A song murdered by someone.

Is there a cover version of a song you like by the original artist that has been in your ears truly murdered by a covering artist?
Mine is 'Everybody Knows' by Leonard Cohen, absolutely murdered by Barb Jungr.


There will be those who consider a subject such as this too negative, and a waste of one’s precious time. I empathize and even agree with that point of view, and usually refrain. But if you have to vent, at least this isn’t about politics. And there may be nominations which have those who love them. That’s great, each to his or her own. So don’t take this personally anyone, but I know of some songs which really disgust me, others which I merely feel should not have been done, just as some movies should not have been remade. But, just as Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear is MUCH better than the original (with an added moral complexity), there are plenty of song covers I actually prefer to the original. I consider Dave Edmunds’ version of "I Hear You Knockin’" much cooler than the Smiley Lewis original. Here are some I really, really don’t like:

"Train Kept A Rollin’’’ as done by Aerosmith. The first version I heard was that by The Yardbirds, and it is great. The 1957 version by The Rock ’n’ Roll Trio (sometimes referred to as The Johnny Burnette Trio) is even better. Way, way better. Aerosmith’s is just awful. The Rock ’n’ Roll posturing I so hate about this band and others like them is on full, unapologetic display. Really, really disgusting.

"Love Hurts" by both Nazareth and Bon Jovi. The 1960 original version by The Everly Brother is unbelievably beautiful, heartbreaking. By the way, that The Everly Brothers were making music this good in 1960 puts the lie to the myth that there was no good music in the 60’s until the British Invasion. The two Arena Rock Bands above absolutely butcher "Love Hurts", making the performance of this magnificent song as to be in service to themselves rather than the song, something I detest. Roy Orbison covered the song in ’61, and it’s very nice, as is the version by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris from the early 70’s. The song is often credited to Gram and Emmylou by those who don’t know any better, just as I thought The Yardbirds’ "Train Kept A Rollin’" was an original (I didn’t read songwriting credits in 1965 ;-) .

"All Along The Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. I know, I know, you love it. Fine, but I don’t. Bob Dylan’s original is perfectly performed---a quiet, contemplative, spiritual prayer with Biblical references. And the music is performed by Bob’s favorite Nashville musicians, including drumming great Kenny Buttrey, whom Neil Young had play on his Harvest album. Jimi sings the words as if they mean nothing to him, and he and his band just butcher the song musically. I could explain how, but if you like his version you wouldn’t understand (that’s not said with an attitude of smug superiority, but rather from experience), and if you don’t, no need to! But Dylan supposedly likes Jimi's take on the song, so what do I know? ;-)

That’s an easy one for me. I would have to say that the worst cover, and one of the worst recordings I have ever heard, was the 1963 cover by the one hit non-wonder Vito & The Salutations which utterly destroyed the beautiful song "Unchained Melody."

And I say that as one who actually enjoys more than a few so-called "doo wop" recordings.

For those having strong stomachs:


My favorite version, among the relatively few I am familiar with (according to Wikipedia the song has been recorded more than 1500 times by more than 670 artists, in multiple languages), was one of the earliest, the 1955 recording by Al Hibbler:


I for one greatly prefer that version to the better known recording that was done in the 1960s by the Righteous Brothers.

-- Al
I really love bad covers, they are fun to listen to.  Nazareth's "Love Hurts" falls in that category.  I particularly love hearing Shonen Knife cover "Top of the World, "  and maybe even Dolly Parton doing "Stairway to Heaven."
Eric (bdp24), as we’ve discussed in past threads I too very much like the Rock and Roll Trio/Johnny Burnette Trio’s version of "Train Kept A-Rollin’," and thanks for calling it to our attention here in the past.

Regarding the Yardbirds’ version, I actually prefer the variation of it they did, with similar music but completely different lyrics, that was entitled "Stroll On." I believe they wrote the different lyrics to circumvent copyright issues that would otherwise have arisen when they performed the song in the great but enigmatic 1966 film "Blow-Up," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni . As our foremost resident rock historian here you probably know more about that than I do. The clip from "Blow-Up," in which Jeff Beck has a problem with his guitar amplifier, with interesting consequences:


Best regards,
-- Al
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Mick pretty much murders most everything these days but nothing new there.
Wow! a worse version of "Africa" than the original; I would have never thought that was possible.  What next, a bad cover of "We Built This CIty?"  Actually I found one:

larryi what’s wrong with "Africa" and "We Built This CIty?"
As pop music goes those are actually both quite catchy obviously and also done quite well. 
BTW just saw Jefferson Starship at the state fair a couple weeks back and thoroughly enjoyed the entire show.

It's a crowded field but, for my money, nothing tops that classless pig Rosanne Barr's rendering of the national anthem.

@acresverde---We have a winner! I have no idea what was suppose to be funny about that. Why mock such a thing?

Al---I had forgotten about "Stroll On"! You’re exactly correct about the reason for the change in lyrics. I’m sure they would be sued for plagiarism these days. I have a friend who saw The Yardbirds twice in one week in ’67. The first time their line-up was just as seen in the movie, with rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja having moved to bass (to make room for new member Jimmy Page. Original bassist Paul Samwell-Smith had left the group, later producing the audiophile classic, Cat Stevens Tea For The Tillerman), the second with Jeff Beck gone, Page now the lone guitarist. That line-up made The Yardbirds final album---their only bad one---Little Games.

For another example of a song that is an obvious remake of another with different lyrics, check out The Chocolate Watchband’s "Don’t Need Your Lovin’", performed by them in the Roger Corman-produced teen-exploitation movie Riot On Sunset Strip. It’s a remake of The Kinks 1965 version of the old Blues song "Milkcow Blues" (The Watchband also covered The Kinks "I’m Not Like Everybody Else, but with no changes in lyrics). The Chocolate Watchband were local heroes in my hometown of San Jose, for reason’s no longer clear ;-) ---they were nothing more than a glorified cover band. Singer Dave Aguilar was a shameless Mick Jagger impersonator, right down to the double maracas. Drummer Gary Andrivasevich (who still performs around Santa Cruz, the beach town just over the mountains from San Jose) was a couple years ahead of me at Cupertino High School, and played in both the school’s orchestra and it’s marching band. I’d see him marching on the field at an afternoon football game, then see him on stage that night with The Watchband!

Thanks for all your replies, I will be checking on all the one's I do not know. I like Shonen Knife's version of the Carpenter song.
The worst in my opinion is Joan Baez and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down....."Virgil Cain is my name............." yeah, right. Quite a hit for her and a much bigger hit for her than The Band.
"Lucy in the sky with diamonds" by William Shatner is a memorable classic. 
No Doubt's cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life" (1984). Sure, let's take the soul-rending vocals of the original and replace them with a flashy, annoying girl. What makes the cover much worse is that most people don't even know it's a cover. 
Don't forget Shatner's "Mr. Tambourine Man," another amazing cover.  This, and a bunch of other aweful covers can be found on a CD called "Golden Throats."  That album included Sebastian Cabot doing "It Ain't Me Babe).  That cover prompted me to find the original vinyl which is a whole album of him reciting the lyrics to Bob Dylan songs to a musical accompaniment.

Another album worth hunting down, is "No More Mr. Nice Guy"--Pat Boone doing covers of heavy metal hits in a sort of big band style.  

I don't know if "covers" include someone singing standards, but my all time favorite tasteless, crazy, brilliant and wonderful cover is Jackie Wilson singing "Danny Boy."  

Another cover that has some cheesy parts, but is utterly amazing and wonderful--so it is bad and it is good at the same time--is Lester Bowie (jazz trumpeter) doing "The Great Pretender."  
Anything that has been ripped off by some sleazy rapper deserves to be avenged. 
Yeah, William shatner is just as despicable as any sleaze-bag rapper that’s ripped off a real
musician. Tom Waits comes in as a close second, then Michael Bolton. Uggghhh! I wanna barf now!
I've had to drop a couple of dramamines reading this thread. The room keeps spinning though...
It’s hard to listen to any group trying to rework a Beatles standard. I don’t want to be cruel, but some are really pathetic. You can hear them regularly on the Beatles channel on XM Radio.
I don't think all artists should be shamed for bad remakes, or at least so much.  Lots of times it seems that there were pressures on them to do songs that made them seem, well, misguided, e.g., 

  • Tony Bennett: Tony sings the great hits of today!
  • Ella Fitzgerald sings Beatles stuff, e.g., "Hard Day's Night" 

And in a different category altogether:

Eleanor Rigby by Vanilla Fudge

Oh man forsooth, great one! Talk about a bludgeoning! Vanilla Fudge was the most grossly untasteful band I’ve ever heard. I lost a lot of respect for Jeff Beck when he hired Carmine Appice and Tim Bogart, one of the worst rhythm sections to make it to the big time. All the drummers in L.A. laugh at Carmine behind his back. The worst of the worst!

The Flamin' Groovies picked some great Beatles songs (early ones, as was to their taste), and did them really cooly. If Bowie wanted do a Beatles song, couldn't he at least have chosen a good one?

I think I nailed this one. "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Burton Cummings. Beyond aweful. I pledged to myself to never hear that record again. I really like The Guess Who and he layed down some really good songs.
Anthrax- 'God save the Queen' by the Sexy Pistola's........
think I'm going to up chuck..........

Dollies 'Stairway to heaven' abortion, I lasted 45 seconds into that one.,......
RE: You aint seen nothing yet:

I guess Burton Cummings felt like he had a connection to that song since former band member Randy Bachman sang it for BTO. How could anyone other than Randy Bachman even attempt that song. Maybe Mel Tillis.
I Did it My Way by Sid Vicious. Well, actually it wasn’t too bad.
I may be the only person alive that likes Lou Reed singing "This Magic Moment" from a tribute to Doc Pomus.
Quite recently two members of Metallica murdered Prices’ “When Doves Cry” 
please look it up. Hard to believe they thought it was a good idea... But evidently they cover a song by a local artist for every town they are in. So maybe it was a joke. Cringe worthy.
Sometimes "murdering" a song can be as much about changing it as it is about doing a really bad rendition. In the case of Cohens Hallelujah, you may have seen the video of the little school girl in Ireland (?) who redid it as a Christian song. It went virile. The backlash was the fear that the latest version might eclipse the original. Other times an artist can breath life into a song that was badly needed. Arlo Guthrie put Steve Goodman on the map with the remake of "City of New Orleans". Steve Goodman was grateful for that.
My selection features a great voice/skilled singer who fully "180 degrees" missed the point of the song. The song is "Pretty Women", from Stephen Sondheim’s musical "Sweeney Todd".  It is about lust and the singer’s desire to kill and eat the girls he’s ogling. The original was sung (very effectively) by Len Cariou, who has no voice at all. Here’s how you butcher a song:

This thread reminded me of a favorite cover for reasons of self-satire:  Julie London singing "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" - - she makes it positively pornographic with her lingering diction.  (Not that the original was any kind of "classic" that makes this a scandalous alternative!)
Just about anything from Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook” series.  

Tom Waits?!?!  Can’t be judged the same way.  Unique artist. Besides, he writes most of his own material.  
I for one greatly prefer that version to the better known recording that was done in the 1960s by the Righteous Brothers.
Not me. The Righteous Brothers version has way more soul. Bobby Hatfield kills it.  It makes Al’s sound like Wonder Bread.


Even live.

Just about anything from Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook” series.  
@frogman  --  RS should have been charged with a crime for sure. 

There should be a law against anyone covering Unchained Melody. In fact, even though the live version linked to above is pretty amazing, I'd say that the only version that should ever be played or sung is the original studio version. It's perfect. 
I hate to say a bad word about these two, but:

Aretha covered the Beatle's Eleanor Rigby. I have it. Its pretty bad.

I also don't like Otis Redding's cover of I Can't Get No Satisfaction.

I do like Wilson Pickett's cover of Hey Jude with Dwayne Allman on guitar. Its a different song altogether which sometimes makes a cover okay.
I don't know if great songs can ever be murdered by a cover--they survive and the cover just makes one appreciate the artistry of the original artist even more.  I like almost all covers I hear of songs I like, but my least favorite form of covers, categorically speaking, involve opera singers doing operatic covers of popular songs.  I bought, and then only listened once, to Kiri Te Kanawa doing hits from "South Pacific;" it was funny, but not that funny that I wanted to hear it again.
The original version of "Unchained Melody" is so superior that the Righteous Brothers cover shouldn't be played? 
Only the Righteous Brother's version should be played. All hyperbole aside....I think it is the best and others fall short. But its music. People like what they like.