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7 Cover Songs That Sound Nothing Like The Original: Bruce Springsteen, Devo, And More

by Joey DeGroot   Aug 29, 2014 18:29 PM EDT

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Though most cover songs remain pretty much faithful to the original arrangement, an interesting cover song should take the basic elements of the original and build something entirely new and unique out of them. Here are seven cover songs that sound nothing like the original.

1. Patti Smith - "Gloria" (1975)

Calling Patti Smith's "Gloria" a cover of Them's 1964 garage rock classic isn't entirely accurate. Smith's version has the same chord progression and chorus, but features almost entirely different lyrics, as well as a lengthier and more dynamic arrangement. Patti Smith may be the godmother of punk, but her version of "Gloria" is actually less punk than Them's version.


2. Devo - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1978)

Pretty much the only indication that Devo's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is a Rolling Stones cover is the lyrics. The original's signature fuzz-guitar riff is nowhere to be found, and its straightforward beat is replaced by a herky-jerk, off-kilter rhythm that's impossible to dance to.


3. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Avalanche" (1984)

Leonard Cohen's 1971 classic "Avalanche" is pretty typical for one his songs at that time, featuring fingerpicked classical guitar, strings, and a traditional folk structure. However, Nick Cave's 1984 version from his debut album From Her To Eternity scraps the acoustic guitar in favor of a brooding gothic rock arrangement with piano, bass, organ, and electric guitars, not to mention Cave's demonic growl.


4. Primal Scream - "Slip Inside This House" (1991)

Primal Scream's classic Screamadelica album features a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators' "Slip Inside This House," but instead of replicating that song's garage rock arrangement, Primal Scream performed it in their more experimental acid house style, making it almost unrecognizable. Even the lyrics are slightly different, as singer Bobby Gillespie sings "trip inside this house" instead of "slip inside this house" for the chorus.


5. John Frusciante - "Big Takeover" (1994)

John Frusciante's Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt is one of the strangest albums you're ever likely to hear from a major rock star, but one of its most accessible tracks is its cover of Bad Brains' 1982 classic "Big Takeover." Instead of playing the song in its original, blistering punk style, however, Frusciante slows it down and performs it with acoustic guitars and mandolins, which gives the melody room to breathe and expand.


6. Tricky - "Black Steel" (1995)

Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" provides an excellent example of the unsettling, avant-garde production style that the Bomb Squad was famous for, but Tricky's 1995 cover (titled simply "Black Steel") features a strange, rock-influenced production that sounds nothing like the original. In fact, the only similarities between the two are the lyrics, though in Tricky's version the lyrics are sung rather than rapped.


7. Bruce Springsteen - "Dream Baby Dream" (2014)

One of Bruce Springsteen's most surprising influences is New York synth-punk duo Suicide, whose minimalist, often frightening electronic sound is as far from Springsteen's lush rock 'n' roll as you can get. Springsteen paid tribute to Suicide on his most recent album High Hopes with a cover of their 1980 song "Dream Baby Dream," replacing their synthesizers with acoustic guitars, strings, and what sounds like a harmonium.


What other cover songs sound nothing like the original? Let us know in the comments section!

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