Last week I blogged the Machine Gun Kelly & Travis Barker collab cover version of "Killing In The Name" and got fisted pretty good for it.
I wanna address it right now. At no point, at no point w̶a̶s̶ ̶I̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶t̶t̶a̶c̶k̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶ was I claiming the song was better than Rage's original version.
That would be lunacy.
I simply said the song "went hard."
If you say it doesn't you're probably letting your unfounded hatred of MGK or Barker get in the way. The song is an all-timer to begin with. They didn't bastardize it, or put some weird spin on it. It's pretty close musically to the original considering they only cover the vocals and Barker is just layering drums over Morello's guitar and Commerford's bass.
But anyway, in an effort to make lemonade out of lemons, I got to thinking of what were some covers that were actually better than the original. The list isn't many. Sure there have been thousands of cover versions of good to great songs by good to amazing artists. But I'm talking covers that pretty much end up replacing the original because they're so good. That's what this list is.
Also, note how the title of this blog is SOME Of The Greatest Covers Of All Time. Meaning I am sure I missed some so if we need to do a follow up part two then let's get crazy and do a part two.
Let's get started.
Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Original (debatable) - Gladys Knight & The Pips -
Fun fact about this song - The Miracles were actually the first group to record this song. But it was a throwaway track (bonehead move). Marvin Gaye recorded his smoother version next, a year before Gladys Knight, but didn't release it until her version had cooled off on the charts a year later.
Foo Fighters - Baker Street
ORIGINAL - Gerry Rafferty
Topping one of the greatest saxophone solo's in recorded music history was a tall task. But leave it to the genius Dave Grohl to dream up throwing some Taylor Hawkins drums over it to make it bang. This song is so fucking good.
Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U
ORIGINAL - The Family
Fun Fact - Prince actually wrote this song. Of course he did. Such an absolute boss. He also recorded it.
The Beatles - Twist and Shout
ORIGINAL - The Isley Brothers
Fun Fact - this song was actually written by Bert Russell in 1961 and recorded by The Top Notes. Phil Spektor (yes that guy) produced it. It was one of his first. The next year Bert Burns lined the Isley Brothers up to record his song in the way he intended. It became a hit. The famous Beatles rendition from their debut album Please Please Me features a sick John Lennon on vocals (he had a cold and really sore throat when he recorded) and became the version everybody in the world knows and loves today.
Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind
Original - Hoagy Carmichael
Pearl Jam - Last Kiss
Original - J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
Pearl Jam also does an amazing cover of "Baba O'Riley". I would have killed to be at this MSG show -
Jeff Buckley - Hallelejah
Original - Leonard Cohen
BONUS VERSION - Carl
Run DMC & Aerosmith - Walk This Way
ORIGINAL - Aerosmith - Walk This Way
Miley Cyrus - Jolene
ORIGINAL - Dolly Parton
Miley is my girl. Think whatever you want about her antics and persona. End of the day she has one of the greatest voices of anybody alive today. And no matter what she's singing she brings it.
She also covered Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" on SNL and knocked it out the park. But not better than the original.
Nirvana - Where Did You Sleep Last Night
ORIGINAL - Lead Belly
10,000 Maniacs - Because The Night
Original - Patti Smith
FUN FACT - This song was written by one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Bruce Springsteen, in 1977. He recorded it in the studio Jimmy Iovine had been assisting engineering in. Springsteen had no plans on releasing it. One night while Iovine and Springsteen were hanging out in the studio alone, Iovine convinced Springsteen to let Patti Smith take a stab at the song. Bruce said if she can sing it well she can have it. Iovine called her in and the record ended up being one of the first Iovine officially "produced".
(Now that I'm rambling about Springsteen, there's this wicked obscure collaboration he did on an MTV Video Music Awards in the 90's with Jacob Dylan and The Wallflowers of their hit "One Headlight" that I cannot find anywhere. Except this one shitty version on Youtube. Grainy picture and sound quality aside every time I hear it it still gives me goosebumps. Especially when Bruce comes in on the second hook. If you only listen to one song in this blog make it this one)
Jane's Addiction - Sympathy For The Devil
Original - The Rolling Stones
I'll probably catch hell for this one claiming Perry & Dave's version was better than Mick and Keith's. Maybe I'm bias because of my love for Sons of Anarchy and the songs placement in the show.
Guns n Roses - Live and Let Die
ORIGINAL - Wings
This song was made for Slash to shred and Axl to whine over. One of Guns' greatest hits in a long list of smashes.
Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watch Tower
Original - Bob Dylan
The balls on Jimi Hendrix to cover one of the biggest and most recognizable artists in the world records. And crush it. Can't even imagine the level of talent that births confidence like that. Hendrix was one in a billion.
Johnny Cash - Hurt
ORIGINAL - Nine Inch Nails
Arguably the greatest cover of all time. So good in fact that the first time Trent Reznor heard it -
"Tears started welling up," he said. "I realized it wasn't really my song anymore. It just gave me goose bumps up and down my spine. It's an unbelievably powerful piece of work."