Oct 112012

Next up for Lynne: A self-recorded tribute album to ELO!

Enjoying the new Jeff Lynne CD Long Wave and was thinking about LPs that are all cover songs.

What are some of the RTH favorites? What am I missing?

Here are the ones that came to mind; am I missing any big ones?

  • Bowie, Pin Ups
  • Elvis Costello, Kojak Variety
  • Jeff Lynne, Long Wave
  • Bob Dylan, Good As I’ve Been to You/World Gone Wrong
  • Paul McCartney, Run Devil Run, Russian Album, Kisses On the Bottom
  • Rod Stewart, Great American Songbook Vol 1-4
  • Golden Smog, On Golden Smog
  • Def Leppard, Oh Yeah!
  • Stray Cats, Original Cool
  • Dave Edmunds, DE7
  • Bruce Springsteen, We Shall Overcome
  • Johnny Cash, American Recordings 1-4

  55 Responses to “Best Covers LP of All Time?”

  1. John Lennon, Rock ‘n’ Roll
    Bettye Lavette, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook
    Cat Power, The Covers Record
    Petra Hayden Sings: The Who Sell Out
    Luther Wright & the Wrongs, Rebuild the Wall

  2. Camper Van Beethoven – Tusk
    Rikki Lee Jones just released one but I don’t know the name.
    Joe Jackson – Jumpin Jive
    And didn’t Brian Ferry do a covers album?

    I don’t think that jazz standards/American Songbook albums or any other genre exercise (country, etc) should count because that’s just the artist exploring a whole new style rather than paying tribute to their influences and contemporaries.

  3. bostonhistorian

    Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics

    Mermaid Avenue Billy Bragg/Wilco

  4. bostonhistorian

    The best though is Ray Charles’s “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music”

  5. Are we trying to determine the “best” covers lp of all time or simply list all? If the former, man, there are a lot of turds being suggested for consideration. If the latter, man, there are a lot of turds being listed.

    Let me think about what might be among the “best.” I used to love at least the concept of those “Artist X Does Artist Y” albums.

    So far, Pin Ups is a rare good one I’m seeing among this lot.

  6. I don’t even like Ray Charles or country music, but I know this one is actually good!

  7. bostonhistorian

    Wait, what? Have you heard the Ray Charles Atlantic sides from the 50s?

  8. Bronzed Nordic God

    A couple that haven’t been mentioned:

    Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Kicking Against the Pricks
    Siouxsie & the Banshees: Through the Looking Glass

    I wished I liked the former more than I do and I’d argue the latter is better than Pin-Ups (faint praise, I know). Regardless of what you think of S&tB, it was at least a smart selection of songs to cover. Sparks, The Band, Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, Billie Holiday, and the Junglebook soundtrack(?).

  9. Yes, it’s clearly “great,” but too bluesy/jazzy for my tastes. That’s a rare chunk in my usually exquisite tastes, I know.

  10. Neil Young’s Americana
    Didn’t the Smithereens do several?
    Styx did a rather sad Big Bang Theory
    And I can’t say I care for Glen Frey’s new covers album either

    This one did come from a rather magical album!

  11. cliff sovinsanity

    Joan Jett, who normally has 2-3 covers on her albums put out a decent all covers album called The Hit List in 1990 which featured a pretty good version of Roadrunner.

  12. ladymisskirroyale

    I love that version of “Tusk.” What with your mention of Camper Van AND of Joe Jackson, I’m all a-swoon.

  13. ladymisskirroyale

    And jungleland2, we’re talking covers albums that feature just ONE artist doing covers of others’ work? Or will you include “tribute” albums or multiple groups covering one album?

  14. ladymisskirroyale

    Yo La Tengo’s “Fakebook” is by name a covers album (well, at least 11/16 of one). And it’s a good one.

    Here’s “Yellow Sarong” from that album:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmOqWHYEZTo

  15. misterioso


  16. misterioso

    God, I defy anyone to listen to more than 30 seconds of those Rod Stewart discs without puking.

    A different kind of crap, but what about Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Spaghetti Incident??

    And did I miss it or has no one mentioned the Band’s Moondog Matinee?

  17. misterioso

    Agreed. It is is the YLT record for people (like me) who basically think they are overrated. I like it a lot, though it seems to me a few songs too long.

  18. misterioso

    Oh, and the mediocre Aerosmith Honking on Bobo.

  19. misterioso

    Ferry, These Foolish Things. And almost all of Another Time, Another Place, which has one (?) original.

  20. 2000 Man

    Pin Ups is terrific. I’ve got no problems with that one. When I first heard it when I was like fifteen, I think I only knew a couple of the original versions, and Bowie did them well enough that I got interested in the originals. I still like his version of Sorrow best, and he really nails Rosalyn, too.

  21. Slim Jade

    Not that it’s rock, but I like Jeremy Taylor’s reggae musician session cover of “Kind of Blue.” Here’s a short teaser:

  22. Slim Jade

    Two more that come to mind (and no, I’m not calling these the greatest by any means) are any of the covers Afghan Whigs (who are due for a critical upgrade), and the pretty much unlistenable entire “Exile on Main Street” that Royal Trux do.

  23. cherguevara

    My favorite is Nilsson Sings Newman, I’d chose it over anything listed so far.

  24. 2000 Man

    I think The Detroit Cobras Mink, Rat or Rabbit is a damned fine cover album. I don’t know if their stuff would count since I think they only wrote like one song, but they do a great job covering stuff in their own way.

  25. There should perhaps be a special category for albums which cover another album in their entirety. I can think of a few off the top of my head:

    Booker T and the MGs, “McLemore Avenue” (covers the Beatles’ “Abbey Road”)
    Bollock Brothers, “Never Mind The Bollocks” (covers guess what)
    Boris The Sprinkler, “End Of The Century” (covers the Ramones’ album)

    Hmm, I wonder if it helps to have a band name starting BO for this particular feat.

  26. trigmogigmo

    BNC above mentioned Siouxsie & the Banshees Through the Looking Glass. I won’t claim it is the best, but it is a really good album. I kind of remember being not well versed in that group when it came out (’87) and I stumbled upon it, and I had no idea that it was an all-covers album until years later. I guess I didn’t read the booklet!

    Anyway, the choice of covers is very interesting and eclectic. My blind ignorance of many of the originals and enjoyment of the covers would probably make me not like the originals as much. My favorite song on the album is probably “Trust in Me” which slithers musically to match the lyrics, and has a tension behind the drums that seems ready to burst out, but never does.


  27. If you dig hillbilly bluegrass (and who doesn’t?), you must check out Hayseed Dixie’s “A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC.” They have several other tribute albums (i.e., Kiss), and how can you go wrong when your singer’s name is Barley Scotch?

  28. Yeah, I think pretty much their entire output (apart from that “Hotdog” song, I think…though, I’ve missed their last record or two) is covers. Really great covers of stuff that non-collectors/fanatics of the more obscure end of R & B and Rock & Roll would never realize are covers, anyway. Love that band (well, Rachel & Mary, plus whoever else is in the band this week).

  29. Royal Trux? I thought it was Pussy Galore that covered “Exile…”.

  30. 2000 Man

    Me, too. That one really pisses off a lot of Stones fans. But a lot of Stones fans like Kiss, so I always thought it was funny.

  31. The Residents – “The Third Reich & Roll” – covers done right.That is; nearly unrecognizable from the originals. Unless you’re being paid by a club to be a cover band (or you’re playing very obscure covers), it’s generally an exercise in redundancy to do it any other way.

    Killdozer – “For Ladies Only” – Slow ’em down & crank ’em up.

    The Ramones – “Acid Eaters” – All 60s era covers.

    The A-Bones – “Crash The Party” is a fab collection of (rockabilly great) Benny Joy covers.

    Those two albums Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs did together were all covers, weren’t they?

    Not an entire album, but The Circle Jerks’ “Golden Shower of Hits” bears mentioning.

  32. …Well, the “Jerks on 45” part, anyway.

  33. I’d say let’s come up with 15 that we can stand behind.

    MANY are pretty bad, The Stray Cats one is very good. I think it’s an import only.

    I prefer Springsteen’s version of Pete Seger to the actual Pete Seger so I vote for that one too.

    Duran Duran and Guns & Roses had covers LPs in the grunge era and I paid good money for these two stinkers.

    Chris Isaac has one out now doing Sun Studios stuff. He does them well but it’s kinda dull.

    Eric Clapton did his Robert Johnson covers Cds and at From The Cradle was a big deal when it came out.

    Artists like Dave Edmunds, Jeff Healey and George Throrogood do 90% covers on every CD so I am not sure that they really count.

  34. Acid Eaters! Damn I forgot that one too

  35. hrrundivbakshi


  36. It’s kind of forgettable.

    I think the Residents album MUST make the cut! Even if one can’t stand them, it’s an undeniably significant album in this category.

  37. I like that

    4 categories

    1. Complete CD covered
    2. Single artist covered
    3. General cover songs
    4. Tribute to another type of music

  38. mockcarr

    They’re not better than YLT’s Fakebook, but I like the two Punkles albums where they do sped up Beatles tunes.

  39. mockcarr

    How do 60s R&B bands like the Animals fit into this category, where they are by nature cover bands? That wouldn’t be in the spirit of this exercise, right?

  40. That reminds me of the very enjoyable “Ramonetures”, who play Ventures-style instrumental covers of Ramones tunes:


  41. I agree, Third Reich and Roll is among the most significant, best-conceived and executed covers albums ever!

  42. I don’t think anything Clapton has done since Derek & The Dominoes can truthfully be labeled “a big deal”.

  43. My favorite of Bryan Ferry’s many covers albums is As Time Goes By, which is all standards of the ’30s and ’40s — Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, etc.

    Paul McCartney’s Run Devil Run is quite good, though I sometimes fantasize a better version with someone like Pete Thomas or DJ Bonebrake on drums.

    Looking for a high-five from HVB here: Alex Chilton’s Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy.

    A lot of the mentions here are at best mediocre. Kojak Variety is nice for learning about good old songs like “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” and “Running Out of Fools,” but as a Costello album it is exceedingly disposable.

  44. I’ll give you a high five for that Chilton album!

  45. Those are all good. I like his See Emily Play too.

  46. Scarlet Johansen’s album of Tom Waits covers has me somewhat conflicted.

  47. Dwight Twilley self-releases albums now and this is kind of a fun little record he did in 2009 called “Out of the Box”


  48. cherguevara

    Also don’t forget Mandy Moore’s album “Coverage” which I think we’ve discussed here some.

  49. Not me. I think it’s thoroughly mediocre.

  50. ladymisskirroyale

    Since jungleland2 opened things up to include “tribute” albums, 3 of my favorites are:

    1. Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father: Various artists (Wedding Present, Sonic Youth, The Fall, Michelle Shocked, Frank Sidebottom among others) covering Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    2. Revolution no 9: Various Artists covering various Beatles’ songs. The bands read like a hit list of the 90’s (which is why I bought it): Billy Bragg, Pooh Sticks, John Otway, Paul Weller, The Anyways, Heavenly, Brilliant Corners.

    3. I’m Your Fan: Various artists covering the songs of Leonard Cohen. Two great versions of “Tower of Song.” Bands are from the greatest hits of the late 80’s (Pixies, That Petrol Emotion, The Lilac Time, James, REM) as well as well-known vocalists without their well-known bands (Ian McCulloch, Robert Forster, Lloyd Cole)

  51. A couple that haven’t been mentioned (I don’t think):
    – Patti Smith’s 12
    – Wonderful World of the Wondermints (covering a range of stuff from ABBA to the Monkees to Pink Floyd). There is also a bootleg Wondermints concert floating around that’s all covers including a fab version of Joy (Apollo 100).
    – John Mellencamp’s Trouble No More is all Americana (blues, Woody Guthrie) but he does add new lyrics to two traditional tunes.

  52. Slim Jade

    Oops, yeah. Neil Hagerty was in both bands, so….

  53. bostonhistorian

    I have the Sgt Pepper cover album and like it a lot. Having Sonic Youth cover Within You Without You was an excellent idea. The other covers album from that time period I always think of is The Last Temptation of Elvis, which is songs from Elvis movies done by the likes of Springsteen, McCartney, and Robert Plant, but also the Cramps, Catch Carroll/Steve Albino, the Pogues, and Lemmy. It’s a double album of crazy.

  54. bostonhistorian

    Also, *%&#*&- spellcheck, although a “Steve Albino” fronted Big Black would have been pretty funny.

  55. hrrundivbakshi

    Once again, I get to trot out my favorite, strangest brush-with-semi-fame story: I worked in a kite store in college with Jennifer Herrema, back when she was a teenager. She was dating Neil at the time, and he would shuffle into the store every once in a while. She was nice, and she was gorgeous. But she smelled kinda bad, and struck me as being somewhat unclean. Those two things were probably related, I suspect. You heard it here first!

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