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10/04/2004: "Top 10 Cover Tunes!"

Hmm. I know so many cover songs that this could be a top 25 list easy. I even made a mix tape about ten years ago that included only covers. I'm sure some of those will be on this list. I know that there have been many cover tunes in the last ten years, but I don't have many of those on my list. I could have mentioned Nirvana's rendition of Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" or Alien Ant Farm's Smooth Criminal, but I thought I'd leave the newer ones to others doing the list this month. These are my favorites.
a few people a joining in after seeing the lists this morning (see the list of blogs at the bottom) so I'll post some quick rules. Please link to the other lists so we can all share. If you want to be part of the email list that discusses the next list, then email me and I'll add you. Feel free to comment on all of the other lists. The whole point is to learn about new music and make new freinds. Don't be shy.

10) The Beat - Tears of a Clown - 1979 (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - 1970)
That's right, I said 1979. This was The Beat's first single. You may know them by their American trademark challenged name The English Beat. Just a great rendition of a classic. The Beat's style was so unique that you could never say that they did a cover that sounded too much like the original. Not to mention that they have been covered by artist like Elvis Costello (Stand Down Margaret), Pete Townsend (Save It For Later), Pearl Jam (Save It For Later) and Phish (Mirror in the Bathroom).

9) Devo - Satisfaction - 1977 (The Rolling Stones - 1965)
What a twisted version of a classic rock song. I've always loved this version. I actually consider this a Devo song because I'm not a big Stones fan.

8) Nina Hagen - TV Glotzer (White Punks on Dope) - 1978 (The Tubes - 1975)
Holy crap! It's in German, which makes it even cooler, but Nina Hagen could have covered any song and made it her own.

7) X - Soul Kitchen - 1980 (The Doors - 1967)
From X's debut album "Los Angeles" and produced by none other than one of their biggest fans, Ray Manzarek of The Doors. You can't get a much better endorsement for doing a cover song, than having it produced by one of the original artists.

6) Aerosmith - Train Kept A Rollin' - 1974 (The Yardbirds - 1965 / Tiny Bradshaw's Big Band 1950's)
OK, I just want to say that I think everything that Aerosmith recorded after the heavy drugs sucks. This was before that. It's credited as a Yardbirds song, but it seems to have been originally written and performed by Tiny Bradshaw's Big Band in the 50's. I'm not sure. Aerosmith kicked it's ass though.

5) Dead Kennedys - Viva Las Vegas - 1980 (Elvis Presley - 1964)
Is this last line in the original? "Oh, I'm gonna give it everything I've got. Lady Luck's with me, the dice stay hot. Got coke up my nose to dry away the snot, so... Viva Las Vegas!"

4) Agent Orange - Pipeline - 1982 (The Chantays - 1963)
God, I could listen to this over and over and it's still kicks ass. Agent Orange's surf tune covers always get me going.

3) Soft Cell - Tainted Love - 1981 (Gloria Jones 1964 /1975)
The biggest hit on my list. I remember hearing it for the first time and not knowing exactly what to think. Of course, it's best heard as the 12" version with the nine-minute segué into "Where Did Our Love Go?" (The Supremes 1964) In an interview, Gloria Jones said that she considers the Soft Cell version to be the best one: "I loved the emotion in his voice. Their version was far better than mine."

2) Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust - 1982 (David Bowie - 1972)
Every band as influential as Bauhaus has to have a cover classic. As with many, this was there biggest hit.

1) The Dickies - Gigantor - 1980 (Fred Ladd - 1967?)
Since this is a cover of the english theme song from a cartoon that was in Japanese (Tetsujin 28-go), I'm not sure who recorded the original English theme song, but Gigantor was first brought to the states in 1967 by Fred Ladd. Anyway, there is no denying this songs influence on me and my obsession with robots. I think I've said too much already.

Honorable Mentions:

Go-Go's - Cool Jerk - 1982 (The Capitols - 1966)
Silly I know, but this is quite infectious even for a music snob like me.

Visage - In The Year 2525 - 1978 (Zager & Evans - 1969)
I hear this song in my head ever time I approach one of my friend's security gates. It reminds me of the entry code. No, the code is NOT 2525.

Tom Tom Club - Under The Boardwalk - 1982 (The Drifters - 1964)
A unique version that I used to play at parties when things were winding down.

The Clash - I Fought The Law - 1979 (The Crickets - 1959)
Most people think of this as a Bobby Fuller Four song, but it was originally recorded by The Crickets after Buddy Holly died. The Clash made it their own in a way Waylon Jennings could never have done. It's hard to believe that the same guy who wrote this song (Sonny Curtis), also wrote and sang the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show. really.

Massive Attack - Metal Postcard - 1997 (Siouxsie and the Banshees - 1978)
I have to include this because it's one of my favorite bands covering one of my old obsession bands. It was recorded as an instrumental for the movie The Jackal.

Siouxsie and the Banshees - 20th Century Boy - 1979 (T-Rex - 1973)
I almost wore right though the 7" single when I was younger. It's on the B-side of Staircase (mystery).

Please visit the other music list bloggers this month (16 total and counting):
Alien Fur
Chapati Mystery
Chele Blog
The Dune Shack
I See Monsters
Meghan's Deep Thoughts
Reality Remixed
Sane Libs
Sheets & Blankets
Shoulda Said
Wax Patriotic
Write On Megs

Replies: 23 have commented

Dude, I'm not going to lie. The only song on your list I've even HEARD of (cover or otherwise) is Tainted Love.

Steve said @ 10/04/2004 08:48 AM PST

Dead Kennedy's cover is brilliant. I shoulda thought of that!

sepoy said @ 10/04/2004 09:46 AM PST

i think its funny when friends of mine come to me to hear about new music. and i think i have a good ear. but then i read yours and i think... god, i am such a novice!

sven said @ 10/04/2004 10:58 AM PST

The only difference is that mine is "old music." I do LOVE the new Marilyn Manson cover of Personal Jesus though. Oh, and Sweet Dreams! How could I have forgotten that!?

Brooks said @ 10/04/2004 11:17 AM PST

Good choices for the top 10. Other possibilities:

More Devo. Devo has performed a number of covers in addition to "Satisfaction," including "Secret Agent Man," "Working in the Coal Mine," "Are You Experienced?", and "Don't Be Cruel."

Speaking of "Satisfaction," the Residents covered "Satisfaction" in a version that (in the words of one reviewer) made Devo sound like the 1910 Fruitgum Co. I vaguely remember a Residents cover of "Jailhouse Rock" also.

Linda Ronstadt. If Devo dabbles in cover versions, Ronstadt drowns in them. "When Will I Be Loved?" is probably her best.

Illegal covers. George Harrison's cover of "He's So Fine" and Brian Wilson's cover of "Sweet Little Sixteen" come to mind. (If you're not familiar with these covers, you may know them better by the names "Surfin' U.S.A." and "My Sweet Lord."wink

The Chipmunks. In the early 1980s, several cover albums were put out with the Chipmunk name. The graphics associated with their version of "Whip It" differed from Devo's video; the Chipmunks used cans of whipped cream.

Someone mentioned "Personal Jesus"; Johnny Cash had a good version on his last album before his death.

Ontario Emperor said @ 10/04/2004 11:57 AM PST

Arrgh! The Chipmunks! How could I forget about them?! They did the best version of Uptown Girl I ever heard!

Steve said @ 10/04/2004 12:09 PM PST

Placebo put out a limited-edition version of their latest album that had a second disc full of covers, and "20th Century Boy" was on it. Excellent version -- if you happen to find the disc, pick it up... it's well worth the money.

Keith said @ 10/04/2004 12:24 PM PST

I have posted my "top ten" cover tunes - although it's certainly not a complete list!

Thanks for the idea.

sledge said @ 10/04/2004 12:42 PM PST

The code is 8585.
Damn you got good taste in music if I say so myself.

jeff said @ 10/04/2004 01:28 PM PST

Dude! People are gonna be coming in your gate in droves now!

Brooks said @ 10/04/2004 01:43 PM PST

yeah! DEVO!!!
I haven't thought of them in ages...
Great list!

chele said @ 10/04/2004 06:17 PM PST

girls against boys cover of joy division's "she's lost control" and sonic youth's cover of the carpenter's "superstar."

ms. lunchbreak said @ 10/04/2004 06:27 PM PST

What, no Richard Cheese?

meghan said @ 10/04/2004 11:25 PM PST

wow...what a list! smile

Swt GA HunnyB said @ 10/05/2004 07:07 AM PST

I know, I know. Richard Cheese should be on the list. I just couldn't pick which song fit best. I like them all. All day I kept thinking of other songs that belonged on the list, but there comes a point...

Brooks said @ 10/05/2004 07:20 AM PST

I hadn't the time to post on this, but I was think about it and wanted to share a few of my own:

They Might Be Giants - "New York City"

TMBG - "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"

Jeff Buckley - "Allelujiah"

The Thorns - "Blue"

Indigo Girls - "Tangled Up in Blue"

Ryan Adams - "Wonderwall"

Joss Stone - "Fell in Love With a Boy"

Jimi Hendrix - "All Along the Watchtower"

Cake - "I Will Survive"

Orange said @ 10/05/2004 08:11 AM PST

The Thorns song was almost on my list. It would have been 13, had I gone up that high.

Steve said @ 10/05/2004 09:11 AM PST

Very fun! I did the list on my blog and linked to all the others.

UV said @ 10/05/2004 09:33 AM PST

i'm up at my diaryland name. can't break my 100 words at w4w... so i'll move it next month.

sar said @ 10/05/2004 10:52 AM PST

by the way.. TMBG's "NYC" is the best song ever. word.

sar said @ 10/05/2004 10:52 AM PST

marilyn manson's cover of "sweet dreams" has to be on the list. along with johnny cash's cover of "hurt."

copygodd said @ 10/05/2004 11:16 AM PST

If you build it, they will come...see how the many flock to the List.

meghan said @ 10/05/2004 02:28 PM PST

this is a damn fine list, brooks. you get bonus points for the beat and X, everything else is just cake frosting. smile

styro said @ 10/13/2004 01:59 PM PST

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