A cover of a slower, quieter, version of The Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane, the song’s writer Lou Reed has apparently gone on record as saying that this take, by Canadian “alternative country” band Cowboy Junkies, was his favourite.
Although Sinéad O’Connor is an amazing songwriter, she is best known for her version of a song written by Prince. This is a cover, but not that one - this track is from an album she made of classic reggae songs she grew up with.
After a disco period, Jamaican model and singer Grace Jones brought out a dub-heavy reggae album of covers in 1980, and had a hit single with her version of The Pretenders song Private Life.
Arguably even more astonishing is her take on Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control, which formed the B-side of the single.
With Natalie Imbruglia’s take on the Ednaswap song “Torn”, I’d suggest that we are getting into the relatively small list of “covers that sound better than the original” - regardless of whether you consider the “original” to me Ednaswap or Lis Sørensen.
This is the song that gave this blog its title, so it seems right to open with it. Although it’s a cover, this is the most famous version and, I’d claim, the definitive version.
Recorded by Liz Fraser and Robin Guthrie of 4AD act Cocteau Twins, this was released on the B-side of a 12” release, then the A-side of a 7”, before appearing on the first This Mortal Coil album It’ll End in Tears