I was very much enjoying a Yannick Noah version of Redemption Song today and it made me think I should do a top-ten of classic covers. Not that they are better than the original, just different, and great by themselves. So many covers are rubbish.
#1 Whilst Pink Floyd are fab, I love this Scissor Sisters version of ‘Comfortably Numb’.
It’s appropriately other-worldly and really suits a disco beat. The worst thing is, those of you who know me well and know of my ex, The Dwarf, will know why the lead singer reminds me of him. He looked exactly like him. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he kept skin-tight sparkly pants in his wardrobe either.
I love the underwater scenes, though, and it’s like it was meant to be sung in falsetto. I think it might take a brave person to say they like this version, but I do, very much.
#2 I’m making NO apology for including two of this band… Life of Agony. Mina Caputo’s voice is like Caleb Followill’s – it gets inside your soul and messes with your inners. It’s a voice that has every single emotion in it that could ever be. It just aches with it all. The song reminds me of getting the bus from Fez up into the Atlas Mountains – it was a very long buss ride up from spring time weather to the tail end of the snows in Morocco and I listened to LOA repeatedly. This is ‘Redemption Song’ done in a way that might make you ache.
#3 The other LOA song I’m going with is ‘Don’t you forget about me’ which is a top song as it is – it reminds me of every school do I ever went to. Such am I, a child of the eighties. It’s that voice again. Ahhh. If you don’t know LOA, their lead singer – who was Keith – is in the midst of gender reassignment – and is now Mina – and the new stuff is as fab as the old. I think it’s fair to say nobody ever had a life like Keith Caputo. If you know his back story, he makes Eminem look like a whiney little girl (which he is) Sometimes, people are so very, very brave that it makes me sad. Fab song. Wait til all the music kicks in after the minute’s warm up.
#4 Echo and the Bunnymen – People are strange.
It was like Ian McCulloch was meant to sing this. I love that it’s still Ray Manzarek on keyboards which gives it that Doors feel, but it’s so unmistakably E&TB it’s untrue. I guess this is everything about being thirteen or fourteen, to me. Ian McCulloch – loving boys with backcombed 80s hair; The Doors; The Lost Boys. There’s a song that throws me right back in to being 13 again.
I have to say this took me on a little detour by way of ‘The Game’ – possibly one of my favourite songs ever – and I’d never seen it before. I hadn’t realised it was filmed in Rio. Too cool. ‘Candleland’, Ian McCulloch’s first solo album, by the way, is genius. Just genius.
#5 Gary Jules cover of Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World’ – taken from the movie ‘Donnie Darko’. I still don’t get that movie. It makes no sense to me. Still, I love this song. I did a photomontage to it for an exhibition, all Parisian shots set to the track – all cross-processed or black and white – I was very proud of that photography. It looked amazing over huge walls with the music to it as well.
Just in case you think I’m maudlin, I’m going to move on to some excellent covers that are a whole lot more upbeat.
Before I do, I’ve GOT TO go with Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’.
#5 Johnny Cash ‘Hurt’
It’d be rude not to.
It’s not that I’m maudlin, it’s just that a lot of great songs are emotional. I could have done a list that included Kylie’s version of ‘The Locomotion’, but it wouldn’t be an epic top ten, now would it?
Sorry, NIN. This old mec rocks this song in ways you just can’t.
#7 Now for a little something upbeat. I was tempted to go for ‘Fire’ by the RHCP, but I prefer their version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’. I love early Chilis as much as I love later stuff, but there’s nothing like the raw power of those first albums. Flea’s slap bass at the beginning and the snare snap of the drums… fabulous and very, very different. A wall of sound compared to 70s wah-wah.
I like one of the comments underneath this too. ‘I’m not gonna lie. I’d be all kinds of gay for Flea’. Now, there’s a comment. If you’re a bassist, you might even like Sting’s version with Stevie. It’s cool seeing Sting slapping that there bass – and a bit unexpected.
#8 Jimi Hendrix – as an upstart band in the 80s steal great covers from funky predecessors, there’s no reason the great master himself shouldn’t steal a track or two. This is ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Jimi, a great, and different, cover of the also epic Bob Dylan version.
Jimi Hendrix will always, always remind me of my fabulous furry freak brothers, Andy and Stu. God, the hours I spent with Andy Mundy listening to Jimi Hendrix. It’s another of those songs that unlocks a door and throws me into another world of the past. What I love are the guitar lines that the RHCP pick up from this and dot through their work.
#9 Faith No More ‘Easy’ Now it’s getting hard. I’ve got about 20 tracks left and only 2 places in my top ten. I’ve got to put Faith No More in with their version of ‘Easy’ – I’d be incredibly remiss if I didn’t. This is one of those songs that just makes me say ‘Ahhhh’. Mike Patton is an amazing vocalist. Like LOA, little men with big voices – only not quite so well-endowed, emotion-wise. Mike Patton is much more fun. And it’s a great version of The Commodores’ original.
# 10. Cyndi Lauper ‘All through the Night’
Putting crazy into music way before Lady Gaga. This is a beautiful version of the Jules Shear song. Only Cyndi Lauper can go on stage looking like she just got out of bed and belt out something like this.
In fact, I’ve got far too many good songs left, so I’m going to break protocol and add them underneath. You’ll know why when you see what I’ve got left. And you’ll know I couldn’t have left them out. It’d just have been rude.
#11 The Bangles ‘If She Knew What She Wants’ – another Jules Shear cover.
#12 The Black Crowes ‘Hard to Handle’ – an Otis Redding cover.
# 13 Letters to Cleo ‘I want you to want me’ – a cover of the Cheap Trick original for the movie ’10 things I hate about you’
#14 Lemonheads ‘Mrs Robinson’ – a jangly, guitary version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic.
#15 Muse ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’ – fabulous!
#16 No Doubt ‘It’s My Life’ – cover of the Talk Talk song from the 80s. Fab video too.
#17 Alien Ant Farm ‘Smooth Criminal’ – fab video as well as a great rock version of the Michael Jackson track.
#18 Julie London ‘Cry Me A River’ – I almost couldn’t choose a favourite cover of this song – I like the Aerosmith version too. But Julie’s smoky voice gets my vote.
#19 Janis Joplin ‘Piece of My Heart’ – here’s another one who sings to make your heart ache.
#20 Kula Shaker ‘Hush’ – a cover of the Deep Purple cover – but it’s pretty cool for all that.
I could easily have added Keith Caputo’s version of the Annie Lennox classic ‘Why’. Anthrax ‘Got the Time’ should be in there as well, I reckon.
Anyway, here’s my Youtube playlist if you fancy a bit of back to back covers from the LJ station of Rock.