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Cover Songs

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…or so they say. This week on Sound Opinions Jim and Greg will discuss rock music's form of imitation: the cover song. Tune in to hear the hosts‘ picks for best cover songs, as well as some of yours. Then, they’ll review new cover albums from Patti Smith and Bryan Ferry.

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Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

reviewDylanesqueDylanesque available on iTunes

Bob Dylan & Bryan Ferry Dylanesque

First up is Dylanesque, Bryan Ferry's new collection of Bob Dylan covers. Ferry is one of rock's quintessential cover artists, having brought his own spin to songs like "Jealous Guy" and "Like a Hurricane." In fact, Dylanesque is the former Roxy Music front man's fifth covers album. But, this time around, Jim and Greg don't think that Ferry fares as well. Greg explains that he isn‘t really taking the songs anywhere new, though he appreciates how Ferry has keyed into the strengths of Dylan’s melodies. He gives it a Burn It. Jim was also disappointed in Dylanesque, but thinks that fans of Ferry should definitely Burn It.

reviewTwelveTwelve available on iTunes

Patti Smith Twelve

Patti Smith is another artist who is known for her ability to do a great cover song. Early on in her career she did successful rendition of songs like Van Morrison's "Gloria" and Bruce Springsteen's "Because the Night." Now she has a collection of cover songs called Twelve. Jim thinks there are many“interesting”covers on this album, but interesting doesn't necessarily mean good. Patti Smith is still a vital artist though, so Jim recommends listeners Burn It just to sample her versions of famous songs. Greg is also a big Patti Smith fan, so it pains him to say that most of the songs on Twelve are poor and predictable. He shocks Jim and Sound Opinions H.Q. with a Trash It rating.

reviewA Tribute to Joni MitchellA Tribute to Joni Mitchell available on iTunes

Joni Mitchell & Elvis Costello & James Taylor & Sufjan Stevens & Prince & Caetano Veloso A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

The last album up for review is A Tribute to Joni Mitchell. On this album, tracks penned by the famous songwriter are performed by Prince, Sufjan Stevens, James Taylor and Elvis Costello among them. Greg explains that Joni Mitchell is a difficult artist to cover, and with the exception of singers like Caetano Veloso, many of the artists on this tribute just simply aren't good enough to tackle her work. Jim agrees, noting that all of the artists on the album are on the Nonesuch roster. He predicts that the record would have been stronger if more obscure performers were chosen. Therefore A Tribute to Joni Mitchell gets two Burn Its.


Featured Songs

  1. Bryan Ferry,“Simple Twist of Fate,”Dylanesque, 2007
  2. Patti Smith,“The Boy in the Bubble,”Twelve, 2007
  3. Caetano Veloso,“Dreamland,”A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, 2007
  4. Glen Campbell,“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,”By the Time I Get to Phoenix, 1968
  5. Isaac Hayes,“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,”Hot Buttered Soul, 1969
  6. Bob Dylan,“Mr. Tambourine Man,”Bringing It Back Home, 1965
  7. The Byrds,“Mr. Tambourine Man,”Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965
  8. Bauhaus,“Ziggy Stardust,”1979-1983, 1985
  9. Johnny Cash,“Personal Jesus,”American IV: The Man Comes Around, 2003
  10. John Cale,“Hallelujah,”Fragments of a Rainy Season, 1992
  11. Richard Thompson, "Oops! I Did It Again," 1000 Years of Popular Music, 2003
  12. The Equals,“Police on My Back,”First Among Equals: The Greatest Hits, 1995
  13. The Clash,“Police on My Back,”Sandanista!, 1980
  14. The Byrds,“Eight Miles High,”Fifth Dimension, 1966
  15. Husker Du,“Eight Miles High,”7 Inch Wonders of the World, 1985
  16. Slayer,“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,”Less Than Zero, 1987
  17. The Sundays,“Wild Horses,”Blind, 1992
  18. Public Enemy,“Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,”It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, 1988
  19. Tricky,“Black Steel,”Maxinquaye, 1995
  20. Richard Berry,“Louie, Louie,”The Best of Louie Louie, 1983
  21. The Kingsmen,“Louie, Louie,”Kingsmen in Person, 1963
  22. Devo,“(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction,”Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, 1978
  23. Roxy Music,“Like a Hurricane,”High Road, 1983
  24. Bryan Ferry,“Baby Let Me Follow You Down,”Dylanesque, 2007
  25. Patti Smith,“Smells Like Teen Spirit,”Twelve, 2007
  26. Prince,“A Case of You,”A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, 2007
  27. Rhianna,“Umbrella,”2007
  28. Rush,“Far Cry”Snakes & Arrows, 2007
  29. Pantera,“Cowboys From Hell,”Cowboys From Hell, 1990

Footnotes karaoke cover song Isaac Hayes By the Time I Get to Phoenix Jimmy Webb Richard Thompson Britney Spears Police On My Back The Equals Tricky“Black Steel”“Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” Public Enemy Mr. Tambourine Man Bob Dylan John Cale Leonard Cohen Husker Du“Eight Miles High” The Byrds The Kingsmen Richard Berry David Bowie Johnny Cashs' American IV: The Man Comes Around Depeche Mode Slayer“In A Gadda Da Vida” Iron Butterfly The Sundays Bryan Ferry Bob Dylan“Like a Hurricane” Dylanesque Roxy Music Patti Smith Twelve A Tribute to Joni Mitchell Sufjan Stevens James Taylor Elvis Costello