The Best Cover of All Time, Volume XI


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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13 Responses

  1. Klein says:

    Honestly, I thought this was an all-white thing. Here’s my nomination:

    • Jaybird in reply to Klein says:

      This may or may not be an interesting thing I’ve noticed but rock and roll has a lot of covers. This band covers this song and that band remakes that other song, so on and so forth.

      Rap does not seem to do that. Every now and again, of course, there is a line in a song that pays tribute to an earlier song (like throwing a “let me clear my throat” before the bridge or similar) but there aren’t anywhere near the same degree of covers.

      I wonder why.Report

      • Klein in reply to Jaybird says:

        What about sampling? The fact that so many great hip hop and rap tracks are based on a small snippet of a hook, a bass line, a lyric, a horn line seems on the same level as your perception of rock n roll. Different genres approach appropriation differently.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Klein says:

          Like both EPMD and Puff Daddy sampled Average White Band’s “person to person”?

          I don’t know. That strikes me as different than a cover, per se…Report

      • Will in reply to Jaybird says:

        Klein –

        Great pick – I’ll put that up as soon as I get the chance.

        Jaybird –

        I think you’re right; rap is pretty self-referential and has definitely popularized sampling, but you don’t hear too many covers. I have no idea why this is the case. Funk, soul, country and folk, on the other hand . . .Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Will says:

          If we want to open up enough to allow samples, I’d say that Nice & Smooth’s sampling of Fast Car on “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow, Sometimes I Rhyme Quick” is probably the best use of an unobscure sample out there.

          Eric Prydz’s “Call on me” is probably the best use of a borderline sample.

          Best use of an obscure sample would probably be EPMD’s sampling of “Person to Person” on Richter Scale. (Which then became significantly less obscure when Puffy used the same sample on “Friend” on his debut (crappy) album).Report

  2. Todd says:

    Phish is without question one of the great “cover bands.” Their covers of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” The Beatles “A Day in the Life,” Ween’s “Roses are Free,” and Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” are legendary (at least in jam band circles), as is their range (they’ve also taken stabs at The Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, and TV on the Radio). Their recent cover of the entire Stone’s “Exile on Main Street” album on Halloween was outrageously good. I think their version of “Shine a Light” qualifies for this little contest, but I could only find this snippet online ( But here’s the full version of “Loving Cup,” which didn’t suck either.

  3. Todd says:

    Here’s another band on another Halloween that could cover a tune too.

  4. Todd says:

    And this might possibly be the best worst holiday song cover of all-time. Thanks, Neil!

  5. Todd says:

    I realize, like Nirvana above, these are “indie” bands but they’re pretty incredible covers.

    Antony – “If It Be Your Will” by Leonard Cohen

    The Raconteurs – “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley

    White and company also did a monster “It Ain’t Easy” by David Bowie during this set at Lollapalooza.

    I’ll stop now.Report

  6. Ian M. says:

    The Dead Kennedys “California Uber Alles” performed by The Disposable Heroes or Hiphoprisy. This is from their album “Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury” but there’s a better version from the Virus 100 compilation (Alternative Tentacles 100th release) –

    I’m going to throw in another indie rock cover though, “Freebird” performed by Built to Spill. Why? Because it is *not* ironic – watch the video, they are taking it dead serious. I got to see them perform this live, and it was a jaw dropper.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Well, speaking of Ice Cube and sampling, The Players Association cover of “Footsteps in the Dark” by the Isley Brothers is pretty good. My vote’s with Stars though.Report