The Best Rolling Stones Covers Ever

 Posted by at 10:31 am
Jul 262018
40. The Feelies – Paint It Black

A bleak meditation on loss, featuring Middle Eastern and Indian sounds and instruments, the song nevertheless was a number one hit for the Stones in 1966. The Feelies’ version, recorded in 1990 and appended to the CD re-release of their 1980 debut Crazy Rhythms (which already had a Beatles cover), features a different lineup from the album, and a more mature-sounding Glenn Mercer. There are hints of the original’s exoticness, melded with the Feelies still-crazy rhythms and Velvet Underground influences. – Jordan Becker

39. Twilight Soul Cats – Satisfaction

A sultry, groovy soul jam that kicks off with a reggae beat and chugs along for nearly five minutes. Guitarist and co-founder Tom Ishizuka’s arrangement is extended by an instrumental break featuring some nice keyboard work by co-founder Ed Roth. But it’s singer Tony Grant – a former front man for R&B act Az Yet – who contributes the smooth vocals that make this one-and-done 2015 single special. Ishizuka also released a reggae cover of Keith Richards’ “Happy” that featured longtime Stones backing vocalist Bernard Fowler. – Frank Minishak

38. argonaut&wasp – Beast of Burden

Am I rough enough? Not even close on this supersmooth groove. I actually had a hard time deciding between two excellent dance-pop covers of this tune (so honorable-mention shoutout to VYD). argonaut&wasp takes the lead by blending the melody and funky guitar lines so seamlessly that, if you didn’t know the original, you might not guess this was a cover. Just a Passion Pit-style festival banger with some oddball lyrics. – Ray Padgett

37. Patterson Hood – Loving Cup

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers performed a set of Stones covers in 2006 at a benefit for the Athens Area Homeless Shelter, backed by many of the then-Truckers with Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools. The set opened with a fun, sloppy version of “Loving Cup,” a ballad from Exile on Main St that may or may not be about sex (but probably is). The whole performance is available on, and it sounds pretty much exactly like what you’d expect from a bunch of probably-inebriated pros playing Stones covers to a probably-equally-inebriated crowd. – Jordan Becker

36. David Bowie – Let’s Spend the Night Together

Aladdin Sane saw David Bowie finding sex and drugs and rock and roll everywhere he went, and what he didn’t find, he brought with him. He certainly brought it to “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” In the sixties, the song was risque enough that Ed Sullivan made Mick sing “Let’s spend some time together” instead. Six years later, it was Bowie changing the words, exalting “our kind of love” and changing “my tongue’s getting tied” to “my tongue’s getting tired.” Also, the cover’s jumpy as a cocaine heartbeat. Even those who didn’t know why, knew why. – Patrick Robbins

35. Kiss – 2000 Man

Kiss’s 1979 album Dynasty may be their most divisive. The album’s disco-grooved opening track “I Was Made For Loving You” divided fans, critics, even the band members themselves. If disco ain’t your thing, my advice: skip straight to track two, a cover of the Stones’ “2000 Man.” For the song, the band swings right back into classic Kiss mode. With Ace Frehley on vocals, they crank out a loud and raunchy version of the song that would have been right at home on the band’s self-titled debut. The tune would also prove to be historically significant for the group. It was the first song the original lineup played together when they reunited for a taping of MTV Unplugged in 1995. – Curtis Zimmermann

34. Jason Isbell – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

To me, the Stones were at their best when Mick Taylor was in the band, and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is one the songs that showcases why. Taylor’s guitar solo over the long Santana-esque jam that ends the song elevates it from the ordinary level of greatness that the band was functioning at during that period to extraordinary. It is also a song that Jason Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit, have often played live. I saw them do it at Lincoln Center as part of a taping for PBS’ Live at Lincoln Center, and was suitably blown away. Sticky Fingers, the album that the song appears on, was recorded in part at Alabama’s famed Muscle Shoals Studios, near where Isbell, and other members of his band, grew up. – Jordan Becker

33. The Soup Dragons – I’m Free

When I was in college, the Soup Dragons had a college radio hit with “I’m Free,” a baggy-pants boogie that felt and sounded like a big wet rubber band, sweating and stretching its skinny self across the airwaves. As a music snob in training – and one whose brother had a cool record collection – I felt privileged to know that they were covering a Rolling Stones song, a deep cut off December’s Children. It took me a while to realize that it was a deep cut for a reason – there really wasn’t much to it. A declaration of freedom, followed by a demand to be held and loved – ta-da? The Soup Dragons wisely made it all about the music, and in their hands the lyrics were now an invitation to join their world. That’s a really cool transformation. – Patrick Robbins

32. Otis Redding – Satisfaction

That Keith Richards claims to have written one of the greatest rock songs of all time in his sleep without remembering having done so tells you a lot about Keith Richards, and probably pisses off every wannabe songwriter. According to the story, Richards originally intended the opening fuzzy guitar riff to be played on horns, and Otis Redding’s version, released only a few months after the original, did just that. Apparently, though, Redding didn’t know the lyrics, didn’t really care to use a lyric sheet, and basically made up his own. It is, of course, amazing, because it was Otis Redding. Ron Wood has acknowledged that the Stones’ live arrangements were influenced by Redding’s (by the legendary guitarist Steve Cropper). – Jordan Becker

31. The Animals – Paint It Black (Live at Monterey Pop 1967)

The 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival and documentary showcased the burgeoning San Francisco hippie music and fashion scene to a worldwide audience and turned artists like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin into superstars. With so many career-defining performances, it’s easy to overlook Eric Burdon and the Animals’ thunderous cover of “Paint It Black.” The group originally recorded the track for their 1967 album Winds of Change, but it’s the live version that is truly memorable. The group opens with an extended violin solo and then Burdon seemingly channels his inner demons through the lyrics. With this performance, they transform the track into a full-on psychedelic powerhouse that encapsulates the sound and fury of the era. – 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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