The best covers albums
4 January 2020, 20:00 | Updated: 4 January 2021, 17:44
Weezer surprised the world last year by dropping an entire album of covers. Who else has released whole albums of other people's tunes?
Weezer - The Teal Album (2019)
The band’s version of the classic 80s yacht rock classic Africa (originally recorded by Toto) was so successful that Rivers Cuomo and his crew unleashed a whole album of covers. Included on the pastel-coloured Teal Album are takes on Tears For Fears (Everybody Wants To Rule The World), TLC (No Scrubs), A-ha (Take On Me), Michael Jackson (Billie Jean) and ELO (Mr Blue Sky). Nice outfits, too.
David Bowie - Pin-Ups (1973)
Hot on the heels of his Aladdin Sane album in 1973, Bowie issued this album of covers paying tribute to his musical influences and heroes. The choices lean heavily towards Bowie’s Mod roots - including two early Who tracks - but includes his take on Pink Floyd’s second single, See Emily Play.
Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around
Producer Rick Rubin revitalised the Man In Black’s career and this set of covers was the final LP to be issued in Cash’s lifetime. It’s home to his awesome version of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, but within the double album you’ll also find his sparse takes on Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode), Simon And Garfunkel (Bridge Over Trouble Water), and The Beatles (In My Life).
Manic Street Preachers - Lipstick Traces
The second disc of this rarities collection from the Welsh band is all covers, some live, some studio: The Clash (Train In Vain), Happy Mondays (Wrote For Luck), Nirvana (Been A Son), Primal Scream (Velocity Girl) and loads more, including the perennial Last Christmas by Wham!
John Lennon - Rock & Roll (1975)
The former Beatle got into legal trouble with his song Come Together for copying a lyric and part of the settlement was to record an album of covers based on songs from Lennon’s youth. The whole story is quite involved and tortuous, but we got a pretty decent cover of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me out of it.
Metallica - Garage Inc (1998)
The LA metal legends took a return to their garage rock roots with an album of songs that had a huge influence on their music. There’s US rock (Blue Öyster Cult, Lynyrd Skynyrd), punk (The Misfits, Discharge), a bit of British metal (Black Sabbath, Diamond Head) and their version of the track covered by Thin Lizzy, Whiskey In The Jar.
The Rolling Stones - Blue And Lonesome
Mick, Keef, Ronnie and Charlie return to their early days as young blues fans with a collection of classics from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Memphis Slim and more. It’s nice to see the old folk having something of their own that they can enjoy, isn’t it?
Guns N’Roses - “The Spaghetti Incident?”
A quick album of punk covers that turned out to be the band’s last album for 15 years. They take on The Damned’s New Rose, The Stooges’ Raw Power, New York Dolls’ Human Being and whipped up some mild controversy by including a song by convicted criminal and cult leader Charles Manson as a hidden track.
Siouxsie And The Banshees - Through The Looking Glass (1987)
)The Banshees liked a cover - their biggest hit was with The Beatles’ Dear Prudence - but this was a full album of the post-punk pioneers’ favourite tunes. They do Bob Dylan (This Wheel’s On Fire, Sparks (This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us), Kraftwerk (Hall Of Mirrors), The Doors (You’re Lost Little Girl) and even a track from the Jungle Book soundtrack (Trust In Me). But it’s their version of Iggy Pop’s The Passenger that’s the absolute banger.
Booker T & The MGs - McLemore Avenue (1970)
Best known for their 1962 hit Green Onions (as heard in the film Quadrophenia), the Memphis band covered The Beatles’ Abbey Road (well, most of its famous medley anyway) in their own soulful style. As a gag, their album was named after the location of the Stax studio in Memphis, with the band pictured crossing the road outside as per the Fab Four’s version. Have a listen to them noodling around Golden Slumbers.