5. Valerie – Amy Winehouse
One of the late jazz crooners most favoured and remembered releases, Valerie was written originally by Liverpool indie rock group ‘The Zutons’ and released as a single in the summer of 2006. The track did fairly well, charting at number 9 in the UK and playlisting the band at radio stations worldwide. The next year however, riding high on the success of her now seminal debut ‘Back to Black’, Amy Winehouse entered the studio with super producer Mark Ronson to record a cover of the track which has since surpassed the original in most ways possible. Bummer for The Zutons.
4. Hurt – Johnny Cash
We all know that Johnny was far from shy when it came to cover versions- especially towards the end of his career, the country legend would commonly interpret popular rock songs of the time in his own iconic manner. This song, first released by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails in 1994, was covered by Cash in 2002 on what was to be his last ever release. Transforming the track from brooding and mystical into a straightforward heartbreak ballad, the accompanying video shows an elderly JC coming to terms with his turbulent life. It’s all very emotional.
3. Jolene – The White Stripes
I am firm believer that most, if not all things graced by the touch of Jack White soon turn to gold. This country and western classic is no exception. Originally released by Dolly Parton as part of the 1974 album to which to song lends its name, Jolene helped cement the Tennessee native as a real player within the scene. Covered many times since the 70’s, this live version released as a single by The White Stripes is a particular favourite of mine. Recorded as part of the duos infamous ‘Under Blackpool Lights’ DVD/CD in 2004- the version went on to breach the UK top 20 singles chart upon its release.
2. Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Funk godfather Stevie Wonder first recorded this song as part of his seminal 1973 album ‘Innervisions’, by way of its undeniable catchiness and raunch the track was a huge success- particularly in the US where it reached number 1 in the soul singles chart. Making the transition into the new school in 1989, the Chili’s powerful interpretation of the classic featured on their fourth (and perhaps most celebrated) album ‘Mothers Milk’. The version has gone on to keep a place in the bands live arsenal to this day, as well as being featured in ridiculous amounts of movies and the like.
1. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
Released as part of the ‘Electric Ladyland’ album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience a mere 6 or so months after Bob Dylan recorded the original version, All Along the Watchtower remains one of Hendrix’s most prominent works. Arguably achieving a lot more success than Dylan’s original, the revamped psychedelic swing given to the track by Jimi and his band helped it go on to chart highly worldwide in the latter half of 1968. Often voted as the greatest cover version of all time, I fear I’m under qualified to claim otherwise.