Totally Eclipsed: The Greatest Cover Versions Ever

26 February 2018, 10:17

Johnny Cash in Frankfurt on the Main 1991

We celebrate what would have been Johnny Cash's 86th Birthday by looking at incredible covers that completely overshadow the original.

THE COVER: Johnny Cash – Hurt

 

THE ORIGINAL: NINE INCH NAILS - HURT


Why is the cover better? What can we say? Producer Rick Rubin made the genius move of giving the 71-year-old veteran Man In Black this Trent Reznor classic to cover. Cash turned the song from a pouting teenager's grumbling missive into the coda to an impressive and legendary career. The song was released a few months before Cash's death and the poignancy is heartbreaking.

THE COVER: The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love

 

THE ORIGINAL: KATE BUSH - HOUNDS OF LOVE

Why is the cover better? We wouldn't have a word said against Our Kate, but the Sunderland lads give her mystical, mysterious 1985 track a thorough going-over that gives it a huge new lease of life... without losing the wonder of the melody.

 

THE COVER: Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

 

THE ORIGINAL: LEONARD COHEN - HALLELUJAH

Why is the cover better? Everything about Buckley's rendition of Hallelujah is perfect. The performance; the composition; the delivery.

 

THE COVER: Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower

 

THE ORIGINAL: Bob Dylan - ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER

Why is the cover better? Watchtower was a throwaway album track by Dylan. It sat on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding album and was largely ignored. Hendrix's reworking pulled the melody forward, which was originally shrouded in the lyrical narrative and worked his apocalyptic guitar magic. As fighting in Vietnam intensified, this became the soundtrack.
 

THE COVER: Muse – Feeling Good

 

THE ORIGINAL: NINA SIMONE - FEELING GOOD




Why It's Better: Originally written for the musicial The Roar Of The Greasepaint - The Smell Of The Crowd, Nina Simone's Feelin' Good is one of the greatest vocal performances in recorded music. But when the Devon trio added their furious rock n' roll distortion to the tune, the track took on a new life. Feelin' Good was no longer a jazz ballad, and instead was a rock anthem.

 

 

THE COVER: José González – Heartbeats

THE ORIGINAL: THE KNIFE - HEARTBEATS




Why is the cover better? The Swedish musician's 2006 cover of The Knife's Heartbeats is the quintessential example of a cover eclipsing the original. The Knife's original is an electronic feast that's not without its own quirky charm, but Gonzalez's delicate, intricate cover became one of the most listened to tracks of the Noughties. 

Lead photo credit:  Wolfgang Eilmes/DPA/PA Images