Yesterday, Eve Ainsworth (author of 7 Days) posted a discussion point on twitter regarding cover versions, and asking her followers to suggest their favourites.
Like Eve, I’m not always a massive fan of covers. I’m quite particular about my music tastes, and find many cover versions (particularly those where certain TV shows are concerned) to be really quite bland and little more than karaoke. However, this isn’t always the case, so, inspired by Eve’s post, here are my favourite covers that I think add a little something to the original versions.
Bon Iver – I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt)
Shorn of the showy and embellished piano line of Bonnie Raitt’s original, Bon Iver’s cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me is an absolutely haunting take on an 80s standard. The more staccato nature of the piano playing, married to Justin Vernon’s falsetto vocals is just gorgeous . The chord progression during ‘don’t patronise me/don’t patronise me’, brings me out in goosebumps every time.
Dustin Kensrue – Round Here (Counting Crows)
While I love his work in Thrice, I can find Dustin Kensrue’s solo work a little hit and miss at times. His choice and delivery of covers, however, is excellent, as this version of the Counting Crows’ Round Here demonstrates. Lyrically this song is beautiful, and I love the guitar tone on the original, but the delivery is a little disjointed and Adam Duritz’ vocals are an acquired taste. Dustin’s solo, acoustic version of this song is simpler, his vocals a little rougher and more immediate, and absolutely captivating. I’d love to bear witness to this at some point in my musical life.
James Blake – A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)
Another that involves nothing more than solo vocal and a piano, James Blake’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You moves me to tears each time I hear it. Obviously brilliant lyrically, there’s something a little too uptempo about the acoustic delivery of the original that doesn’t quite seem to work for me. The fluid piano line of Blake’s version, however seems much more in keeping with the content of the song. Paired with his vocals, it’s devastating good.
The Ataris – Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
A staple of the all-ages club nights I would attend before university, I still have a massive soft spot for The Ataris’ version of Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer. The increase in tempo, the driving drum line and the riffs on this version just really work for me and capture that end of summer feeling. So good.
Kevin Devine – Joey (Concrete Blonde)
There’s clearly a theme running through all of this which involves the 80s and my favourite vocalists from today stripping down those songs. This is no-different. Released properly in the UK as one of a set of b-sides to Splitting Up Christmas, I was lucky enough to see Kevin perform this to a sold out Deaf Insitute in Manchester. An utterly, utterly captivating performance which stunned the crowd into silence. I quite enjoy the darker feel of the original, but Kevin manages to make this his own.
Jesse Lacey – Accident Prone (Jawbreaker)
Played solo on electric guitar, Jesse Lacey’s cover of Accident Prone is gentler and more flowing than Jawbreaker’s original, but no worse off for it. Really allowing the lyrics to shine through, this is just lovely.
These were mine; what are yours?