Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Top Five Tuesday:

No, not album covers, Nicole did that last week, and I'm not that desperate for ideas, I'm talking about cover songs. Like you, I could deal without the myriad of awful attempts at other people's songs, but every so often I hear a cover that's just brilliant. Here are five that I particularly enjoy.

5). Talking Heads - "Take Me to the River"
This song, originally recorded by Al Green, probably did a better job of showing off Talking Head's range than they ever could have imagined. I mean, its one thing to be labeled as a art-punk band with a funky side, its another thing entirely to cover a legend and pull it off.

4). The Pixies - "Head On"
This cover is pretty straightforward, but the Pixies one-up Jesus and Mary Chain by turning up the volume and intensity. Thankfully Frank Black drops the faux, Billy Idol-esque vocal styling too.

3). TV on the Radio - "Mr. Grieves"
Speaking of the Pixies, here's TV on the Radio doing an a cappella version of "Mr. Grieves." Taken from the Young Liars EP, TV on the Radio wasted absolutely no time in showing the world exactly what they were capable of doing.

2). David Bowie - "Wild Is the Wind"
Originally written by Dimitri Tiompkin and Ned Washington and performed by Johnny Mathis for the 1957 film of the same name. It was later covered by Nina Simone, and then David Bowie, who was inspired to record this song after meeting her. One of Bowie's most passionate and sensual performances.

1). Smashing Pumpkins - "Landslide"
I'm not sure we can have a discussion about covers without mentioning this song. Stevie Nicks may have performed the original, but after hearing Billy Corgan put his heart and soul into this song - something even Stevie Nicks couldn't be bothered with - I've decided the song may as well be his.

But don't take my word for anything, listen for yourself.

How do these stack up? Were you expecting Feist, Yo La Tengo, or the Beatles? Elliot Smith covering the Beatles? I'm curious, what's your top 5 covers?


The Moon said...

Sonic Youth's cover of the Carpenters - Superstar would probably be up there for me...

Gossip♥Grrl said...

I thought of a few. Not necessarily better than the originals but I still loved them.

A Perfect Circle - The Nurse Who Loved Me. (I know, I know, I will get shit for this but I can admit it got me to re-listen to that awesome Failure album.)

Johnny Cash - Hurt originally by Nine Inch Nails

Iron & Wine - Such Great Heights orignally by The Postal Service

I also thought of adding a Tori Amos cover as a formerly obsessed fan and as she's made like a million covers but I really don't feel they any of them good enough to belong on this list.

Joshwa said...

I second Johnny Cash.

and the high schooler in me is forcing me to bring up Nirvana's rendition of In The Pines.

Joshwa said...

The aforementioned high schooler in me is looking down on me for saying "In The Pines" rather than "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"

Sorry, pastjoshwa. Won't happen again.

SonicRyan said...

Johnny Cash has a myriad of excellent covers. "Rusty Cage," anyone?

Femme Fatale said...

I also love that Iron & Wine cover of "Such Great Heights." He also does a pretty cool cover of "Waiting for a Superman."

And, of course, hearing him play "No Surprises" live was INCREDIBLE.

I like Sam Beam's covers because unlike many artists, he covers songs that I know and love. Maybe that's selfish, but I don't care.

What always gets me is when I don't know something's a cover. And then I say, wow. I think the best covers are those in which the artist takes something and truly makes it their own.

You know, like Ace of Base covering Bananarama's "Cruel Summer."

panopticon said...

Second that Carpenters cover.

And Head On is possibly my favorite JMC song.

Some personal dumb favorites:

Down By Law - 500 Miles (imagine said song as a 2:30 speed-punk song)
Pennywise - Stand By Me
William Shatner - Common People
They Might Be Giants - Why Does The Sun Shine?

Some more traditional awesomeness:

Grandaddy - I'm not in love (10cc)
Nine Inch Nails - Dead Souls (Joy Division - although you could argue that NiN is a more distorted Joy Division anyway)
Social Distortion - Under My Thumb
Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane
David Bowie - A Foggy Day in London Town
White Stripes - Jolene (a matter of personal taste, but I like this one better for some reason)

My beloved MMJ has done a ton of covers too, everything from Berlin (Take My Breath Away) to Pet Shop Boys (West End Girls) to Bob Dylan (Tonight I'll Be Staying With You).
I'm not the most partial guy when it comes to MMJ but I like most of them?

SonicRyan said...

I was about this close (squeezes fingers together) to putting that Grandaddy cover on the list. I love the little "jingle bells" part in the middle, its completely inappropriate in the context of the song, but it cracks me up every time.