! Oh and Cher's cover of 'Like a Rolling Stone' is a big improvement but then all Cher's covers are big improvements - sorry Duane

maryann, Monday, 9 September 2002 09:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Hey English people are posting at the same time as me - it must be 9am? The perfect time to think about Cher

maryann, Monday, 9 September 2002 09:20 (eighteen years ago) link

adeva's "respect" pisses all over aretha's original.

michael w., Monday, 9 September 2002 09:20 (eighteen years ago) link

grrr Belgian lass you are not going to revive that hoary old pithecanthropus of a thread! ;-)

However, I must submit "The Logical Song" by Scooter, which is undeniably a visionary work of genius and MY single of the year thus far (sorry Missy, sorry Nelly). Siberia is, as it were, the place to be.

Alison Houston, Monday, 9 September 2002 09:22 (eighteen years ago) link

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

The Smokey Robinson version is better while I'm listening to it (those ragged backing vocals!)

a score-draw I suppose.

adam b (adam b), Monday, 9 September 2002 09:55 (eighteen years ago) link

"none of the band seem to give a shit about making an effort or even know what it is they're singing (cf. Sugababes "Freak Like Me")"

Grrrr FITE! The 'babes know damn well what it is they're singing, and they know why they're singing it, too- it's an important public service to make the masturbational fantasies of teen boys (and girls) more interesting. Nuff respect.

adeva's "respect" pisses all over aretha's original.

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

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 9 September 2002 11:34 (eighteen years ago) link

"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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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

Tom (Groke), Monday, 9 September 2002 11:58 (eighteen years ago) link

(He wishes)

Tom (Groke), Monday, 9 September 2002 11:58 (eighteen years ago) link

Scooter's version of "The Logical Song".

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

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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

Roger Fascist, Monday, 9 September 2002 13:13 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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

Andy K (Andy K), Monday, 9 September 2002 13:20 (eighteen years ago) link

that's the winner!

michael w., Monday, 9 September 2002 13:32 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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

Poppy (poppy), Monday, 9 September 2002 17:03 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

Pet Shop Boys' "Where The Streets Have No Name"

Curt1s Stephens, Wednesday, 25 April 2007 21:12 (fourteen years ago) link

The Band - Don't Do It
(marvin gaye original i think)

ógy, Wednesday, 25 April 2007 21:27 (fourteen years ago) link

four years pass...

Vampire Weekend's Exit Music over the original anyday.

lambchopelbow, Thursday, 28 April 2011 18:32 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

I'd take 'The Day Before You Came' by Blancmange over the Abba original, definitely. I like the fact that Neil Arthur turns the writer from Marilyn French to Barbara Cartland, that's really funny! But I also think Neil Arthur's delivery is close to perfection -- he adopts a tone somewhere between Neil Tennant and Billy McKenzie and they add lots of percussive and instrumental flourishes which make their version more interesting.

Grandpont Genie, Saturday, 28 April 2012 16:39 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

(from the spiney-shivery thread)

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

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

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 (nine years ago) link

Yeah, I like CCR version better too.

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex4D-L0cLZA

pplains, Saturday, 28 April 2012 21:39 (nine years ago) link

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-ej9wmOrY4

Moka, Monday, 30 April 2012 07:45 (nine years ago) link

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_6Ot_4UpFk

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

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 (nine years ago) link

Aw, Hawkins cousins be cousins.

pplains, Monday, 30 April 2012 13:57 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

who is Love Cave? Nick's daughter?

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

one 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 (eight years ago) link

ten 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.

Jeff Buckley's version of "Lilac Wine".

vmajestic, Monday, 21 April 2014 20:51 (seven years ago) link

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 (seven years ago) link

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.

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 (seven years ago) link

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 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...

I am sure we had a thread on this but the search is closed so there we go again.

it's the distortion, stupid! (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 4 March 2017 20:00 (four years ago) link

I wanted to mention The Feelies dynamic version of "Everybody has got something to hide except me and my monkey" again.

it's the distortion, stupid! (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 4 March 2017 20:04 (four years ago) link

Which cover versions improve on the original?

pplains, Saturday, 4 March 2017 20:11 (four years ago) link

I mean, you can still search within a thread.

pplains, Saturday, 4 March 2017 20:11 (four years ago) link

You know I tried to open a new thread and then ILM suggested this thread and by accident I posted on it automatically, I thought I'd get the choice but I didn't. That's all.

it's the distortion, stupid! (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 4 March 2017 20:24 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

I think "I Call Your Name" by The Mamas and the Papas (Beatles cover) might be one of these.

Hans Holbein (Chinchilla Volapük), Thursday, 10 June 2021 06:33 (one week ago) link

Donald Byrd - where are we going?
Jorja Smith - rose rouge
Melanie De Biasio // every cover she has made is an improvement on the original

The Cramps also tend to improve every song they touch with their filthy hands.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Thursday, 10 June 2021 07:13 (one week ago) link

Dorothy Ashby Fool on the Hill

saer, Thursday, 10 June 2021 07:58 (one week ago) link

obviously Sinéad's "Nothing Compares 2 U"
Nico "These Days"
Cat Power "I Found a Reason"

assert (matttkkkk), Thursday, 10 June 2021 09:12 (one week ago) link

Hijokaidan "Silver Machine"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBCWxjV_M64

atonar, Thursday, 10 June 2021 12:48 (one week ago) link

My top 10, in order:

Stevie Wonder - We Can Work It Out -- I searched this thread and there are *two* different version of We Can Work It Out listed, and somehow neither one is the miraculous Stevie interpretation.

The Clash - Police On My Back — The Equals original is just fine. The Clash version dials the energy up to 11 and lights the guitar riff on fire.

Al Green - How Can You Mend A Broken Heart -- Maybe this is the definitive version? If not, it should be. The Bee Gees version is great, but the slow build of the Al Green version turns it into an absolute epic.

The Main Ingredient - Summer Breeze — This Main Ingredient album had two different Seals and Croft covers, both of which improve on the originals. Their Summer Breeze adds tons of flute and vibraphone (xylophone?) and blows the tune wide open.

All Mixed Up - Red House Painters -- I know, i know, Mark Kozalek. But I loved this song for years before I realized that I already knew it as a Cars song, and his cover of it has so much more depth.

Nouvelle Vague - In A Manner of Speaking -- The Tuxedomoon original is so gawky, I'm a bit surprised that anyone heard the potential in this.

Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane — Another song that gets improved by sanding down the rough edges. The disparity is most striking on the bridge. Technically, Margo Timmons is singing the same notes as Lou Reed, but there’s just no comparison.

REM - Crazy — Maybe I just like Stipe’s vocals better than the jerky-jerky Pylon singer. My favorite track on Dead Letter Office.

Jackson 5 - Doctor My Eyes — The Jermaine verse almost tanks the whole endeavor, but MJ (who is only 13 here) just hits it out of the park. Exuberant.

Toots and the Maytals - Take Me Home Country Roads — A little corny (“West Virginia” becomes “West Jamaica”), but undoubtedly an upgrade.

enochroot, Friday, 11 June 2021 01:16 (one week ago) link

I’m also ashamed to admit at one point of my life that “all mixed up” cover was one of my favorite songs ever.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Friday, 11 June 2021 01:42 (one week ago) link

Bongwater - The Drum
Galaxies 500 - Listen the snow is falling
Butthole Surfers - Hurdy Gurdy Man

ringworm, Friday, 11 June 2021 04:30 (one week ago) link

Nico "These Days"

Is it technically a cover if it comes first?

Johnny Fever, Friday, 11 June 2021 05:09 (one week ago) link

Basically EVERY cover of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is an improvement on the original, which I just heard a couple years ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXYPb0rrwbA

But apparently Peggy and Ewan MacColl were especially down on Roberta Flack's definitive take, so fuck 'em.

Johnny Fever, Friday, 11 June 2021 05:13 (one week ago) link

It also applies to “it’s all over now baby blue”, every cover I’ve heard tends to improve on the original.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Friday, 11 June 2021 05:36 (one week ago) link

13th floor elevators and Them versions being the peak so far.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Friday, 11 June 2021 05:36 (one week ago) link

Dylan version is so… soulless. You’d never guess it’s one of his best written songs if you went by the original version.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Friday, 11 June 2021 05:40 (one week ago) link

Even the Anonhi version which sounds as if recorded on a potato is better.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Friday, 11 June 2021 05:40 (one week ago) link

In a similar vein, does anyone stan for Leonard Cohen's original version of Hallelujah?

enochroot, Friday, 11 June 2021 11:49 (one week ago) link

Rod Stewart – Tom Traubert's Blues
Rod Stewart – Downtown Train
Bruce Springsteen – Jersey Girl

(hmmm, I see a pattern developing here)

Fairport Convention – Percy's Song
Nick Cave – Death Is Not the End
Marianne Faithfull – The Ballad of Lucy Jordan
10,000 Maniacs – Everyday Is Like Sunday
10,000 Maniacs – Hello In There
Tindersticks – If You're Looking for a Way Out
This Mortal Coil – Song to the Siren

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Friday, 11 June 2021 11:59 (one week ago) link

Nina Simone - Feeling Good (the original Broadway musical version ("The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd") of the song is...uhh...fairly unremarkable)

cancel culture club (Neanderthal), Friday, 11 June 2021 12:17 (one week ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPdoWp-PHFU

Maresn3st, Friday, 11 June 2021 12:40 (one week ago) link

Nina Simone also makes the most definitive version of Sinnerman. I wasn’t even aware it was a cover until recently via another thread on ilm.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Friday, 11 June 2021 14:50 (one week ago) link

Nina Simone's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" is also the definitive version IMHO.

raven, Saturday, 12 June 2021 09:21 (one week ago) link

I still love the original but boy is this one smooth take on this song

kali uchis - venus as a boy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47oiB_quDf8

Swanswans, Saturday, 12 June 2021 09:30 (one week ago) link

Nina Simone does a lot of reinventions of very white singer songwriter stuff on the material I have collected as Sugar In My bowl.
Have found that an odd companion to black militancy which I thought she was about at the time.
BUt the versions are really good from what I've heard of them and I'm really glad to have them

Stevolende, Saturday, 12 June 2021 11:54 (one week ago) link


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