Inspired by Bob Dylan’s Shadows In The Night covers album, we present the copycats that got the cream.
By PAUL STOKES FEBRUARY 6, 2015 (Reproduced from MOJO)
WITH BOB DYLAN releasing his new album of covers of songs covered by Frank Sinatra (keep up!) this week, MOJO is taking a closer look at the art of the cover version.
In the latest issue of MOJO, out now, we present the 20 best covers Bob has tackled over the years. It’s a great list packed with quality performances – all appreciated in depth by MOJO writers.
But it also made us think – which are the cover versions from the whole history of rock and pop that are so good they outstrip the originals? And are there 50 of them? See below for an answer to both of those questions.
In many cases there’s nothing wrong with the source material at all (although in a handful of cases the first attempts should be scrubbed from the record), but perhaps these songs just needed a bit a distance, a different approach or a transforming performance.
So listen now as the likes of Radiohead, Nick Cave, Aretha Franklin, The Clash, LCD Soundsystem, The Beatles, Sonic Youth, Oasis and more teach some unsuspecting songwriters a few things about their own work. [NB. We saved Dylan for the magazine.]
St Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (1990)
Neil Young's hurt is gone. Instead there’s glorious indie pop optimism. Love can break your heart, sure, but if you’re strong right from the start, it’s fun too.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower (1968)
Er, that guitar solo. Dylan has ‘rocked up’ his live versions of this song, as if to acknowledge that Hendrix made his apocalyptic visions really come to life.
Madness – It Must Be Love (1981)
There’s a beautiful naivety about Labi Siffre’s jaunty original that suggests a first crush. In Suggs and co’s hands the song gains a realness. These are men who’ve loved and lost, so they’re not letting this one go without a fight.
Elvis Costello – I Can’t Stand Up (For Falling Down) (1980)
Sam & Dave are so laid back-up on their smouldering version of this song, you wonder if they’ve ever stood up. By contrast, Elvis is a human yo-yo, truly a “man who’s been hurt a little too much”.
Ryan Adams – Wonderwall (2003)
There’s an argument that Noel should have sung the original – Liam’s snarl is a tad dispassionate. However, there’s no shortage of emotion in Adams' version, wherein he’s proper wracked by his inability to articulate “all the things I like to say to you, but don’t know how...”
- Bob Dylan
- Elvis Costello
- Elvis Presley
- Franz Ferdinand
- Harry Nilsson
- James Murphy
- Jeff Buckley
- Jimmy Cliff
- John Cooper Clarke
- Johnny Cash
- Kurt Cobain
- Leonard Cohen
- Marc Almond
- Neil Tennant
- Nick Cave
- Patti Smith
- Pet Shop Boys
- PJ Harvey
- Rod Stewart
- Scott Walker
- Sonic Youth
- The Afghan Whigs
- The Beatles
- The Clash
- The Fall
- The Libertines
- The Rolling Stones
- The Who
- Thom Yorke
- Van Morrison