Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
“For Your Love” was where English teen Graham Gouldman’s songwriting trilogy for the Yardbirds began. The band’s pivot away from their R&B roots to a more “experimental-yet-accessible” sound kicked off in 1965 when they picked up three Gouldman-penned tunes. “For Your Love,” the first single to be released, became an immediate hit in the UK (#1 on NME) and reached #6 in the US and #1 in Canada. It’s become known as one of the great classics of the British Invasion and paved the way for the similar success achieved by Gouldman’s other contributions, “Heart Full of Soul” and “Evil Hearted You.”
The band made a concerted effort to create a unique arrangement for the song. Gouldman and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja are both on the record citing the song’s “weirdness” due to elements like the (accidental) addition of the now-signature minor chord harpsichord introduction, bongos, and a bowed bass. The end product sounded like two songs fused together; one with an ancient or middle eastern feel, the other, an R&B standard. Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton can be heard playing on the bridge, his final recorded notes with the Yardbirds before leaving the group after the song’s release (to be replaced by Jeff Beck).
We’ve identified over 60 verified covers of the song. Gouldman fans can find the first recording of his own song in our covers review of The Yardbirds’ Greatest Hits. For this global hit, we’ve selected five additional favorites and a bushel of bonus tracks for you to enjoy…
Dr. Victor & The Rasta Rebels – For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
Let’s kick it off with this upbeat dance version from 2011. South African “Dr. Victor” Khojane describes his sound as “reggae pop.” No harpsichord or bongos here, but the enjoyable, slick arrangement will put you in a good mood, and the good doctor’s gravelly vocals might remind you of Eddy Grant. Finally, the veteran Johannesburg band and friend genuinely look like they had a great time producing their video.
bordeaux lip– For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
Moving in the opposite direction, this Swiss indie alt-rock trio delivers an intense version that puts a modern spin on the “weirdness” of the original. Vocalist Neil Nein screams over distortion, drums, and synth. The track is from their 2014 EP Compliments, and oddly enough, the music somehow fits with the late ‘40s, early ’50s in-the-public-domain high school human sexuality video footage chosen by the band.
Magnolia Sons – For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
The still-active Nashville-based retro soul and rock ensemble slow things way down here, and we like it. The Stax-sounding arrangement features standout lead vocals from Keshia Bailey, three-piece horns, and a driving rhythm section. The track was recorded and filmed in 2012 at Nashville’s (analog centric) Welcome to 1979 Studios.
Michael Been – For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
Here’s a scorching, edgy version from the deceased former lead singer of The Call that would qualify as indie rock today. Key components in the arrangement are the driving beat, heavy distortion guitars, and Been’s vocals (with noticeably good harmonies). The song appeared on his debut solo album, 1994’s out-of-print On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough.
Flint – For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
Michigan’s Flint – Grand Funk without the (Mark) Farner – cranked out this classic AOR version on their self-titled 1978 album. Don Brewer, Mel Schacher and Craig Frost pull off a great Chicago-meets-Pink Floyd arrangement with a solid rhythm section and vocals. But it’s the insane guitar work from guest Todd Rundgren that blows the track away.
The Lash – For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
The Newport, South Wales, UK “rock & soul” quintet called it quits last year but left us with this epic hard-charging rocker. Sultry Erin McNamara on vocals whispers the song’s title before letting loose with the band powered by ex-60ft Dolls drummer and producer Carl Bevan.
The Apples – For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
We couldn’t help but like this fresh-faced Belarus band. The young ‘60s tribute artists stay close to the original, but they do a great job modernizing the guitars and harmonies. The iconic tempo changes seem natural and the sound feels full. Video was from the Belarusian TV-show “Legends. Live” on the ONT channel in Minsk.
Krishna Das – Narayana/For Your Love (Graham Gouldman / Yardbirds cover)
If you’ve ever been on a yoga mat, chances are you’ve heard the unmistakable deep-voiced Krishna Das. He’s arguably the best-known U.S. singer of Indian kirtan-style devotional music with fourteen albums to his credit. On 2010’s Heart As Wide As The World, he intersperses Gouldman’s chorus and verses in the middle of a powerful 10 minute long chant. Lyrics start halfway through. Also, here’s video of his live-streamed performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards pre-ceremony.
- Humble Pie: Not-so-humble Steve Marriott tells someone to “shut up” to begin this 9-minute acoustic/unplugged marathon recorded live in 1969. Video from Germany’s famous Beat Club television show that replicates the live track and includes a very young Peter Frampton can be seen here.
- More Rockers: Ace Kefford Stand (ex-Move with Cozy Powell on drums), Fleetwood Mac, Nils Lofgren, The Greg Kihn Band, John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls frontman with The Yardbirds on 2003’s Birdland), Patti Smith (closing CBGB’s).
- Joe Jackson: On 1999’s Summer In The City – Live In New York, Joe’s on piano sandwiching a few bars in the middle of a slow burning and opulent version of “Fools In Love.”
- Alt Rock: Possum Dixon (post punk outfit), Jenny Wolfe & The Pack (bubble gum pop rock), The Slingsby Hornets (standout psychedelic glam power pop), SPiN (more nice power pop), Strangers (synths, guitars, e-percussion), Twin Mirrors (“noisy psychedelic punk”).
- Disco/Dance: The Four Tops (best of the bunch in this category), Chilly, Lola Dee, Discothéque, Claudja Barry, Apollonia (post-Prince), Chocolate Puma feat. Colonel Red.
- Instrumental: London Symphony Orchestra with shades of “Live and Let Die.”
- Around the world: Spain, Italy, more Italy (Mat 65 with the coolest arrangement from the ‘60s), Mexico, France, Brazil, and even more Italy.
- Finally, our friends over at CoverHeaven pulled together five additional interesting versions not previously mentioned above, including one from Greece.