Not Cease from Exploration

Friday, June 19, 2009

Excellent Covers

A lot of deep-thought posts this week, so I think it's time for something a tad bit, shall we say, "lighter". That noted, here are my favorite cover versions - i.e., famous songs covered by a different artist. The list isn't in any particular order.

Song Title:
Raspberry Beret
Originally By:
Prince
Excellent Cover By:
The Hindu Love Gods - The Hindu Love Gods were basically 3/4ths of REM (sans Michael Stipe) plus Warren Zevon. It's the same song but with a heck of an edge and some cheeky singing by Zevon.

Song Title:
My Sweet Lord
Originally By:
George Harrison
Excellent Cover By:
Billy Preston, Eric Clapton & Others - If you are a Beatles and/or George Harrison fan and you don't own The Concert for George, then get off your butt and immediately buy it. It is, by my reckoning, the best tribute show ever. Preston is simply moving on this version.

Song Title:
Across the Universe
Originally By:
The Beatles/John Lennon
Excellent Cover By:
Rufus Wainright - Hear it for yourself here. Just a great a performance, sung enough like Lennon to make it familiar but different enough to keep you interested. I once saw Wainright and Sean Lennon perform this during a John Lennon tribute show.

Song Title:
Without You
Originally By:
Badfinger
Excellent Cover By:
Harry Nilsson - This is an example of the cover being markedly better than the original, and I'm something of a Badfinger fan to boot. Nilsson's singing on this song is a "one in a million" kind of effort; there probably aren't any artists in popular music today that could pull this off the way Harry did all those years ago.

Song Title:
To Sir With Love
Originally By:
Lulu (written by Don Black & Mark London)
Excellent Cover By:
10,000 Maniacs + Michael Stipe - This was performed, I think, for the first Bill Clinton Inauguration ball in 1993. Natalie Merchant has an outstanding voice.

Song Title:
Let's Stick Together
Originally By:
Wilbert Harrison
Excellent Cover By:
Bryan Ferry - Harrison is famous for the song "Kansas City", although Let's Stick Together was released as a single on or about 1962. The Ferry version of this song is very cheeky, but very, very catchy.


And a few covers that I can't stand...

Aerosmith performing "Come Together" (Beatles)
This was done for the horrible Sgt Pepper's movie staring the Bee Gees. The original has this kind of "industrial" edge to it that makes it so different; the cover is just Steven Tyler doing his act. Nothing special.

Earth, Wind & Fire performing "Got To Get You Into My Life" (Beatles)
I love the horn arrangement on this cover (far better than the Beatles version), but the overall performance just doesn't cut it for me. McCartney's original singing, which I think is his take on Motown, almost seems more "soulfull" (all be it over the top) than the E,W&F version.

No comments: