Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Released in 1979, Gary Numan’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” was the second single from the album Replicas, his last with the band Tubeway Army. The surprise #1 UK hit topped the charts for a month, paving the way for the global success that came with “Cars” later that year, and to this day it remains a staple in Numan’s live performances.
“Friends” has garnered more than its fair share of covers – 21 artists on iTunes alone, and countless more on YouTube, have given us their takes on the song. Here are five (or so) that stand out…
An Pierlé – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
With only a piano and her moody vocals, Belgian singer Peirlé takes you on a foreboding journey reminiscent of Alanis Morissette.
The Dead Weather – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
The song lends itself well to rock treatments, and who better to give it a shot than Jack White and friends? The hurdy-gurdy organ, vibrato guitars, and Allison Mosshart’s smoky vocals come together for an uptempo version nearly a minute shorter than the original.
Danny McEvoy – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
This English busker and YouTube artist provides an acoustic take from his home studio. McEvoy’s version evokes sadness, but in a slight twist, he sings through the iconic spoken word verses. You believe him when he smiles and says, “I don’t think I’m going to get any better than that,” before turning off the camera.
The Harriet Earis Trio – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
On their album From the Crooked Tree, these jazz-infused instrumentalists included two versions of the track; one fast, the other faster. We’ve included the latter for its nicely tuned percussion effects and high-hat/snare that channels Cookin’ On 3 Burners’ version of “Cars,” reviewed previously here.
Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
Whitley, a musician’s musician who died in 2005 of lung cancer, left us with this blues/grunge interpretation on his final studio album. He sings the desolate lyrics aware of his inevitable passing, which came too soon only five months later.
Wildfire – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
A hard-driving metal version from a little-known UK rock band in their home studio. Thoroughly enjoyable.
SuperUkes – Are “Friends” Electric? (Gary Numan cover)
It’s never too late for a good cross-genre cover. SuperUkes uploaded this eclectic version of the track from their recent performance at the Ukulele Festival of Wales.