Sunset Graves‘ Andy Fosberry, a British producer, about his favourite cover versions: “When I was asked to list my 5 favourite cover versions, I had to think about what makes an artist performing another artist’s work become something more than only that very basic description. Reinterpretations and total rewrites are great, but whoever is singing or playing someone else’s song has to own it. When it appears live or on a record, it is theirs and the original is forgotten. So with givens like The Byrds doing Dylan or Aretha doing Otis aside, these are my top 5.
Back in 2007, Chromatics released a pretty good version of Running Up That Hill on the album Night Drive. But choosing a desolate, beautiful take on Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My to open their neon lit, heartbroken 2012 masterpiece Kill For Love showed band at their confident, inspired best. I’ll listen to this album forever. And so should you.
Further Listening: They also have recorded (and play live) a devastating version of Blue Moon that will turn you into a quivering puddle of awesome.
Deftones are an amazing band. It’s a fact. It’s science. Go to wherever you get your music from, begin with White Pony and thank me later. Among their enviable discography is many a fine cover version. They even have compiled a (by no means complete) album of them. This recording was a band playing in front of one of their biggest influences (for a super lame MTV show) and utterly destroying the song in the very best possible way. This is Chino looking up at Robert Smith and slurring ‘Da…dad? I.. I dontneedyouanymore’ before flying off like a scruffy crow high on Methamphetamine and murder fantasy (don’t worry, Chino these days lives in Oregon with his wife and some trees). Dig it.
Further Listening: The album ‘Covers’.
Oasis were terrible. Their legacy will be drunk, sweating, comically moobed football fans singing along to this song in a sports bar before glassing each other in the face. But Ryan quietly lifted Wonderwall from a grave of Stella and ABH charges, broke it down into its base elements, and then rearranged them into four minutes of magic. Bless you sir. Even Noel prefers this version.
Further Listening: His cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’ is almost as good.
It’s difficult to imagine something like the Judgement Night OST happening today. But back in the heyday of alternative guitar music (the early nineties) it did. It’s a thing. It exists. And it is, for the most part, fucking incredible. Rap and guitars coming together and not being shit. Head and shoulders above them all though, is Disorder. The band that invented thrash metal and were hated by the establishment hooked up with OG Ice-T who was hated by the police and took not one, but three songs by The Exploited, mashed them into a pissed off fist and punched the world in the nuts. The song was written in the 80’s, covered in the 90’s and is more relevant today than ever. The best 5 minutes of your day start when you press play.
Further Listening: You could try Undisputed Attitude, but its rubbish.
Originally written in 1957and recorded by Johnny Mathis (and many other artists thereafter), this is generally perceived to be a David Bowie song, due to the fact he is David Bowie. However, Chan Marshall changed that in 2000 with her version on The Covers Record. This is someone singing a song that will stop you from doing whatever you were doing and turn a glance to a stare. It will shift a sunny day to monochrome. It’s the soundtrack to a love that burns your lips. If it doesn’t move you, I am afraid that you are already dead.
Further Listening: That covers record of hers I mentioned? You should probably go buy it.
Honourable mentions: Basically all of those above and the few that follow are top three contenders, but… Any of Mark Kozelek’s covers. Ever. There are many. Entire albums of them. Lose yourself.
Iron & Wine –Such Great Heights
The Sundays – Wild Horses
Gary Jules – Mad World
Everything on Emmylou Harris’ “Wrecking Ball” that she didn’t write herself.
Buy Andy’s new album ‘Form Your Ghost’ here.