Back in the 80s, I was not a fan of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill. It was only in much laterÂ that I started to appreciate the song itself. The first time I heard Placebo’s 2003 cover of the song, I stopped what I was doing to listen. The cover has an edge that appealed to me at the time. I still dig it.
Now had never heard of the Hillbenders until I started doing this “awesome covers projects” thing. But I really dig this cover of Pinball Wizard. They really get the feel of the original, while still making it 100% their own. I mean come on, a bluegrass Pinball Wizard? You’ve got me from the opening chords.
One of my criteria for a great cover is when a band takes a song and makes it theirs. That’s why Dick Brave and the Backbeat’s cover of Avril Lavine’s Complicated makes the list. I mean…50s styled cover of a 90s pop song? Genius. And this is years before Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox started giving modern songs an early 20th century jazz makeover.
Dig Circus was one of my favourite local bands in the 90s. I used to hungrily look for their live listings in Now every week and when I found one, I was so there. They used to play some great covers in addition to their own awesome songs, but it was their very original cover of the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen that always turned heads.
How can you not talk about covers without talking about Cake’s amazing cover of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. For me, one of the hallmarks of an awesome cover is when the band makes the song their own; a great cover doesn’t just recreate the original, it takes the original and makes it something new. And Cake does that with this cover.