Sep 302016
30. Chumbawamba – Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart (Patrik Fitzgerald cover)

In 1996, Chumbawamba were still a year away from “Tubthumping,” the hit that would both define and curse them. Forget that overplayed song, and listen to this one to get more of a sense of what they were really about.

29. The Lemonheads – Fade to Black (Metallica cover)

Evan Dando recorded a number of cover songs this year, among them Whitney Houston’s “How Would I Know” and REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You.” They are all stripped-down or solo, and the gem of the bunch is his beautifully ragged Metallica cover.

28. The Handsome Family – The House Carpenter (Traditional cover)

Almost twenty years before they became “the True Detective band,” the Handsome Family perfected their style on this old-weird-Americana cover of a traditional Scottish ballad.

27. Jello Biafra – Still Is Still Moving to Me (Willie Nelson cover)

The Twisted Willie tribute album featured a bunch of ’90s staples: The Presidents of the United States of America, Tenderloin, The Breeders’ Kelley Deal. But the high point comes from a guy more associated with the previous decade, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys.

26. Eva Cassidy – Wade In The Water (Traditional cover)

From Kurt Cobain to Jeff Buckley, the ’90s saw a number of great young singers die before their time. Eva Cassidy belongs in that company, and this cover shows why.

25. Cat Power – Still In Love (Hank Williams cover)

Few indie singer-songwriters have embraced the cover song in the past few decades more than Cat Power (only Bonnie “Prince” Billy may top her). Since this cut she’s released two all-covers record, but this early cover shows where she was going.

24. Tom Petty – Asshole (Beck cover)

As I mentioned in the intro, two titans covered Beck this year. Cash’s was good, but Petty’s is better.

23. Juliana Hatfield – Witches’ Song (Marianne Faithfull cover)

Marianne Faithfull should be covered far more often.

22. Moby – That’s When I Reach for My Revolver (Mission of Burma cover)

Moby was still a few years away from Play making him massive, but as a figurehead of a dance-music revival, he was already plenty popular. Except that in 1996 he moved away from the genre he helped revive, releasing a hardcore punk album instead. Turns out he was pretty good at that too (and he still calls it his favorite record).

21. Heather Nova – Like a Hurricane (Neil Young cover)

On his current tour, Neil Young has been stretching “Like a Hurricane” upwards of 15 minutes of soloing and distortion. On her restrained guitar and cello cover, Heather Nova takes the opposite approach.

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  10 Responses to “The Best Cover Songs of 1996”

Comments (4) Pingbacks (6)
  1. Lots of interesting stuff but really… no one should ever cover Heroes by Bowie… no matter what they do, it sucks.

  2. Wow, Skankin’ Pickle (saw them in ’95) and Fudge Tunnel! I really like Fudge Tunnel’s cover of “Sunshine of you love” (speaking of covers).

  3. I remember learning how to play Killing Me Softly in guitar back in high school while my friends sing/say “one time..two times.” Good ol’ times!

  4. I never heard that Beck cover by Tom Petty… Thank you.

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