Mar 032008

The best-selling album of all time, sampled by current hitmakers like Rihanna and Kanye West, it just received a flaccid “25 Anniversary” edition with covers that sound just the originals…but shittier. So here is how they should have done it, some songs drastically reinvented, other turned into smooth jazz jams. Think you’ve got a better version of any of these songs though? As always, let me know. It’s close to midnight…

-Update: New feature being added to all the Full Album posts. When the individual link expires, there will still be a rapidshare link at the bottom to download the full set!-

1L – Wanna Be Startin’ Something
An industrial-disco take that is certainly interesting, it might make you dance or it might give you a migraine. It was recorded entirely backwards, which certainly makes it sound…different.

Blowout – Baby Be Mine
Jazz-flute abounds in this instrumental meander through and around the original tune, with a laid-back bass line and muted horn solos. It keeps a steady focus though, never veering too far away from the arrangement, and thus avoids falling into the “jazz that gives me a headache” category.

Umphree’s McGee – The Girl Is Mine
No McCartney on this cover, but instead plenty of jam band grooves. They do it live a lot, and throwing a bit of Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” in the middle is a nice contrast.

Ben Gibbard – Thriller
The Death Cab for Cutie frontman performs a solo version that strips back the zombie hysteria and plays the lyrics completely straight…which just makes them funnier. I do miss Vincent Price though.

The Last Dinosaur – Beat It
A somber duet by this British group, with stately piano and low violin that makes it sound like a love ballad. Fabulous.

Chris Cornell – Billie Jean
The Soundgarten/Audioslave frontman’s voice could not be more different than Jacko’s in this live take, boozey and aching. Hell of a guitar player too, plucking soft here and slamming furiously there.

Craig David – Human Nature
Though his voice is beautiful, the real highlight here is the funky acoustic guitar part. Interweaving it with SWV’s “Right There” isn’t his own idea, as the girl group released a mash-up of the two songs themselves, but it works. Alicia Keys also did a fully-orchestrated version of this one recently; check it out here.

Spitalfield – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
A solo electric guitar version by lead singer Daniel Rose, it’s a bit emo, but still a nice listen as he belts it out as well as his skinny-white-boy voice will allow. It’s taken from a live video, so sorry for the slightly fuzzy sound quality.

Stanley Jordan – The Lady In My Life
Another instrumental jazz take, this one screams “elevator music”. But if you can get beyond that, it’s actually not bad, with some nice soloing by Jordan on both electric guitar and synthesizer (often at the same time).

Full set:

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