Over on the excellent music podcast, Pods and Sods, today's episode was about favorite cover songs. Have a listen to the episode then head on over to their Facebook page and join the conversation.
Here is my off-the-cuff list:*
I'm a Man - Chicago Transit Authority (original: Spencer Davis Group) - Much more energetic, with a 64-bar latin percussion break. The version they were performing in the late 80s/early 90s with Dawayne Bailey was particularly good.
Little Wing - Sting (Jimi Hendrix) - Heard the Sting version first and prefer it mainly because of the Gil Evans arrangement and slowed down guitar solo that morphs into the soprano sax solo.
In Your Eyes - Jeffrey Gaines (Peter Gabriel) - This is a cover that does NOT better the original but it's so unique that I often gravitate to it.
Black Crow - Diana Krall (Joni Mitchell) - Krall's 2004 CD found her writing her own material with her then-new husband, Elvis Costello. This song, however, has a lot of nice souring piano flourishes that echo Vince Guaraldi, a pleasant guitar solo, and Krall playing around with her phrasing.
River - Robert Downey, Jr. (Joni Mitchell) - Didn't realize I'd have to Mitchell songs here but oh well. I like Downey's vocal stylings (love his cover of "Smile" as well) and this arrangement, with cello, is one of the songs I always go to around the 20th of December when I'm just about tired of the standard Christmas songs.
Smells Like Teen Spirit - The Bad Plus (Nirvana) - I was tempted to pick the Paul Anka jazz arrangement [where he covered a lot of rock songs with a jazz band) but opted for this song which is the tune that put The Bad Plus on my radar. Piano, bass, and drums. That's it. They take the song from the standard instrumental arrangement into a dizzing array of improvs on the theme. Sometimes you'd think they're just doing their own thing but they come back together at the end.
*I didn't include any Christmas tunes but there are a bunch I could have listed. The one that first comes to mind is Chicago's version of Little Drummer Boy. It is, for me, THE version. It's to the point where I hear the horn breaks Chicago wrote whenever I hear *another* version of LDB.