Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Cover Versions

There was understandably a great deal of Prince's immense back catalogue played on the radio when his death was announced last month. There was also a fair amount of airtime given to the songs he penned for other people such as The Bangles 'Manic Monday' and of course 'Nothing Compares 2 U', originally written for his side project The Family Band and made famous by Sinéad O'Connor's 1990 cover version, undoubtedly one of the greatest covers of all time.

In no particular order here are 11 of my favourite cover versions that all use the original as a framework to create something new and unique (artists who originally recorded a version of the song in brackets):

All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan)
Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
Walk On By - The Stranglers (Dionne Warwick)
Light My Fire - Stevie Wonder (The Doors)
We Can Work it Out - Stevie Wonder (The Beatles)
Higher Ground - Ellen McIllwaine (Stevie Wonder)
I Heard it Through the Grapevine - The Slits (Marvin Gaye) 
Only Love Can Break Your Heart - Saint Etienne (Neil Young)
Always On My Mind - Pet Shop Boys (Elvis Presley)
Valerie - Mark Ronson (feat. Amy Winehouse) (The Zutons)
I'm a Believer - Robert Wyatt (The Monkees)

From Hendrix incendiary version of Dylan's 'All Along the Watchtower' (one of only two covers on my Top 30 playlist, along with Nina Simone's version of the Bee Gees 'To Love Somebody') to Robert Wyatt's transcendent 'I'm a Believer', all the more poignant as it was the first single he released after being paralysed from the waist down after falling from a fourth floor window. All of these versions are very different to the originals but none more so than the feminist spin that Aretha puts on Otis Redding's 'Respect', not to mention the killer backing vocals by her sisters Carolyn and Erma. Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me..

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