The act of recording another artist’s composition can produce a brilliant interpretation that often rivals the original. And then there are cover versions that stay faithful to the source, celebrating the song’s creator. However, more often than not, tackling someone else’s tune results in rubbish intended to make money. Today, we’re in search of the the ‘good ones’, if you will—please list your ten favorite cover versions from any genre and any era, and feel free to include comments.
Shelf’s Top 10 Cover Songs (in chronological order)
Yellow Magic Orchestra “Firecracker” (1978)
Original Artist > Martin Denny (1959)
Japan “I Second That Emotion” (1980)
Original Artist > Smokey Robinson And The Miracles (1967)
Soft Cell “Tainted Love” (1981)
Original Artist > Gloria Jones (1965)
This Mortal Coil “Song To The Siren” (1983)
Original Artist > Tim Buckley (1970)
Peter Murphy “The Light Pours Out Of Me” (1985)
Original Artist > Magazine (1978)
Pet Shop Boys “Always On My Mind” (1987)
Original Artist > Elvis Presley (1972)
Renegade Soundwave “Biting My Nails” (1988)
Original Artist > Geneviève Waïte (1973)
They Might Be Giants “Istanbul [Not Constantinople]” (1990)
Original Artist > The Four Lads (1953)
Saint Etienne “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” (1990)
Original Artist > Neil Young (1970)
Happy Mondays “Step On” (1990)
Original Artist > John Kongos (1971)
Visit Jumping Someone Else’s Song for covers galore.
01 You Showed Me (Radio Edit)
02 You Showed Me (Tee’s Alternative Mix)
03 You Showed Me (Tee’s Club Mix)
04 You Showed Me (Tee’s Freeze Mix)
05 You Showed Me (TNT’s Frozen Dub)
06 You Showed Me (Bonus Beats)
07 You Showed Me (Tee’s Radio)
INFO > Originally intended as a B-side, Ian Broudie’s cover of “You Showed Me” was ultimately deemed album worthy, appearing on The Lightning Seeds’ 1996 LP “Dizzy Heights.” The song was written by Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark of The Byrds, and recorded by The Turtles in 1968. Sampling The Turtles’ original, Broudie’s version was issued as the fourth single from “Dizzy Heights”, and reached 8 on the UK Singles Chart in 1997. The tune is also included on the soundtrack to “Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery.”
Born Steven John Harrington in Newbridge, Caerphilly, Wales on 28 May 1959, Steve Strange found success as a club promoter and singer, and will forever be remembered as the face of the New Romantic movement.
Not long after attending a Sex Pistols gig in 1976, Harrington formed his own punk band, The Moor Murderers, with Soo Catwoman, Chrissie Hynde, Vince Ely, Topper Headon, and Mark Ryan. After the group disbanded, Harrington briefly fronted The Photons before assembling musicians for a new project: Visage. The newly christened Steve Strange was initially joined by Rusty Egan and Midge Ure from Rich Kids; Visage would later be completed with the addition of Barry Adamson, John McGeoch and Dave Formula from Magazine, and Ultravox keyboardist Billie Currie. The group’s first single, “Tar”, failed to chart.
In 1978, Strange began organizing club nights with Rusty Egan in London. Strict door policies were enforced, admitting only “the weird and wonderful”, which turned Blitz at Covent Garden into the epicenter of the New Romantic subculture.
Visage’s eponymous debut album and second single were released at the end of 1980; both the LP and “Fade To Grey” were very successful in the UK and Europe. Follow-up album “The Anvil” charted even higher in the UK and yielded further hit singles in 1982. However, subsequent releases with a different line-up were unable to continue the group’s success, leading to the break up of Visage in 1985.
Strange’s next endeavor was the short-lived Strange Cruise with Wendy Wu. He then resumed his club host career, working primarily in Ibiza. Following a long hiatus from performing and recording, Strange formed Visage Mk II in 2004, although the new version’s activities were minimal. Visage Mk III, featuring Strange, Steve Barnacle, Robin Simon, and Lauren Duvall, premiered in 2013 with “Hearts And Knives”, marking a welcome return to the act’s trademark synthpop sound. The new band also toured in the UK and Europe.
Sadly, Steve Strange suffered a fatal heart attack on 12 February 2015 while on holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
We Fade To Grey…
1.01 Full Intention – America [I Love America] (12′ Vocal Mix)
1.02 Key To Life – Find Our Way [Breakaway] (Tommy’s Revival Mix)
1.03 Inner City – Your Love (Mike ‘Hitman’ Wilson’s House Mix)
1.04 The Commission – Keep Your Head Up (Commission Club Mix)
1.05 The Erick Morillo Project – Jazz It Up (Original Jazz Mix)
1.06 Obsession – Anytime (Trinity Mix)
1.07 Bedrock – For What You Dream Of (Full On Renaissance Mix)
1.08 Superstars Of Rock – Orange Sunshine (Club Version)
1.09 The X Factor – Desert Rain (Free Spirit Vocal Mix)
1.10 Rhythmcentric – You Dont Have To Worry (Revelation Mix)
2.01 XLR8 – Take Me Higher (Vission And Lorimer Pump Mix)
2.02 Cut And Past – Forget It (Logical Toolbox Mix)
2.03 The Fine Vibe – I’m Gonna Make You (5th Ave. Mix)
2.04 Sleaze Sisters – Let’s Whip It Up (Sweet Mama Mix)
2.05 Critical Upgrade – Feel The Train (Back In The 70s Mix)
2.06 Urban Cookie Collective – Spend The Day (Develop Corp Dub)
For those who may not know, the iconic image that graces Joy Division’s 1979 debut album, “Unknown Pleasures”, is a visual representation of radio signals from the first discovered pulsar, which is a magnetized, rotating neutron star. The image’s origins are discussed in-depth on the blog of Scientific American by the periodical’s art director of information graphics, Jen Christiansen.
In the video below, Data Visualization Reinterpreted: The Story of Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” Album, designer Peter Saville explains how the pulsar image came to be used as the cover, and its subsequent impact on popular culture.
01 People Are Still Having Sex (Radio Edit)
02 People Are Still Having Sex (LP Mix)
03 People Are Still Having Sex (Mark’s Missionary Mix)
04 People Are Still Having Sex (Crunch-Ø-Mix)
05 People Are Still Having Sex (Mo’ Sleezy Mix)
06 People Are Still Having Sex (Ralphi’s Orgasmic Mix)
INFO > William ‘Bud’ LaTour began his professional career as an on-air personality, working at various radio stations in Arizona during the early-to-mid 1980s. That environment fostered his talents for performing voice-overs and writing song parodies, much in the same vein as ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.
LaTour relocated to Chicago in 1987 and continued climbing the ranks in radio, while also finding time to start a punk band, The Squids, and work as an engineer in a recording studio. Producing tracks with ‘Housemaster’ Terry Baldwin piqued Bud’s interest in dance music and inspired his next endeavor: solo artist.
LaTour’s debut, “People Are Still Having Sex”, was an unusual and controversial song in 1991, which no doubt helped it’s chart placement: the single cracked the US Top 40 and peaked at 15 in the UK. Concurrent with his mainstream success and underground following with The Squids, LaTour continued working in radio, which has always remained his true passion.
The promotional video features the Safe Sex 7″ mix, which changes the line “This AIDS thing’s not working,” to “This safe thing’s not working.”
01 Dove [I’ll Be Loving You] (T&F vs Moltosugo Radio Mix)
02 Dove [I’ll Be Loving You] (T&F vs Moltosugo Club Mix)
03 Dove [I’ll Be Loving You] (Full Intention Vocal Mix)
04 Dove [I’ll Be Loving You] (John Creamer & Stephane K Vocal Mix)
05 Dove [I’ll Be Loving You] (The Phil Fuldner Treatment)
INFO > 2002 single “Dove” was the debut release of Italian vocalist Moony (Monica Bragato).
01 Your Kisses Are Charity (Dolly Mix)
02 Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (Kinky Disco Mix)
03 Time [Clock Of The Heart] (Quivver’s Amityville Mix)
INFO > “Your Kisses Are Charity” was the second single issued from Culture Club’s 1999 album “Don’t Mind If I Do.” CD 2 includes a version of the song featuring country music legend Dolly Parton, along with contemporary reworks of band classics “Time [Clock Of The Heart]” and “Do You Want To Hurt Me.”
01 A Strange Kind Of Love (Remix Version) 03:53
02 A Strange Kind Of Love (Album Version) 03:51
03 A Strange Kind Of Love (Long Remix Version) 05:08
INFO > “A Strange Kind Of Love” is taken from Peter Murphy’s third LP, “Deep.” An alternate mix of the song features as a B-side to “Cuts You Up”, while a remixed version was promoted in North America for radio airplay, with an accompanying video for TV exposure.
01 Ghetto Heaven (Soul II Soul Edit)
02 Ghetto Heaven (Soul II Soul Remix)
03 Ghetto Heaven (Original Version)
04 Ghetto Heaven (Extended Version)
INFO > New York based R & B group The Family Stand debuted in 1990 with “Ghetto Heaven.” Remixed by Nellee Hooper & Jazzy B, the single peaked at 10 on the UK Singles Chart.