I've probably done this before, but a long while back, and I'm pretty sure not as part of the TT. So, here are ten (more) cover versions worthy of attention of some sort. When done well, I love the idea of the cover version. They sometimes help to open your eyes to a song you may not have paid attention to before, or not even liked at all. They may also show that the artist attempting the cover has more depth, or even range, than before.
Of course, the flipside can occur and show how limited an artist is. The covers album is often something I particularly hate – usually a cash-in, or just downright bloody lazy. Hence why I'm not including Tori Amos' cover of Slayer's Raining Blood (which may be brave, but it's crap). In fact, that and the rest of 'Strange Little Girls' – I know why she did the album (as I recall it was an attempt to switch a set of songs to a female point of view), it was just that the execution was terrible…And is inclusion of Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt, or Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah – or in fact any other Leonard Cohen track – too sodding obvious (hence why they don't appear)? Or should I just shut up and get on with the list?
After the mightily strange, but easily loveable, playfulness of Debut, it was one hell of a surprise to see Björk attempt a cover of a showtune on following album Post, and even more of a surprise to see it become a massive hit. Yes, it grated after a while, but some years on it is a pleasure to hear…every now and again.
Even more surprising, perhaps, is to see anyone attempt to cover a Björk song – her voice and sound is so unusual that few dare. Greg Dulli is one person who has tried, and has come out rather well. Rather than the lush electronics of the original, the Twilight Singers' version is with a full (rock) band, and Dulli's strong voice carries it off well.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
Nirvana | Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
[folk standard most famously adapted by Lead Belly]
Another link here, to Dulli's current collaborator Mark Lanegan. His cover of Leadbelly's folk standard pre-dates the much more famous Nirvana version by a few years (and indeed Kurt Cobain features on Lanegan's original recorded version), but is no less harrowing. Then again, Lanegan has the kind of voice that would make reading the shopping list sound like the end of the world being announced. Not that this reduces the impact of this song – as I noted last summer Lanegan singing it live is simply chilling, while the Nirvana track, as the closer on the Unplugged set has all the more emotional power, I suspect, due to Cobain's death not long after.
Another artist rarely covered is PJ Harvey, although this another where subtle changes to the feel of the track work very well. While the original is a heartwrenching and stark, piano-led ballad, SR rip away the piano and replace it with lush keyboard sweeps, and Athan Maroulis' voice continues the almost soothing feel.
Daisy's suggestion, this one – I was never a fan of this cover at all. Still, it's an interesting take on one of Nick Cave's best-known songs, switching the gender of course. It doesn't have the knowing black humour of the original, though – nor the ever-so-out of tune backing vocals in the chorus, either…
The best of an admittedly small number of attempts to cover Kate Bush, this energy-filled take on probably the only song based upon an Emily Brontë novel made this band indie-darlings for a short while. Oh, and the singer was the drummer – and to this day I still prefer this version to the original.
Where exactly to start with covers with this band? There are so many (all of them live, of course) that it is difficult to pick. Obviously let's knock the Cohen covers out of the way (see above), and instead go for their rollicking cover of War Pigs. It really is astounding how much noise a pianist and drummer can make…
[original by George Michael]
Come on, admit it. Way back when, before Fred Durst became a "rock star", and Limp Bizkit became the butt of all the nu-metal jokes, they were actually quite good – and this was the first song by the band that many people heard. As a gleeful trashing of an original song goes, this is one of the best and is a whole load of fun.
Quite possibly the most filthy, bad and wrong cover ever, Chris Connelly sounds like a dirty old man rambling the lyrics to this. Obviously, I don't doubt that it was meant to sound this way, but after listening to it, you feel like you need a good wash.
I'll round this off with MSI's truly demented version of Method Man's debut single – where all that remains to bear resemblance to the original are the (totally unedited) lyrics. Otherwise, the languid beats and samples are replaced by drilling beats and treated guitars, and enough time/tempo changes to make you dizzy. Still it rocks like a bastard, and somehow was about the only MSI track that I wanted to see live not played…