"Wait! Who's That Singing????": Top Ten List of Major Stars Covering Other People's Music
Pitchfork reports that Peter Gabriel will be releasing an album of covers, in which he will tackle hits and more obscure cuts by David Bowie, Paul Simon, Elbow, Bon Iver, Talking Heads, The Arcade Fire, Regina Spektor, Radiohead, Lou Reed ("The Power of the Heart"???? Deep cut, Peter, deep-ass cut!), and others.
This is apparently part of a reciprocal project called Scratch My Back. Pitchfork's Tom Breihan explains:
According to The Guardian, Gabriel's Scratch My Back is part of a "song-swap project" in which Gabriel will cover other people's songs, and they'll cover his. That means there's at least an outside possibility that we could hear Bon Iver take on "Red Rain"-- which would be awesome. According to NME, Scratch My Back, due January 25, is the first release in a planned series, so maybe the other folks covering Gabriel will come later.
Major stars of Gabriel's caliber attempting to put their mark on other people's songs is not such an unusual occurrence, though. Here at WCS we have compiled a handy Top 10 List of Major Stars Covering Other People's Music, or TTLoMSCOPM for short.
Here we go:
West Coast Sound's Top 10 List of Major Stars Covering Other People's Music
10. Bob Dylan does The Rolling Stones, "Brown Sugar": Bob played this live in 2002 (he had played "Like a Rolling Stone" with the Stones live before in South America). At this point, of course, Bob can do whatever the hell he pleases, and he often does. Horny, inappropriate, plantation-slave-sexin' lyrics from the same mouth that used to mourn Hattie Carroll and Medgar Evers? Sure, why not. It's only rock and roll.
(Rest of the Top 10 List, and track listing for Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back, after the jump.)
9. The Sex Pistols do The Monkees, "Steppin' Stone": The Monkees have always been cooler than fuck, ok? They did it all: Beatles pastiche, Byrdsian jingle-jangle, Laurel Canyon sound, Neil Diamond stuff, country, rock, psychedelia, you name it. They also found time to make a hit TV show and a cult movie. Did they also inadvertently invent punk? See for yourself.
8. Brian Eno does The Tokens, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight": A-wimoweh indeed. Eno has revered doo-wop since childhood and in the mid-1970s, for no clear reason whatsoever, he indulged his passion with this non-album version of the South-Africa-by-way-of-the-Brill Building classic.
7. Jimi Hendrix does The Beatles, "Tomorrow Never Knows": Jimi was jamming at a NYC club (Steve Paul's legendary The Scene), when a totally fucked up Jim Morrison started heckling, "singing," and trying to molest the waitresses (oh, Jim!). Jimi's response? A BLISTERING improv on Revolver's mystical closer.
6. Frank Sinatra does The Beatles, "Something": Someone told George Harrison that early on Frankie would say in concert that this was his favorite "Lennon-McCartney" compositon. The Quiet One was amused all the way to BMI. Sinatra gets the writing credit right, though, before this amazing late performance in the Dominican Republic.
5. Patti Smith does Them (via The Doors), "Gloria": The Priestess of Punk reinvents the Brothers Morrison (Van and Jim) and scores more than one for feminism, the new wave, the ghost of Rimbaud, and The Rolling Stones of that parallel universe where Mick drowned and Brian lived.
4. Bruce Springsteen does Suicide, "Dream Baby Dream": It's kind of an open secret in music circles, but The Boss is kind of a hipster (which other arena rocker can boast of having done guest vocals for Lou Reed?). His droney live version of this No Wave rockabilly classic makes you wonder what would have happened if Springsteen had hooked up with John Cale instead of Clarence Clemmons (no offence, Big Man!)
3. The Stooges do Madonna, "Burning Up/Ray of Light": The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction galas were originally supposed to be laid back and jam-friendly. That ended during the first Clinton administration, but in 2008 Iggy and his pals brought some of the fun back with this sincere hommage to everyone's favorite material slut.
2. Bowie does The Velvet Underground, "I'm Waiting for My Man": Bowie was obsessed with this beatnik-druggie classic for years and recorded many live and studio versions. This one is from one of his best tours, during the coke-addled Thin White Duke years. Sublime--a Disco Dietrich!
1. Radiohead does Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better": even people who despise or not care much for Thom Yorke and Co. can't help being moved by this earnest interpretation of the immortal Spy Who Loved Me leit motif. Their version single-handedly inspired a full-blown karaoke revival of the tune!
Track listing for Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back:
01 Heroes (David Bowie cover)
02 The Boy in the Bubble (Paul Simon cover)
03 Mirrorball (Elbow cover)
04 Flume (Bon Iver cover)
05 Listening Wind (Talking Heads cover)
06 The Power of the Heart (Lou Reed cover)
07 My Body Is a Cage (Arcade Fire cover)
08 The Book of Love (Magnetic Fields cover)
09 I Think It's Going to Rain Today (Randy Newman cover)
10 Après Moi (Regina Spektor cover)
11 Philadelphia (Neil Young cover)
12 Street Spirit (Radiohead cover)
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.