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When They Got the Covers Right:

Add These Time-Tested Remakes to Your Next Playlist

by Erik R. Slagle

When an artist or group reimagines someone else’s work, the results can be hit or miss. In the best cases, a well-executed cover song can introduce listeners to originals they might never have discovered otherwise – think Nirvana exploding into the scene in 1988 by covering “Love Buzz” from Shocking Blue. That’s the same Shocking Blue that cut the original “Venus,” redone in the 80s by Bananarama … who had their own “Cruel Summer” covered by a multitude of artists, including Ace of Bass, Superchunk and more.

If you want to expand your playlist with new takes on old hits, here’s some that even the staunchest anti-cover listener would approve of:

“Remember (Walking in the Sand),” “Helter Skelter,” “I’m Down,” “Come Together,” “Big Ten-Inch Record,” Aerosmith. The bad boys from Boston were never shy about paying tribute to their favorite artists. Their first Hits compilation featured renditions of “Come Together” and the Shangri-Las’ “Remember;” they’ve sprinkled other tributes onto albums like “Permanent Vacation” and “Pandora’s Box”.

One of their more out-there cover songs, “Big Ten-Inch Record” on 1975’s “Toys In the Attic,” is a send-up of a 1950s R&B track from Bull Moose Jackson. (Jackson was backed by the same band that backed Tiny Bradford … who did the original “Train Kept a’ “Rollin” … which is one of the most popular songs for cover bands to target … and Aerosmith absolutely crushes it on their “Get Your Wings” album, and in concert.)

“Suffragette City,” Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alice in Chains. These covers never made the standard albums from either band, but if you dig into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Covers” EP (where the Peppers also take a shot at the Beach Boys’ “In My Room”) or the Seattle stalwarts’ 1989 “Sweet Alice” demo, you’ll find these two faithful hard-rocking covers of the Bowie hit.

“I Can’t Get Next To You,” Al Green: The Temptations’ chart-topping favorite from 1969 got a soul-injected makeover for 1971’s “Al Green Gets Next to You.” (An album that also features Green covering the Doors’ “Light My Fire.”) One of those incredible interpretations that gives its original an entirely new feel and sounds just as good in the process.

“Daydream Believer,” Shonen Knife. The Japanese all-female power pop trip blasted their way through this beloved Monkees’ hit for their 1998 CD Happy Hour, and it’s well worth the buy if you can find it. (Shonen Knife was also known to churn out Ramones’ covers in concert, billed as the Osaka Ramones.)

“I’m Your Boogie Man,” Rob Zombie. Yes, that’s KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Man,” as done by 90s metal masters White Zombie for the soundtrack the 1994 film, “The Crow,” starring Brandon Lee. A little less joyous than KC’s original, but still a whole lot of fun.

“Iron Man,” The Cardigans. For another totally unique cover, check out the Cardigans’ 1996 album “First Band On the Moon.” The same record that delivered the infectious “Lovefool” and fluffy pop like “Your New Cuckoo,” “Losers” and “Great Divide” offers a version of “Iron Man” that borders on a lullaby. Is it good? You be the judge. But it’s definitely an interesting choice for the biggest band that had come out of Sweden since Ace of Bass.

And look at that: bringing back around the Ace of Bass, we’ve gone full-covers-circle!