Song covers that are better than the originals

I was listening to Billy Idol's cover of LA Woman, and I thought to myself that his version is way better than the original. So I thought I'd post a few covers that I enjoy more than the originals and see what others can add. My top five in no particular order:

LA Woman - Billy Idol
Just a Gigolo - David Lee Roth
Feelin Alright - Joe Cocker
Roll Over Beethoven - The Beatles
MacArthur Park - Donna Summer
Mercy Street-Miriam Stockley
Spanish Harlem-Rebecca Pigeon
Voodoo Child-Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood
Black magic Woman-Santana
can only think of 4 right now
not sure I agree about LA Woman however, I wanted to mention this thread has been done before so search the archives
Not sure I agree about LA Woman however, I wanted to mention this thread has been done before so search the archives

Perhaps another Doors fan like myself?
Pretty obvious choice but Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower"


CCR version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine"

Three interpretations of "I Put a Spell on You" by CCR, Audience and Arthur Brown
"fields of gold" Eva Cassidy
"fields of gold" Eva Cassidy"

Her vocals on "People get ready" are wonderful too. All of Songbird is highly recommended.
Any Chuck Berry music done by Alvin Lee or Johnny Winter.
Pretty obvious choice but Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" I prefer the Dave Mason version over that one.

Feelin Alright - prefer the Dave Mason version.

Voodoo Child-prefer Kenny Wayne Sheppards also.

People get ready - prefer the Jeff beck version.

Pretty Woaman - like the VH version.

Happy Listening.
"Light My Fire" by Jose Feliciano. I'm a Doors fan but I can listen to Jose's version over and over again.
If you've ever heard Kid Creole live, his version of "If You Wanna Be Happy For The Rest of Your Life, Never Make a Pretty Woman Your Wife" is both absolutely hilarious and an amazing high energy funk workout. I think Harry Belafonte's is the original, but it can't hold a candle to the Kid's take.


Lindsey Buckingham does a solo guitar arrangement of Rogers and Hammerstein's "This Almost Was Mine" that IMHO blows away the original Cast version.

Gershwin's "Summertime" by Dutch band Brainbox
The Chipmunks- All I want for Christmas...
Or were they the original?
Yes Albert I am a big Doors fan and their LA woman is terrific!

I like Billy Idol too but not as much...

In the seasonal spirit I recommend Jaymz Bee and the Royal Jelly Orchestra's "A Christmas Cocktail". Jazz/Lounge/Weird versions of familiar and not so familiar Christmas songs. A real hoot, with some great playing, good sound.

Not sure I can get on board with covers of Hendrix or the Doors. Jim got a pardon on his (not really) indecent exposure charge in Florida this week!

I do prefer the Neville Brothers take on "Fly Like an Eagle". Note to purists, Steve Miller plays on this version.

Alternate versions that may not really be better, just a whole lot of fun can be found by Hayseed Dixie. You just have to hear these bluegrass versions of songs like "Walk this Way", "Fat Bottom Girls", "War Pigs" and even "Big Bottom". Fun live band that irresponsibly encourages heavy drinking!

Then there is "El Baile Aleman" by Chile's Senor Coconut. This most unexpected Latin/electronic album of Kraftwerk covers just has to be heard to be believed. Somehow it works, I actually like it very much.
R.E.M.'s covers of "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston". Sadly, the latter is only available on YouTube as a snippet. While I prefer John Hartford's rendition of "Gentle on My Mind", R.E.M.'s version is much better than Glen Campbell's. Michael Stipe is a big fan of Jimmy Webb and John Hartford and R.E.M. has covered Webb in concert; I wish more of those were available on CD/vinyl.
The Doors' cover of Kurt Weill's "Alabama Song".
Gary Jules' version of "Mad World".
Devo's Jumping Jack Flash
Hendrix "All Along The Watchtower" by a mile. Even Dylan changed his way of performing it after Jimi.
Jeff Buckley doing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," is another winner.
Golden Palominos covering The Ocean by Led Zeppelin. Don't think they ever recorded it, but they performed it as the encore at the Paradise in Boston on 3/7/86. Syd Straw on lead vocals, with Jack Bruce and Bernie Worrell in the band. Awesome show, awesome cover.

Mary J Blige's rendition of U2's "One".
Actually Dave Mason's Version of "All Along the Watchtower" is good too and I beleiev he played back up on the Hendrix recording.
One more for my list:
Sweet Jane-Cowboy Junkies
"Smoke on the Water" by a Japanese orchestra.

Heard Deep Purple do it live once (terrible), but like this version.

Not kidding (give it time to get going).

I also collect Koto music, which is how I ran across it.

Smoke on the Water
Patti Smith's version of George Harrison's Within You Without You.
Joe Cocker's version of With A Little Help From My Friends.
Tori Amos singing Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat. Yes Jennifer Warnes' version is beautiful but Amos nails the emotional weight of the song.
Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah.
Oh, I have a 12" 45 of (a)"Ring of Fire", (b)"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly/Hang 'Em High" by Wall of Voodoo. Still love the original Johnny Cash though.
Sonic Youth --- Superstar
Johnny cash's version of Trent Reznors "Hurt".

James Taylors "you've got a friend"

Elton John's: 1 - Pinball Wizard (slings and arrows on the way I am sure)
2 - Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Shelby Lynne - How Can I Be Sure

Hendrix - Watchtower

Mettallica - Whiskey in a Jar

Van Halen - You Really Got Me (if you include Eruption, there should never be a discussion)
All Van Halen covers.... "Pretty Woman" (Roy Orbison), "You really got me" (Kinks), and Linda Ronstad's "Baby you're no good".

I hope I got the original artists correct.
Jeff Buckley covering Leonard Cohen's hallelujah.
From the last time this kind of thread went around:

Danny Gatton's take on Earle Hagan's "Harlem Nocturne", a song usually associated with Duke Ellington. IMHO, guitar playing doesn't get much better than this.

Don Dixon/Marti Jones' version of Joe Tex's "You Got What it Takes (To Take What I Got)". The sound of two singers in love/lust. (Dixon and Jones are married.) My wife and I used this one for our first dance.

John Cale - Heartbreak Hotel
Sid Vicious - My Way
Some lesser known covers

The Duhks - Love is the seventh wave.
The Red House Painters - All Mixed Up or Silly love songs

I prefer covers when they don't sound like the originals
If you like REM's version of Wichita Lineman, you ought to hear Cassandra Wilson's cover. Also, Stevie Ray's cover of Little Wing is amazing.
Luka Bloom's cover of U2's "Bad"
Luka Bloom's cover of LL Cool J's "I Need Love".
Don't know if he's ever recorded it, but a showstopper in concert.
Bruce Springsteen's version of Jimmy Cliff's Trapped.
I'm probably a minority in this thought but I preferred Gun N' Roses renditions of Live and Let Die and Knockin on Heaven's Door to the originals. I especially like the Knockin on Heaven's Door off of the GnR Live Era 2 CD set where Axl's says Gimme some Reggae.
Slade's live version of John Sebastian's "Darling Be Home Soon"
The Ramones' cover of the Stones' classic, Out of Time.
Faces doing "Memphis, Tennessee"

Slade again: Joplin's "Move Over", gets me every time; and "Let The Good Times Roll" - the latter is not quite legit because it is a combo song, but if this doesn't get you bouncing around the room then something's badly wrong with you or your system, :-)

(gee, do I detect a theme here ...?)

The you know what they say about opinions adage may apply... (IMO in some cases covers can be good or interesting, but there's no such thing as better). Anyway The Shadows cover of Sleepwalk is real good... same with The Who/ Young Man Blues, Mountain's/ Theme For An Imaginary Western and Steve Khan's/ Penetration. I recently picked up a disc by The Asphalt Orchestra cuz it was cheap and had a cover of Zomby Woof and a Mingus composition on it. Turns out they are an amazingly good marching band... big surprise for me was a Bjork cover, (Hyper Ballad). Don't know what the original is like, but the Asphalt Orch. version is likely to make most FZ fans stand up and pledge allegiance to the Grand Wazoo or at least almost drive off the road like I did.

PS The Ayers Rock cover of Weather Report's Boogie Woogie Waltz, (i know it's a dumb song title) smokes and has groovier'n hell guitar work on it.
I just found a new one:

Grant Green covering The Isley Bros. "It's Your Thing". This is a great take on a classic - definitely worth checking out.

Dance Society"s cover of the Stones "1000 Light Years From

The Cure's cover of "Purple Haze" on the Hendrix tribute album "Stonefree"
Johnny Cash - Hurt. Way WAY better. One of the seminal recordings of the decade.

other honorable mentions - with a jazzy bent:

Bjork's Hyperballad - covered by that polish piano guy on ECM that I can't pronounce.

Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden - "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is amazing. Dozens of guys trying to play it on youtube - doing covers of his cover if you will. Jimmy Webb's own recent recording is pretty nice.

Bill Frisell doing Madonna's Live to Tell or John Hiatt's Have a Little Faith... OK, hard to say they are "better" but for a jazz fan "more interesting."

Jeff Beck's A Day in the Life. I know you can't beat the beatles, but his is better than Paul McCartney's recent live version if you ask me.

I like Elliot Smith doing SuperSonic better than Oasis.

And lastly -rap anthem Straight Outta Compton, NGA original. Nina Gordon's delicate ACOUSTIC version is incredible, melodious and hilarious.
agree with gdoodle on johnny cash. personally, i think the seeemingly endless series of his "american recordings" covers albums are way overhyped, but "hurt" is the song he was born to sing.
i don't know if anyone's mentioned the ultimate cover band, this mortal coil, who absolutely nail some fantastic, if underheard songs like "i am the cosmos" (chris bell), "strength of strings" (gene clark) and "another day" (roy harper), which is arguably the prettiest song in the english language.
Clapton's cover of J.J. Cale's "After Midnight"
Jimi Hendrix version of Dylans "All Along the Watchtower"
The slits-heard it thru the grapevine
Pale saints-blue flower
Aerosmith-train kept a rolling
Galaxy 500-isn't it a pity
Covers, at worst IMHO equal to the originals......

My Way-Siderney Vicious
Brand New Key-DollyRots
Sheena blah blah punk rocker-Shebang
Nelly the Elephant- Toy Dolls
Jolene-Queen Adreena
Ziggy Stardust-Bauhaus
God save the spleen-Motorhead
Shiny Happy People-Fatima Mansions
Tomorrow Never Knows-Danielle Dax
I don't Feel Like Dancing-Hayseed Dixie
Lilac Wine-Elke Brooks