The Unheralded Majesty of the Cover Song

This dude named Ryan Clements (who, nowadays, is the GM at the Skatepark of Tampa) introduced me to Metallica in our 9th grade biology lab back in 1987, right around the same time they released “Garage Days Revisited”. I had no idea what a “cover” even was at that time… but I quickly learned.

Often times, another band just plays the shit out of someone else’s song, and puts the original to shame.

Last month, in my review of Vital Remains: Icons of Evil, I wrote:

… the anthemic “Disciples of Hell” is a rare glimpse of Andrew W.K. style root-fifth-octave stadium rock burned over brimstone…

Little did I know, but that track is actually an Yngwie Malmsteen cover. So, curiosity piqued, I hit up iTMS and bought the original offa’ his “Marching Out” album. If you’re game, I strongly advise that you buy Yngwie’s version before you listen to Vital Remains. It’s your standard late-80s guitar wankery, but it’s not bad overall. It cannot, however, hold a candle to VR’s version, which will surely cave in your skull.

A couple of weekends ago, “Walk the Line” was on cable (again), and I watched it (again). Near the end, I wondered: “Are there any good hardcore metal covers of Johnny Cash tunes?” The answer? Yes, at least one. Go to iTMS and check out “Folsom Prison Blues” covered by Cronic Disorder. The song starts off as you’d expect a Cash cover to… then…

Majesty.

I did a quick review of my iTunes library, and compiled my list of best covers:

Song Title Original By Covered By
20 Eyes Misfits Shades Apart
Astronomy Blue Oyster Cult Metallica
Breadfan Budgie Metallica
Bring Tha Noize Public Enemy Anthrax
Cars Gary Neuman Fear Factory
Easy (Like Sunday Morning) The Commodores Faith No More
Get Down Make Love Queen Nine Inch Nails
Jesus Christ Pose Sound Garden Dillinger Escape Plan
Last Caress/Green Hell Misfits Metallica
Lay Lady Lay Bob Dylan Ministry
Low Rider War Exodus
Paranoid Black Sabbath Megadeth
The Prince Diamond Head Metallica
School Nirvana Fear Factory
Stone Cold Crazy Queen Metallica
Sweet Dreams Eurythmics Marilyn Manson
Tainted Love Gloria Jones Soft Cell
War Pigs Black Sabbath Faith No More
Zombie Eaters Faith No More Ill Niño

Also, it doesn’t qualify for the list, but someone finally had the good sense to cover Clutch. Watch Mastodon play “Big News I”.

Which covers did I forget? Know of any others that rock? Comments open!

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5 thoughts on “The Unheralded Majesty of the Cover Song

  1. I run a music webcast of over 23,000 songs, of which almost 1,000 are cover songs. Some are by well-known cover acts like Me First & The Gimme Gimmes and Richard Cheese, some are semi-comical covers recorded by celebrities (such as the infamous William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy tracks), but most are just regular ole cover songs recorded by rock artists.

    I’ll list a few of my favorites here…

    We’re An American Band – Raging Slab
    (original by Grand Funk Railroad)

    Along Comes Mary – Bloodhound Gang
    (original by the Association)

    She Said, She Said – Black Keys
    (original by the Beatles)

    Do Ya Think I’m Sexy – Revolting Cocks
    (original by Rod Stewart)

    Cinnamon Girl – Type O Negative
    (original by Neil Young)

    For comedy relief purposes, I also love these:

    Shock The Monkey – Don Ho
    (original by Peter Gabriel)

    Hungry Like The Wolf – Reel Big Fish
    (original by Duran Duran)

    I can’t end without mentioning this legendary cover song. This one launched 20 years of punk and power pop covers of old pop hits:

    Golden Shower Of Hits (Jerks On 45) – Circle Jerks
    (a medley of cheesy 60s and 70s pop songs)

  2. Common People – William Shatner (o: Pulp)
    Fight the Power – Barenaked Ladies (o: Public Enemy)
    Such Great Heights (live with toy instruments) – Ben Folds (o: Postal Service)

  3. Stand Up – Richard Cheese (original by Ludacris)
    500 Miles – Down By Law (original by The Proclaimers)
    Stand By Me – Pennywise (original by BB King)
    Take On Me – Reel Big Fish (original by A-Ha)

    I got about 3 gigs worth of cover songs if you’re interested. You won’t be sorry.

  4. Social D – Ring of Fire

    Oh, and if you wanna go with covers… look at Encomium, not sure if you remember that album, or ever listened to it… it as a butchering of various Led Zeppelin songs, including the worst one which was by Sheryl Crow, which was Dyer Maker. Best one on that album is prolly Dancing Days, done by STP, it was the first time I truly understood the lyrics.

    How about GNR’s version of Mama Kin (original by Aerosmith), which I actually kinda like… as well a their version of New Rose. (original by the Damned btw.) But GNR did a full album of covers, I hated most of them ‘cept New Rose.

    Eh, I could waste more time thinking of covers I dig, but I figured I’d put in my $.02

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