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Remakes / cover versions that improve on the original


Devon Malcolm
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After the discussion about Ghost in the Shell in the Anna Kendrick thread, I was wondering about this subject, and I would certainly put forward Ghost in the Shell as I found the original incomprehensible especially. In terms of films, I'm not looking at reboots but proper remakes, really.

In terms of music, I have to put forward these:-

 

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Agreed on Superstar, one of my favourites by Sonic Youth.

I am the biggest Bryan Ferry mark on the planet, but have always especially liked his cover of Dylan's A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall, which is in my view even more an improvement on the original as All Along the Watchtower was for Hendrix. 

 

Edited by Gus Mears
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Can't have this discussion without Johnny Cash's Hurt. Because once Johnny Cash covers your song. It is no longer your song.

 

I also have to give a nod to Freddie Mercury's version of The Great Pretender because he really makes that song his own and it suits him perfectly. 

 

Lastly, my most recent discovery, Haley Reinhart's cover of Creep with Postmodern Jukebox. This is their highest viewed clip and no wonder. Particularly as this was the first take and she nails it. PMJ have some really good covers.

 

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5 minutes ago, Carbomb said:

As to the Dylan covers, one could argue that most covers of his songs are better than his originals. He was never the best singer.

Guessing that's in reference to the Ferry/Hendrix covers I mentioned. I think it both cases the reinvention of the songs was far more important than the change in vocals. Hendrix was also a terrible singer, albeit less so than Dylan. If Ferry had just covered a Dylan song without altering it (sort of like he did with John Lennon and Jealous Guy), then it shouldn't be near this list in my view. 

Edited by Gus Mears
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Just now, Gus Mears said:

Guessing that's in reference to the Ferry/Hendrix covers I mentioned. I think it both cases the reinvention of the songs was far more important than the change in vocals. Hendrix was also a terrible singer, albeit less so than Dylan. If Ferry had just covered a Dylan song without altering it (sort of like he did for Lennon and Jealous Guy), then it shouldn't be near this list in my view. 

Sorry, was being a bit reductionist. You're right in that it wasn't just the voice; Dylan's arrangements worked for him, but a lot of the people covering him did ones that were a lot better.

The only reason why I don't rate The Byrds' cover of Mr. Tambourine Man higher than Dylan's is solely because they sing only one verse, and miss out some of the best lyrics he's ever written. But the arrangement is wonderful - takes on the whole psychedelic, "dreamy" feel that reflects the song's subject matter. Their arrangement of "My Back Pages" was definitely better, though.

 

 

Dave Hause's cover of Hot Water Music's "Trusty Chords" is, for me, better than the original - it's more melodic and less shouty, which suits the song's subject.

 

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There's actually a better one that Dave Hause did, but it's been taken off YT, which is a shame.

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes have done some cracking covers, but I was never convinced that they were necessarily better than the originals, except maybe this one:

 

And The Baseballs have done some good ones too:

 

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