12 Great Bowie Covers



nirvanaunpluggedI’ve never listened to so much Bowie music before. I guess the upside of an artist’s passing is the incentive to listen to a lot of their music, some of which you may have missed before. It would make more sense to listen to more of their music while they’re still alive, but human nature is what it is.

Anyway here are some of my favorite covers of Bowie songs, some familiar, some not so. If you have any favorite Bowie covers, spill’em in the comments.

12. Eddie Vedder & Ben Harper – Under Pressure (2010)

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It’s funny, I never liked the original very much, but hearing it a lot in the last couple of weeks I’ve come to appreciate it a lot more. Ben Harper’s a little shaky at the start, but by the end they knock it out of the park on attitude alone.

 

11. Stone Temple Pilots – Andy Warhol (1994)

The singer and the songwriter are suddenly both missed, and so is the subject, for that matter. Scott Weiland and David Bowie, dead within weeks of each other, made each other look good on this unplugged track.

 

10. Dinosaur Jr. – Quicksand (1991)

J Mascis replaced some of Bowie’s diva lyrics about Garbo and Bardot with more American pastoral fare, but you can tell it was done with respect, and the song remains very earnest and sincere.

 

9. Jacksoul – Ashes To Ashes (2006)

Fantastic vocal treatment by the late great Haydain Neale and his now-defunct neo-soul band. True to the original, especially if it had appeared on the Young Americans album instead of Scary Monsters.

 

8. The Bad Plus – Life On Mars (2007)

At one point, this version veers off in all directions, but it returns in full regalia delivering the majesty the song deserves. For adventurous listeners only.

 

7. Tegan & Sara – Rebel Rebel (2008)

One Bowie song that definitely should be covered by a girl group, and the line “You’ve got your mother in a whirl/ She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl” rings perfectly from these two.

 

6. Alice In Chains – Suffragette City (1988)

One of the most balls-out rockers Bowie ever wrote, there are several head-banging versions including ones by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Poison, but this one gives a brave nod to Bowie’s original intent while embodying that late-80s power sound. I can’t decide if I love it ironically or sincerely.

 

5. Natalie Merchant – Space Oddity (2000)

Natalie Merchant’s quivering Major Tom, aided by her band’s note-perfect touch, peels away the camp from the song, leaving only its magnificent, lonesome beauty.

 

4. Beck – Sound And Vision (2013)

Beck, the American Gen-X Bowie, sits in with 160 musicians to create this epic extravaganza. It’s not exactly organic, but it is appropriately over the top, Bowie loved it, and it’s amazing to watch

 

3. The Wallflowers – Heroes (1998)

Bob Dylan’s kid delivers a faithful reproduction of Bowie’s urban misfits anthem to the suburban movieplex in a Godzilla flick. Sometimes Rock is stranger than fiction.

 

2. Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes (1972)

“My brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones/We never got it off on that revolution stuff/What a drag, too many snags” was one of the most important lyrics Bowie ever wrote. Despite his acknowledged musical debt to the Beatles, this line was a clarion call for young musicians to disavow Sixties Rock, which they pretty much did from the late 1970s well into the 1990s.

 

1. Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World (1994)

If there was anyone other than Bowie who came face to face with The Man Who Sold The World, it would have been Cobain. Four months after this session, he put on his wings and left this mortal coil. But what a landmark recording, like a passing of the torch, and the moment when it became OK again for young Rock musicians to reference Sixties music in a non-disparaging way.

 

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3 comments to “12 Great Bowie Covers”
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