A different take on cover versions?

There used to be a thread on covers, but I think it ended before I joined the site.
In an idle moment, I made a list of cover versions I could remember. I then tried to apply a couple of filters.

A max of 2 songs per artist.

No songs where we have no idea who wrote and first sang them.

Most important, no matter how good the cover (e.g. Nirvana’s The Man Who Sold The World), it doesn’t make the list unless it is in the minds of most clearly the best version of the song - and if it isn’t at least as good as the original IMHO, it won’t be on the list.

Of course, this is a personal list. I wouldn’t play all these for pleasure, but I play most of them, and if I really can’t take a song/ singer I have just ignored them/ it, however popular. Thus, there are no entries from The Pussycat Dolls, Destiny’s Child or Scissor Sisters here, despite all having made cover versions in their time or so I am told. And I excluded the entire Kop End singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, for obvious reasons.

I also concede that, with a loose enough definition of cover versions, we could include about 3 Zeppelin albums and quite a lot of songs by Oasis…

It was still a long list, and my knowledge of artists away from the UK and USA, or genres developed in the last decade or two, is pretty woeful. People are welcome to add to or subtract from the list if interested – see below.

In any event, it prompted a question that may be more interesting than peering at another list.

If you had to pick one cover version, based solely on how much better it is than the original, what would you pick?

My choice (at least at the moment)? ‘Oops! I Did It Again’ by Richard Thompson. Has there ever been a bigger improvement to an original?

And is anyone interested?

My list?
All I Have To Do Is Dream - Nils Lofgren
All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
Always On My Mind - Pet Shop Boys
Angie - Bert Jansch
Black Magic Woman - Santana
Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis Presley
Brand New Cadillac - The Clash
Cocaine - Eric Clapton
David Watts - The Jam
Death Letter - The White Stripes
Dear Prudence - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Dirty Old Town - The Pogues
Eight Miles High - Husker Du
Famous Blue Raincoat - Jennifer Warnes
Fever - Brenda Lee
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cindi Lauper
Gloria - Patti Smith
Good Year For The Roses - Elvis Costello
Halleluja - Jeff Buckley
Heartbreak Hotel - JJ Cale
Hey Joe! – Nick Cave
House of the Rising Sun - The Animals
Hurt - Johnny Cash
I’d Rather Go Blind - Chicken Shack
I Fought The Law - The Clash
I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Marvyn Gaye
It Ain’t Me Babe - Joan Baez
Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam - Nirvana
Jolene - The White Stripes
Kick Out The Jams - Rage Against The Machine
Killing Floor - Jimi Hendrix
Last Kiss - Pearl Jam
Little Red Rooster - The Rolling Stones
Lost In Music - The Fall
Love For Sake – Chet Baker
Love in Vain - The Rolling Stones
Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin
Mr. Bojangles - Nina Simone
Mr. State Trooper - Cowboy Junkies
My Way - Frank Sinatra
Ne Me Quitte Pas - Nina Simone
Nothing Compares To You - Sinead O’Connor
Oops! I did It Again - Richard Thompson
Oye Como Va - Santana
Personal Jesus - Johnny Cash
Persuasion - Richard Thompson
Pocohontas - Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner
Red Right Hand - Arctic Monkeys
Renegades of Funk - Rage Against The Machine
Respect - Aretha Franklin
Rocket Man – Kate Bush
Sea of Love - The Honeydrippers
Seasons of the Witch - Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity
Shaking All Over - The Who
Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello
Simple Twist Of Fate - Joan Baez
Sinner Man - Peter Tosh
Steets of London – Anti-Nowhere League
Strange Little Girl - Tori Amos
Suzanne - Nina Simone
Sweet Jane - The Cowboy Junkies
Tainted Love - Soft Cell
Take Me To The River - Talking Heads
Telegram Sam - Bauhaus
The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan - Marianne Faithful
The First Cut Is The Deepest - Rod Stewart
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
The House of the Rising Son - The Animals
The Port of Amsterdam - David Bowie (BBC)
The Scientist - Willie Nelson
Twist and Shout - The Beatles
Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers
Valerie - Amy Winehouse
Walk on By - The Stranglers
When The Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin
Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Nirvana
While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Santana
Whipping Post - Frank Zappa
Whisky in the Jar - Thin Lizzy
White Light, White Heat - David Bowie (BBC)
Without You - Harry Nilsson
Woodstock - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Word Up! - Gun
You Shook Me - Led Zeppelin


There is a song by John Cale where he says I’m not JJ Cale.

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Also “Wish I had Not Said That”.

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An interesting choice, given that EC wrote the song. I know he didn’t record it first, but does that count as a cover?

I would disagree with at least 20 of your picks, but, as you say, it’s a personal list.

My favourite cover: Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil

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File under Silly Mistake!


Just been listening to Joni Mitchell, and this sprung to mind.

Tina Turner/style of music suits the subject matter far better than the original. IMO.


The list really should include a few tracks from Bonnie Raitt. Had a very successful career largely performing covers. Can’t think of anybody better at interpreting other peoples songs,


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Much to love about Brian’s original. Kind of like pink floyd meets the New York dolls - which would have been contemporary around the time of its recording.
Ahead of its time maybe.
Just, that the Bauhaus version brings in Ziggy references - to the point that it almost sounds like the dude singing - and then some more spice to make this so much more spectacular.

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Dr Lonnie Smith and Iggy Pop, Why Can’t We Live Together.

In general I prefer whatever version of a song I hear and like first, whether it is the original or a cover. Over my music appreciating life there have been very few songs about which I have felt differently, and right now I can’t think of anything.

That aside, I certainly prefer Deep Purple’s River deep, mountain high to ike & Tina Turner’s original.

From the same era I can’t decide between Deep Purple’s and Hendrix’s Hey Joe, both being covers - I don’t think I’ve ever heard the original.

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Steve Winwood, Why can’t we live together


Rosalie by Thin Lizzy cover of a Bob Seger song.



You Really Got Me - Van Halen


Linda Ronstadt - Tumbling Dice (this version)


Manfred Mann makes his living largely from covers and for good reason.

He out does Bruce on “Blinded by the Light” but I much prefer his version of “Spirits in the Night” on the “Nightingales and Bombers” album.

Agree with you on Gun’s version of “Word Up”.

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Three probably unpopular choices off the top of my head.

George Michael - I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Rait)

Paul Weller - I Shall be Released (Bob Dylan)

Womack & Womack - Angie ( Rolling Stones)

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Something Very interesting I’ve only just found out because of this thread is that Young Man Blues covered amazingly by The Who on Live at Leeds was written by Mose Alisson.

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@NickofWimbledon so many of your choices I agree with. A couple to think about:

A Day in the Life - Jeff Beck
Little Queen of Spades - EC
Malted Milk - EC
I Heard it through the Grapevine - CCR
True Colours - Miles D



Very interesting list. I sometimes play different versions back to back, especially for my kids to hear originals or different versions. Davey Graham plays ‘Angie’ differently in various recordings. I always am engaged with his playing and can tolerate his singing.

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David Bowie take on Wild is the Wind.

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