40. Alabama 3 – Hotel California (The Eagles cover)
Indefinable genre-crossing collective Alabama 3 had been around since the ’90s, but, in the year 2000, they were experiencing a sudden burst of success. The reason: Their song “Woke Up This Morning” had been selected as the theme for the new HBO show The Sopranos. Did they respond to this unexpected windfall by becoming more palatable for the mainstream? Hell no! They released this strange and abrasive electro-grunge “Hotel California” cover sure to piss off any Eagles fan within hearing range.
39. Señor Coconut – Trans Europe Express (Cumbia) (Kraftwerk cover)
Señor Coconut is really Uwe H. Schmidt, a German composer of electronic music. And if “German composer of electronic music” makes you think Kraftwerk… well, apparently it made him think Kraftwerk too. In 2000, he set out to cover a bunch of Kraftwerk songs in different genres. The result, El Baile Aleman (“The German Dance”), drew from south-of-the-border sounds like cumbia, cha-cha, and merengue. A novelty record in a way, but one that works shockingly well. My personal favorite is “Trans Europe Express,” but the album is best experienced as a whole.
38. Queens Of The Stone Age – Never Say Never (Romeo Void cover)
In 2000, Queens Of The Stone Age, still early in their career, released a couple great covers. “Who’ll Be the Next in Line,” recorded for the Kinks tribute This Is Where I Belong, is good, but their heavy cover of Romeo Void’s 1982 post-punk oddity “Never Say Never” is even better.
37. Lee Kernaghan – Lump (Presidents of the United States of America cover)
In the early 2000s, Australian radio comedian Andrew Denton posed a challenge to his music guests, assigning each an unexpected song to cover. The results, as you’d expect from the premise, are extremely hit or miss; covers generally work better when the artist wants to cover a given song. But gems occasionally emerged, like the folk-poppy version of “Lump” by Down-Under country star Lee Kernaghan.
36. Ozark Henry – Suffragette City (David Bowie cover)
It took me ages to track down the Belgian covers compilation Glittering 2000 for this list. Once I saw the premise, though – “Belgian Acts Cover Glam Classics” – I was determined. Needless to say, I’d never heard of any of the bands on this album (is “big in Belgium” the new “big in Japan”?). But Ozark Henry’s “Suffragette City” was worth the effort.
35. Perry Farrell & Exene – Children of Night (The Doors cover)
Picking anything off the Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate feels like cheating. The backing band, after all, is the three surviving Doors! They barely count as covers, and sure enough many tracks hew pretty closely to the originals. Not the contribution from Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell and X’s Exene Cervenka, though. For one, there is no Doors song called “Children of Night.” This recording is an inventive combination of three Jim Morrison compositions: “The Palace Of Exile,” “A Little Game,” and “Celebration of the Lizard King.” It’s strange and mesmerizing, just like Morrison himself.
34. The Be Good Tanyas – Coo Coo Bird (Trad. cover)
The traditional song “Coo Coo Bird,” probably best known from the Clarence Ashley version that appeared on the legendary Anthology Of American Folk Music compilation, has been covered countless times. I mean “countless” literally; the song predates the advent of recorded music by over 100 years, so who knows how many people performed it then. But, among the versions it’s possible for us to hear, I’ve never heard one better than the Be Good Tanyas’. (Honorable mention to another 2000 Tanyas cover of another oft-covered folk song: “Oh Susannah”).
33. Built To Spill – Cortez the Killer (Neil Young cover)
Neil Young tends to stretch out “Cortez the Killer” live. The longest version, according to fan site Thrasher’s Wheat, clocks in at just over 22 minutes. That tops this Built to Spill cover, but not by much. It comes in at 20:30 and is just as weird and woolly as any by Neil himself. Shakey would be proud.
32. The Ladybug Transistor – I Found a Reason (Velvet Underground cover)
The Ladybug Transistor hail from the Elephant Six collective that spawned Neutral Milk Hotel and of Montreal, and their sound fits right in that framework: A little bit twee, a little bit trippy. No surprise they’re Velvet Underground fans, either. This is the highpoint of the oddly-titled tribute album Rabid Chords 002: VU Tribute.
31. Ivy – Only A Fool Would Say That (Steely Dan cover)
The soundtrack to the 2000 Jim Carrey movie Me, Myself, & Irene consists largely of new Steely Dan covers. Fun idea, shaky execution. Smash Mouth covering the Dan? Pass. But Ivy, cofounded by the late, great Adam Schlesinger the year before Fountains of Wayne, makes the whole exercise worth it with their wonderful electropop “Only A Fool Would Say That.”
The list continues on Page 4.