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  1. #1
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    Nov 2003

    Ever heard a cover that made you reevaluate the original?

    Lots of instances where a later cover version helps you to discover an original you might have missed. But what about hearing a cover version that causes you to revisit a song you already know and maybe look at it and hear it in a new light? I know that happened for many people when they heard Kurt Cobain sing those Meat Puppets songs in the MTV Unplugged concert, seeming to understand the songs even more than the guys that wrote them. Or I guess he was just better able to give them the emotion they deserved. I was a Meat Puppets fan from way back and I remember still being somewhat surprised at the life he brought to those songs. But I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that not all artists are the best at interpreting their own work.

    Anyway, I like covers, but the best ones for me are those kind of obscure choices that some bands do to show how cool they are. And it usually works on me

    Recently I talked about how much I like the new debut Head of Femur Ringodom or Proctor CD and one of the highlights is a cover of The True Wheel from Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), the second of his string of 4 (me thinks brilliant) vocal albums in the 70s. Many people like that album the best of the 4, but for some reason it was always my least favorite. I still like it a lot, just not as much as the others. But after hearing the faithful yet much more manic cover the Head of Femur guys do to The True Wheel, I think I've developed a better appreciation for the album based on a recent listen. Odd that I was never really that taken by the song before but now I love both versions, especially the new one. It's almost like they have a little better feel for where the song could go than Eno did at the time. Of course, they don't have Phil Manzanera playing some of his most flipped-out lead guitar ever, but you can't have everything! It rocks much harder than the Eno/Manzanera version and drops the guitar solo so has a different and much more spastic feel, while still being faithful, albeit less subtle.

    A similar thing happened when I heard the cover of Eno's Somber Reptiles by the band Tracker last year. It gave me a whole new appreciation of the original, while also loving the new version. I wish even more bands would include a well done cover on their albums to help me keep the cobwebs off my record collection

    We are the 801
    We are the central shaft

    Looking for a certain ratio
    Someone must have left it underneath the carpet
    Looking up and down the radio
    Uh oh, nothing there this time
    Looking for a certain ratio
    Someone said they saw it parking in a car lot
    Looking up and down the radio
    Uh oh, nothing there this time
    Going back down to the rodeo
    Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, here we go!

  2. #2
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    Nov 2003
    Windsor Ont. Canada
    I would say Rod Stewarts cover of Broken Arrow by Robbie Robertson. I found that Robbie was a little more mysterious in how he delivered it, which by the way I liked better.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003


    I love covers. The disks made by Todd, Barry & Demetrio of Prog covers has lots of good covers. One of the recent covers I am enjoying is a version of Zeps-No Quarter being played by an obscure band out of Seatle called Maktub....(Moc-tube). I also like Stings cover of Little Wing but Carl Filipiaks version is even more interesting.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  4. #4
    Forum Regular tugmcmartin's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    A couple that really stand out to me, and are probably to predictable, are SRV's Little Wing and Voodoo Chile. Blew Jimi out of the water IMHO, though Jimi's versions have a certain rawness to them that is still pretty cool.

    Some others that have made me re-evaluate and appreciate the originals:

    Love Dave Matthews Band's version of "Long Black Veil". Not sure who did the original but the version i was most familiar prior was Johnny Cash.

    Bonnie Raitt does a great cover of "Angel from Montgomery" (a lot of people actually do some great covers of that tune - guess its an easy one to cover). I also like her version of Jackson Browne's "My Opening Farewell".

    Ben Harper does a great "Sexual Healing".

    Gibb Droll does a killer "All Blues" and "People", both of which were first done by i think Albert Collins.

    Both the Dead and Jerry Garcia Band do/did some wonderful versions of a few Dylan tunes...

    I could go on and on....


  5. #5
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    I've never heard the original, but Johnny Cash's version of Sting's I Hung My Head gave me a whole new appreciation for Sting. Wonderfully written song.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2001
    A sometimes wet and damp York, England

    Smile Must be something about Johnny Cash

    Have you ever heard his version of U2's One, it's sung with real grit and passion.

    Or how about John Martyn's version of the Portishead Glorybox track, it has a real smoky jazz feel to it.

    Or what about Joan Osborne's album How Sweet It Is, it's chock full of excellent classic soulful 60-70s covers.


    ps I also prefer that SRV version of Little Wing to Jimi's

  7. #7
    42 Regular
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    Jan 2003
    West of the fields, long gone
    To a certain extent, all covers lead you to consider the original in a somewhat different light. That said, sometimes they make you completely reassess the original.

    I remember an all-cover comp someone (Jar?) did a couple years ago that had a folky, acoustic, whitebread redux of NWA's "Boyz in da Hood." I think the artist was Dynamite Hack. It was...disturbing. But in a good way.

    That was an excellent comp, by the way. I must drag it out of the mothballs...
    Mr. MidFi
    Master of the Obvious

  8. #8
    Global Village Idiot mad rhetorik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Cortland NY

    Lightbulb Covers that equal/better the originals:

    The Clash: "Brand New Cadillac" (London Calling)
    I don't remember who did the original, some rockabilly artist. But Strummer's rendition rawks.

    Nirvana: "The Man Who Sold The World," "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (Unplugged In NY)
    The former is the best Bowie cover I've ever heard, and the latter is a great, emotionally charged reworking of "In The Pines" by Leadbelly.

    Almost any Johnny Cash cover (American Recordings series):
    Really, just about all of these covers are great. My faves are "Hurt," "The Mercy Seat," "Hung My Head," "Streets Of Laredo," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "One" and "Personal Jesus." And I don't even like most of the originals.

    Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix: "The Killing Floor"
    Take your pick on this one. Page renamed it "The Lemon Song." (it's on II, of course)

    Jimi Hendrix: "All Along The Watchtower" (Electric Ladyland)
    Duh. If Bob Dylan felt that he had to rearrange one of his own original compositions to match the cover it must be pretty damn good.

    Weezer: "Velouria" (Pixies tribute)
    The original is a Pixies classic, but Rivers Cuomo's reworking is about equal.

    The Beatles: "Roll Over Beethoven" (Meet The Beatles)
    I love Chuck Berry's take, but the cover was historically important for it signified where the British Invasion artists owed their inspiration.

    Motorhead: "Please Don't Touch" (St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP)
    A Pirates cover that features a duo with Girlschool. C'mon, it's friggin' Motorhead. Who doesn't like Motorhead? : P

    The Ramones: "California Sun" and "Surfin' Bird"
    No, I can't remember who originally did them. And after hearing the Ramones' versions, I don't really care to.

    The Who: "Young Man Blues," "Shakin' All Over" (Live At Leeds)
    The first was a Mose Allison cover, and the second is another Pirates cover, I think. Both rule.

    The Rolling Stones: "Stop Breaking Down" (Exile On Main Street)
    A Robert Johnson cover. Love Mick's harpichord on this version.

    The White Stripes: "Death Letter" (De Stijl)
    Son House. Jack White was practically born to cover this song.

    I'm sure there's more, but those are the major ones.

    IMHO, the Hendrix version of "Little Wing" is the best, for the following reasons:
    1. It's short (only 2 1/2 minutes long, no chance to get overindulgent or repetitious)
    2. Hendrix's playing suits the song better
    3. It has lyrics (unlike the SRV version, which is an instrumental)
    4. Hendrix's singing is better and more soulful than Eric Clapton's or Sting's.
    Last edited by mad rhetorik; 12-01-2003 at 10:26 PM.
    "...and then at the end of the letter I like to write <i>'P.S. - this is what part of the alphabet would look like if Q and R were eliminated.'</i> "

    <b>_R.I.P. Mitch Hedburg 1968-2005_</b>

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