May 302018
 

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20. Of Mice & Men – Money


Despite being one of Pink Floyd’s most famous songs, “Money” gets covered less than you think. Actually, let me amend that: It gets covered well less than you’d think. The best cover of the song is also the newest, metalcore band Of Mice & Men’s new single. When I saw that this existed, I was, frankly, skeptical. And a different Floyd selection might well have ended in disaster. But this works for me, taking one of the band’s already harder-edged songs and sharpening those edges even further. – Ray Padgett

19. Natalie Maines – Mother


Pink Floyd songs tell stories. They create worlds in lyrics. Realistic, sometimes painful worlds. It takes a truly committed soul to cover many of their songs, with “Mother” being one of the most dramatic examples. Natalie Maines manages to meet, and perhaps transcend, the original’s passion. She wisely keeps instrumentation in the background, as this song is mostly about the lyrics. Her piercing voice is a far cry from the syrupy Dixie Chicks harmonies, and much more suited to this edgy rock style. Ann Powers of NPR praised the transformation “into a real mother’s stricken reflection”. Indeed, the tables have turned and we see the song as delivered by a mother grieving for the unavoidable adulthood facing her son, as opposed to a bitter diatribe from a son who could never understand the depth of a mother’s love. – Angela Hughey

18. Sparklehorse feat. Thom Yorke – Wish You Were Here


Sometimes songs take on more meaning once you learn about the band members. That is the case with Wish You Were Here. After gaining knowledge of Syd Barrett’s mental health issues, the listener can only go on a deeper emotional journey by considering how the band felt about their lost friend. This emotional tug has encouraged loads of artists to cover Wish You Were Here. Sparklehorse covers of the song with an outstanding effort. However, what make the song more compelling is the history behind founder of Sparklehorse, Mark Linkous. Unfortunately, Linkous took his life in 2010. When hearing the cover by Sparklehorse you wonder if Linkous was struggling at the time of the recording. Listening to the quiet cover version with the Linkous’ vocals, they seem hesitant and forced, it gives an an increased isolated feel. You wonder if Linkous selected the song as a cry for help. As a result, the Sparklehorse version adds an increased emotional component to the haunting musical cover. – John Lenhardt

17. Elephant Revival – Have a Cigar


I was unaware of this band, and thus this cover, until someone serendipitously posted this video from the legendary Red Rock in a Jason Isbell Facebook fan group recently. And it is excellent. Colorado-based Elephant Revival, from my research, appears to be a relatively long-standing fixture on the jam band circuit, melding Americana, folk, bluegrass and Celtic influences. Their cover of “Have A Cigar” plays on these influences, giving it a more relaxed feel than the original, while retaining its sense of disillusionment with the hypocrisy and greed of the music business. It seems that it is an inconvenient time to have discovered Elephant Revival though: in February, the band announced the dreaded “indefinite hiatus,” and their last show for the foreseeable future was on May 20, also at Red Rocks (where they also played the song). – Jordan Becker

16. Snatch – Another Brick in the Wall


What is it with disco Pink Floyd covers? Believe it or not, this will not be the last time we encounter one on this list (see #6). But first, the 1980 funk band Snatch. It’s soulful and passionate, danceable but still works great on headphones. And just wait for that vocoder to enter, wisely countering “Yes, you need an education.” I wish I could find more information about the band; Discogs says this single is all they ever released. – Ray Padgett

15. Christy Moore – Shine On You Crazy Diamond


No, of course this shouldn’t work, and the ex-Planxty and Moving Hearter nearly loses it. His faltering brogue a slow build burn, pins beginning to drop all around as the realization hits. And the guitar solo, by longtime sidekick, Declan Sinnott, near steals the show. – Seuras Og

14. Mary Fahl – Us and Them


A beautiful and haunting rendition of “Us and Them” is a highlight of the Mary Fahl’s 2011 reimagining of Dark Side of the Moon. Gone is the initial feeling of swanky jazz club with easy drums, echoes, and sliding saxophone. In its place are ethereal sound effects and Fahl’s straight tone, slightly faltering vocals. It feels more current and raw. The chorus harmonies are powerful, even without the giant choral sound of the original. The entire song comes across more edgy than the original, however just as carefully crafted. It’s worth a listen, as is the rest of the album. – Angela Hughey

13. Diagonal – Stop


When MOJO Magazine commissioned a full tribute to The Wall, British prog-rock quartet Diagonal arguably drew the short straw. “Stop” is, after all, only 31 seconds long. It’s not even really a song. Or, at least, it wasn’t until they got a hold of it. They draw it out into a comparatively epic 3:41, with some amazing saxophone and keyboard dueling. From the most forgettable track on The Wall to one of the most memorable Pink Floyd covers ever is quite a feat! – Ray Padgett

12. Judy Dyble – See Emily Play


Judy was there at the beginning. An original Fairport Convention singer, she often shared the bill with the early Floyd at the Roundhouse. Ger clipped BBC English tones are perfect for this song, a hint of balearic wafting into the beat, both a potent reminder of the original and a reboot for the new century. – Seuras Og

11. The Hotrats – Bike


The Hotrats were a short-lived side project of Supergrass’s Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey. They released one album, the 2009 covers collection Turn Ons, then disbanded as quietly as they’d formed. But that album is a gem. Though they don’t cover their namesake Frank Zappa, they do keep it plenty weird, tackling everyone from the Doors to the Beastie Boys. One of the best is “Bike,” which garage-rocks up what some say is Syd Barrett’s best song. – Ray Padgett

10. Mary Lou Lord – Fearless


Erstwhile Boston busker burned a brief candle at the turn of the century, before spasmodic dysphonia took her voice from her. This gem is a cover from Side 2 of Lord’s Baby Blue. On first listen it possible adds little to the original, but there are some orchestrated countertones floating invitingly in the mix, together with an Indian drone less obvious than in Gilmour’s hands. Plus it doesn’t have the awful football crowd – though something equivalently disturbing filters up at the end. – Seuras Og

9. Kylesa – Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun


On principle alone, I wanted to include Kylesa’s “Interstellar Overdive” cover on this list. One of the most acclaimed sludge-metal bands ever covering a psychedelic Pink Floyd epic sounded fantastic. Unfortunately, what sounded great on paper didn’t actually work. So I crossed them off the list. But wait! Turns out the Savannah trio covered a second psychedelic Pink Floyd epic! And this one was everything I was hoping for originally, storming and slow and ugly and weird. – Ray Padgett

8. Cody Jinks – Wish You Were Here


Cody Jinks doesn’t stray too far from home on this version of the Pink Floyd classic that has become a staple in his live shows. The addition of a pedal steel along with Jink’s deep from-the-gut Texas twang makes this one a nuanced, gratifying listen from start to finish. – Walt Falconer

7. SS-20 – Arnold Layne


For their first single, Pink Floyd knew they couldn’t release “Arnold Layne” in the 10-15 minutes it took to play live, so they pared it down to a more manageable three. Apparently, the fact that the song was about a transvestite kleptomaniac never struck them as being an obstacle to airplay. Turned out they were right, and the slightly strange track got Syd Barrett and company onto the charts. Today, the song stands as a prime piece of psychedelic pop and one of the most interesting square-ones in rock history. Twenty years after “Arnold Layne”‘s release, a tribute album called Beyond the Wildwood was released. This salute to Syd featured a cast of unknowns recasting Barrett’s work in new and sympathetic light. The cover of “Arnold Layne” by SS-20 is a good example of this; with echoes and energy, they give the song an ethereal sort of grace that serves it very well, maintaining Arnold’s mystery while dialing back on his sketchiness. – Patrick Robbins

6. Rosebud – Have a Cigar


In 1977, a group of French musicians decided to record a disco tribute album to the most unlikely of bands: Pink Floyd. As if that wasn’t goofy enough, they titled it Discoballs. Boy would I love to know what Gilmour and Waters thought about that one. Serious Floyd fanatics might take offense, but to my ears the whole thing is a hoot – and their “Have a Cigar” would work pretty well on the dancefloor. Fun fact: One of those French discophiles, Gabriel Yared, later won an Oscar for his soundtrack to The English Patient. And to think Discoballs didn’t even win a Grammy! – Ray Padgett

5. The Bad Plus – Comfortably Numb


Minneapolis jazz trio The Bad Plus tapped Wendy Lewis to sing lead vocals on their 2008 covers album For All I Care. In the group’s hands, this track is turned into an experimental jazz symphony that mirrors the song’s drug themes, with several distinct movements. The track opens with light percussion and bass and Lewis’ voice is haunting as she calls out “Hello …” as if she’s about to disappear into a primordial haze. When she hits the chorus “There is no pain …” the piano comes in, pushing all three instruments in separate directions with Lewis’ voice holding it all together. About halfway through the song switches to a darker key as if something foreboding is about to happen. When Lewis chimes in with, “When I was a child” the piano, bass, drums and vocals dissipate into a cacophony of 1,000 different sounds. One couldn’t help but think even Syd Barrett would have approved of such experimentation. By the time the song hits its slow, mellow fade out, the listener is left feeling maybe numb, but certainly not comfortable. – Curtis Zimmermann

4. Local H – Time


If you still think of Local H as that “born to be down” band from the ’90s, you haven’t been paying attention. Scott Lucas and a rotating crew of drummers have continued recording consistently terrific albums under the mainstream radar for a dedicated core of superfans. Not least of those albums were two recent all-covers mixtapes. The band roared through the punk influences you’d expect – your Jesus Lizards, your Misfits – while also taking some wild left-field turns. A few of those were among the best covers of the 2010s: Lorde’s “Team,” TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me,” and an utterly unexpected psych-grunge freakout on “Time.” – Ray Padgett

3. Alpha Blondy – Wish You Were Here


God, I love this, as mad as a box of frogs. Can you imagine the studio discussion as Blondy, reggae maven from Africa’s Ivory Coast, takes the Easy Star All-Stars template, adding bagpipes and doubling the speed. If this doesn’t make you smile, you haven’t a heart. And if it doesn’t make you skank, you haven’t legs. – Seuras Og

2. Capital Cities feat. Tupac Shakur – Breathe


Capital Cities turn Pink Floyd’s spacey track into an electro-pop jam, with a twist. The song is a nice rewrite, pulling themes from the original and finding the danceable thread, leaving the vocals surprisingly similar to the original. But after the first verse, the unexpected Tupac feature takes this to the next level. The lyric from Tupac’s 1997 “Smile” is a left-field perfect fit thematically and sonically. – Mike Misch

1. Kendra Morris – Shine On You Crazy Diamond


“Shine On, You Crazy Diamond” is one of Pink Floyd’s most-often covered songs. Not bad for a track which, when you add all nine parts together, tops 25 minutes. And plenty of bands tackle every one of them. But on her stunning soul blast, Kendra Morris boils it down to 4:41 – and makes every second count. It sounds like a Dusty in Memphis outtake, with soaring organ, wah-wah guitar, and a gospel choir on the chorus. But this isn’t some Stax deep cut; it only came out five years ago. – Ray Padgett

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  27 Responses to “The Best Pink Floyd Covers Ever”

Comments (24) Pingbacks (3)
  1. I’ve always liked Ambulance LTD and Low’s version of Fearless

  2. Everyone of them are absolutely terrible. Pink Floyd music should be left alone.

  3. By the way folks, the song fearless is from the LP Obscured by Clouds! How did they miss that?!

  4. Avenged Sevenfold did an amazing cover of Wish You Were Here last year and play it on tour. I’ve heard them play it live twice and my father, who is the biggest Floyd fan I know, said it’s the best cover he’s ever heard. Give it a listen

    • Agreed. I’m a huge A7x fan so I’m a lil biased but it’s the only cover I’ve heard that’s really good. They didn’t try to over do anything. They stuck with what made the song so good.

  5. Hipster garbage. We all know Pearl Jam’s covers of Comfortably Numb and Mother are the best covers. Not this indie crap.

  6. Anybody have these in a YouTube playlist they could share?

  7. Voivod’s versions of Astronomy Domine and Nile Song!!!! Epic!

  8. Cody Jinks Wish You Were Here!
    https://youtu.be/77OIeoCWzo8

  9. “Fearless” is off side 1 of Meddle. Not Atom Heart Mother

  10. Has any one ever heard of Les Claypool, he has covered Have a cigar, shine on you crazy diamond, and animals in it entirety, all great covers because he does not mess with the integrity of the music

  11. Saucerful of Secrets from Finnish band Waltari! I listen to it regularly (on a playlist with the various performances of Saucerful of Secrets from the Floyd themselves)

  12. How could they not include david bowies see emily play cover from pinups?!? Or his cover of arnold lane w gilmour on guitar??? And the writer said fearless is from ahm?? Definitely doesnt know fliyd. Pearl jam covered fliyd well too among others missed here

  13. imo missing :

    Lulu Hughes – Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryAEFRGo-WY
    The Busters – Wish You Were Here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8znXWgOWA4
    Tufts Beelzebubs – Goodbye Cruel World

    and a dubstep remix for those who read comments > play loud !! & start your day
    Pink Floyd – Have A Cigar (Wick-it Remix) https://soundcloud.com/wick-it/pink-floyd-have-a-cigar-wick

    cheers everyone :)

  14. The Bad Plus cover rules all.

  15. Primus – Have a Cigar https://youtu.be/HD1L_LOxme0
    Psychic TV – Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GsyeNvtTzI

  16. Astra’s cover of Empty Spaces is incredible. They do it in their own old-school prog style…

    https://youtu.be/HTtcYfvuO4I

  17. “Echoes” – Money (funny at beginning) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRyarhUVjhs

    or look and listen the Complete Concert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRyarhUVjhs

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