There is nothing we love more than than a strange copy or a great fake that is better than the original. Our long-time friend Martin Green, Art gallery curator and DJ shares his experience of the cover version alongside of few of his favourites. PE

I’ve always loved cover versions. One of the first records I ever bought in a charity shop was the music from Barbarella by The Young Loverson the Design label. It cost 50p and launched my teenage self into a lifetime of collecting soundtracks and strange cover versions.

Many were the result of budget record labels recording their own versions of popular songs to sell at discount prices in shops such as Woolworths. The most interesting though are by artists interpreting popular music in a more diverse way. Some with electronic instruments, soft harmony vocalists, easy listening orchestras, sitar groups, jazz combos, kid’s choirs or even marching bands.

Although occasionally  people ask ‘why don’t you play the original?’, for me DJ-ing covers is a great way to keep the dance-floor grooving by playing familiar songs in an unfamiliar way. Some tracks such as Up Up and Away by Sammy Davis Jr inventively transform a light slice of breezy pop into a beefy belter with a pounding drum break. Far more interesting than playing the original.

One of my favourite areas to find a cool cover version is in the foreign language section, as most international artists recorded English language hits in their native tongue, attempting to score a hit in their own country. Yeh Yeh in French by Claude Francois is great and always ignites the dancefloor. Below is a list of my favourites, the good, the bad and the unlistenable.

Great foreign language cover versions 

 1 Son Of A Preacher Man – Sylvia Vrethammer

Cool, groovy version with sultry vocal by the woman who had a monster hit with El Viva Espana

2 Dont Stop Till You Get Enough –  Usha Uthap

Classic Hindi version, dancefloor filler.
 
 


While we are talking cover versions here are some of the most generally loved.
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower

The Stranglers – Walk On By

Johnny Cash – Hurt

Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind

Soft Cell – Tainted Love

Muse – Feeling Good

The Clash – I Fought the Law

The Fall – Lost In Music

Mad World – Gary Jules

2 Dont Stop Till You Get Enough –  Usha Uthap

Classic Hindi version, dancefloor filler.

3 Somebodys In My Orchard – Gina Lollobrigida

Great Italian version of seductive burlesque track

4 Rock On – Patsy Gallant

Sexy spaced out French version

5 There Is A Mountain – Los 3 Sudamericanos

Donovan gets a Latin makeover by a Spanish vocal harmony trio

Bad foreign language cover versions

Peace and love song sang in an aggressive German manner


 

The Specials – A Message To You Rudy

José Feliciano – Light My Fire

Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Daughter – “Get Lucky”

Johnny cash – Personal Jesus

Everything But The Girl ‎– The Only Living Boy In New York

Feist- Inside and Out

Don’t Leave Me This Way

Dennis Brown – Wichita lineman

Kung Fu Fighting – The Devil’s Group

Crazy version mixing Portugeuse and misheard English

Je T’aime – Super Erotica

The most un-erotic interpretation of Gainsbourg’s hit sung in English by a Brazilian bloke

4 Video Killed The Radio Star Bappi Lahiri

Strange Hindi mash up electronic disco version – The mind Buggles

5 Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe – The Devil’s Group
the devils group

Another terrible track of their International hits album, English gobbledegook vocals, I love it 

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Martin Green has been DJing since 1990. He was founding member of legendary nightclub Smashing. He has compiled albums for various record companies including the groundbreaking easy listening classic The Sound Gallery. His 28th compilation Britxotica Goes Wild is released on Trunk records in July. He also curates exhibitions as part of Duovision.


Patti Smith – Gloria

Youssou Ndour Chimes of freedom

Robert Wyatt -”I’m A Believer”

The White Stripes – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

The Flying Burrito Brothers  – “Wild Horses”

Sid Vicious – My Way

Birdy – Skinny Love

Cat Power  – Wild is the wind

PP Arnold – You Can’t Always Get What You Want

 

 

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