As one of the premier tribute bands for hire in London, we spend a lot of time thinking about how bands can take a song and turn it into their own, producing a cover version which simultaneously pays great homage to the original artist and has some more flavour of its own. When a band really gets it right, and perfectly captures the essence of somebody else’s song with their own sound, the result can be a cover which is actually more famous than the original. Here are ten songs that you probably only know thanks to the artists who reinvented them.
‘Respect’ – Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding
Released in 1967, only two years after Otis Redding brought out his original version of the song, Aretha Franklin’s take on ‘Respect’ shows how with only a few lyrical tweaks the whole meaning of a song can be changed. Making the message one of female empowerment, and adding the incredibly catchy ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ chorus, Franklin’s version of the song took the charts by storm and went down in musical history.
‘I Fought the Law’ – The Clash/The Bobby Buller Four
A song which packs a real punch, ‘I Fought the Law’ already had an interesting recording history before The Clash brought it wider popularity in 1979 – originally recorded by The Crickets, it was rereleased when the band morphed into The Bobby Buller Four and helped them break into the top 10 for the first time. Since then, dozens of bands have put their own spin on the track, but it’s The Clash who have retained it as part of their legacy.
‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ – Cyndi Lauper/Robert Hazard
Considering that ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ is one of Cyndi Lauper’s signature tunes it might be surprising to hear that it was originally written by Robert Hazard – although he only ever released it as a demo. Just like Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’, Lauper changed the lyrics to reinvent the song as an anthem for women and eventually took the song to No. 2 in both America and the U.K.
‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ – Bjork/Betty Hutton
‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ actually started life as a German song, but the first English language version came courtesy of Betty Hutton in 1951. Over 40 years later, Bjork released the cover which would become perhaps her most famous track. The single was accompanied by an incredibly popular video, directed by Spike Jonze – the man behind offbeat classics such as Being John Malkovich and Her.
‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Sinead O’Connor/The Family
The Family were a side-project from Prince who only had one album to their name, with ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ all but buried as a non-single track. Although Sinead O’Connor was able to give the song the recognition it deserved, her relationship with Prince was an icy one, apparently even coming to blows.
‘All Along the Watchtower’ – Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan
Jimi Hendrix only waited 6 months to release his version of Bob Dylan’s folky ‘All Along the Watchtower’. Although it is still counted among Dylan’s greatest hits, it’s Hendrix who was able to cement the song as a part of rock ’n’ roll history, with Rolling Stone giving it the respectable ranking of 47th place in their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
‘I Will Always Love You’ – Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton
We have The Bodyguard to thank for Whitney Houston’s cover of ‘I Will Always Love You’, and when she recorded it for the movie’s soundtrack they chose to move away from its country roots instead producing an R&B track which definitely caught the public’s imagination. When Dolly Parton first released ‘I Will Always Love You’, Elvis eyed it up for a cover – if his request hadn’t been denied then maybe that would be the version we’re talking about now.
‘Hurt’ – Johnny Cash/Nine Inch Nails
The brilliance of Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ was to take it from pounding industrial rock to stripped down acoustic classic. Although artists don’t always like to see their tracks changed by other acts Trent Reznor of the Nine Inch Nails had no such concerns, claiming that Cash’s version caused ‘Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps’ and was ‘different, but every bit as pure’.
Has this got you in the mood to hear some incredible covers at your own event? We’d love to bring some life to your party with great live music – just contact The Talent at 0845 094 1162 if you have any questions!