In honour of the recent tributes to The Who and Bear Mountain’s cover of Tears for Fears’ ’80s classic, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, this week’s list focused on five great covers. There are a lot to choose from and we know missed quite a few great ones, but here are our five favourites.
Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower” (1968, original by Bob Dylan)
It’s only fitting to start any list with arguably the best cover made. Recorded less than a year after Bob Dylan originally recorded the track, Jimi Hendrix electrified it. Even Dylan has gone on record to say Hendrix’s version was superior to the original. And honestly, unless you’re a Dylan fan, you probably only know the version cut by the late great guitarist.
The Who – “Young Man Blues” (1970, Original by Mose Allison)
Live at Leeds is widely considered one of the best live albums ever released. One track that absolutely rips is The Who’s cover of Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues”. This cover takes a song that is mostly piano and vocals and turns it into one of the most energetic perfomances you’ll ever hear, with Entwistle’s rumbling bass lines and Moon’s frenetic drumming, and it’s arguably Daltrey at his absolute best. Many bands have covered Mose Allison tracks including Elvis Costello, The Clash, and Van Morrison, but The Who’s take on “Young Man Blues” is the definitive Mose Allison cover.
The Band – Don’t Do It (1972 Original by Marvin Gaye)
“Don’t Do It” was a staple of The Band’s live show, and was the intro to their concert film, The Last Waltz. This song was covered by many artists, including The Who, but the most recognizable version has become The Band’s. And that’s to be expected, the magic that was created when Helm, Danko, Manuel, Robertson and Hudson performed together is almost completely unmatched. Their version has become so popular that recent covers of this track are stylistically more similar to The Band’s version than any other.
Talking Heads – Take Me To The River (1978, Original by Al Green)
A lot of people don’t even realize this is a cover. The Talking Heads’ version of “Take Me To The River” may be the Talking Heads’ most popular song. A great live staple, with a catchy singalong ending, it’s prominently featured in Stop Making Sense, the Talking Heads’ iconic live concert film.
Johnny Cash, “Hurt” (2003, original by Nine Inch Nails)
To finish our list, we close with Johnny Cash’s haunting cover of NIN’s “Hurt”. What makes this rendition an all-time great is the emotion that Cash sings the song. In many ways, the song was meant for Cash, as a means to apologize to his wife June Carter Cash. The song was covered early in 2003 and later that year both June and Johnny passed away.
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