Rabz’ Radio Show December 2022: Covers and the Covered

It’s always “interesting” to discover that a song you may have assumed was written by a certain artist or band turns out to be a cover. A classic example of this is posted below as the first of the intro tracks.

Another interesting aspect of covers relates to the lively discussion/arguments/shouting matches that might arise about whether a particular artist/band has covered a song and made it their own. That is, the cover is considered to be better than the original. There are many songs written by Bobby Zimmerman for example, that could be included in this category, given his somewhat “esoteric” (and not to everyone’s taste) vocal and musical stylings. In his favour, the songs were pure gold nuggets just begging to be refashioned in a more “listenable” form. His version of “Like a Rolling Stone”, however, has never been bettered, even by Jimi.

To stimulate some discussion and debate, at this point I’ll list some songs that have been extensively covered, the original artist and the definitive (in my opinion) version. Some of my favourite ever songs are on this list. They include:

Heard it through the Grapevine: Writers were Whitfield/Strong, original artist was The Miracles, definitive version by Gladys Knight and the Pips (sorry, Marvin)

Song to the Siren: Writer/original artist Tim Buckley, definitive version by This Mortal Coil

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man: Writer/original artist Bob Dylan, definitive version by the Byrds

All along the Watchtower: Writer/original artist Bob Dylan, definitive version by Jimi Hendrix (honourable mention XTC)

I can only give you everything: Writer/original artist Them, definitive version by Naz Nomad and the Nightmares (i.e. the Damned)

Spirit in the Sky: Writer/original artist Norman Greenbaum, who also performed the definitive version

Out of Time: Writer/original artist the Rolling Stones, definitive version a dead heat between The Stones’ and Chris Farlowe (given they’re basically musically identical)

Sea of Love: Writer/original artist Phil Philips, definitive version by Horace Andy

Sweet Jane: Writer/original artist Lou Reed/Velvet Underground, definitive version by the Cowboy Junkies (although the Velvet’s version is also magnificent)

Anyway, here’s the two intro tracks:

I think it’s going to rain today: Writer/original artist Randy Newman, definitive version by UB40

Song to the Siren: Tim Buckley on the Monkees’ TV Show, 1968

Enjoy, Cats!

Please post your favourite songs that have been covered at some point including either the original or your preferred cover version. Again, I’m barely scratching the surface here. Plenty of space in the comments section, so go for it and let’s see some spirited debate. You know you want to.

110 thoughts on “Rabz’ Radio Show December 2022: Covers and the Covered

  1. ‘Without You’ by Badfinger (1970).

    Subsequently a hit for Nilsson and much later Mariah Carey.

  2. ‘To Love Somebody’ by Barry & Robin Gibb (1967).

    Covered by 100s of artists, including Janis Joplin & Nina Simone, but my favourite version is The Flying Burrito Brothers (1973).

  3. ‘River Deep Mountain High’ by Phil Spector et al; a hit for Ike & Tina Turner, covered by many, but notably by Brisbane’s own The Saints.

  4. The Isley Brothers ‘Twist and Shout’, covered by The Beatles and backed by ‘Honey Don’t’ on the 45rpm.

  5. Speaking of The Doors, ‘Hello, I Love You’ is a copy of The Kinks ‘All Day & All of the Night’.


  6. The structure of their version copies ‘Light My Fire’

    Yep. Which is why I just loved WOB (Stranglers) the first time I heard it. Homage.

  7. OK…and this is probably it for me:

    ‘Take Me to the River’, by Al Green as covered by Talking Heads.

  8. Oh…and recently deceased Mike Nesmith deserves a mention:

    Linda Ronstadt and several others covered his ‘A Different Drum’ and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band covered ‘Mary,Mary’ on their seminal album ‘East-West’. Nesmith/ The Monkees originally performed both on The Monkees TV show.

    In regard to Tim Buckley’s ‘Song to the Siren’, check out his own later electric version on ‘Starsailor’ too.

  9. Can’t go past Jeff Buckley, who included Hallelujah from the great Leonard Cohen for one of the finest albums of the nineties.

    Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley (1994)

    I like Cohen’s original better but it fit so well in Buckley’s LP. For which I’ll take liberty to add another from that album, which is an original.

    Grace – Jeff Buckley (1994)

  10. calli – please read the introductory text, Squirette – it’s included in the list of examples.

  11. Already mentioned The Saints as cover artists, but it should be noted that Bruce Springsteen covered their ‘Just Like Fire Would’.

    I don’t have a lot of time for Springsteen, but that’s quite something for a band from Brisbane that never quite made it beyond the pub scene here & in the UK.

  12. Rog – the Saints are up there in the pantheon of Aussie Bands. Trailblazers in their time.

    Never particularly energised by the Bailey, but Ed K is a dead set legend.

  13. (Jerry Casale from Devo seems to be having a fine time. Here’s a vid from last year of him doing Whip It with a band of four hot babes in Akron, Ohio. All with wearing the hats too. I am seriously impressed!)

  14. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley


    Cats – do not ever listen to this song if you’re suffering through a broken heart. Recommended, it is not. 😕

  15. Here’s a vid from last year of him doing Whip It with a band

    BoN – that was awesome. The head bowls were of special significance, were they not?

    Not to mention the meaning of their name, which I tried to essay last night in a comment about humanitee’s future.

  16. Dear Prudence – the Parkinson.

    We think alike Rabz, I was trying to get a decent vid of Hendrix doing Sgt Pepper, but I couldn’t find anything good enough. Those guys did songs!

  17. ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’ – Originally performed by The Arrows but taken into another galaxy by Joan Jett.

  18. I Will Always Love You” is a song written and originally recorded in 1973 by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton.

    Whitney Houston recorded a soul-ballad arrangement of the song 1992,
    with 20 million copies sold it became the best-selling single of all time by a female solo artist.

  19. ‘Black Betty’ – Original recording by Leadbelly. Other versions done Ram Jam, Spiderbait.

  20. Good Time Tonight by the Easybeats. INXS and Jimmy Barnes did a fantastic version for Live Aid.

  21. ‘Black Betty’ – Original recording by Leadbelly. Other versions done Ram Jam, Spiderbait.

    The Spiderbait version with the drums on the trailer, and the black hot-rod, is awesome.

  22. Bear Necessities says:
    December 3, 2022 at 9:02 pm

    Good Time Tonight by the Easybeats. INXS and Jimmy Barnes did a fantastic version for Live Aid.

    Minor correction: it was for Australian Made, a series of concerts to showcase Australian talent.

    One of my long-time favourites from that series is the live version of Melting in the Sun with the extended call-and-response intro. Recorded it to cassette off the radio back in the day and listened frequently. Not a cover, but I’m including it anyways.

  23. Blinded by the Light, Bruce Springsteen. His original version is so wishy washy not the way he does it now but made famous by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band sung by Chris Thompson.

  24. My preference is generally for a cover to be a new interpretation. If you’re just doing the original then you’re a cover band. Okay for local live performances, but if you’re releasing something then preferably make it different.

    The best work by Little Johnny in his LRB era? I think I became familiar with this ahead of hearing the Beatles one and that had the effect of the earlier version not quite matching between lyrics and tempo.

  25. Hey Cats – is no one going to contest the list in the introductory text above?

    C’mon, you know you want to. 🙂

  26. NKP – my view is that a cover should never even remotely resemble the original.

    It’s all about “re-interpretation”, man …

  27. I prefer José Feliciano doing Light my fire and Creedence Clearwater I heard it through the grapevine.

  28. Joh – KD does have one magnificent set of lungs. The orchestral backing is awful, but thankfully almost aurally invisible.

    I’ve love to hear to her in the same setup as the Buckley Jr. That is, a studio and not much else.

  29. BoN – I’ve never heard that Stones’ cover (but hopefully will soon)

    Currently listening to one of jupes’ favourite ever songs, with only eight minutes to go …

  30. Thanks Rabz I played it on repeat from Canberra to Sydney and back also Dire Straits Once upon a time in the west another time. I never get sick of them.

  31. Speaking of k d lang, here is an unusual cover version – k d doing Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ in a duet with the great man himself. Two extraordinary voices in perfect communion.

  32. For some reason I recorded the Aria Awards and am watching it now. One of the performing acts is Amyl and the Sniffers. The guitar work was almost the same as The Angels’ Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again. Then the singer opened her mouth and just shouted. I saw the connection when the caption said the song title is Guided By Angels. Not exactly a remake but a lot was stolen from The Angels.

    I take it Amyl relates to the stimulant amyl nitrate, the mood enhancer popular among gays at some stage, not sure if it is still.

  33. Yeah, I was fast forwarding some of the acts and speeches but I must give it a miss particularly when I enjoy the ad breaks more than the program.

  34. johanna says:
    December 3, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    Speaking of k d lang, here is an unusual cover version – k d doing Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ in a duet with the great man himself. Two extraordinary voices in perfect communion.


    Second concert I went to was Roy Orison opening for the Rolling Stones at the Sydney show ground, Roy blew my mind and the Stones won me for life.

  35. A now unfashionable personage gettin’ on down with Hollyweirdos, as he did before being cast out by his “family” like a piece of garbage.

    The Yeezey will always be one of my favourite artists, allegedly regrettable outbursts notwithstanding.

    His current struggles are a tragedy, unfortunately being played out in real time, in real life.

    I remember when he was the Man – “It can never be perfect”.

  36. Bruce of Newcastle says:
    December 3, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Hey Cats – is no one going to contest the list in the introductory text above?

    No, because I agree with it all.

    The Rolling Stones – Like A Rolling Stone

    It’s one of things that are ineffably inevitable: that The Rolling Stones would cover Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone.

    Yes yes yes one of my all time favorites, and one of the Stones all time great live tunes.
    Thanks BON you made me feel 30 again.

  37. Under the Boardwalk – originally the Drifters, but more prominent here was the Rolling Stones cover version.
    Wikipedia has the story – the Drifters were booked to record the song but the night before the session their lead singer died, suspected heroin overdose!
    Rather than cancel, they went in and recorded it with their second best vocalist.

  38. The little South Aussie battlers band called Zoot did an outrageous cover of Eleanor Rigby.
    It took the pathos and string quartet backing of The Beatles version and did a heavy rock version that’s a bit of an ordeal to listen to, but notable for how different it is to the original.

  39. Anchor What, as a kid I heard the Zoot version of Eleanor Rigby and loved it. When I eventually got to hear the Beatles original I thought it was a cover.

  40. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their album Dirt Does Dylan does the best cover of Girl from the North Country.
    Alison Krauss and Robert Plant on their album Raising Sand do a really good cover of the old Everly Brothers song Gone Gone Gone. They also do a cover of the old stones song ‘Fortune Teller’.

  41. I think I first heard this on JJ(J?) unplugged?

    Mariachi el Bronx covers Prince’s I would die for you

    Oddball of a band.. but some great stuff all in standard Mariachi musical form.

  42. Bugger! so bloody late to the party.
    The GREATEST Oz cover of all time, ( how many of you old bastards could forget this?!?),
    still gives me tingles and makes the hair on my arms stand up.

    The incomparable Billy Thorpe.

  43. Rabz, another late entry. This one might not be known by people outside of the former Cainistan/Kirnerstan.

    The Hollowmen’s cover of Husker Du’s, Don’t want to know if you are lonely:
    Original :

    Like LRB/Beatles Help, saddish song originally done up beat. Though I must say, I think in the case of Beatles’ Help, the original version is infinitely better. The original version gives it a feeling of a young man trying to cope with difficulties in life. The John Farnham version just sounds like a whiner.

    These versions of Don’t Want To Know if You are Lonely sound like two different songs.


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