Miles Davis versions of Michael Jackson's Human Nature and Cindi Lauper's Time After Time, I heard both in concert and they were superb...
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I'm a huge Who fan, but Elton John's cover of "Pinball Wizard" is better than their version.
Elton again on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
every song Shelby Lynne covers on Just a Little Lovin' is better than any other version that I have heard.
I agree on the Power Station's "Bang a Gong", Hendrix "All Along the Watchtower", and "Take me to the River"
There are many, many good remakes/covers. However my favorites have to both be by Nazareth.
The Nazareth cover of "Love Hurts" is a classic and I prefer it to the Everly Brothers version and Roy Orbison's version.
The Nazareth cover of "This Flight Tonight" works much better for me than Joni Mitchell's original version.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Hendrix "Hey Joe"
Van Halen "A Apolitical Blues"
Levon Helm "Tennessee Jed"
Gov't Mule "She Said,She Said"
Eric Clapton "After Midnight" both versions
Frank Zappa "Directly From My Heart To You"
Hank Williams,Jr. "Lawyers,Guns and Money"
Rolling Stones "Love In Vain"
Willie Nelson "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"
Johnny Cash "Rusty Cage"
The Doors "Crawling King Snake"
Nirvana "Where Did You Sleep Last Night"
Jeff Healey "Stuck In The Middle With You"
Leon Russell "A Hard Rains Gonna Fall"
George Benson "This Masquerade"
The Band "When I Paint My Masterpiece"
Way too many more to list,but you get the idea.
Eva Cassidy: Fields of Gold
Siouxie and the Banchees: The Passenger
Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody
Hendrix: All Along the Watchtower
Marvin gaye: I Heard it Through the Grapevine
Creedance: I Heard it Through the Grapevine
Aretha Franklin: Respect
AC/DC: Baby Please Don't Go
Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender; and of course
The Beatles: Twist & Shout
Die Hornissen (The Hornets)- Here Come The Warm Jets (Eno)
The Shadows- Sleepwalk (Santo and Johnny)
Steve Khan- Penetration (Steve Leonard)
The Who- Young Man Blues (Mose Allison) Shakin' All Over (Johnny Kidd)
Voivod- Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd)
Outsidemen- Follow Your Heart (John McLaughlin)
Konk Yo- Third Stone From The Sun (Hendrix)
Orange Symphonette- Midnight Cowboy (John Berry)
Van Halen- Pretty Woman (Orbison)
999- Little Red Riding Hood (from Concrete). (Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs)
Michael Hedges- Sofa (Zappa)
Wayne Peet Trio- Visions (Larry Young)
Henri Texier Trio- Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson)
Snakefinger- The Model (Kraftwerk)
SUD- Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespe)
Hendrix- All Along The Watchtower (Dylan)
Charlie Hunter Trio- Come As You Are (Cobain)
Gary Lucas- Autobahn (Kraftwerk)
I Don't Care- Fire (Hendrix)
Harlem Nocturne- Danny Gatton (Hagen)
Tin Machine... REEVES!!!!!!!!- If There Is Something (Ferry)
David Slusser- Eight Miles High (Crosby/McGuinn)
-The whole Bowie Pin ups record is pretty good, See Emily Play and Can't Explain stand out.
-T.J. Kirk mashes up Thelonious Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and James Brown real good.
Usual sins of omission/Lots of others will hopefully get listed and listened to.
Some of my favorites, in order:
Stevie Ray Vaughn's version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing".
Creedence Clearwater Revival's version of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It through the Grapevine"
Joe Cockers version of the Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends".
Jimi Hendrix's version Of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watch Tower".
Green Day "A Quick One While He's Away"
The Beat Farmers "Reason to Believe"
Pearl Jam "Baba O'Reilly"
REM "Ghostrider", "Funtime", "Academy Fight Song"
The Replacements "Another Girl, Another Planet"
The Cowboy Junkies "Sweet Jane"
Chris Isaak "South of the Border"
Dave Alvin "Ol' 55"
Bruce Springsteen "Trapped"
Johnny Cash "Hurt"
Trisha Yearwood "Sad Eyes"
Robert Plant "Little Sister"
Bebel Gilberto "Sweet Dreams"
The Faces "Angel"
Los Lobos "Marie Marie"
Jake Shimabukuro "While my guitar gently weeps"
Jack Johnson "I shall be released"
The Clash "Policeman on my back" "I fought the law"
Al Green "I wanna hold your hand"
Van Halen "I really got you"
Shelby Lynne "Just a little lovin'"
buck dharma-come softly...the rationals-respect...blue cheer-summertime blues...cat stevens-another saturday night...burton cummings-you aint seen nothing yet... robert wyatt-i'm a believer...manfred mann-the mighty quinn...manfred mann's earth band-s.o.s...manfred mann's whatever-any song they ever covered...blue oyster cult-born to be wild...the dictators-california sun...the beatles-till there was you...peter tosh and mick jagger-keep on walking(dont look back)...the faces-maybe i'm amazed...johnny rivers-memphis...the blues magoos-gloria...the cryan shames-suger and spice...the buckinghams-mercy,mercy,mercy...i could go on forever.
Duane got my #1 choice: Danny Gatton doing "Harlem Nocturne". A nearly perfect song AND the seamingly perfect cover already provided by Duke Ellington. Then Gatton goes out and IMHO one ups the Duke.
Some -not yet mentioned- that I also like as much as/or better than the original:
801 doing "TNK" (Beatles)
Webb Wilder doing "Don't Slander Me" (Roky Erickson) and "Ain't Livin' Long Like This" (Rodney Crowell)
Sonny Landreth doing "Devil's Right Hand" (Steve Earle)
Stones doing "Little Queenie" (Chuck Berry)
Alejandro Escovedo doing "All The Young Dudes" (Mott The Hoople)
Feelies doing "All Tomorrow's Parties" (Velvet Underground) and "Paint It Black" (Stones)
Todd Rundgren doing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (Beatles)
Pretenders doing "Time The Avenger" (virtual, but uncredited cover of the Outsiders' "Time Won't Let Me")
Don Dixon doing "Amplifier" (dbs)
Marti Jones doing "Soul Love" (Bowie)
Bonnie Raitt doing "Thing Called Love" (John Hiatt)
Ingenuity award to Richard Thompson for "Oops I Did It Again" (Brittney Spears???)
and a special mention to Don Dixon and Marti Jones doing "You've Got What It Takes (to Take What I Got)" by Joe Tex. This version was the first dance at my wedding.
Many more, too.
I think you're being a little harsh there. The Allman's version of Statesboro Blues is so vastly different from the original that it's easy for me to see why some would prefer it. I also understand why others would prefer the original - or, for that matter the versions by Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, etc. etc. It's a great, great song that has lent itself to a multitude of wildly differing interpretations, many of which IMHO succeed on their own terms. I'd probably choose the original (or possibly another acoustic version - Paul Geremia and Fred Sokolow both do killer takes) if I could only keep one, but it wouldn't be an easy choice - for me, anyway.
From a previous sujbect on copies,covers and remakes;
+ a few more.........
Whiskey in the jar-Metallica (Trad.tin liz)
Hallalooljah- Jeffree buckley (cohen)
God save the queen-motorhead (pistols)
My way-sid-ern-ee vicious (an italian geezer)?
A New England-Kirsty Maccoll (billy bragg)
20th Century Boy-Placebo (T.Rex)
Knockin on 'evans door- Sisters of Mercy (bob)
Any cover done by ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS!
Help/hey joe-Deep Purple, (beatles)
Tainted Love/Sweet dreams-M Manson (soft cell/euro group)
Satisfaction-Devo (Rolling and the Stoned)
A little respect-Wheatus (Erasure)
To love somebody-Jimmy Somerville (heebeegeebees)?
Don't leave me this way (Communards/Somerville)
Emilie Autumn-Bohemian Rhapsoda.
Kermit the Frog-Creep (radiohead)
Lucia Micarelli & Jethro Tull - Kashmir(Led Zep)
Anything by Dread Zeppelin.
Pearl Jam - Baba O'Riley
Dream Theater-Floyd covers excellent, even Iron Maiden!
Slade- My baby left me/That's Alright (Glam man)
Billy Swan-Don't be Cruel (Elvis the Pelvis)
Primus-Have a ciger (Pinky boys)
The White Stripes - Jolene (dolly's partons)
Love Hurts- from bonny Scotland.....Nazareth! (Ev Brothers)
Tainted Love-Soft Cell (Gloria Jones)
The Air that I breathe-The Hollies (albert Hammond)?
Battle of Evermore-Heart (minor league group from the UK)
Tom Russell and Nancy Griffith. Bus Station by Dave Alvin. I love this version. I enjoy the original but this version really does it for me. Especially when she says "she'd like to leave" around the 3 minute mark. She sings it so flatly (intonation is perfect but the attitude is so worn down).
A lot of terrific selections in this interesting thread started by Dawgbyte. Thanks everyone.
I would like to add the following, not as being "better" than the original, but certainly different and interesting:
Persuasions: Wanderer (U2 original)
Shonen Knife: Top of the World (from a terrific album of Carpenters covers called "If I were a Carpenter")
Cowboy Junkies: Thunder Road (Springsteen)
Nouvelle Vague: Guns of Brixton (Clash)
Black Box Recorder: Seasons in the Sun (Terry Jacks loosely interpreting Jacques Brel)
From curious to ridiculous, look for an album called "Golden Throats" it has a lot of the classic bad covers (Captain Kirk doing "Lucy in the Sky" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," Mr. French reciting "It Ain't Me Babe," Andy Griffith doing "House of the Rising Sun," and a whole lot more). On NPR I heard something really weird; it was Bob Dylan and Tiny Tim doing Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe."
Petra Haden and Bill Frisell doing Coldplay's "Yellow"
Jeff Beck's "A Day in the Life"
Johnny Cash's "Hurt" - way better than original and Cash's version will never be equaled.
Chris Isaak doing Cheaptrick's "Want You to Want Me"
Michael Hedges "After the Goldrush"
Red Hot Chili Pepper's doing Ramones "Havana Affair"
Tori Amos "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Brad Mehldau doing Elliott Smith's "Independence Day"
And these bonuses just to freak you out at the very idea...
Nels Cline doing the entire "Interstellar Space" Coltrane album - I've seen him do live.
"Straight Outta Compton" acoustic version by Nina Gordon is really great - google it today...
Another good choice is "Battleship Chains" originally by The Woods and later superbly covered by both The Georgia Satellites and Hindu Love Gods. Similarly, the Satellites do a killer version of "Hippy Shake" and the Hindu Love Gods cover "Wang Dang Doodle" to great effect.
A related curiosity. "Money Changes Everything", a song by an obscure alt. rock band called The Brains became a hit when covered by Cyndi Lauper. Now it seams that everyone (punk to country) does a version - varying in quality as much as you'd guess. One or more might qualify here, depending on your taste. iTunes has something like 25 versions for sale.