The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Even Better Than The Real Thing

Another obsession. Cover version albums.

There’s three types. There’s the tribute album, to an artist or label. There’s the compilation, often for charity, often in commemoration of a thing. And there’s the free CDs that are glued with that strange adhesive jelly onto the cover of Mojo magazine.

But what they all have in common is I love them. I love bad cover versions; the more random and inappropriate, the better. It sorts out the men from the boys; the artists who can knock together something musically worthwhile at short notice versus the chancers who can’t even be bothered to work out the chords properly.

I heart them all, for all their oddness, for all their this-would-make-a-really-taxing-round-in-a-pop-quiz-ness. I wish the Radio 1’s Live Lounge compilations only included the covers; the rest, for me, is just chaff.

Here’s some favourites. You must seek them out!

Dubstar – Jealousy – on ‘Come Again’.
McAlmont & Butler – Back For Good – on ‘1 Love’
The Thompson Twins – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – on ‘Red Hot & Blue’
The Divine Comedy – I’ve Been To A Marvellous Party – on ‘Twentieth Century Blues’
The Divine Comedy – There’s A Light That Never Goes Out - on ‘The Smiths Is Dead’
Wonderstuff – Coz I Luv You – on ‘Ruby Trax’
KT Tunstall – Let’s Stick Together – on ‘Radio 1 Established 1967’
Kate Bush – Rocket Man – on ‘Two Rooms’
Susannah Hoffs – Boys Keep Swinging – on ‘David Bowie Songbook’
Duffy – Live And Let Die – on ‘Heroes’
Future Bible Heroes – Don’t You Want Me – on ‘Reproductions’
The Scissor Sisters – Take Me Out – on ‘Radio 1 Live Lounge’
OMD – Whole Again – on ‘Liverpool Number Ones’
The Flaming Lips – Bohemian Rhapsody – on ‘Killer Queen’
Suede – Shipbuilding – on ‘The Help Album’
a-ha – #9 Dream – on ‘Instant Karma’
Claire Sweeney – Too Much Love Will Kill You – on ‘Claire’


  1. I love a lot of David Arnold's Shaken And Stirred album of Bond covers: Pulp doing All Time High, Propellerheads doing OHMSS, Iggy doing All The Time in the World. The Divine Comedy's live version of Life on Mars is fun. Bill Shatner's Common People is a guilty joy, and Johnny Cash's version of One is not the sort of thing I'd normally be moved by; but cor.

    But what about covers of songs by the *same* artist? There's a bonus on Heathen of Bowie redoing Conversation Piece, first recorded in 1969. It is fab.

  2. These are all good, well, mostly, though points are deducted from S & S for including a track by Chrissie Hynde.

    Covers by the same artist. Hmmm. Not so many of those. And I'm not sure I'd want to include 'acoustic versions', delightful as many of them are. We're talking proper re-workings. Bowie's done it a few times, but who else? The only decent ones I can think of are by Sparks, who released a whole tribute album to themselves.

  3. Have you heard The Fall's cover of Lost In Music?

    Best. Cover. Ever. Although I would say that, it is also true.

  4. This one you mean?

  5. That's the one.

    When I first heard they were going to do a cover of that, I didn't believe it, until I saw the track list for TIS. And then I couldn't conceive how they could possibly do it.

    And then I heard it, and my adoration for The Fall reached new heights.

    And then there's their version of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing...