The Best Rolling Stones Covers Ever

 Posted by at 10:31 am
Jul 262018
50. Chevy Metal – Little T&A

“Little T&A” is one of the few Rolling Stones songs where Keith Richards takes the lead on vocals. The song about good times is how I picture Richards’ storied life with snitching, bitching, and rock & roll. Last time I saw this song live was at Desert Trip (aka Oldchella). Richards endured some unexpected guitar feedback and goofed some words. He just laughed and kept rolling. Along the same perfectly imperfect lines, my favorite cover for this is Chevy Metal doing a really raw version and giving no shits. The moonlighting Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett belts out the vocals with fellow Foo Taylor Hawkins on the kit and Wiley Hodgden on bass. Chevy Metal’s fun cover embodies the spirit of Keef’s good time life. – John Lenhardt

49. Liz Phair – Mother’s Little Helper

The Stones don’t get enough credit for writing one of the better anti-drug songs of the sixties. (It’s a hell of a lot better than “Kicks” by Paul Revere and the Raiders, anyway.) However, it’s one thing when it’s sung by Mick Jagger; it’s quite another when sung by a woman. Liz Phair understands when a lady just needs a little Diet Coke and sympathy, and her nonjudgmental cover rocks just as hard as the original, if not harder. – Patrick Robbins

48. Inkubus Sukkubus – Paint It Black

Inkubus Sukkubus almost begs to be mocked. They albums titled Wikka Woman, Love Poltergeist, and Wytches. Their “Paint It Black” cover hails from the best/worst title of the bunch: 1997’s Vampyre Erotica. But, against all odds, it’s seriously good. Taking inspiration from the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, this pagan goth band blends pounding industrial drums and witchy (sorry, “wytchy”) vocals. I can’t imagine this style would work with many Stones songs, but “Paint It Black” arguably set the template for goth-rock in the first place. Inkubus Sukkubus just takes it to its logical extreme. – Ray Padgett

47. Albert King – Honky Tonk Woman

In 1971, barely two years after the original, Albert King released his cover of “Honky Tonk Woman.” An acknowledged favorite guitarist of Keith Richards, and one of the Three Kings (Freddie, B..B. and Albert) who arguably led that particular field of blues guitar playing. His style litters also the work of Eric Clapton. Arguably one of the earlier black blues artists to “return the compliment” and, thus, delineate the source of inspiration for the tousle-headed boys from Beckenham, the Velvet Bulldozer steams in like he owns it, backed by Muscle Shoals’ finest. King’s magisterial vocal timbre and fluid guitar that burbles constantly throughout lifts this above the Stones’ more, um, sinewy effort. – Seuras Og

46. Johnny Cash – No Expectations

The Rick Rubin-produced records of Johnny Cash’s final decade get all the praise in the world, and rightly so. But it’s safe to say that, if Rubin had been the one who introduced Cash to “No Expectations,” it would have sounded much closer to the Stones’ version than the cover he came up with a decade earlier. The thing is, that cover is a great one, with a rollicking pulse and a sense of fun. Where Jagger sounds like he’s getting on the train a defeated man, Cash sounds mighty happy to show that town his heels. – Patrick Robbins

45. U2 – Paint it Black

For a more pop oriented take on “Paint it Black,” turn to U2. The cover, on the band’s Achtung Baby album, is sleeker and lighter than the original. All the elements of U2’s successful song formula are there: echoing vocals by Bono, harmony, driving percussion including a jangly tambourine, and some fun guitar riffs. That plus their general air of cool give the song a generational upgrade. – Angela Hughey

44. The Handsome Family – Far Away Eyes

Rather a risible song in the hands of Mick ‘n’ the boys, with perhaps the fishiest of Mick’s cod American accents, in the sturdier grip of this husband and wife duo, “Far Away Eyes” becomes transcendent. A bona fide country weepy, albeit with more interesting words than many. You possibly know Mr. and Mrs. Sparks better from the sublime song used as the theme for the first season of True Detective, but they have been plying their wry dust-bowl field for upward of twenty years. Nice key change too. – Seuras Og

43. Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams – Wild Horses

CMT Crossroads is a TV show that pairs country music performers with musicians from other genres, and over the years has had some odd pairings (Taylor Swift and Def Leppard? Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler? Old Crow Medicine Show and Kesha???). But the first episode of the show, which aired on January 13, 2002, featured Lucinda Williams, just four years past her Car Wheels on a Gravel Road triumph, with Elvis Costello, whose early portrayal as an angry young man had long been tempered with evidence of his many other influences, including country music. The two teamed up for a fine version of the song, which Costello says was one that got him thinking about country music back in the day. Elvis takes the lead, and Lucinda the harmonies, and it sounds pretty much like you’d expect from these two masters. – Jordan Becker

42. Rickie Lee Jones – Sympathy for the Devil

This was very nearly going to be Bryan Ferry, as I also have a lot of love for his arch way with this docudrama of an epic. Rickie Lee goes the other way, torturing herself (and some listeners) with this gaunt confessional, out Lucinda-ing Lucinda for wracked and raddled raggediness. With little attention to tune or rhythm, she slurs in solitary, until a ghostly chorale of oboe makes it way out of the despair. Never had the fallen angel Lucifer fallen quite so far from redemption. Bleak doesn’t even contain the misery of the “whoo whoo”s, always integral to the song and the lever over which any version makes or breaks. – Seuras Og

41. Buckwheat Zydeco – Beast of Burden

In 1988, Keith Richards tapped accordionist Stanley Dural, Jr. aka Buckwheat Zydeco, to work on his solo record Talk Is Cheap. Dural then returned the favor by covering “Beast of Burden” on his 1990 album Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire. With the track, Dural expertly fuses zydeco sounds with blues and R&B, delivering a wistful, bayou-flavored version of the song. – Curtis Zimmermann

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  12 Responses to “The Best Rolling Stones Covers Ever”

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  1. I love Devo’s version – not least for the way it utterly deconstructs the original, guaranteed in the late ’70s to annoy the hell out of grumpily aging classic-rockers – but The Residents’ version makes Devo’s sound like muzak.

    And then halfway through, Snakefinger comes in with a guitar solo that was probably used to test the durability of paint strips.

  2. Good choices, but I would have put Jane’s a lot higher on the list. If your readers are interested, here’s a ton more Stones covers…

  3. You know what this needs? Five or six more covers of “Beast of Burden.” Sheez …

  4. Montrose “Connection”
    Chubby Checker “Under My Thumb”

  5. You forgot Alex Chilton’s cover of Jumpin Jack Flash

  6. I can’t believe I’m not seeing anything about Bette Midler’s cover of Beast of Burden. Not only is it awesome, Mick is in her video.

  7. The Lantern by Mac Ribell, a 60´s brazilian fuzz band….

  8. Townes Van Zandt “Dead Flowers”

    The way Mick & Keith wanted to sound.

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