Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.
Never – since we started this website – have I seen so many good covers come along as this March. We already wrote about Night Owls’ heavy soul and dub infusedVersions, Wednesday released the nice country-gaze cover album Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up, Black Midi came out with their surprising Cavalcovers EP, there was a second volume of The William Loveday Intention’s The New And Improved Bob Dylan, and so on. On the list we compiled during the month, there were 35+ covers that were good enough to share below, but we forced ourselves to be critical, with enough variety. So here again are our ten top picks!
Here Comes The Summer || Cover: Sweet Nobody || Original: The Undertones
Californian indie pop 4-piece released Five Star Diary, one of the standout tracks from their album We’re Trying Our Best, on 7″ vinyl. On the flipside you can hear a really cool version of The Undertones’ Here Comes The Summer. Irresistible catchy! Out through Lazy Perfection Records.
Head On || Cover: Ducks Ltd. feat. Illuminati Hotties || Original: The Jesus And Mary Chain
The Jesus And Mary Chain’s 1988 single Head On was covered by The Pixies on their Trompe Le Monde LP (1991). That version made Toronto’s jangle-pop duo Ducks Ltd. long to play it themselves, but in their own style. Supported by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin (ideas, vocals), it became a hit not to be missed – out on Carpark Records and Royal Mountain Records. This is the first cover of a series by Ducks Ltd. called The Sincerest Form Of Flattery, so we can expect more.
Body Movin’ || Cover: Geoff Palmer || Original: Beastie Boys
The most surprising covers are genre-transcending. Power pop hero Geoff Palmer (vocals, guitars) proves this once again by converting a hip-hop classic into a pop-punk tune. Together with his skilled friends Zack Sprague (vocals, drums), Kurt Baker (vocals, bass), and Kris Rodgers (vocals, keys) he started working on Hello Nasty‘s Body Movin’ – for no real reason – and the result is as fun as it can be.
Rock On || Cover: Alex Exists || Original: David Essex
Alex Pulec, frontman of The Nursery, has started a new solo project under the moniker of Alex Exists. His first release is a neo-glam version of David Essex’s Rock On, which he recorded as a contribution to the compilation cover album Coverama, out May 20th via The Confidence Emperors: “I was trying to elicit a feeling of nostalgia for something familiar and otherworldly. Something that has the gritty spirit of rock ‘n roll, and the holographic sheen of post-internet music… A song trapped in a timeless sound capsule.” The accompanying hyper-surrealistic video was shot at the Neon Museum Toronto, a fitting scene for the glittery melodies, moody synths and the throbbing sizzle of glam rock and punk music. Alex is currently writing songs for his debut EP, Everybody’s Famous (Except Me).
Rockin’ in the Free World || Cover: Pure Heel || Original: Neil Young
With a war going on, protest songs also appear. Reportedly Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It is an unofficial anthem for Ukrainians, but covers are popping up as well. Ukrainian band Beton (Бетон) adapted the lyrics of The Clash’ London Calling: Kyiv Calling. Members of Faith No More, Stabbing Westward, Rammstein, The Hardkiss (Ukraine), Revolting Cocks, Filter, Pigface, Agnostic Front, Basement Jaxx, Gravity Kills, The Cassandra Complex, Mesh, Blackcarburning, The Joy Thieves, Deathline International, Vaselyne, and Black Needle Noise released Come Together (We Will Stop You) – a Beatles cover – as Lifeline International. And Buffalo hardcore band Pure Heel brings Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World even more convincing than the master himself. It’s available on a lathe cut 7″ vinyl, only 25 pressed, through Irish Voodoo Records.
Up Above My Head || Cover: Dedicated Men Of Zion || Original: Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Gospel music still is quite popular in 2022, understandable when you hear what’s being put out today – just listen to the work of the Bible & Tire label. The most recent proof of this is The Devil Don’t Like It, the sophomore album by the North Carolina sacred soul all stars Dedicated Men of Zion. Although the lyrics differ from Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s song (1959), you will have no trouble chanting this version of Up Above My Head.
La Bamba || Cover: Jonathan Richman || Original: Traditional
I assume American singer-songwriter / guitarist Jonathan Richman needs no introduction, but as a long-time fan I take every opportunity to share his music. His new EP Cold Pizza & Other Hot Stuff, out via Blue Arrow Records (CDs will be available in June), is one such opportunity. In addition to five entertaining original tracks, you’ll hear an extraordinarily relaxed, multilingual performance of La Bamba, the Mexican folk traditional made famous by Ritchie Valens and Los Lobos.
No Expectations || Cover: Cowboy Junkies || Original: The Rolling Stones
Canadian alternative country / folk rock band Cowboy Junkies released Songs of the Recollection on Proper Records, a pretty good collection featuring covers of tracks from David Bowie, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Vic Chesnutt and The Cure – songs that found their way into the lives and eventually into the repertoire of the legendary band. Most successful imho is their sensitive version of Beggars Banquet‘s No Expectations, wonderfully orchestrated.
I Me Mine || Cover: The Bright Light Social Hour || Original: George Harrison/The Beatles
Since watching the Get Back documentary series, I’ve been playing The Beatles’ Let It Be LP regularly again, rediscovering that in addition to I’ve Got A Feeling, in particular I Me Mine is a persistent earworm. Austin, Texas’ cozmic soul / mood punk band The Bright Light Social Hour has turned it into an pleasing, more modern post-disco version that achieves the same effect. Put on your dancing shoes!
Twilight || Cover: Jesper Lindell feat. Amy Helm || Original: The Band
Swedish Americana singer Jesper Lindell’s sophomore album Twilights – out on Rootsy Music – offers a beautiful mix of blue-eyed soul and down-to-earth classic rock, inspired by legends like The Band and Van Morrison. In addition to nine original songs, there is one cover on the LP, also the title source: Twilight is a relatively unknown track by The Band, written by Robbie Robertson. To complete the circle: the cover version features American singer Amy Helm, daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm, from whom also a great cover was shared this month: You Got To Move, from a final session he recorded a year before his passing in 2012, together with Mavis Staples (from her new album Carry Me Home, available May 20th).
Check out our Dusted playlist on Spotify for more cool cover songs.