I Heard It Through The Bassline.
In recent times the British Hit Parade (as I believe the young folks call it) has been awash with cover versions of other artists songs. The problem with this is twofold. First, they are generally shite and second, there is no thought that goes into these cover versions. They are straight karaoke copies. Some dreadful ex Boy Band member does some sickly remake of a sugar coated 70's ballad. Enough to make you glad that Top Of The Pops is no more. However, it isn't always so bad. There have been some darn good cover versions in the past and so I bring you some of my favouries.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine by The Slits.
This may be a bit controversial,but in my opinion this is the best version of this song. Don't get me wrong, I love Marvin Gaye, he has produce 0ne, if not two of the greatest soul albums in the history of music, it's just that The Slits pounding version is nothing short of brilliant. Produced by the legendary Dennis Bovell the bassline thumps into your body. They make it their own.
Jolene by The White Stripes.
Jack and Meg White recorded this song as part of a Peel session in 2001. What I like apart from some great guitar riffing from Jack, is that the lyrics have not been changed to suit the gender of the singer. "Jolene, please don't take my man." Indeed.
Surfer Girl by Low.
This is lovely. Simple as that. It's a song that Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sang to their daughter Hollis as a lullaby. It's just them and an acoustic guitar and is far removed from Low's usual sound. Brilliant.
Hurt by Johnny Cash.
Who'd have believed that Johnny Cash would end up covering a Nine Inch Nails song when he was doing his rhinestone Nashville bit in the Seventies at the Grand Ole Opry!! Cash really connects with the lyrics here, which are about drug abuse and self harm. If you've seen the devastating video you'll never forget it.
Love Hangover by The Associates.
One of my favourite 80's bands, and in my opinion, one of the most underated The Associates version of this Diana Ross song is spectacular. Late vocalist Billy Mackenzie's multi-octave range is tested to the limit here. And he wins hands down. I recently bought thhis again on cd and it still sounds fantastic.
Mrs Robinson by The Lemonheads.
It is almost a shame that The Lemonheads are best known for this song because it is one of their least accomplised records. It's still bloody good though.
Rock El Casbah by Rachid Taha.
Before we start I have to admit that I didn't like The Clash. They are one of the most overated bands in rock history. A rock-a-billy band that rode on the back of punk. Still this version of their biggest hit by Algerian Rai/Punk superstar Taha, sung in Arabic, is pretty darn good. It should have always sounded this way.
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me by Low.
The Smiths most self indulgently miserable song is given the Slo-Core treatment by Duluth's finest export (Bob Dylan is the other). Have I ever told you how much I love Low?
In Between Days by Ben Folds.
This is a pretty straight version of The Cure's classic. But I don't like The Cure and I really like Ben Folds. It's my list, so there!!
Wild Horses by The Flying Burrito Brothers.
So much better than The Stones lack lustre version. Gram Parsons gives the song a real passion that I think is missing from Jagger and co's song. One of his finest moments.
Mr Blue Sky by The Delgados.
Another Peel session (in which they also covered The Dead Kennedy's California Uber Alles) by one of Scotlands finest bands. The Delgados turn ELO's overblown opus, into what it should have been. A bloody good pop record.
Of course there are loads of other decent cover versions out there waiting to be discovered. Any song that is given a bit of a twist from the original gets my vote every time. Except if the original happens to be by James Blunt. No one can make one of his songs sound anyting other than crap.