Like most things in Irish culture, I guess my interest in cover versions probably can be traced back to a pub. Cover bands have been a staple of the local speakeasy’s entertainment offering for almost as long as rock and roll itself, always with varying levels of quality and/or accuracy.
I often recall local bands paying quality tributes to the likes of Pink Floyd and The Verve, wondering if it was a tad bittersweet that audience appreciation might be fleeting and that their own writing would never be appreciated. Still though, the bills have to be paid.
This is not an exhaustive list but rather just a selection of songs that I think sound good. Some are from famous people, some are not. I’d like to hear your thoughts and hopefully get a few other suggestions on some songs that you enjoy listening to in their non original form.
The Arctic Monkeys- Feels like we only go backwards
Effortless mastery of a song that sounded totally different originally. The Arctics have form in the covers department having released(or indeed not released) a bootleg album with stuff from The Strokes, my beloved Girls Aloud and a Bond tune. Speaking of which..
Katie Melua- Diamonds Are Forever
I will always have a soft spot for Katie. She soundtracked some nice moments in a box room in Phibsboro’ and her voice has a nice sincerity to it. This pips the Arctics to the post, because ultimately it’s a girls anthem
Father John Misty- The Suburbs
Like the AMs, Mr Tillman could easily develop a cotton industry of covers. He’s done Cat Stevens, Johnny Cash and many more. But this…is…stunning. Again he takes a song and turns it on his head, slowing it down and simplifying it with just one instrument, though retaining his trademark falsetto. That line about having a daughter gets me every time.
NB: The music video for the original Arcade Fire version is well worth a watch.
Sarah Eagleson- Gypsy
This lady has a ton of covers on Youtube. Take your pick but this is my mine. This song cannot be forced. There is a very lame version in series 2 episode 12 of the original Knight Rider…I’m not sure if the original broadcasts had Fleetwood Mac but the box set certainly doesn’t. Anyway, back to this. Lovely stuff and the banjo accompaniment by her brother is very sweet.
Honourable mention Sarah Eagleson-Do I wanna Know
Europe The Final Countdown
Europe covering themselves …in glory!
This is class. Obviously not a cover but I wanted to make sure people discover it if they haven’t already. An acoustic version of their big haired 80s classic
Luis Betancourt- Sexy Boy
Air are the band that rebuilt a lot of bridges between European electronica and mainstream pop in the late 90s. One of those bands that people are always happy to hear. This is from Moon Safari, an album full of potential for ‘covery/coveredness’. I went for this. A very low rent, do it at home type of deal. The artist doesn’t bother with replicating the lyrics, preferring to tinkle the artificial ivories of his dual keyboards while he duets with his Macbook.
Stereophonics- Gimme Shelter
What’s often forgotten when talking about the Welsh boys when people do talk about them( sadly not often these days) is how professional they are. I’ve seen them about five times live and they always give it sox, providing a louder but mostly in tune version of what you hear on the album. As a man none too fond of stadium/festival produced music, this suits me fine.
Here they are in a TV studio, now a four piece. Perfectly solid, like a Seiko SXZ to the Stones Rolex Submariner….That’s a compliment by the way
This song always sticks with me. A real crossover hit between grunge metal and hard rock. Metallica have had their Vietnam related moments and here was Alice in Chains time. I really like the very beginning of this. The singer strums to find his rhythm, takes a breath and readies himself for the challenge of trying to match Layne Stanley. If he fails, he fails with honour.
Honourable mention to UpChurch for the same song ‘plugged in’
Unplugged 7x- That joke isn’t funny anymore
Lovely almost note perfect stuff by this lad. It is rare to find someone who can replicate Morrissey’s yokel like warbling. Here’s a free lesson
Hero- Nathan and Eva Leach
Another brother and sister team-up. This was their moment of fame. Perfectly impromptu, with the laundry still showing in the background. Kitchen music is great.
Young and Beautiful- Alice Kristiansen
Of course there had to be a Lana reference stuck in somewhere. I went for this one because it offers a real alternative to the brilliant if massively produced original. Whereas Lana’s sounds like it should be heard in Carnegie Hall , Alice takes up her usual spot on the floor (she’s got hundreds of these videos, all really charming) and gently questions her suitor’s staying power.
And that is that. If you got this far without questioning totally my taste in music, I applaud you. But I likes what I likes, so there you go!