Sorry this post is a couple of days late. The good news, though, is that I’m starting a new series. On the first Monday of every month, I’ll be posting covers of every song from an album. I’ve already done Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man, and today we go to a very different genre than the singer-songwriter, Nirvana, the creators of grunge. Hearing how people reinterpret his work, though, it’s clear Kurt Cobain has more in common with the previous generation of songwriters than the noise in his work might originally suggest. So here it is, Nevermind from beginning to end.
-Update 1/14/07: That great cover to the right is courtesy of reader Garrison, who found us through a nice shout-out over at Berkeley Place.
-Update 9/23/11: And we’re back, for the 20th anniversary of Nevermind!
Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit
One of the best new covers of ’07, she infused banjo, brushed drums, and an unprecedented attention to lyrical clarity in her singing that makes it seem like a singer-songwriter number instead of a grunge rave-up.
Gringo Floyd – In Bloom
Off one of those lame “The [Insert Random Musical Genre] Tribute to [Insert Band of a Very Different Genre]” albums, this cocktail instrumental mixes horns with some weird synthesizer riffs and the occasional breathy sigh to get your head bobbing.
Caetano Veloso – Come As You Are
Keeping the sassy swing going, Brazil’s Veloso infuses a smooth latin feel into this one, slowing it down a bit and bringing out a new guitar line only implied in the original.
Steve Earle – Breed
Recorded for the B-Sides album Side Tracks, he keeps the same general feel using his own gruff snarl.
The Polyphonic Spree – Lithium
A bouncy, pretty version that keeps the levity going even through the loud chorus, aided by the girl’s backing vocals halfway through each verse. The happiest song ever with lyrics like “I’m so lonely” and “Maybe I’m to blame for all I’ve heard”.
Animal Collective – Polly
Fast strumming behind molasses-slow vocals, this is a radio version of a vinyl-only cover that’s been making the blog circuit. Good by itself, better on acid.
Ill Nino – Territorial Pissings
Similar to the original, but even harder, with a metal voice yelling the “Gotta run away” but keeping the tune for the rest. Nothing revelatory, but decent. If anyone has a better cover of this one, let me know.
Coco – Drain You
Thought I’d never find an interesting cover of this, until a discovered this Asian electro-pop version on their myspace page. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it genre, but I enjoy it in small doses.
The Retroliners – Lounge Act
A surf instrumental of this one, these vocal-free takes show just how good Cobain was at crafting a tune…which he could then all-but bury under waves of distortion.
UK Subs – Stay Away
If the Sex Pistols had covered Nirvana.
Rogue Wave – On a Plain
A strummed indie version, it sounds both wistful and hopeful at the same time.
Tricky – Something In the Way
Taking samples from here and there, underground DJ Tricky does a funky hip-hop sort of cover using Hawkman on vocals. Very interesting, very cool, and almost unrecognizable from the original.