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Old 10-28-2006, 06:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 10 Greatest Cover Songs

What defines a great cover song? I think there are two crucial elements:

- A complete and successful re-interpretation of the song that stretches the scope of the music in entirely new directions

- When the song title is mentioned, most people believe the song belongs to the cover band rather than the original artist

With that limited criteria as our guide, I bring you the 10 Greatest Cover Songs of All Time.

All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix)

Bob Dylan originally sang this one as a folk rocker, but Hendrix rescues it with some scathing electrical guitar work. It’s amazing that Dylan released the song in 1967 and by 1968 most people already considered it a Hendrix song. In fact, Dylan even liked the Hendrix version better and played it “heavier” in concert for years in tribute to Hendrix. This is a perfect example of an artist completely re-interpreting a song to make it better, yet still echoing the original.

I Fought the Law (The Clash)

Does anyone even remember that this song was originally done by the Crickets in 1965? Probably not because before the Clash’s version, the song was made popular by the Bobby Fuller Four (Bobby Fuller was found dead in his car the same day the song hit the Top 40). But for all purposes, the Clash have so thoroughly taken command of this song that it’s become one of about five tunes that people immediately connect with the band. It’s an outstanding cover because the Clash’s punk version is a better fit for the tune musically than the original rockabilly style or the Bobby Fuller Four version.

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (George Thorogood)

This was an old blues number by John Lee Hooker that George Thorogood and his Destroyers made into one of their signature songs (along with “Bad to the Bone). Thorogood takes Hooker’s insightful, introspective song and creates a party number out of it by ripping it pieces with his masterful slide guitar antics.

Red Red Wine (UB40)

How’s this for stretching the limits on a song? UB40 takes puffy pop standard by Neil Diamond and makes it into a rollicking reggae tune that became one of the defining songs of the 1980 retro-reggae scene. However, UB40 didn’t even know Neil Diamond wrote and recorded it until after “Red Red Wine” was a hit. The band thought the song belonged to another reggae band – Tony Tribe, which recorded it in 1969.

Respect (Aretha Franklin)

Otis Redding said all that needed to be said about Aretha’s version of his original. “I think the bitch stole my song.” That she did. Aretha added the “Sock it to me” line to the song (which is a sexual reference) and added a rocking bridge line to the tune.

Walk This Way (Run DMC)

This may be one of the most significant covers in history. By converting Aerosmith’s popular rock anthem into a rap song, Run DMC brought hip hop to the mainstream and rescued Aerosmith from the dustbin. Run-DMC stumbled upon the album, but had never heard of Aerosmith (in fact, they thought the name of the band was Toys in the Attic, the album with “Walk This Way” on it). Aerosmith was pretty much over and the song helped revive its career after the disastrous release of the band’s worst album “Done with Mirrors.”

Suspicious Minds (Fine Young Cannibals)

How is it possible to swipe a song from the King? Ask the Fine Young Cannibals who turned Elvis Presley’s last number one song before his death into one of the most popular songs of the alt-rock movement of the 1980s. This is a bouncy, guitar heavy tune that would have made the King proud.

Take Me to the River (Talking Heads)

I’ll never forgive the Talking Heads for taking the Modern Lover’s bass player, but they kind of make up for it with this fantastic cover of an Al Green tune. This is the song that put art rock band Talking Heads on the musical map. This slowed down, bass-heavy rendition of the original became the coda of urban cool and helped usher in the new wave movement in 1978.

You Really Got Me (Van Halen)

This song was the first hit for the Kinks and the first hit for Van Halen. Ray Davies of the Kinks said he liked the Van Halen version better and that the Kinks version was a prop airplane and the Van Halen version was a fighter jet. This song really encapsulates early Van Halen showing off Eddie Van Halen’s guitar mastery and lead singer David Lee Roth’s trademark squeals.

Ring of Fire (Social Distortion)

It’s difficult to unseat Johnny Cash from his own song – never mind pick him up and throw him to the ground. But that’s exactly what Social Distortion does to “Ring of Fire.” They punk it up and own it. The song, however, was really written by June Carter, who wrote it while driving around one night worried about Cash’s wild partying.

Thoughts? Additions?
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Old 10-28-2006, 12:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ring of Fire is a bit of a reach, otherwise great list.

Welcome to MB from the MURDER JUNKIE (this will get you props), any problems PM me and I will help you out
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ring of Fire is a bit of a reach, otherwise great list.

Welcome to MB from the MURDER JUNKIE (this will get you props), any problems PM me and I will help you out
Thanks.

Social D is a personal favorite. I was hoping for a bit more activity. People calling me nuts -- calling me out. Adding to the list.

But its still early.

One addition from me: Eric Clapton doing Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff."
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Old 10-28-2006, 05:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well i think Alien Ant Farm did an excellent cover of Smooth Criminal, but it's definently debatable that Michael Jackson's version of it was better, but I guess it's subjective.
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Old 10-28-2006, 07:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well i think Alien Ant Farm did an excellent cover of Smooth Criminal, but it's definently debatable that Michael Jackson's version of it was better, but I guess it's subjective.
Yeah, that was a great cover with some tight basswork.


Another contender is of course Death - Painkiller.
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Old 10-28-2006, 08:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Dicks - Purple Haze
Black Flag - Louie Louie
STD - Folsom Prison Blues
Bl'ast! - Schools Out
Minutemen - The Red and the Black
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Old 10-28-2006, 08:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I personally think UB40 should have been dragged out back and shot for Red Red Wine. I couldn't hate that ****ing song any more, to me its on par with Fergie's ****.

As far as covers go The Stripes do some amazing ones, one more cup of coffee, southern can, and black jack davy, but as far as stealing songs goes, Dolly Parton should have sued them for their outright theft of Jolene.
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Old 10-29-2006, 08:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Here's a few off the top of my head:

Kirsty McColl - New England
The Stranglers - Walk on by
Pet Shop Boys - You are always on my mind
Supergrass - Condition
The Pogues - Waltzing Matilda (Hmmm, maybe not so much of a cover, well, s'pose it is... trad and all that)
Kim Deal - You Sexy Thing
Whiskey in the Jar - Pulp
Soft Cell - Tainted Love
Beastie Boys - Time for Living
Nirvana - Man who sold the world, Molly's lips and Son of a gun.
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Old 10-29-2006, 08:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lesbian crime spree View Post
Pet Shop Boys - You are always on my mind

Tell me you're kidding, it my not be big overseas but here in North America it is like the country music national anthem
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Old 10-29-2006, 09:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Nirvana - Man who sold the world
I hate it when people keep saying that one , I hope I never hear Cobains croaky voice ruin this ever again.
Even Lulu`s cover was better.
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