Great songs are often the subject of some rather questionable cover versions, with also-rans trying to make the most of a far superior original composition.
However, every so often a band will take on a song and throw it firmly into the musical stratosphere by reinventing or simply putting their own spin on things. Contractor Weekly compiles their top 5 cover versions.
Michael Andrews and Gary Jules – Mad World (Originally by Tears for Fears)
Tears for Fears released ‘Mad World’ in 1982 and the song reached #3 in the UK charts. After being given the once over by minimalist composers Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, the song was a surprise Christmas #1 in 2003, after being featured on the soundtrack of the film Donnie Darko.
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (Originally by Leonard Cohen)
One of the most recognisable cover versions of all time, Jeff Buckley’s poignant rendition of Leonard Cohen’s original thrust the exquisitely talented Buckley into the limelight. Buckley’s only studio album, Grace, received eventual critical acclaim after initial poor sales, but Buckley’s blossoming career was cut short after he died swimming in the Mississippi river in 1997.
Johnny Cash – Hurt (Originally by Nine Inch Nails)
One of the greatest Country musicians of all time, Johnny Cash wrote several classics all by himself. However, perhaps one of his greatest songs was originally written and performed by American band Nine Inch Nails. Hurt was one of the final songs Cash recorded before his death in 2003, and whilst others have covered the song since – most notably Leona Lewis – nobody has matched Cash’s hauntingly powerful version.
The Clash – Police & Thieves (Originally by Junior Murvin)
In fairness, both the original and The Clash’s version are great tunes. Junior Murvin’s reggae version of 1976 was a huge hit in both the UK and Murvin’s native Jamaica. The Clash’s punkier adaptation was released a year later, and proved equally popular with fans, however Junior Murvin is reportedly to have exclaimed "They have destroyed Jah work!" when he first heard The Clash’s version.
Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower (Originally by Bob Dylan)
Voted the greatest guitarist of all time in numerous polls, Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s original is one of his best known songs. Replacing Dylan’s original mid-song harmonica solo with one of the best guitar solos of all time, Hendrix gave the song an edge the original lacked.