Quinland posted a list of his favorite cover songs on his blog yesterday and asked everyone to share their favorites. I replied but couldn’t link to the songs themselves, so I thought I’d do so here. The list is by no means complete, but they were the first ones that came to mind, which must mean something!
- The Clash covering The Bobby Fuller Four
- The English Beat covering Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
- Soft Cell covering Gloria Jones
- Aztec Camera covering Van Halen
- The Wonder Stuff covering The Jam
- The Wonder Stuff covering Indigo Girls
- Smashing Pumpkins covering Stevie Nicks
“Tears of a Clown” was the first one that came to mind. Way back in 1981, when I first heard it, I had no idea it was a cover. I was a freshman in high school; I was totally into ska music after a friend of a friend brought a cassette back from England that had One Step Beyond by Madness recorded on one side and The Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It on the other. I remember the first time I heard the oldie, about 10 years later. I was floored. I do like it, but it can’t compare to the ska version, to me.
“Tainted Love” was another high school favorite. I don’t apologize for not knowing that was a cover, since I bet most people think that Soft Cell’s version is the original. This was a very handy song to play while in the midst of a relationship meltdown in college. By “play,” I mean opening the dorm room window and cranking the stereo up as high as it would go. . . which was 40. (I don’t know what the Spinal Tap guys were thinking with the whole “11” thing.)
It goes without saying that I was not a rocker in my youth. With apologies to David Thompson, Van Halen was not my cup of tea. So when the lovely and talented Roddy Frame decided to cover “Jump,” I could not have been happier. I like the Loaded Version; it’s still slightly lounge-y, but still with a blistering guitar solo. Because, of course, Mr. Frame was a child guitar prodigy.
The Bobby Fuller Four must have time traveled to the future, realized that The Clash would need to sing “I Fought The Law,” and then come back and written it for them. (Dang it. I just looked it up and they didn’t actually write it. It was written by the guy who replaced Buddy Holly in the Crickets. That would have been a hard job to take. Kind of like being the guy who replaced Ian McCullough on that one Bunnymen album.)
Miles Hunt from The Wonder Stuff loves The Jam. I know this because he told me so, one summer evening back in 1998. I’d heard “That’s Entertainment” by The Jam years and years before, but didn’t give it much thought until I saw Miles sing it to a crowd of 18,500 people in Bescot Stadium on their Welcome to the Cheap Seats documentary. I fell in love, looked up The Jam’s original version, and became somewhat obsessed.
Now, “Closer to Fine” had been a song I loved from the very first. (I saw Indigo Girls as an opening band for Hothouse Flowers at Pine Street Theater back in the day!) The Stuffies do a lovely, respectful cover of it as an extra track on Construction for the Modern Idiot.
I have to get this posted in the next five minutes, so suffice it to say that I love Smashing Pumpkins’ cover of “Landslide.” Stripped down and gorgeous.