Yesterday, we learned that Merge Records band Hospitality recently tackled the Steely Dan classic "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" for the A.V. Club's "Undercover" series. While they maintained the smooth harmonies of the original, they added a bit of Krautrock motorik that slices SD's inherent cheese right out. And, despite the fact that it's their first-ever cover song, they look like they're having a lot of fun.
Coincidentally, I've been thinking a lot lately about classic rock covers that improve on the original. Read on for ten songs that add their own flair for a better result than the classic track.
10. Hospitality, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (Steely Dan)
While they maintained the smooth harmonies of the original, they added a touch of Krautrock motorik that slices the inherent cheese factor of Steely Dan right out.
9. Seu Jorge, "Life On Mars?" (David Bowie)
Brazilian artist Seu Jorge's awesome Portuguese language Bowie covers were featured in Wes Anderson's movie The Life Aquatic.
8. The Flaming Lips, "War Pigs" (Black Sabbath)
The Lips tackled Black Sabbath with the help of Cat Power at Austin City Limits (while covered in blood, naturally).
7. Radiohead and Sparklehorse, "Wish You Were Here" (Pink Floyd)
As much as I love the original, this version by Radiohead and Sparklehorse updates it enough to maintain interest through the whole seven minutes.
6. Grandaddy, "Revolution" (The Beatles)
Covering The Beatles is a dangerous game, but Grandaddy spin it enough to make for an extremely satisfying listening experience.
5. Elliott Smith, "13" (Big Star)
Smith's voice is perfect for this cover of Big Star's ode to teenagerdom.
4. Wye Oak, "Strangers" (The Kinks)
Wye Oak is joined by Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg for this choice cover of The Kinks' "Strangers." Jenn Wasner's amazing solo is the song's highlight. Girl knows how to do right by a guitar.
3. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" (Hall and Oates)
No disrespect to the version by Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground I wrote about yesterday, but this cover has it all: tiny instruments, perfect backing vocals, a kazoo solo, and most importantly, mirrored aviators. Did I mention it's played live in a van?
2. Marnie Stern, "Don't Stop Believin'" (Journey)
What's that? You never want to hear this song again? Better think twice, as the queen of tapping hands in an incredible reimagining that captures the spirit of the original while completely refreshing it.
1. Free Energy, "I'm Going Down" (Bruce Springsteen)
This is one of my favorite covers of all time. So much sparklier (and way less constipated-sounding) than the original.
Got a favorite classic rock cover? Add it in the comments!