Interestment’s Top Four: Superior Cover Versions

Published: 18th May, 2009

Not including food products…

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Copycatting – or, as some people call it, copydogging – is rife. If you write down a list of all of your favourite things – from foods, to films, to drinks, to songs, to clothes, to anything at all – they’re probably all total rip offs from something else. Pasta is one Italian man’s version of Chinese rice, whilst a gentleman’s shirt was originally modelled on the womanly blouses worn by buxom whores attracting incoming sailors. Even Scarface, yes Scarface, was a remake of another film called Scarface from 1932. Both great movies, by the way. And let’s not forget that Heinz Baked Beans have been ripped off and outbrillianted by Branston ones. Everything is a cover version. Everything. So, with that in mind, we peered at music, and deduced the four most impressive copydogs, as decided by us…

1. Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends

Once in a while, The Beatles would throw Ringo a bone, and he’d get the chance to sing on an album. It was a move akin to Monet asking a hysterical four year old to finish off his lilies for him. It just never worked out. What Goes On (Rubber Soul), Yellow Submarine (Revolver), and then this on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – all the low points on great records. And yet, when Joe Cocker got his teeth into the song, it transformed into a gritty, rock-soul workout. Plus it reminds us of the brilliant Wonder Years. Here’s Ringo’s wrongo attempt…

2. The Clash, I Fought The Law

The Clash painted a snarling picture of spitting teens trying to put one over on the police, while the original – by The Crickets minus Buddy Holly, deceased – sounded more like a cheerful inmate regaling his jail buddies with something he’s just written in his cell. This, of course, making him a serious target for The Marys. Here’s that version…

3. Louie Louie, The Kingsmen

No doubt about it, The Kingsmen‘s version of Louie Louie is one of the greatest pop records ever made. The 1957 original, by Richard Berry,  isn’t too bad either. It’s a doo-wap song about a Jamaican man explaining his love life to a bartender called Louie. It’s a far more docile affair…

4. Hey Joe, Jimi Hendrix

Fourth spot was a close call as ever, with some magnificent songs falling at the last minute – James Brown’s version of Think by The 5 Royales, Johnny Cash’s excellent cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Labelle doing Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones – but in the end, Hendrix just nicked it for Hey Joe. It was a hit for the garage rock band The Leaves just a year before Hendrix made it iconic in 1966. It was an extra close call, because The Leaves‘ version is almost just as excellent…

Josh Burt
About the author:

Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

5 Responses to Interestment’s Top Four: Superior Cover Versions

  1. Robert Zimmerman says:

    Everything (EVERYTHING) Bob Dylan has done has been done better by someone else – All Along The Watchtower, Stuck in the Middle, Lay Lady Lay….

    …Etc…

    EVERYTHING.

  2. oliver says:

    The Nerves’ original version of “Hanging On The Telephone” is neat-o, but the Blondie version literally blows your socks off. Literally.

  3. HannahB says:

    This wont be popular with the cool crowd I’m sure but the Sugarbabes cover of ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’ by the Arctic Monkeys is AMAZING.

  4. MC Solar says:

    Agreed on The Sugababes. Brilliant.

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