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The return of Arbitrary But Fun Friday

A few years back, Amanda Marcotte was so kind as to guest-blog here for a few weeks, and for her very first post, she offered a memorable Arbitrary But Fun Friday®, Insufferable Music Snob edition, in which she asked readers to name some of the best cover songs of All Times.  Well, my friends, the time has finally come for me to offer the obvious followup: worst cover songs of All Times.

For me (and I know this is arbitrary, but hey, it’s kinda fun), there are basically two kinds of awful covers: one, covers that do nothing good with a song and lead you to wonder why anyone bothered recording the damn thing, and two, covers that actually suck all the life out of a song, give you severe chest pain, and make the entire world worse.  Notable examples of the former include:

-- Uncle Kracker’s boring version of Dobie Grey’s “Drift Away,” which is very much like the original except for the fact that poor Mr. Shafer, with his half-octave range, proves unable to hit the song’s high or low notes, thus rendering the quite lovely melody as something like the hideous three-note drone that is “Follow Me”;

-- Pearl Jam’s even more boring version of Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss,” which is marked by Eddie Vedder’s inability to hit notes or get lyrics right; and

-- Gloria Estefan’s unfathomably boring version of Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn the Beat Around,” which is very much like the original and . . . um . . . yeah, that’s about it.

Notable examples of the latter would have to include Manfred Mann’s version of Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light,” perhaps the most bombastic treatment of a song ever, though a close competitor is

-- Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which takes a delicate and beautifully understated song and hits it with sledgehammers followed by a 21-gun salute followed by cluster bombs and capped off with a Truck Driver’s Gear Change; and

-- Rita Coolidge’s version of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” which not only manages to take a crisp soul classic and turn it into a warm bath of easy-listening mush, but can also induce nausea in laboratory monkeys as early as the 45-second mark.

Surely, however, no list of Covers That Suck would be complete without the Grateful Dead’s stupefying renditions of “Good Lovin’” and “Dancin’ in the Streets,” which, like the aforementioned Coolidge atrocity, take uptempo soul classics and force-feed them acid until they’ve lost the will to live and all that’s left of them is Bob Weir’s breathless vocal meanderings.  Back in ‘06, Amanda noted that “Devo are the kings of the great cover song,” and she was entirely right; she’s not really an Insufferable Music Snob, you know—she just has really good taste.  And Devo’s evil counterparts in the world of covers are the Dead, the kings of the truly terrible cover song, the kind of cover that makes you wish the giant enlightened insects would come and devour us all, preferably before the next chorus.

Any more you can think of?

Posted by on 10/03 at 02:03 PM
  1. Winger’s version of Purple Haze.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:25 PM
  2. Joan Baez’s cover of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

    “There goes The Robert E. Lee?” Really? Virgil Cain’s farm was on a steamboat route?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/03  at  03:25 PM
  3. Surely, however, no list of Covers That Suck would be complete without the Grateful Dead’s stupefying renditions of “Good Lovin’” and “Dancin’ in the Streets,”

    Fighting words.
    But of course you refer to the tepid studio-recorded versions. Truth is that in concert the Dead could, and often did, take both of those songs to the polar opposite of suckitude.
    And I say this as a card-carrying (actually I seem to have misplaced my card) Insufferable Music Snob who actually enjoys Albert Ayler records sometimes and thinks that the vast bulk of “rock” and “pop” is a total waste of time.
    *shrug* If you could understand, by now you would.

    But OK, terrible covers? How ‘bout everything recorded by Rod Stewart in about the last 30 years? I’m thinking specifically of Robbie Robertson’s “Broken Arrow,” Tom Waits’s “Downtown Train” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” all savagely murdered by Rod da Mod, and I’m not even going near the standards records.

    captcha: below
    Rod Stewart is below contempt. Beneath, whatever.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:28 PM
  4. Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train”?  Duran Duran’s “911 Is a Joke”?  Mannfred Mann’s “Blinded By The Light”? 

    But if we don’t limit it to “Bad Covers of My Favorite Bands,” I think this is pure win, er, FAIL.

    captcha: “Children,” as in, “What about them!?!”

    Posted by SEK  on  10/03  at  03:31 PM
  5. The Byrds’ cover of “Lay Lady Lay,” which features a powerful gospel choir singing the refrain, is enough to make any lady lie down dead or fall down laughing.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:34 PM
  6. (Relatedly, to keep tabs on the best and worst covers out there, I heartily recommended this place.  I’ve found some truly brilliant—and some utterly obscene—material there.)

    Posted by SEK  on  10/03  at  03:34 PM
  7. I’ve never been able to figure out the point of Nicki French’s cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” A dance remake, fergawdsakes?  Utterly outclassed by Hurra Torpedo.

    And, well, she is my sister*, but… Céline Dion?  Orbison’s “I Drove All Night,” especially in light of Lauper’s, er, pre-cover?  You’re doing it** wrong.

    *Bérubé blog continuity in action!

    **Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow!*

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:35 PM
  8. I get why it’s called a gear change.  But why truck driver’s gear change?  I drive an old Honda Civic, and when I change gears, the effect is as lame as any half-step modulation you can name.  I call classism on this one.

    I don’t know what they called it, but Emerson Lake and Palmer made a terrible botch of the first movement of the Janacek Sinfonietta.

    Posted by Vance Maverick  on  10/03  at  03:38 PM
  9. There’s Marlene Dietrich singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” auf Deutsch and in caberet style. Not really either of your two categories but some wacked out category from bizarro world, very very bizarro.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  10/03  at  03:46 PM
  10. In the first category I’d definitely count Smash Mouth’s cover of Let’s Active’s “Every Word Means No.” (Links go to YouTube.) It’s not soul-sucking awful, but they don’t change anything in any interesting ways and instead just muddy it up and make it sluggish and noisy in the vocals and guitar department.  I suppose they thought they were upping the angst, but the original had a kind of irony working with the jangly guitars and sweet vocals of Mitch Easter vs. the heart-broken lyrics.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/03  at  03:53 PM
  11. Nine comments, and this is the first mention of The Eagles’ cover of Ol’ 55?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:56 PM
  12. And this place
    http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/c14/
    operates at a high level of geekery; among recent treatments of covers see
    http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/2008/09/27/cookie-monster-sings-the-hits-sorry-the-
    and
    http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/2008/08/20/insta-review-meet-glen-campbell

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:58 PM
  13. In the second category, Dylan division, Ministry’s mutilation of “Lay Lady Lay” is particularly egregious.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:59 PM
  14. I’m not sure if this fits, but I remember as a kid seeing William Shatner on, I think, the Mike Douglas Show cover “It Was A Very Good Year.” Frank Sinatra had previously recorded it, but of course didn’t write it, so I don’t know if it counts as a cover.  But it remains one of was the weirdest things I’ve ever seen, with the full-Shatner dramatic recitative effect.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:09 PM
  15. Maverick!!!!!

    I is a hockey-mom.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  10/03  at  04:09 PM
  16. No such list should be without William Shatner’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

    But, perhaps it’s not fair since he is not famous as a singer.  Hmm, hmm.  Someone mentioned Duran Duran, i’ll have to second that; i removed most of their cover tunes from my playlist as just plainly unlistenable.

    Then there was Seal’s cover of “Fly Like an Eagle” which would have been fine, except he chose to remove the line about revolution, which—maybe i’m wrong here—seemed to be kinda the whole point of the song.

    Posted by sabrina  on  10/03  at  04:12 PM
  17. A really gorgeous song done by some of the greats (Everly Bros, Orbison, and my favorite version, Gram Parsons/Emmy Lou Harris) and then absolutely ruined forever by that abomination, Nazerath.  Love Hurts really does. Hurt, that is.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:24 PM
  18. Will to Power’s improbably medley of “Baby I Love Your Way” and “Freebird.”

    When you look long into the abyss…

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  10/03  at  04:36 PM
  19. I’m so grateful you recognized Rita Coolidge’s blasphemy. Listening to that is something I would wish on my worst enemy. It’s Gitmo for the Soul.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:37 PM
  20. One of the most enjoyable birthday presents I’ve ever received was an album by everyone’s favorite morning show host, called “It’s Time For Regis!” Released in 1968, Reege positioned himself as a Dean Martin-esque crooner, singing standards like “Toot Toot Tootsie” and “Mame”.  By far, though, the best track on the album is his poorly considered cover of Al Jolson’s “Swanee”.  (How I love ya, how I love ya...) Best part about it?  He samples (if you can call it that) the opening riff from The Four Tops’ “Sugar Pie Honeybunch”.  I don’t think I’ve ever had my jaw drop like the first time I heard it.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:44 PM
  21. Re: Rita; some people really were intended to sing backup.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/03  at  04:45 PM
  22. There are a couple of more recent (and by “more recent,” I mean in the last few years. I am not keeping up with the musical trends these days) covers of classic rock songs that should just go away. I can’t bring myself to Google the names of the bands that actually covered them, but I’ll say that the Who and John Lennon have not been treated well.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:51 PM
  23. Van Halen’s cover of Oh Pretty Woman. Because ... Oh, why god, why?

    Posted by tikistitch  on  10/03  at  04:57 PM
  24. Yeah, I think we have to rule out Shatner and his pal with the pointy ears.  Rod Stewart surely deserves a lifetime award.  And mds @ 7 makes me think we should probably open a third category of WTF covers, such as Donna Summer’s dance version of “MacArthur Park.”

    This thread is already beginning to depress me.  Mission accomplished!

    Posted by Michael  on  10/03  at  05:02 PM
  25. 10,000 Maniacs’ “Because the Night.” Taking into consideration the kickass fabulousness of Patti Smith Group’s original and the whatever-the-opposite-of-kickass-is lameness of the cover itself, this one ought to vault near, if not to, the top of the list.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  05:10 PM
  26. Anything sung by Clay Aiken?

    Posted by Linkmeister  on  10/03  at  05:10 PM
  27. Good to have you back, MB.

    Holly Cole did to Patty Larkin’s “I Told Him My Dog Didn’t Run” more or less what you describe Whitney Houston having done.

    Linda Ronstadt is a pretty disastrous cover artist, especially in recent years.

    Clarke, you must be thinking of a real old recording:  Baez sings “Dixie Down” correctly now and recorded it right in 1995; same album where she did the words to “Suzanne” properly (although that’s a hard song to do well).

    Has anyone ever done a decent cover of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” Lots of desecrations of that one.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  05:14 PM
  28. ut I’ll say that the Who and John Lennon have not been treated well.

    Exactly, that would be the first that came to my mind: Limp Bizkit - Behind blue eyes, which actually manages to combine both categories. In the first part it is just bad rendition of the song and then instead of The Who’s second part there is Fred Durst’s new verse* ?!? .... Seriously? And of course the middle part....ahhh there is just too much wrong with this cover....

    *
    No one knows what its like
    To be mistreated, to be defeated
    Behind blue eyes
    No one knows how to say
    That they’re sorry and don’t worry
    I’m not telling lies

    Posted by Adrian Hermann  on  10/03  at  05:22 PM
  29. Once upon a time, before I killed 3 blogs and left another as barren as the future of the Republican party, I had a similar contest.  At the time, my 2 candidates were the aforementioned “Drift Away” by Uncle Tonedeaf and Amii Stewart’s bombastic disco evisceration of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood”.  However, an anonymous commenter drew my attention to an even more putrid abomination, Kevin Rowland’s (formerly of Dexy’s Midnight Runners) radical soulectomy version of Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”.  It’s kind of a “if a tree falls in the forest” deal, since The Boss prevented its release, thereby minimizing its destructive power.  However, trust me, if a supertanker full of porcine excrement is dropped from the mesosphere directly above the world’s largest mercaptan factory, it makes a sound, one that will haunt you for the rest of your life.  If you are curious, you may be able to hear it here, although the page wouldn’t load for me, praise Zarquon.

    Posted by Gary  on  10/03  at  05:27 PM
  30. What about Faith Hill’s butchering of “Another Piece of My Heart”?  That’s surely in the soul-sucking category, n’est ce pas?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  05:29 PM
  31. The insufferable Red Hot Chili Peppers score a two-fer on this one, managing to turn not only Stevie Wonder’s transcendent “Higher Ground” but also Iggy and the Stooges’ “Raw Power” into mushy, boring, fratboy funk(less)-metal sludge.

    captcha: appropriately enough, “play”

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  10/03  at  05:37 PM
  32. 23: The Van Halen cover of “Pretty Woman” was staggeringly inessential, but it’s got nothing on David Lee Roth’s solo cover of “Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody”.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  10/03  at  05:40 PM
  33. Don’t forget what Michael Bolton did to ‘Sittin’ on the Dock’.... gah!  Poor Otis.  He deserved more, so much more.

    More recently, hearing The Scissor Sisters’ version of ‘Comfortably Numb’ made me decidedly uncomfortable, and killed my buzz.  Communists!

    Posted by thepuppethead  on  10/03  at  05:48 PM
  34. There oughta be a law against trying to cover Sandy Denny or Janis Joplin. And it oughta be enforced. With prejudice.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  05:49 PM
  35. Marlene Dietrich’s version of “Honeysuckle Rose” is the only one I’ve ever heard that you could goose-step to.

    Amy Winehouse’s version of “‘Round Midnight” features some dubious singing, set to an absolutely atrocious backing track.

    Seconded on Faith Hill’s “Piece of My Heart”.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  05:58 PM
  36. TWEEET!!!!!!!!!!!! (see yellow flag flying, or folks in striped uniforms skating around waving their arms)

    Inconsistent Dichotomization of Culture Levels

    2 minutes / 5 yards and loss of down

    Ruling out Shatner just because ... well, for any reason, really ... ignores the delicious irony of a ham actor being a HORRIBLE cover artist. It’s like refusing to discuss Madonna’s movies because she was known first as a singer. The fact that you or I would like to delegitimize his singing just for the sake of our sanity is the type of discussion that can only happen in a true fandom, which means… he’s included in the material to be discussed.

    Besides, isn’t the topic of aesthetic torture itself the subject of culture? “We weren’t sure at first what to make of this, but we developed a theory: we feel that when people committed great crimes against the state, they were forced to watch this.”

    (Three points: one to name the target of ridicule, a second to identify the movie, and a third to identify the OTHER movie that the target appeared in with the same director of the movie quoted above.)

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  10/03  at  06:03 PM
  37. Some group (don’t know who) did a remake of “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths which was used as the intro to the TV show Charmed.  It made me want to cry.

    Welcome back Michael! Love your blog!  This is my first post here.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  06:04 PM
  38. Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians covering ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.’ Edie sings it like a light mist is in the forecast.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  06:05 PM
  39. But to compensate and cheer Michael up, maybe we should start another topic: most surprising GOOD cover.

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  10/03  at  06:06 PM
  40. Frank Sinatra’s version of “Mrs. Robinson.” I love Ol’ Blue Eyes, but this was incredibly embarrassing. Performances like this probably inspired Joe Piscopo’s hilarious impression of Sinatra singing the Stones’ “Under My Thumb.”

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  06:28 PM
  41. Sven nails Rod S’s cover of Downtown Train.  Anders mention of Old 55 is right. So why are there 2 covers of great Waits’ tunes in all this?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  06:34 PM
  42. Don’t forget Tiffany—lousy covers of Beatles ("I Saw Him [i.e. Her] Standing There") & Tommy James ("I Think We’re Alone Now").

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  06:38 PM
  43. Somebody will probably yell at me, but.....

    Dylan’s cover of ‘The Boxer’ is awful.  Awful!

    Posted by thepuppethead  on  10/03  at  06:52 PM
  44. I may have been hallucinating but as heaven is my witness I heard Anne Murray begin a rendition of “When the Whip Comes Down” on a promo for a television program that she did. I don’t know if that’s any sort of cover, but surely it rates as a near crime against humanity.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  07:02 PM
  45. Well, this is the wrong thread for this cover, because Celine Dion and Anastacia’s duet of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is the very best cover ever.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/03  at  07:30 PM
  46. Some group (don’t know who) did a remake of “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths which was used as the intro to the TV show Charmed.  It made me want to cry.

    I think that was done by the lead singer of the Psychedelic Furs, Richard someone-or-other. 

    Category One: The Thorns’ version of the Jayhawks’ Blue.  It’s a perfunctory cover of a fantastic song.

    Probably in the first category: This one bothers my husband more than it does me, but Emmylou Harris’ cover of Gillian Welch’s Orphan Girl is slightly off.  It’s hard to buy someone singing about being alone in the world when you can tell by the lush production that they’re hanging out in the studio with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno.

    In Category Two, Orgy’s cover of Joy Division’s Blue Monday.  And ((shudder)), Hillary Duff and her sister’s Our Lips Are Sealed.  I heard just a little of this and then had to think the happiest thoughts I could and find some chocolate to make it better.

    And I think I have a third category:  covers that make me think less of the cover-ers.  My example is Ben Folds’ cover of Bitches Ain’t Shit.  I’ve enjoyed Folds’ songwriting enough to skip past the many songs about fragile or crazy women, but I can’t completely ignore the misogyny in his work.  He definitely doesn’t have the cred to pull off the cover as ironic.  It’s a really poor choice to me.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  07:43 PM
  47. I third Duran Duran’s “911 Is a Joke.” But both of these suck pretty hard too:

    Jessica Simpson, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”
    Bob Dylan, “The Boxer”

    However, for pure chutzpah, I’d have to go with ABBA’s cover of Leadbelly’s “Pick a Bale of Cotton.”

    Posted by matthew  on  10/03  at  07:43 PM
  48. I’ve heard of but never heard Glen Campbell’s cover of Subterranean Homesick Blues. Just googled, this web site with AOL in its domain name promises to let me “Listen to SHB from Glen Campbell for free”. It lies.

    But apparently the album, Mr 12 String Guitar, is instrumental so it is either the most awesome cover song ever, with instrumentally rendered surreal lyric notes, or it fails badly. Probably the vandals took the handles.

    Posted by black dog barking  on  10/03  at  07:57 PM
  49. The worst cover song on my mind today has to be James Taylor’s subprime version of Leonard Cohen’s sublime “Suzanne” (from JT’s new album), which lacks grace, understanding and, most notably, charisma. There have been many excellent versions of this song (Harry Belafonte’s version springs to mind, for one), but this is truly not one of them.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  08:03 PM
  50. And I think I have a third category:  covers that make me think less of the cover-ers.  My example is Ben Folds’ cover of Bitches Ain’t Shit.  I’ve enjoyed Folds’ songwriting enough to skip past the many songs about fragile or crazy women, but I can’t completely ignore the misogyny in his work.  He definitely doesn’t have the cred to pull off the cover as ironic. It’s a really poor choice to me.

    Hmm I partly disagree on Fold’s cover itself, though you can obviously see the problem with this kind of cover looking at this youtube video of a UC Berkeley A-Capella group which seems to have no problem with the singing of “Bitches Ain’t Shit” but thinks it it necessary to turn the “nigger” into a “brother"…

    Posted by Adrian Hermann  on  10/03  at  08:06 PM
  51. Dammit, Orange, you took my pick of Celiene Dion covering AC/DC.  I lost friends for sending that YouTube around.

    In the 1st category, I’d put Souxie and the Banshee’s cover of “Dear Prudence”.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Qe8d95vCc

    zzzzzzzzzzzz....

    Posted by PseudoNoise  on  10/03  at  08:46 PM
  52. Aw c’mon! the Smiths cover from Richard Butler’s unfortunately named post-Furs band “Love Spit Love” isn’t so bad--I think its association with the abominable WB show just poisoned it for you.  I heard it on its own rather than as a TV theme, and I think it stands up as a cover; nothing revolutionary, but worth a listen.

    As to our theme: I must nominate Bono’s wretched take on Leonard Cohen’s immortal “Hallelujah”, from the mediocre tribute album Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen.  The John Cale reading on the infinitely superior tribute I’m Your Fan is so good it might rival Cohen’s own, if only Cale weren’t too stiff to allow “do ya?” to rhyme with “Hallelujah”.

    And since I’m rambling already: I was stunned by the cover of Pulp’s “Common People” recorded by William Shatner hisownself (backed by Ben Folds & Joe Jackson) for his bizarre 2004 comeback album, Has Been.  I won’t say it’s better than the original, but I’ll confess I much prefer it myself.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  09:11 PM
  53. Toto’s version of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love. Ugh.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Toto. Worship Jeff Porcaro! Simon Phillips simply kills. But man! That song sucked in ‘68 and Toto did nothing to un-suck it!

    By the way Professor… soooo glad to see you back. Looking forward to future Jamie posts.

    Captcha: volume. Pardon me, but could you pump that up a bit?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  09:18 PM
  54. Damn it Bérubé!  Now you’ve done it!  Center ice, sticks thrown, gloves and helmets off: “Here, first drink this large liter bottle of the good Kool-Aid.”

    Regardless of the large spreading pools of blood; one of the more recent cover-destroying pathologies has been the efforts of various acoustic-based bands to attempt to capture festival audience shares with morbid and morose plink-plink versions of Cream, Hendrix, Dead (original), Pink Floyd, and the sacred Beatles (i am not so patiently waiting for a Jamie update).  This past summer tour has been particularly dreadful, but hearing Coltrane and Davis thrashed by folks i used to respect as excellent bluegrass pickers is too much to ask an old hippie to stand.

    Of course, the good news is that our locally (now beloved) Spokane Chiefs start their defense of the Memorial Cup and WHL crowns tonight. Power (captcha) to the Chiefs.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  10:18 PM
  55. Has anyone ever done a decent cover of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

    Yes, Nanci Griffith. On one of her two all-cover recordings of folk classics titled Other Voices, Other Rooms. She is just something else.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  10:23 PM
  56. The worst covers of all time, some in each of the two categories, are contained on an excreble recording called ‘Take 3 Girls: The Songs of’ (wait for it, prepare by sharpening pencils with which to stab yourself in both ears) ‘Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman and Kate Bush’.

    Dear God, the juxtaposition of these three singer-songwriters alone is enough to cause stroke. Then the actual covers themselves are worse than you thought was possible--how can you fuck up ‘Fast Car’ using only a human voice and an acoustic guitar, in the name of all that’s holy?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  10:29 PM
  57. Every cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” ends up in one of these categories (almost always the first), with a waiver granted to Tori Amos for personal reasons.

    Also, Counting Crows and “Big Yellow Taxi.” Objectively, I don’t know if it deserves it, but my reaction is always OH JOHN RINGO NO.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  10:53 PM
  58. Bruce Springsteen wrote a sexy, fun little song called “Pink Cadillac”.

    Natalie Cole turned it into a boring, tone-deaf screed.  It makes my ears bleed every time I hear it.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  10:58 PM
  59. Hafta question the terms of the discussion. See, Ministry doing Dylan, Duran Duran doing Public Enemy, and the like --> they’re terrible on purpose. Does it count as a cover song to be judged on the quality of the performance and interpretation, when it was clearly done as a gesture of abuse, a fuck you, or at any rate a joke?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  11:10 PM
  60. Ever heard the Postal Service’s cover of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds?” It was for the Wicker Park soundtrack and was probably about as successful as the movie itself....

    So painful.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  11:13 PM
  61. What a great collection of bad covers! Funny that you should mention the Dead’s atrocious “Dancing in the Street”, which we just analyzed a few days ago:

    http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/2008/09/30/let-those-flapjacks-fly-the-grateful-dea

    Pretty cool to see that one of you already found us.

    How about Madonna’s take on “American Pie”? I did hear that a few times about 5 years ago, right? The original, with all the times it’s been overplayed and sung along to by wasted bar patrons near closing time, is bad enough. Then Madonna had to turn it into a club song? Please.

    Posted by frankenslade  on  10/03  at  11:25 PM
  62. Category Two:

    Dropkick Murphys’ “Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll).” (Original by AC/DC).

    This clueless Blarneycore Band exhibits with their every waking breath a cringing desire for acceptance by boltneck Red Sawx fans.

    Their desecration of the late great Bon Scott’s legacy is an affront to the Bonny Scot’s timeless poetry. It is a pathetic attempt at fishing for Classic Rock approval by altrock losers.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  11:27 PM
  63. The tubes have chosen to preserve multiple versions of Shaun Cassady singing “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” (the three linked here each have some special bit of suckitude, not to mention the meta-suckitude of Cassidy singing those particular lyrics). Actually I suspect Carmen had a love/hate relationship with Cassidy doing his songs; I saw him do a transcendentally angry version of the song in the late ‘70s where he practically bit off the tag line each time, but then again—profit!

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  11:37 PM
  64. Now, I can’t tolerate no hatin’ on the Grateful Dead. Clearly, they could not transcend suckitude every night for 30 years...and there were, so I hear, “drugs” involved. My criteria for judging music are sincerity, originality, individual improvisational prowess, group improvisational communication, and musicality. At their best--even at their average--the Dead hit on all 5, and that’s rare.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  12:33 AM
  65. Cream’s cover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads Blues.”

    Eric Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.”

    Kylie Minogue’s cover of Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion.”

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  12:48 AM
  66. Sherman @ 36:  Ruling out Shatner just because ... well, for any reason, really ... ignores the delicious irony of a ham actor being a HORRIBLE cover artist. It’s like refusing to discuss Madonna’s movies because she was known first as a singer.

    Sorry, Sherman, you don’t get to call penalties on my blog.  Especially since I’m the one who put the Arbitrary in Arbitrary But Fun Friday.  Put that whistle away and go get your own blog already.

    Tom @ 44:  I may have been hallucinating but as heaven is my witness I heard Anne Murray begin a rendition of “When the Whip Comes Down”

    You were definitely hallucinating, dude.  What you did was some Orange Sunshine.  I can talk you down if you just stay on the blog for a few minutes.

    Kevin J-M @ 49:  James Taylor’s subprime version of Leonard Cohen’s sublime “Suzanne”

    Oh, now that raises a really interesting question.  What songs are completely uncoverable by anyone anywhere at any time for any reason?  I’d have to include “Suzanne” on that list.  Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK.” Songs so indelible they simply cannot be touched—only listened to.

    And now I’m wondering if we need a followup ABFF on best and worst tribute albums.

    spyder @ 54:  i am not so patiently waiting for a Jamie update.

    What, you missed the story of our trip to Vegas, told in two installments at Pandagon?

    Posted by Michael  on  10/04  at  12:59 AM
  67. The problem with the posters, including Professor Bérubé, of “worst covers” so far is that most of them (or “you”, as fits) either weren’t born or were still wet-nursing when the most criminal covers were committed.  And that was white singers covering black singers back in the 1950s when I was staggering through being a teenager while rock ‘n roll was being born.

    For example, Charles Eugene Patrick Boone was one of the more egregious answers to many parents’ prayers that their Luckies- and Old Gold-smoking and grape vodka- and mint gin-drinking babes be delivered from the evil influence of them black rock ‘n rollers.  (Of course, they had their doubts about some early white rock ‘n rollers, too—greasy hair, pouty lips, strange clothes.)

    But Pat Boone wore white bucks and nice shirts and ties and his hair was trimmed as he crooned the uncroonable—Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love”—Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill,” the latter ironically introduced by Gene Autry in a 1940 recording—incredulously, Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruitti” and “Long Tall Sally”—the El Dorados’ “At My Front Door”—Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop & Fly,” which was credibly covered by Elvis and Bill Haley—The Drifters’ “Money, Honey,” also covered nicely by Elvis.

    On the subject of Elvis—Boone must not have liked him.  See the eighth paragraph of this right-wing nonsense allegedly written by the old crooner—http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=71252fa=PAGE.view&pageId=71252

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  01:17 AM
  68. How about Peter Noone’s pre-cover of “Oh You Pretty Things” (released before David Bowie’s now justifiably more famous version), which manages to simultaneously be exactly like Bowie’s self-cover, yet also manages to suck all the life out of the song?  I think Bowie actually plays piano on Noone’s version, while Rick Wakeman plays (more effectively) on Bowie’s recording.

    @18: Michael Drake probably wins this thread with Will to Power’s “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird” double cover.  Though I suppose that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  02:34 AM
  69. Very glad Orange @45 beat me to Celine’s “You Shook Me” (in which she fails to break a sweat).

    Note for the record though: Vicki Sue Robinson’s is just the version of “Turn the Beat Around” that you and I remember from 1976.  The song dates from the 1950s.

    Faith Hill’s “Piece of My Heart” deserves more support.  (What’s the feminine of emasculated?)

    On the other hand, the Eagles cover of “Ol’ 55” (also released, iirc, as the B side of “Best of My Love") has the redeeming value of having provided Tom Waits with income for several years.

    Several mentions of Duran Duran’s “911 is a Joke” but none of “White Lines” from the same album (which, iirc and I don’t, was entitled F*ck You)?

    Paul Anka’s version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has to be mentioned.

    Posted by Ken Houghton  on  10/04  at  02:58 AM
  70. And now I’m wondering if we need a followup ABFF on best and worst tribute albums.

    I was looking for a sample of James Last’s egregious cover of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” when I discovered that it was originally released on his album Rock Me Gently: A Tribute to the Great Canadian Songwriters. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that?

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  07:54 AM
  71. Wow, Ken (#69), Paul Anka doing Nirvana is a revelation! (Of badness. Of wrongness.) The bombastic horn section plus Anka’s smooth dancin’ moves? I don’t know which is wronger.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/04  at  09:21 AM
  72. Joe “Let the Good Times Roll” B. in Kentucky: The issue may be more one of terminology than one of general unfamiliarity with the music of this period on the part of the poster and commenters.  Linguists, musicologists, and other illuminati, please correct me if this is wrong, but for me the word “cover” carries with it a connotation of acknowledgment, for better or worse.  This was not the case with the doo-wop, R & B, and early rock n roll of the 1950s, as the rip-off records made by white musicians reflected and contributed to segregation in popular music production and consumption.  The Crew Cuts’ version of the Chords’ “Sh-Boom,” for example, reflects an attempt, increasingly rearguard during the period, to maintain parallel and separate systems.  In subsequent years, versions of songs I would categorize as covers did not necessarily completely shed the exploitative quality so basic to this earlier work, but they no longer attempted to fully obfuscate or obliterate the source of the song.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  10:14 AM
  73. Michael, I disagree on “Suzanne”—I think the Nina Simone version is just fine, and don’t dislike the Peter Gabriel version.

    But ... Indigo Girls (who I normally love) doing “Uncle John’s Band”?  Wrong.

    Posted by Another Damned Medievalist  on  10/04  at  10:42 AM
  74. I haven’t seen this one mentioned, and I’m a bit surprised: Counting Crows, “Big Yellow Taxi.” The original was shit, and the cover is sugary, goofy shit with sprinkles.

    Posted by Jason B  on  10/04  at  11:03 AM
  75. Mamas and Papas--cover of “My Girl” and “Twist and Shout”

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  11:05 AM
  76. Fascinating, the differences of opinion, no? I actually enjoyed the Indigo’s version of UJB; there are far worse on that CD (Jane’s Addiction does “Ripple”...eeeeewww).

    But in a weird conicidence, on a completely unrelated blog thread elsewhere, I was suckered into viewing this take-the-cake travesty. Warning for the weak-stomached: it’s Britney Spears heavy-breathing “Satisfaction.”

    [p.s. I am experiencing a commenting glitch: if I click “Preview” to check a link, I lose the captcha-thing and cannot actually submit the previewed comment]

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  11:33 AM
  77. In the WTF category, there’s <a href="http://quodshe.blogspot.com/2008/06/wuthering-wha.html"<this>/a> Italian close-harmony group, the Puppini Sisters, doing a Andrews Sister’s style cover of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” I don’t know how I forgot about that, given that I blogged about it.  Perhaps it was so traumatic I repressed the memory.  Seriously, go take a look, though you may not want to watch Kate Bush’s video for the original (also there if you follow the link), since it might make you think less of the song.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/04  at  12:12 PM
  78. Oops, let me try again (feel free to delete the previous attempt, Michael):

    In the WTF category, there’s this Italian close-harmony group, the Puppini Sisters, doing a Andrews Sister’s style cover of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” I don’t know how I forgot about that, given that I blogged about it.  Perhaps it was so traumatic I repressed the memory.  Seriously, go take a look, though you may not want to watch Kate Bush’s video for the original (also there if you follow the link), since it might make you think less of the song.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/04  at  12:13 PM
  79. Well, I’m not sure where to place Pat Boone’s whole album of heavy metal covers here. I mean, most of the originals he’s covering are pretty awful anyway.

    On the other hand, it’s so appalling that it’s kinda sublime.

    And are we far enough down-thread to examine the opposite cases--covers that make astonishing pure gold out of unpromising schlock? Here I would nominate Richard Thompson’s cover of Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” And maybe not quite as stark an example but worthy of endless praise is Johnny Cash’s cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  12:16 PM
  80. Er, I posted the last post (twice!) before realizing that the video I originally linked is no longer available. So here’s a different version from someone’s cell phone camera, apparently.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/04  at  12:21 PM
  81. Paul Anka’s version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has to be mentioned.

    If only because Anka was, undoubtedly, consciously shooting for the title of Worst Cover Ever.  I can’t decide whether that should disqualify him because he’s trying too hard to suck; what we need here is a separate Self-Parody / Self-Awareness metric, like the one in which guys like Robert Goulet and William Shatner come out reasonably well (owning their cheesiness and working with it) and guys like Phil Collins fail.

    And I think J- @ 71 is exactly right about the nebulous, but critical, distinction between covers and ripoffs.

    Sven @ 76:  I’ll give it a look.  And DrBB @ 79:  And are we far enough down-thread to examine the opposite cases--covers that make astonishing pure gold out of unpromising schlock?

    We are now!  This one goes to 81.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/04  at  12:59 PM
  82. Mae West’s cover of “Twist and Shout” is simply horrific.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  01:08 PM
  83. Michael @66:

    What you did was some Orange Sunshine.

    Hwaet! Dan Aykroyd references from the Carter years are, according to the metric proposed in comment #27, “real old.”

    On the internet no one knows you’re using dog years.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/04  at  01:11 PM
  84. Thanks, Joe Good Times, for Pat Boone calling Obama a “black Elvis.” Gotta reboot now!  And yikes, Ben, there should be some warning when you’re not joking ... the shock of some covers is the clay feet of folks you admire.

    Speaking of Aykroyd, can we raise the question of white blues and collapsing irony?  The original “Blues Brothers” bit had the self-mockery of much early SNL, but seems to have lost that as commercial opportunities loomed, producing many dreadful covers.  Or consider this discussion of Lennon’s “Yer Blues” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yer_Blues which, musically, (put the words aside) indeed sounds like a cruel parody of the wooden, humorless output of Mayall and Clapton.  But Lennon seems to have started taking it seriously.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  02:27 PM
  85. Oh, now that raises a really interesting question.  What songs are completely uncoverable by anyone anywhere at any time for any reason?  I’d have to include “Suzanne” on that list.  Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” . . Songs so indelible they simply cannot be touched—only listened to.

    Absolutely agree about those two songs.  Another variation would be songs no one can do really badly.  “Fever” - Peggy Lee’s version is immortal, but, heck, even I can sing “Fever.” Not too many really high or really low notes.

    Posted by Rugosa  on  10/04  at  03:28 PM
  86. Oooh, Michael’s mention (@66) of “Anarchy in the UK” as an un-coverable song (and correctly so), reminds me of the fact that not one but two bands have covered it: Megadeth and Motley Crue both made the attempt, and both failed miserably in their own special way.

    Captcha: over.  Not under the wall.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  10/04  at  03:47 PM
  87. Nothing wrong in my book with the version of Redemption Song on Strummer’s Streetcore. 

    And yes, an ABFF on best and worst tribute albums would be loads of fun.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  04:59 PM
  88. Alan Jackson’s “Crazy ‘Bout a Ford Truck” commercial cannibalizing of “Mercury Blues.” Hey, it’s not like Alan needed the cash. Or a free truck.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  05:17 PM
  89. OOOH, I just listened to Dexy’s “Thunder Road.” I’ll shut up now.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  05:21 PM
  90. Am I the only one here aware of all internet traditions? 87 comments and no one wishes to greet our new giant enlightened insect overlords?

    My contribution (second category): Luis Medina covering “The World is a Ghetto.” Words fail me. I wish they had failed Mr. Medina.

    Captcha: “Company,” as in Bad.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/04  at  05:37 PM
  91. How about the whole ‘unplugged’ phenomenon? I quite liked the Clapton one, but thereafter, every one sounded exactly the same to me. Down to the hushed reverence with which each of these songs was received by the studio audience.
    What a complete waste of guitars, audio tape, movie film.

    And for really bad covers, try ‘Los Punkrockers’, which attempted to cover all of the Sex Pistols ‘never mind the bollocks. WFMU used to have them up. They’re gloriously terrible. Highly recommended.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  05:49 PM
  92. Ran across this blurb about your book, but who is this “Michael Brub” character?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Hv8eGQAACAAJ&dq=&#x22;Berube&#x22;&#x2B;&#x22;rhetorical+occasions&#x22;

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  06:00 PM
  93. Someone who shouldn’t be allowed on an airplane.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  06:53 PM
  94. covers that make astonishing pure gold out of unpromising schlock?

    Oh, easy.  Richard Thompson covering Britney Spears’s “Oops, I Did It Again.”

    Posted by Linkmeister  on  10/04  at  07:25 PM
  95. Dang, I can’t believe Chris @ 83 nailed the Orange Sunshine reference—I thought I was being sufficiently obscure.  But mother of Moloch, that was one funny-ass skit.

    Colin @ 84:  Speaking of Aykroyd, can we raise the question of white blues and collapsing irony? 

    Why, yes we can!  Now I’ve been thinking about “Yer Blues” all day.  Parody of turgid, or just turgid?  I’m just not sure.

    Dr. Virago @ 77-78:  In the WTF category, there’s this Italian close-harmony group, the Puppini Sisters, doing a Andrews Sister’s style cover of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” I don’t know how I forgot about that, given that I blogged about it.  Perhaps it was so traumatic I repressed the memory.

    Not thoroughly enough, Dr. V.  And now you’re just spreadin’ the trauma around.  Thanks for sharing!

    John @ 90:  Am I the only one here aware of all internet traditions?

    What are internet traditions?

    Posted by Michael  on  10/04  at  07:28 PM
  96. Wait. The Dead played more than one song?

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  08:19 PM
  97. I try not to hate, though this awful cover is hard to beat...and I wouldn’t dare try to name my top few favorites, lest folks think everything else I blog is an also-ran…

    But I did want to second Linkmeister’s recommendation above @ 94, note that after long experience I do not believe that there is such thing as an uncoverable song (though I do believe some songs should be put on long-term sabbatical, most notably Rhiannon’s Umbrella, Britney’s Toxic, and Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy), and mention that the blog collaborative over at Star Maker Machine is going to be discussing (and posting) Dylan covers all this coming week, starting at midnight tonight. 

    Thanks to SEK for the earlier mention of my own coverblog above, which brought me in...I’m perfectly thrilled to be able to provide a place “to keep tabs on the best and worst covers out there.”

    Posted by boyhowdy  on  10/04  at  08:20 PM
  98. Oh, there are so many…
    The Beach Boys doing The Times They Are A’Changin’ was bad, but eclipsed by Jan & Dean’s insufferable version of the already borderline Eve of Destruction.
    Davy Crockett done by Louis Armstrong. In fact, anything from the Louis Sings Disney album.
    Almost anything done by aged stars trying to become relevant to a new generation: e.g., Frank Sinatra doing Leaving on a Jet Plane, Mrs. Robinson, MacArthur Park, Something, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, or Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down.
    Any song in which the obscurity of the original artist’s slurred bad lyrics are laid bare by good diction: for example, Patti Smith’s version of Are You Experienced? and Smells Like Teen Spirit.
    Oh, there’s just so much…

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  08:30 PM
  99. What are internet traditions?

    Good question!

    Captcha: “meaning” as in “loss of.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/04  at  09:40 PM
  100. I’m surprised no one mentioned Linda Ronstadt’s tone deaf renditions of “Heat Wave” and “Ooh, Baby Baby”. More obscure, but even more awful is Mamie Van Doren’s album of “song stylings”. Here was a cheap imitation of a cheap imitation of Marilyn Monroe (no singer herself) doing old standards and being completely serious in her ludicrousness.

    The trouble with dredging up covers of icon trash like “McArthur Park” is that the original was such over wrought kitsch that covers almost can’t compete.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  09:46 PM
  101. What, you missed the story of our trip to Vegas, told in two installments at Pandagon?

    Yes, off on tour i was, seeking bad covers of covers i suppose.  Thanks for the good read; but still, Jamie seems to belong on this site. 

    As for #96 above, the Grateful Dead played two songs, one in the first set, an other one in the second.  It is Neil Young who claims that it is all one song. 

    Back in the hey days of Mr Natural and other strange peoples, a young Paul Krassner made reference to his friend’s production of Orange Sunshine in a very gritty short story about Orange Douche and the Gum Job.  The only thing missing was Cowboy Neal at the wheel. 

    Does orange sunshine streak through the windowpane changing the purple hazes???

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  10:30 PM
  102. Worst cover of “Girl from the North Country,” by Bob Dylan:  Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash on “Nashville Skyline, 1969.” They’re so far out of tune it’s painful.  On the other hand, there’s a YouTube version that’s not bad, as performed on the premier episode of Johnny Cash’s television show.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  11:00 PM
  103. Davy Crockett done by Louis Armstrong. In fact, anything from the Louis Sings Disney album.

    As someone who upon a time wiggled and jumped around excitedly when listening to his great improvement upon “Bippety Boppety Boo,” I take extreme umbrage at this blanket generalization.  Good day, sir.

    I haven’t seen this one mentioned, and I’m a bit surprised: Counting Crows, “Big Yellow Taxi.”

    Sigh.

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  11:06 PM
  104. No mention here yet of the Rolling Stones, not that I can see anyway. I’d nominate all of their covers, with particular emphasis on two:
    Under the Boardwalk, originally by the Drifters, who at least had the balls to sing “makin’ love” where the Stones turned it into “fallin in lurv”.
    Time is on my side, by Irma Thomas.
    Both these great songs were turned into turgid drones that sound like they were performed and recorded in a toilet.

    For the BEST cover song of all time, that is, turning a bloody awful, hokey, repeated ad nauseum original into a masterpiece of rhythm and played-straight soul passion, John Denver’s Country Roads, performed by Toots and the Maytals on the greatest reggae album ever, Funky Kingston in about 1974 or thereabouts.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  01:37 AM
  105. Best cover ever.  Capt. Beefheart’s Dropout Boogie by the Kills.  The worst was probably Jimi Hendrix’s version of Wild Thing.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  01:53 AM
  106. My least favorite cover is Frente!’s version of New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, done with the slight-voiced vocalist singing a capella. That’s right, they stripped out everything that makes New Order’s sound special (the dance beat, Hook’s basslines, the dense electronic programming, etc.) to concentrate on...Bernard Sumner’s insipid lyrics. What’s the point?

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  03:19 AM
  107. You people are insane.  The best cover ever is the one the original artist only realized they’d written for another band after the fact---i.e. The Pixies’ cover of The Jesus and Mary Chains’ ”Head On.” Never before has a genuinely great song been done such great justice.

    Captcha: “[r]iver,” indicating a song no one but The Boss has purchase on.

    Posted by SEK  on  10/05  at  03:31 AM
  108. A laurel, and hearty handshake for coming back.
    Most of the really bad ones have been mentioned—Baez’s “Dixie” is truly godawful—but may I nominate Matthews Southern Comfort’s version of CSNY’s versio of Joni Mitchell’s version of “Woodstock,” a Moebius strip of pure suckitude.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  09:26 AM
  109. Rich @ 100:  I’m surprised no one mentioned Linda Ronstadt’s tone deaf renditions of “Heat Wave” and “Ooh, Baby Baby”.

    Good one!  I think it’s because Ronstadt has so completely disappeared from the radio, even oldies and classic rock formats, and everyone has forgotten that she built her career on those things.  And “Tracks of My Tears,” too.  Linda Ronstadt:  the only woman who could drain all emotion from a Smokey Robinson song.

    Damn, thanks to that comment and macondo’s @ 104, now I’m thinking of the subcategory of evil 70s covers of soul / Motown, and Grand Funk Railroad’s version of “Locomotion” is stuck in my head.  Also, Ronstadt is to the Miracles as the Stones are to the Temptations (for gutting “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Just My Imagination").

    The trouble with dredging up covers of icon trash like “McArthur Park” is that the original was such over wrought kitsch that covers almost can’t compete.

    Yeah, but that’s what puts the F in WTF.

    djprof @ 102:  Worst cover of “Girl from the North Country,” by Bob Dylan:  Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash on “Nashville Skyline, 1969.” They’re so far out of tune it’s painful.

    Quite true —that’s some serious screeching and caterwauling going on in there.  Not sure it’s a proper “cover,” though.  And no, I don’t want to get into the whole “Dylan covers of Dylan” genre.  Just ‘cause.

    FMguru@ 106:  My least favorite cover is Frente!’s version of New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle

    W? T? F?  Now this is why ABF Fridays are so Arbitrary.  I thought that Frente!’s version was delightful—treating the song as if it were a coffeehouse singer/songwriter ballad (by Lisa Loeb, say) without actually mocking it in so doing.  The result is quite pretty, actually.  Oh, and it’s not a cappella (it’s got a single acoustic guitar).  Video here for those who are interested/ still reading.  (I still listen to Marvin the Album, most of it.)

    SEK @ 107:  You people are insane.

    No, just arbitrary.

    And hi, Charles!  Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for “Moebius strip of pure suckitude.” You won’t be so happy to see me when you find out what I’ve got in store for this bright Sunday morning, though. . . .

    Posted by Michael  on  10/05  at  11:02 AM
  110. Much as it pains me, Johnny Cash’s cover of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” from one of the Unearthed discs is pretty painful.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  12:59 PM
  111. Gotta be quick with this crowd.  Two of my three have already been mentioned.  Yes, Dylan’s cover of “The Boxer” is a horror- one can only assume he did it bad on purpose, perhaps because he was trying to create some sort of 60’s folkie version of the Fred Allen/Jack Benny feud.  Frank Sinatra’s version of “Mrs. Robinson” is cringe-inducingly sad.  But for mind blowingly bad, ladies and gentlemen, Yes with their version of Paul Simon’s “America”.  Although it is the only Yes number with coherent lyrics they manage to overcome that advantage with a show of bombast that manages to embody the worst of every progressive rock cliche.  The only thing that can be said in its defense is that this is the sort of thing that helped to bring about punk rock.

    Posted by Bill Altreuter  on  10/05  at  01:52 PM
  112. Ah, the “I’ll talk you down” reference was familiar but I couldn’t place it. That 1977 book, Saturday Night Live, has the full transcript. “All right, Peter, everything is going to be fine, you’re just very high and you’ll probably be that way for about five more hours,” says Dan Aykroyd as President Carter. “Try taking some Vitamin B or C complex. If you have a beer, go ahead and drink it. Just remember, you’re a living organism on this planet, you’re safe. You’ve just taken a heavy drug. Relax, stay inside, and listen to some music. Do you have any Allman Brothers?” Man, I love that book. It even includes some material the network cut, like the Placenta Helper commercial.

    /digression that makes me sound older than I am

    captcha: years!

    Posted by Orange  on  10/05  at  04:11 PM
  113. wiggled and jumped around excitedly… Bippety… blanket… umbrage

    Bow Chicka Wow Wow!

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/05  at  05:45 PM
  114. Worst cover of all time:

    Pat Boone doing XTC’s “Dictionary.”

    OK, he didn’t, but I just know it would give Nimoy’s “If I Had a Hammer” a run for eternal vomitude.

    Tom H.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  07:50 PM
  115. Let’s forget these categories of cover:
    Novelty covers (like Pat Boone’s metal songs, Shatner et al),
    indie bands covering Britney Spears to be ironic (Travis doing Hit me Baby...),
    punk bands doing speeded up versions of non-punk songs (The Dickies plus loads of others),
    string quartets, jazz bands and barbershop singers doing tracks from OK Computer
    ‘dance’ versions of soft rock songs that put a looped four on the floor beat behind some unnamed singer (apart from DJ Sammy’s version of Bryan Adams’s Heaven, which improves the original by about a million percent),
    anything that rolls off the Idol/Simon Cowell production line.

    Now lets apply the rules of music i.e. apart from Lou Reed, having a smack habit equals intensely boring self obsessed music, plus white men trying to make black music is just a mistake, and we come out with the worst cover version of all time. It’s Eric Clapton’s desecration of ‘I shot the Sheriff’.

    Posted by s'dog  on  10/05  at  08:11 PM
  116. Oh, c’mon, once you’ve heard Barbara Streisand sing/emote her way through John Lennon’s “Mother,” complete with scream, you will know the true meaning of a terrible cover.

    Posted by sfmike  on  10/05  at  09:42 PM
  117. I have to say two things:

    1) I am fantastically happy that this blog is back
    2) Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light” is one of my favorite songs ever (well, it was when I was six), and I actually think Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” is at least okay. But I’ve been panned for my musical taste on this blog before (evidently I am a “rockist"), and I am growing less afraid of it. Capcha is “party.” Party on, Michael.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  09:43 PM
  118. I’d nominate the Residents as the Best Cover Band of All Time, if only for Third Reich ‘N’ RollGeorge and James yields many nuggets of fine cover, not least a terrifying version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”.

    Gald to see Clapton getting the beating he so justly deserves here…

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  09:47 PM
  119. Whitney Houston destroying “I Will Always Love You” really does top the list. 

    The Wallflowers covering “Heroes” comes awfully close, though.  Everything that made that song great---Bowie’s odd singing, the layers of noise, the guitar work---gone and replaced with pure, unadulterated fail.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  10/05  at  09:53 PM
  120. Oh oh oh---and 311 covering The Cure’s “Love Song”.  It made it hard for me to listen to the original for months. It was so bad it made me wish I didn’t know what music was.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  10/05  at  09:55 PM
  121. I know there are probably more horrible slices of recorded sound out there--reading through these comments reminded me of a lot that probably are worse--but for whatever reason, no recording ever makes me want to run down someone in the street like James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is.” The very idea that anybody, anywhere, would want to listen to that choad when they could listen to Marvin Gaye drives me mad.

    I once was captive in a situation where I had no alternative but to hear a mix tape that included every god damned white-boy cover of a soul hit ever recorded.  It wasn’t made up only of Motown and soul songs, but every song on it that was a soul tune was represented by one of the unpigmented--Taylor for Marvin Gaye, Phil Collins for the Supremes, Johnny Rivers for the Four Tops, Linda Ronstadt for Smokey Robinson, Michael Bolton for Percy Sledge, J. Geils for somebody--Jesus, it just wouldn’t stop. I was about ready to haul in the DJ on a hate-crimes charge.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  10:20 PM
  122. Scary Spice did a cover of Cameo’s “Word Up” on the Austin Powers soundtrack.  Truly awful!

    Welcome back, Michael.  You were missed!

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  10:23 PM
  123. Note to Vance:
    http://dev.null.org/blog/item/200809220328_cacohighw

    Posted by nnyhav  on  10/05  at  10:29 PM
  124. There oughta be a law against trying to cover Sandy Denny or Janis Joplin.

    I must dissent.  Erma Franklin’s cover of “Piece of My Heart” leaves the original in the dust. Don’t take my word for it.  Check it out.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  10/05  at  10:36 PM
  125. Ah, but in that case Erma Franklin’s was the original version and Joplin’s (w/ Big Brother & the HC) was the cover. Gotcha.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  10:46 PM
  126. Yi, forked tongue.  I didn’t realize until you mentioned it that James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is” was the same song as Marvin Gaye’s.  We white folk can drain the essence out of anything if we try . . .

    Posted by Rugosa  on  10/05  at  10:47 PM
  127. You’re right!  I always thought Franklin was covering, but I was wrong.  Learn something new, etc.  Thanks, Sven.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  10/05  at  11:05 PM
  128. Forgot to say thanks for the link, btw...I do like that version a lot and it’s been a long time. If I could play that kind of gospel/Bro. Ray piano I’d never do anything else.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  11:28 PM
  129. wiggled and jumped around excitedly… Bippety… blanket… umbrage

    Bow Chicka Wow Wow!

    Thanks for the view from the petard, Chris.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  11:40 PM
  130. And oh yeah re the larger topic...another underexplored category of the Really Terrible Cover is the dicy Instrumental Version. Somebody alluded above to jazz versions of Radiohead and Nirvana (Mehldau, Bad Plus) etc...and these can be not Terrible at all. But that way, and a little to the south, lies Muzak. I heard several Really Terrible examples on Saturday (also some amazing TD Gear Changes; one tune was little else than a series of ‘em) when my ex put on a Herb Alpert/TJ Brass CD.

    captcha: research
    just thought that was a cool one

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  11:40 PM
  131. Scary Spice did a cover of Cameo’s “Word Up” on the Austin Powers soundtrack.  Truly awful!

    Oh, God, that was terrible. And now you’ve reminded me of the Spice Girls’ cover of The Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping”, which actually makes me angry when I think of it, it’s such an abomination.

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  11:59 PM
  132. Sven and mds recombined call to mind this Portishead cover of Zippity Doo Dah. (covered by Bill Bailey.)

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/06  at  12:17 AM
  133. I’m not a reflexive Bono-hater, but his cover of “Hallelujah” justifies most of the contempt he’s ever drawn.

    Posted by Brian Z  on  10/06  at  12:32 AM
  134. Clarke uncovers yet another category: the metacover.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:41 AM
  135. Alison covered by Linda Ronstadt.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:43 AM
  136. I loathe Massive Attack’s version of “Light My Fire”.

    I am not a fan of Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco doing “Comfortably Numb”.

    Damien Rice is repeatedly guilty of Truck Driver’s Gear Change it is especially bad on “Delicate”.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:48 AM
  137. The best cover of all time would have to be Hendrix doing All along the Watchtower”. Dylan heard it, and was like “shit, I won’t be able to play that one live again”.

    The stuff Johnny Cash covered in one of his last albums- America IV? Awesome. I mean, “Personal Jesus” is a great song, but he made it sound like Depeche Mode wrote it 100 years ago. The cover of NIN’s “Hurt” is pretty good, too.

    I think Marilyn Manson’s cover of Working Class Hero is really bad maybe not an atrocity, but he could have updated the lyrics a bit.

    Orgy’s cover of Blue Monday by New Order is pretty good, as they trim a couple min. off, and infuse some anger into what was a very passive song. Changes it enough to create a separate artistic vision, indeed.

    How bout that Kid Rock single out these days, eh eh? Makes one reach for one’s revolver in a number of ways.

    ///Yeah, I hate to admit it, I love the Dropkick Murphys, but that Long Way to the Top cover blows. hideously.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  01:40 AM
  138. I’m surprised no one mentioned one of the most peculiar bad covers out there: Judas Priest’s version of Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust.” Whenever I heard it, I always thought: these guys do know this is a song about a lost relationship with Bob Dylan, right?

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  03:11 AM
  139. ABBA’s cover of Leadbelly’s “Pick a Bale of Cotton

    Is this real?
    If this is real....it just may be the winner. Thinking about it is making me want to gouge my eye out with a clawhammer. You know it’s not ironic, because, it’s ABBA. ABBA is sincere. ABBA are the Mentos of rock and roll.

    Posted by KMTBERRY  on  10/06  at  05:39 AM
  140. As much as I can recognize some truly craptastic covers in all of this, you sincerely have to hear the Aaron Neville cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” George Harrison’s classic stripped of all guitars and delivered in overly serious Neville R&B soul stylings.

    Been trying to find this for hilarity purposes, but it seems to be elusive. Heard it on a grocery store muzak and almost died laughing. Had to set down basket and leave the store to stop heaving.

    Posted by The Critic  on  10/06  at  07:50 AM
  141. Covers seem like movie sequels, being usually worse than the originals.  It’s much harder to think of a good cover song than one that is teh suck, isn’t it?  I tried to think of cases of covers being better than their respective originals, and which weren’t mentioned here.  Regina Spektor almost always does her own material, but the two covers I’ve heard from her have improved on the source.  She did a great version of “Little Boxes” for Weeds, and her cover of John Lennon’s “Real Love” was very listenable.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  08:20 AM
  142. I’d like to nominate The Lords of the New Church covering Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”. While listening to Stiv making the vomit noises at the end was mildly amusing, the cover was just vapid and rote. However, seeing Stiv in the wedding dress live, without the stockings, and vamping it up on stage while lifting his skirt doing the song? Priceless.

    Also, just about any cover by Nouvelle Vague, but particularly their version of Tuxedomoon’s “In a Manner of Speaking”. The original cannot be approached.

    Posted by bd  on  10/06  at  08:48 AM
  143. Okay, it looks like Friday has bled into Monday, so I want to drop the bomb: jazz instrumentals becoming pop songs with lyrics. Sure, sometimes that worked great (see Twisted by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross). More often, though, you’d get something awful: the cool Grazing in the Grass performed by Hugh Masekela losing a g and becoming the pointless “Grazin’ in the Grass” by the Friends of Distinction ("I can dig it, you can dig it, we can dig it...Grazin’ the the grass is a gas, can you dig it...")

    Still, the nomination for worst: Cannonball Adderley’s amazing instrumental Mercy, Mercy, Mercy devolving to the Buckingham’s top-40 hit with lyrics that don’t even contain the word “Mercy” in them: “My baby, she’s made not a-look / Like one of those bunnies from a Playboy book...”

    PS In response to earlier comment, Dylan did go on performing All Along the Watchtower, but his bands (notably The Band) incorporated most of the Hendrix stylings, to everybody’s credit.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  10:42 AM
  144. OK, well, given that I’m a 1976 baby, my musical taste is entirely uncalibrated. I grew up thinking that Neil Diamond’s versions of “Suzanne,” “Both Sides Now,” and “Free Man in Paris”, not to mention Donna Summer’s “MacArthur’s Park” and Linda Rondstadt’s “Willing,” were The Way Those Songs Were. (Which really makes a person unprepared to appreciate Joni Mitchell, unfortunately. I had to be retrained.) I’m not too proud to admit to enjoying them. Also, I will admit to being thoroughly tickled by Yes’s “America”. It’s bouncy! I like bouncy! It sounds like joy and bubbly things and adventure! I admit that rather changes the entire point of the song, though.

    Would you say that Donna Summers disco’ing up “MacArthur’s Park” belongs in the same category, if decades earlier, as random bands/DJs making totally unnecessary dance remixes today of ‘80s songs? I believe someone has already mentioned “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Also, inexplicably, dance remixes of Enya songs? WTF? It’s not that the result of “Only Time” with a drum machine behind it is so very unpleasant; it’s that it makes me ask, “Did the world need this? What is its justification for existing? I mean really?”

    Also in the “Is this really necessary?” category: various little-girl-style covers. I mean, deride “How Soon Is Now” for being Emo before Emo was a concept, sure, but the recent baby-voiced cover of it makes me wonder if the singer even understands angst in the first place. Also, the other day in a Denny’s (I’m sorry) I heard a female voice sweetly singing its way through U2’s “Pride (In The Name of Love)” like a sort of Unplugged lullaby in the park. Er. No no no no no.

    Not that I don’t appreciate a good gender-bender cover. But it needs to bring something to the song, not take it away. And that goes double if the song was a gender-bender in the first place. Unless I’m missing something, there is No Good Excuse for the currently popular remake of Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket”, for instance. I mean, when a woman sings that song about a guy, unironically, changing the lyrics so that it’s a short something-else-not-a-skirt, you’ve totally lost the sentiment. The original celebrated a competent woman making her way unapologetically through a man’s world, kicking ass and taking names as she goes. The remake--again, unless I’m missing something--returns us to the status quo. Ick. And as for Counting Crows remaking “Big Yellow Taxi,” swapping genders in that song messes with the rhyme scheme. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

    I agree with whoever said that Tori Amos gets a pass for “Landslide,” and I’d extend that to “just about anything she feels like covering,” but I do wish she’d gotten the lyrics right in “She’s Leaving Home.” Instead of “after living alone for so many years,” in the performance I have a copy of, it sounds like she sings, “after living at home for so many years.” Which misses the point. Maybe that’s unique to that one performance, though.

    ...jazz instrumentals becoming pop songs with lyrics.

    There is an a capella arrangement of “Rhapsody In Blue” for female barbershop harmony, the end tag of which Sweet Adelines groups across the country have been learning for fun for some time now. Gold-winning quartet Ambiance recorded it and won an award for it. It’s actually quite fun. “I… hear a melody POUNDing, reSOUNDing, aLIVE with the JIVE of this town...” It’s best if you have a really good tenor for that initial clarinet slide up into the stratosphere.

    Posted by Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little  on  10/06  at  11:31 AM
  145. Most of the Special Places In Hell for this category already have been taken. (Joan Baez"s “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” deserves a place in the lake of fire all on its own.) But I would nominate, sadly, the latter-period Band’s massacre of that hidden piece of Dylan genius, “Blind Willie McTell.” They completely screw up the meter of the lines and Levon sings it very badly.
    Linda Ronstadt was uniquely gifted at finding good songs she couldn’t sing—Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” leaps immediately to mind.
    Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” is technically a cover—Erma cut her version in 1967, a year before Janis --and it goes on the list because Big Brother And The Holding Company was one of the biggest collections of talentless hacks in the history of recorded music. “Dead schleps” the late Michael Bloomfield called them, and he was being very kind.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:01 PM
  146. Maybe no one else here is the parent of a tween girl. I hereby move to nominate Miley Cyrus’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” for Category A, Pointless Renditions. It also may be a longshot for winning Cat. B, Soul-Destroying Zombie Remakes. Miley is okay for her audience, but ought to stick to the stuff which is written for her.

    -----------

    On Clapton: I really think he does not understand the lyrics to “Crossroads Blues.” He does not realize that the speaker is dead.

    -----------

    On the positive side, I think the Cowboy Junkies’s cover of the slow version of “Sweet Jane” is transcendently great. “SJ” is otherwise probably a song that should never be covered except by Lou Reed.

    -----------

    Since Joan Baez sings almost entirely other people’s songs, I figure the number of bad covers mentioned here is equivalent to the number of clunkers any other great singer might have who writes her/his own stuff.

    But.

    I really don’t like her cover of Gillian Welch’s “Elvis Presley Blues.” She puts it to some kind of exaggerated, clownish beat that seems to say Isn’t this fun? Aren’t I daring, as a great artist, to condescend to sing about ordinary pop culture like Elvis? She ruins a great, serious blues tune and seems to mock the lyrics, which take Elvis seriously.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:19 PM
  147. I’ll offer this string quartest’s take on Jimi Hendrix, although I’m not sure whether it qualifies in the “best” or “worst” cover catagory:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP7rjppeRA0

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:19 PM
  148. Ella Fitzgerald covered the Beatles’ “Savoy Truffle”. Try to get yer mind around that.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:31 PM
  149. Green Day’s cover of “I Fought the Law” is completely pointless.

    Just yesterday, I heard a Sun Kil Moon cover of Modest Mouse’s “Ocean Breathes Salty.” An interesting, quirky song was changed to a generic, coffee house song.  Ruined it.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  01:49 PM
  150. At the time it came out, I didn’t know anyone who thought Jose Feliciano’s version of the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ was anything but a laughably bad cover—but it seems to have undergone a rehabilitation.  Still sucks IMO.

    Posted by Nell  on  10/06  at  02:17 PM
  151. I think that the ABBA’s “Medley: Pick A Bale Of Cotton/On Top of Old Smokey/Midnight Special” has to be the worst cover ever by anybody.  Haven’t read the thread, I’m sure someone’s mentioned it already.

    Posted by John Emerson  on  10/06  at  02:20 PM
  152. Heh.

    Posted by John Emerson  on  10/06  at  02:21 PM
  153. best cover songs ever:

    Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s cover of “Sussudio”

    and the ODB/Macy Gray cover of “Dont Go Breakin My Heart” is pretty good too.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  02:38 PM
  154. Big Brother And The Holding Company was one of the biggest collections of talentless hacks in the history of recorded music. “Dead schleps” the late Michael Bloomfield called them, and he was being very kind.

    Charles, I’m old enough to remember the days—early 1980s, to be exact—when people who should have known better spent some time trying to rehabilitate those boys’ reputation.  All I can say is that listening to the second side of Cheap Thrills will disabuse anyone of the notion that the band could play music.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/06  at  02:45 PM
  155. Pearl Jam, covering “Redemption Song” as an anti-Ticketmaster song.

    “How long shall they kill our prophets”
    becomes
    “How long shall they steal our profits”

    The horror...the horror.

    captcha: head, as in, this thread makes my ---- hurt.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  02:47 PM
  156. astonishing pure gold out of unpromising schlock

    Well, there’s only one answer then.

    Posted by George  on  10/06  at  02:50 PM
  157. As for jazz instrumentals getting lyrics, we ran a silly contest last month asking members of our blog to write lyrics for Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good”. Turns out Chuck did the deed himself, as can be seen in a version by the Korean Robert Goulet, as linked from this comment: http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/2008/09/18/rock-town-hall-contest-write-lyrics-to-c#c20344.

    Posted by frankenslade  on  10/06  at  03:15 PM
  158. J—: Cream’s cover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads Blues.”

    I think that Cream song was terrific.  Yes, as a cover it’s no good but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great performance, maybe the best song on all the Cream LPs; it’s so totally different in tone and effect from the original that I wouldn’t even call it a cover.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  03:15 PM
  159. over 150 posts and no one’s yet mentioned Jeffrey Gaines’ abominable cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. He can’t freaking sing, so he changes the melody when it contains notes he can’t reach to notes he can, and drains all the beauty out of the song.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  03:21 PM
  160. listening to the second side of Cheap Thrills will disabuse anyone of the notion that the band could play music.

    Bit harsh. Surely they were playing musical instruments, often more-or-less in the same key. Perhaps you mean that they did not play music that you, personally, find, subjectively, musical enough to enjoy listening to. On the sister thread over at Pandagon, Ms. Marcotte informed everyone, apparently seriously, that if you don’t like The Cure then you are a) shallow and b) incapable of recognizing “good songs.”
    I find that incredible, since I hate hate hate The Cure with a white-hot burning hate (a hate that has nothing to do with makeup or homophobia and everything to do with the fact that I find their stuff almost wholly lacking in the criteria I listed above someplace...uh...#64).
    But I still acknowledge that they’re playing (puerile, pretentious) music, of a form.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  03:30 PM
  161. How about when a band tries to remake one of its own old songs and sucks horribly at it?

    The Police did this when they tried to get back together in 1986 and redid “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” This version is so horrible the band broke up and didn’t get back together for over 20 years. No wonder.

    My favorite cover song ever is the Bauhaus remake of T. Rex’s Telegram Sam. What makes it so amazing is that they played it as if Bowie & Mick Ronson had covered it on Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars. Good stuff.

    Posted by Mat Scheck  on  10/06  at  04:02 PM
  162. A bad cover I haven’t seen mentioned: “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)” by the Doobie Brothers. Not horrifically bad, but it sounds rushed and somehow not right. The whirl of strings which leads into the opening vocal seems especially cheesy (if I’m remembering the song correctly).

    A good/bad or bad/good cover: “Summertime Blues” by Blue Cheer. They get points for gall, at least.

    And I second (third?) those defending Clapton’s “Crossroads” (I assume they mean the version from “Wheels of Fire"). Great solo, even if the piece really isn’t in the spirit of the original.

    Finally, looking at the “Gear Change” site, I notice there is an artist called Michael Buble whom I’ve never heard of. At first glance I thought it was a certain other Michael, and wondered what he was doing there.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  04:23 PM
  163. Here’s one: Dwight Yoakam’s transformation of the Kinks’ “Tired Of Waiting For You” into lounge music as performed by Bill Murray on the old SNL.  Never do I jump for the “next track” button quicker than I do when that song comes on during random play.

    I was pleased to see the Joan Baez demolition of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” listed so prominently.  My favorite butchered line is, “I took the train to Richmond that fell” in place of “By May the tenth, Richmond had fell”.  Unbelievable.  I also hate the way she changed the chords and melody to make them less interesting.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  05:41 PM
  164. Well, coming late to the party, I guess I can shut this down with the ultimate bad cover. Something even worse than Abba’s “Medley: Pick A Bale Of Cotton/On Top of Old Smokey/Midnight Special” Something that makes you scream “Put on Pat Boone.” Something by poor Linda Ronstadt (her “Ooh, Baby Baby” isn’t THAT bad).

    Ladies and gentlemanies, I present Linda Ronstadt singing “Sail Away” as if it’s a Triumph Of The Human Spirit

    http://www.box.net/shared/static/3z8a5macco.mp3

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  05:48 PM
  165. "covers that make astonishing pure gold out of unpromising schlock?”

    I love covers that accomplish this feat.  My personal favorites are both by The Holmes Brothers, who generally do great covers, but who really hit it out of the park covering Collective Soul’s abominable “Shine” and Cheap Trick’s schlocky “I want you to want me.”

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  06:10 PM
  166. Jack Mingo:  Actually, the Buckinghams’ cover did include the word “mercy”, in the chorus: “...and I know that she knocks me off my feet - have mercy on me”.

    Also, don’t trust internet lyrics sites.  Those lines are “My baby, she’s made out of love, like one of those bunnies at the Playboy Club”.

    I speak from experience: my high school band did the song back when there still were Playboy Clubs, and dropping a needle on the 45 was the only way to get the lyrics.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  06:28 PM
  167. On a single album, Tom Tom Club cover both Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me” and Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale.”

    Never mind how I know this.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  06:43 PM
  168. Oh God, the Foo Fighters’ cover of Darling Nikki is an abomination.  It makes my head hurt, and I’m not even a Prince fan really.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  07:06 PM
  169. Oh, ouch - Prince covers. How about Gary Numan’s covers of 1999 and U Got The Look

    Posted by bd  on  10/06  at  07:17 PM
  170. I’m late to the party, but humbly submit Elvis’ version of “Hound Dog,” in category two.  Here’s Big Mama Thornton:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XUAg1_A7IE

    Turns out that song doesn’t suck it, it’s just Elvis.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  07:21 PM
  171. Late to the party, but:

    How about singers who are so bad that they retroactively ruin the original? For example, I had nothing against “American Woman” until Lenny Kravitz covered it. Now I find the Guess Who original almost as unlistenable as the Kravitz version.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  08:19 PM
  172. Even if it was officially part of a Who project, the Elton John cover of “Pinball Wizard” sucks a great deal of monkey penis (non-blues division).
    The Doors also blew goats, especially on “Backdoor Man.” Howlin’ Wolf would have kicked Jim The Wee Poet’s ass for him. And what do we make of a band that can’t even do a decent cover of “Gloria,” for god’s sake.
    I’m a little nonplussed at anyone who can hate on “Crossroads” from Wheels of Fire. That cut put me on the ceiling when I first heard it, and it was my gateway drug to Robert Johnson, so I have two reasons to love it.
    Rod Stewart’s an interesting case. I take people’s point on “Downtown Train.” But, his early work is chock full of terrific covers: great obscure Dylan ("Only A Hobo” from Gasoline Alley and “Mama, You Been On My Mind” from Never A Dull Moment), a monumental “I’m Losin’ You” (from Every Picture Tells A Story), and even the weird, backwards arrangement of “Street Fightin’ Man” (from The Rod Stewart Album). He subsequently did excellent versions of “People Get Ready” (with Jeff Beck) and “This Old Heart Of Mine (with Ronald Isley) as well as a rarely heard cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’s What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made A Loser Out Of Me).
    God, I love this thread.

    Posted by  on  10/07  at  03:11 PM
  173. I second phleabo on the Elvis version of hound dog.  Why is he singing about a lyin’ & cheatin’ man.  Was Elvis gay or something?
    Oh, and also Blinded by the Light.

    Posted by  on  10/07  at  07:47 PM
  174. Anyone who thinks that they can trash Clapton (a.k.a. God) with impunity will have to step outside with me…

    Cream’s “Crossroads” is a 90-degree turn from the (masterful) original, and contains some incredible guitar/bass/drum jamming. (Yes, I am a DFH!) His “I Shot The Sheriff” made me search out Bob Marley at an impressionable age.

    You wanna talk bad cover songs? Particulary ones derived from a deadly mix of white-boy soul-drain, heroin and/or cocaine addiction, and contractual obligation? Try just about anything James Taylor did in the mid- to late 70s: “Up on the Roof”, “How Sweet It Is”, and that vomit-inducing duet with his then-wife Carly Simon, “Mockingbird”. When I saw him on Colbert hawking a new album of cover tunes, I saw it as a sign of the End Times.

    Plus, who in their MOR/Public Radio mind thought the Kronos Quartet butchering “Purple Haze” was either hip or ironic? It sounds like someone recorded four fat fucks in the bathroom after a beans and beer festival. And I’m being kind.

    Posted by  on  10/08  at  04:05 PM
  175. Linda Ronstadt’s version of Randy Newman’s “Sail Away”. She drains every last drop of humor and irony from the song. Randy Newman without irony is a mortal sin, at least.

    Posted by  on  10/08  at  04:19 PM
  176. Try just about anything James Taylor did in the mid- to late 70s: “Up on the Roof”, “How Sweet It Is”, and that vomit-inducing duet with his then-wife Carly Simon, “Mockingbird”.

    Ouch.  Ouch ouch ouch.

    Posted by  on  10/08  at  05:06 PM
  177. Was Elvis gay or something?

    yes

    Posted by  on  10/08  at  08:19 PM
  178. Maybe an ABFF someday should discuss songs about Elvis.

    Posted by  on  10/10  at  02:54 PM
  179. It’s a terrible version of a terrible song (and I’m late to the thread), but Reel Big Fish’s ska-cover of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” defied notions of “god-awful.”

    Posted by Mr. Trend  on  10/11  at  02:07 PM
  180. travesti

    jigolo

    travesti ve jigolo siteleri

    Posted by jigolo  on  03/02  at  11:23 AM
  181. How about singers who are so bad that they retroactively ruin the original? For example, I had nothing against what are capers hf How Do You Cook With Capers
    “American Woman” until Lenny Kravitz covered it. Now I find the Guess Who original almost as unlistenable as the Kravitz version.

    Posted by  on  02/07  at  10:22 PM

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