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“Dolby’s Top 50 Cover Versions of All Time”

 

50 Captain Beefheart – “Grown So Ugly” (Safe as Milk) [originally by Robert Pete Williams]
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Like everything on Safe as Milk, this old blues standard flows with an electric effervescence, bluesier than most of the stuff he’d do on this project and in the future (ironically he’d bust out the slide guitar a little more on the simultaneously cubist, conceptual Trout Mask Replica).
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49 Sum 41 – “You Remind Me” (live at MTV New Years special in New York, NY/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiezlkszlhc) [originally by Nickelback]
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Sure, I kind of just like this version because I saw it while I was getting soused on New Year’s Eve at a party my senior year in high school. But I mean come on, Nickelback is like one of those bands that people just bizarrely hate for no reason as if they maimed their gerbils to death or something and it’s a richly ironic punk cover of a mainstream song (although punk-ifying radio songs is actually a pretty common practice, my favorite of which probably being Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ “Walking on Sunshine”).
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48 R.E.M. – “Funtime” (Automatic for the People/25th Anniversary Edition) [originally by Iggy Pop]
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This is an interesting cultural juxtaposition of a song performed by an American gang, written by one American and one Englishman, on the subject of the emerging night club scene in Germany (see also “Nightclubbing” right along with it on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot album). To be honest R.E.M.’s version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but it’s still an entertaining listen if you’re a fan of all things nude and rude.
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47 Nirvana – “Plateau” (MTV Unplugged in New York) [originally by Meat Puppets]
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Being a monstrous Nirvana fanatic as well as one of the unplugged album itself, I must at least give the Meat Puppets credit for this: it’s riffy enough for Nirvana, or “Riffy, Spiffy,” to quote an actual term Kurt Cobain used in his journals [1].
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46 Phish – “Cry Baby Cry” (Hampton Comes Alive) [originally by The Beatles]
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I think this is probably a harder song to cover than a lot of people realize, what with the textural, musique concrete production originally of George Martin and all those sporadic enterings and exitings of a guitar and a piano — credit Page McConnell on keys with a great job on the riffs and the rolls, but most importantly, the hilariously beery, blue-collar knack Trey Anastasio has of selling it on the vocals.
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45 Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros – “Redemption Song” (Streetcore) [originally by Bob Marley and the Wailers]
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It’s certainly an indescribable feeling the seasoned listener imbibes upon this craft here, what especially with the singer’s passing probably a short less-than-half-decade after recording this: let’s just say the inner peace is palpable, the recording is organic, immediate and natural, and the themes spread refreshingly across racial lines to forge out some words we can all live by.
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44 David Bowie – “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (Aladdin Sane) [originally by The Rolling Stones]
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David Bowie’s music has always been generally “fast” both in actual speed and in terms of “living fast,” of “fast and loose” (rumor has it that this cover was actually aimed AT Mick Jagger), so this Stones rendition here I guess plays as a sort of defining career statement. But then, I’m not the biggest Bowie fan.
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43 Nirvana – “Lake of Fire” (MTV Unplugged in New York) [originally by Meat Puppets]
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Good god, if I hear one more person say how great Meat Puppets – II is I think I’m gonna blow a lid. No. First of all, it sounds like a cat getting castrated. Second of all, that claim severely undermines Kurt Cobain’s ability as a talent scout — for seeing the potential in material to cover, and inevitable improvement of said material. Third of all, they’re probably the same a**holes who try to diss Too High to Die and Sewn Together, just ‘cause, dude, they’re on a major label! It would just be nice if people could be proud of artists when they obtain some much-deserved commercial success, especially since we’re now listening to their music for free.
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42 The Beatles – “Twist and Shout” (Please Please Me) [originally by Isley Brothers]
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The original story has it that per the iron fist of George Martin, the band had to go through like 12 takes of this song, hence Lennon’s incredibly raw, ravaged vocal state by the final crowned cut. He**, Martin probably did more to the voices than to the freakin’ instruments.
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41 Van Morrison and Them – “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (“Baby, Please Don’t Go”/”Gloria” – single) [originally by Big Joe Williams]
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On this old delta blues cover (it was also a Muddy Waters standard), which might be the worst song on The Best of Van Morrison, the singer doesn’t so much sound impeccably black (which he does) as he does sound like some preternatural wildebeest emerging from the sound scape underbrush, thereupon continually meshing with it with flawless mojo.
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40 Cream – “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (Fresh Cream) [originally by Muddy Waters]
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Looking at all this information on Cream, you really get the idea that they sort of just had a funny existence: though musically invincible, debut album Fresh Cream only peaked at #39 on the “U.S. Albums Chart” and the producer Robert Stigwood, along with overseeing the album’s three different release labels, doubled as a “film producer and impresario” [2]. With all this complication and botheration, you can see why Jack Bruce would write the line “Who wants the worry / The hurry of city life?” Still, we will always have the music, pure in its predatory yowl and diamond emotion, cathartic in the mythical age of Motown and psychedelia.
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39 Nirvana – “Oh, Me” (MTV Unplugged in New York) [originally by Meat Puppets]
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I always thought that out of all three of the Puppets covers on Unplugged, this one had the warmest, homiest kind of sound — a classic tendril of pop songwriting which, I can’t emphasize enough, benefits cosmically and boundlessly from Cobain’s sublime vocal rendering.
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38 Primus – “Hello Skinny/Constantinople” (Frizzle Fry) [originally by Nat Simon/originally titled “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”]
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I mean just try to describe Primus — it’s almost like looking into the sun. All this time they’re lumped in with the “jam” crowd for just lack of ability to fit into any other shoulder-rubbing camp (don’t underestimate the California-hating histrionics of the founding grunge henchmen, Eddie Vedder sure won’t). Then, this year, they pound out The Desaturating Seven with all its odd time signatures and expansive structures and they actually SQUARE UP technically with the jam crowd, just when you thought you were catching on to their charade. Well so much for that. “Hello Skinny/Constantinople” is a significant album closeur on debut shred-fest Frizzle Fry.
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37 Madonna & Joe Henry – “Guilty by Association” (Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation) [originally by Vic Chesnutt]
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To be honest, my sister used to put this on mix tapes (she’s four years older than me) when I was in middle school or so, and along with R.E.M’s “Electrolyte” this incredible, disarming version of one of folk’s most melancholic heroes had the uncanny effect of making it seem like time had stopped. Well, that’s the songwriting, so when I get older I learn that it’s just about a perfect mix in a general sort of way, thereby making it a perfect cover — that warped, atonal organ at the start dissipating into a bath of perfectly blended, heterogeneous guitar effects including wah-wah and other pedals I don’t recognize and… who’s that gal there on those discreet backing vocals?
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36 Sublime – “Trenchtown Rock” (Second-Hand Smoke) [originally by Bob Marley and the Wailers]
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This was actually the first version of this song I heard — no qualms with any of them, but the echo chamber is definitely a canine force here, and just the orchestration of a guitar/vox ballad taking the electric form is very refreshing, like Captain Beefheart’s “Sue Egypt.” Listen to this and the whole Paul Leary-produced self-titled album for some seriously eclectic stoner-jamming.
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35 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “All along the Watchtower” (Electric Ladyland) [originally by Bob Dylan]
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This used to be my favorite Jimi Hendrix song, this black dude I worked with at the grocery store favoring “Voodoo Chile” and “Castles Made of Sand” (I guess that makes sense, since it’s a cover of a whitey). Something about this track just seemed so complete to me — the sense of urgency, the closely spliced lyrics, thematically speaking, the depiction of talking about some important things, which, I assume, actually existed back in the 1960s.
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34 U2 – “Satellite of Love” (One – EP) [originally by Lou Reed]
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Sometimes with these projects, like is the case with the Sublime choice I just mentioned, I think it might be a matter of just a couple of band members wanting to cover a certain song and not all of them, which is why you get the just-electric-guitar-and-vocals pedigree on these sessions. Now, this tells me a couple things. One, not many players, other than Captain Beefheart, have the confidence to go just Fender-and-vox (it’s simply not in style, apparently), and another, these particular people really, really love these songs, when they adopt this particular knack, and clearly the result is quite rewarding.
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33 Fiona Apple – “Across the Universe” [Pleasantville (Music from the Motion Picture)] [originally by The Beatles]
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This one gets my kudos almost for the selection itself as much as the rendition — Apple’s version doesn’t moderate too much from what came before, but as far as I’ve noticed nobody else have ever corralled this particular extremely serene, cosmos-traversing ballad from the last Beatles album (talk about ending in style), and in a way, the song didn’t need transformation at all. The throaty female timbre grants it all the transcendence it needs.
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32 Grateful Dead – “Good Lovin’” (Shakedown Street) [originally by Young Rascals]
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In looking up on iTunes just now I noticed that this song is actually on the immortal Europe ’72 live album, though apparently not recorded in a studio until the Shakedown Street (1977) sessions, and then released on that album. This might seem like a tragedy, retreading and resorting to your old concert material for new album filler… so it’s a good thing THEY REALLY NAILED IT, Bob Wier being at his best here and of course only gearing up for the timeless Closing of Winterland set of concerts they’d do later that very year (on New Year’s Eve, in fact).
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31 Pearl Jam – “Crazy Mary” (Vs./Expanded Edition) [originally by Victoria Williams]
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Some of these songs made this list on the sheer strength of the originals and the cover artists not doing TOO MUCH to mess up the song. I fully feel that that’s the case with this here — it’s in the seamless toggling between major and minor chord play, the dark, endlessly Dionysian imagery which isn’t especially pastoral or urban, or he**, even human, or worldly, to boot. But that’s why we love it and indeed, few would doubt that it contains that cuspid essence of danger and combustion which has always attracted and defined Pearl Jam, themselves.
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30 Grateful Dead – “It’s All over Now” (The Closing of Winterland) [originally by Bobby Womack]
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Wow, this is just a barnburner of a cover here, showcasing all the strident songwriting of Motown and the entrancing guitar onslaught of the Grateful Dead (and yes The Rolling Stones also do a great version, just consider that co-29th, I guess). The Dead slow it down a tad, plotting out some well worn time for a vicious guitar solo or two, and Bob Weir… well.. let’s just say he sells it right as rain.
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29 Umphrey’s McGee – “Africa” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YeDvigyFd0) [originally by Toto]
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The resonation in my mind is still clear: “That sh** was so gay! Straight ‘80s style!” Such was the sagacious proclamation of that belligerent kid arguing with Jay on the errant but culturally astute Kevin Smith film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). Now, it’s a worthy discussion as to whether Umphrey’s, with their Toto cover here, is cashing in on a certain COMEDIC value regarding the average opinion of alt-rockers on ‘80s music (the band also covers “The Safety Dance”)… well if they are I suppose they should get credit for that in and of itself, a la the irony (there’s undoubtedly something to be said for not making your selections of covers too obvious — check Cobain’s Meat Puppets repertoire).
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28 Rapeman – “Just Got Paid” (Two Nuns and a Pack Mule) [originally by ZZ Top]
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Usually quite the opinionated egotist, Steve Albini here wields a refreshingly appreciative perspective on a blues traditional also conveyed excellently by ZZ Top, now amped up and coked up Chicago style. It is probably the centerpiece of Two Nuns and a Pack Mule, otherwise a meandering but visceral adventure in early indie/noise.
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27 PJ Harvey – “Highway 61 Revisited” (Rid of Me) [originally by Bob Dylan]
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I’m sure you know the concept of history vs. prehistory — the division of different epochs in one of which documenting and recording existed, for the purposes of assigning developments to points in time, the other of which being too far in the past to offer such documentation. Either way, sometimes I feel like I’m living in POST-history — nothing new is happening, the past is being rehashed over and over again ad nauseam, and tired old themes are recycled and trotted out before half-catatonic audiences for quantifiable commerce. Either way, I know there was a time when PJ Harvey seemed vital. I REMEMBER it. Rid of Me is more or less the center of her career — blurring gender lines under caterwauling guitar fuzz in true feminist fashion, but… choosing a guy’s song to cover here? Yup, read between the lines here, folks. Or read any interview with her. You’ll learn a lot. Like all of the best cover versions, this one modifies considerably from the original in style.
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26 10,000 Maniacs – “Every Day is Like Sunday” (Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure, and Unknown Recordings of 10,000 Maniacs) [originally by Morrissey]
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When The Beatles came around, lots of excitement generated around the music itself of them and the rest of the British invasion. By Morrissey’s day in 1988, “Phony Beatle-mania (had) bitten the dust”, as Joe Strummer so legendarily quipped. Credit his fellow Briton, anyway, for crafting together what would be a sort of immortal snapshot of the country’s overall hopelessness, modified very little here by the albeit canary Natalie Merchant beside a slight speed-up, which doesn’t do it harm.
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25 Robert Glasper – “Reckoner” (Covered) [originally by Radiohead]
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This is my second favorite song, in fact, on In Rainbows next to the grainy, key-heavy “All I Need,” and it’s put to marvel here live by jazz pianist Robert Glasper — the version is even souped up wonderfully by a funky kick/snare tandem, which actually opens the song. Overall, Covered can be a pretty sedate adventure in patient, ambient jazz.
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24 Phish – “Boogie on Reggae Woman” (Hampton Comes Alive) [originally by Stevie Wonder]
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Unlike maybe “Cry Baby Cry,” the original of which finds that layered chamber production which is almost impossible to improve upon, with no disrespect meant to Stevie Wonder, this Phish didactic one-ups the original because it just finds every member so cutting-edge on his instrument — Gordon laying down the funk on bass, Fishman dancing around the sound scape with dizzying drum fills to put competitors to rest, McConnell like a piano riff Bob Ross (here’s some happy riffs), and even Anastasio, though he’s only playing those reggae stabs, with that typical vocal swagger that seems to say, even though they’ve maybe played this song 1,000 times, it’s still true.
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23 Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal” (ANThology) [originally by Michael Jackson]
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I have to admit, like I WANT to hate this song seeing as it’s the band’s biggest hit and it’s a fu**in’ cover, plus they remind me of a bunch of obnoxious frat boys (I saw them on “MTV Cribs” in smoker’s jackets one time, for Christ’s sake), and the singer sings with that horrible fake British accent on “Movies,” but god da** I heard this sh** on the radio about a year ago and I think it single handedly prompted me into launching that Dolby Radio thing. Sometimes you just gotta rock out.
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22 Led Zeppelin – “Gallows Pole” (III) [originally a traditional]
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This is sort of a stupid selection, I guess, since with it being a traditional I was unable to list the original artist which hence makes its selection a bit tenuous, but I do find this to be an underrated Zep tune which is strangely never mentioned by any of the ruling Zeppelin gentry of the land (line cooks, dog groomers) as a heavyweight.
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21 Roommate – “Smothered in Hugs” (Guilty Rainbow) [originally by Guided by Voices]
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Fu**, this song isn’t on Spotify so I actually can’t listen to it, unless of course I scrounge up that scratched-up CD-R I have it on… anyway, it’s an excellent choice and an excellent version, slowed down from the original version on Bee Thousand which I have to admit I never would have envisioned transformed into something melancholy and poignant.
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20 George Thorogood & the Destroyers – “Who Do You Love?” (Who Do You Love?) [originally by Bo Diddley]
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And now we have… the dude from Delaware! There he is, in Delaware! Sorry, that was a Wayne’s World reference… and in actuality Thorogood’s hometown would seem to offer more in the way of musical tradition than you might think sitting as it does right on an interstate between Philly and Baltimore, also near Atlantic City which presumably contributed to all his lyrical themes of excessive boozing.
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19 Nirvana – “The Man Who Sold the World” (MTV Unplugged in New York) [originally by David Bowie]
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Nirvana were just the masters at this, though I have to admit, though not the most ardent Bowie fan in the world I do find the original pretty dang droll and charming, though Cobain’s voice for this song is just so perfect — it’s like that twisted technique he uses on another cover “They Hung Him on a Cross” and also “Love Buzz” (God da** that’s a cover too), except that this version just seems the ultimate manifestation of it as something that could be, or would be, copied by others.
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18 Dionne Farris – “Blackbird” (Wild Seed — Wild Flower) [originally by The Beatles]
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I had this job this past summer where I sort of worked over out in nature, so I sort of fell in love with this song even more than ever — it’s a great tale of the interchangeability of moments, to me, and of EVERY moment actually being of paramount importance, though flanked by other moments in which such a resolve was similarly necessary in order for a living organism to truly own up to its present situation. Dionne Farris slows it down (as far as I know every Beatles cover in history is slowed down from its original temp) in beautiful Delta Blues form.
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17 Grateful Dead – “Johnny B. Goode” (The Closing of Winterland) [originally by Chuck Berry]
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Part of my selection of this here, I have to admit, is just the festivity of the whole thing — I own this Closing of Winterland collection on CD which is adorned with these giant, beautiful rose logos. It’s the last concert at an iconic venue which also housed the material for my favorite Hendrix live album, and Ken Kesey gets on at the beginning of this particular set for a weird, likely acid-informed, exclamatory band introduction. The song itself is festive and uptempo just like the original but it also has that quintessential Dead LAZINESS which I happen to kind of like, that frilly guitar taking the lead role as if to say, this is still a vial of psychedelia of which no other band on the planet will ever truly be capable.
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16 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Wild Thing” (Live at Winterland) [originally by The Troggs]
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It’s short. It’s simple. It’s stupid. It’s rock and roll. That’s the point. “Wild Thing” caps off an amazing Live at Winterland set of rip-roaring blues-rock and breakneck classic rock numbers, comprising in the process my very favorite Hendrix live album and also the only version of “Hey Joe” I will consider abiding.
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15 The White Stripes – “Jolene” (Boston Tea Party) [originally by Dolly Parton]
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There’s such a thing as overacting and there’s such a thing as just, well, being Jack White, which as we know is a less explainable phenomenon. For how much of a virtuoso he is in the electric guitar solos, for that matter, his weird, primordial emotion summoned on this Dolly Parton cover in which he even takes on a female persona (not modifying the words to “please don’t take my woman”, but keeping them as “man”), dollying along more than enough guitar torque, of course, to compensate.
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14 The Black Crowes – “Midnight Rambler” [Live at the Fillmore 12/19/10 (Live Nation Studios)] [originally by The Rolling Stones]
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It’s hard to know what to say about this particular selection other than it’s just a seethingly perfect song to listen to. It’s not even like it’s the perfect cover… because it really doesn’t moderate very much from the original. It’s just the perfect song to listen to, maybe when you’re “drunk on Sunday / Tryin’ to feel like (you’re) at home”, after work, or whatever. Change “Midnight Rambler” from the original, when Chris Robinson has a voice like he does? How could he have ever been so blind?
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13 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Killing Floor” (Live at Winterland) [originally by Howlin’ Wolf]
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I know for a fact that this CD is out of print… well now it’s at least up there on Spotify in what’s apparently a four-disc boxed set entitled just Winterland. Something about the sound Hendrix gets on the non-stop riffing here is just so full and rife with classic rock authority. The band, too, has undeniable tightness, Mitch Mitchell proving his worth as a commanding stage hand on drums.
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12 Grateful Dead – “Around and Around” (The Closing of Winterland) [originally by Chuck Berry]
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In tandem as it may be with the formidable “Johnny B. Goode,” both in the Chuck Berry collection and on the awe-inspiring Closing of Winterland, “Around and Around” is what you call a “dark horse” — taking a far lesser-known, low-profile tune and really selling it, with that signature Dead twang.
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11 Califone – “The Orchids” (Roots & Crowns) [originally by Psychic TV]
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This is actually the critical favorite, by and large, on one of my favorite albums (which isn’t a covers album), the pasted-together, homespun Roots & Crowns, full of folk songs too anthemic to be blues and too otherworldly to be lazy. “The Orchids” is the positional centerpiece and arguably the emotional one as well, seeming to slightly improve on the albeit cosmic original from ‘80s new wave band Psychic TV.
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10 Yo La Tengo – “It’s Alright (The Way That You Live)” (New Wave Hot Dogs) [originally by The Velvet Underground]
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In my “Dolby’s Rupees” installment on this exact version I comment on how, even though it was left off of the final selection for the Velvet Underground & Nico album and plopped on the outtakes segment of the reissue, it is in a sense the quintessential VU opus from a standpoint of songwriting itself, to say nothing necessarily of the sonic assaults and expeditions the band was sort of cottoned to contemporarily on this particular recording session.
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9 Wilson Pickett – “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” (The Wicked Pickett) [originally by Solomon Burke]
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Here is my #1 choice of all time from my radio singles list from 2016 — a staple of The Blues Brothers (1980) which actually might be arguably John Belushi’s finest moment as an entertainer (and don’t forget Elwood’s classic introduction of all the “fine folks from the Illinois fraternal order of police” who showed up for the gig, looking for him and Jake, of course). Listening to this song, you hear why Wilson Pickett earned the nickname “Wicked Pickett.”
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8 The Rivieras – “California Sun” (California Sun – The Best of the Rivieras) [originally by Joe Jones]
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Moving now from Chicago 90 miles east to my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, I spotlight the Rivieras and probably my favorite ever little wave or danceable psychedelia, the type of thing which would have been perfect for something like the Full Metal Jacket soundtrack, though it didn’t actually make the cut (“Wooly Bully” is a good enough substitute I suppose).
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7 Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (MTV Unplugged in New York) [originally by Lead Belly]
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Sometimes it’s hard to rank these songs in any LOGICAL order and when I get down to designating, say, the top 10 (or the select few from an album like this that brandishes classic covers out of its freakin’ fingernails), I tend to gravitate toward the ones that “play nice” with other songs, so to speak, making for good mix tape or record store PA fare, what have you. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” this is not. Recorded during a time when, purportedly, Courtney Love was actually cheating on him, it is indeed almost like his final cry, capping off this astonishing explosion of melody as the closeur of this unplugged album, coming complete with that improvised pause toward the end and of course, that classic hollow-body Squier Telecaster sound, just more endearing simplicity from one of the most tormented musical minds we’ve ever beheld.
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6 Taj Mahal – “Sweet Home Chicago” [In Progress & In Motion (1965-1998)] [originally by Robert Johnson]
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You’ve gotta admit, these cover versions are perfect for the age of digital downloads — they’re the types of things that for artists usually go at the ends of concerts as is the case with Hendrix’s “Wild Thing,” or whatever, so lending themselves to less of an extent in other words to adjacency to other album tracks, so to speak (that Sum 41 “You Remind Me” came around right about the pinnacle of “file sharing,” 2002), and you can certainly imagine this little nugget right here capping off the Taj’s spirited little session of get-down. He’s even got those background vocalizing mamas on the same page with him. Gotta respect it.
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5 Cream – “Sitting on Top of the World” (Wheels of Fire) [originally by Howlin’ Wolf]
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I think there’s summer Cream music and there’s winter Cream music (“Wrapping Paper”). This track, without much deliberation, to me, was made for summer — it’s somehow even lazier and swampier than the American Delta itself, slowed down from the original, and with these big, incessant riffs that just caterwaul to the heavens and back like they’re doing celestial pushups, for the most aromatic, most ALIVE time of year.
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4 Talking Heads – “Take Me to the River” (More Songs about Buildings and Food) [originally by Al Green]
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Honestly, the original version of this song is so little known that it’s hard to even remember that this is a cover at all, but that sort of even makes it better, doesn’t it? It was a great selection of a relative arcane, much like the Nirvana – unplugged sessions, and hey, is that the chord progression that would end up in both Huey Lewis – “I Want a New Drug” and Grateful Dead – “Throwing Stones”? Yup.
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3 Nirvana – “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” (MTV Unplugged in New York) [originally by The Vaselines]
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I have to admit, it’s hard for me to divorce my thinking on this song in general from just this one evening in about 2006 when I returned from this “jam” concert I’d gotten invited to but didn’t really want to go to, which had taken place at a record store where on that same night I found this CD for $7.99, and chilled out still stoned to ride the waves of this beautiful version — the accordion bath entering at the beginning of the second verse, the whole thing flawlessly structured with a phrasing wrinkle at the end, and of course, that cherished mental image we all have of Krist Novoselic smiling ear to ear clutching that antiquated, unwieldy instrument.
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2 Yes – “America” (Fragile) [originally by Simon and Garfunkel]
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There’s this scene in the grunge documentary Hype! with this girl telling about how vibrant the current Seattle scene is in the early ‘90s and she says it’s even “better than London in the ‘60s,” after which this one old dude hilariously quips, in agreement with her, “I was IN London in the ‘60s! It was awful!” And to be sure, I’d never even realized there were purportedly anything to such a UK scene around this time, especially since most of those bands apparently moved to America or whatever, but in Yes we probably have the earmark of why a scene would have at least been fabricated, rocking out here with a deceptively virile sort of abandon you find in general with them, and I’m glad to find the guitar taking the forefront on this rocking take on the folk staple, because deep down Yes were bare bones rock and roll.
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1 Sia – “Paranoid Android” (Exit Music: Songs With Radio Heads) [originally by Radiohead]
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Sia is Australian. For her choice of covers which would flow onto Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads, she handles the English group evident in the collection’s name, but peppers the occasion with a notable surprise: the “Strawberry Fields Forever” riff to open the proceedings, played on… uh, a clarinet? Naming instruments was never really my forte, but what is clear here, along with the timbral wonders of Sia’s voice, her undeniable internalization of the “rage and alienation” mentioned by critics in association with this original, and the cultural status of her home country Australia itself being originally a sort of repository for England’s sociological outliers and criminals, is that she really had a lot to say about this Radiohead classic, and even amidst the relentless bath of string and piano, her voice, like a twisted, siren-like derelict, grabs the reins and hypnotizes us with its fathoms of rich catharsis. Sia is the most high-profile contributor to Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads.
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[1] Yes as despicable as it is I really did read somebody’s journals, though I still attempt to convey some moral discernment by technically objecting to their publication.
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[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Stigwood.

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