30. Erykah Badu – Hollywood (Chaka Khan cover)
Erykah Badu was in good company on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled: Prince, Stevie Wonder, and, making her first recordings, India.Arie. Badu fans knew she was a big Chaka Khan fan; she’d covered Chaka and Rufus’ “Stay” already on a 1997 live album. Perhaps she connected with someone else who had a silent “h” in her name. Badu’s “Hollywood” cover, later re-released as a bonus track to 2003’s Worldwide Underground, featured so much of what was great about the so-called “neo-soul” movement without sounding dated at all.
29. Feed – Debaser (Pixies cover)
The unimaginatively-titled Tribute To The Pixies featured a bunch of Japanese rock bands tackling Pixies hits and deep cuts. Most of the covers don’t show more imagination the album title (it didn’t come within a million miles of our recent Best Tribute Albums list). But Feed, a short-lived Japanese band that had a brief flicker of turn-of-the-millennium indie success in America, brought an edgy electronic energy to wild “Debaser” cover.
28. Tica – Rock the Casbah (The Clash cover)
Coincidentally our second consecutive Japanese artist, the duo Tica released the great covers EP No Coast in 2000. They tackle The Beatles, Police, and Neil Young, but best of all is their intricate Clash cover that blends folk harmonies and light trip-hop electronica.
27. Guano Apes – Big in Japan (Alphaville cover)
I studied abroad in Stuttgart in the early 2000s, and German nü-metal band Guano Apes were huge over there. They never really broke beyond mainland Europe, despite sounding like any number of MTV bands in 2000. This heavy cover screams really screams “2000” – it just screams in general – but I still love it.
26. Raul Malo of the Mavericks – Downbound Train (Bruce Springsteen cover)
The first song on this list (but not the last) off the excellent album Badlands: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. “Wait,” Bruce fans exclaim, “‘Downbound Train’ wasn’t on Nebraska!” True, but like several other songs, it was first recorded for Nebraska before popping up on the Born in the U.S.A. album. Raul Malo’s cover takes one of the deepest cuts off that mega-selling album and makes it a contender to be one of Bruce’s best songs.
25. The Persuasions – Liberty (Grateful Dead cover)
1960s doo-wop a cappella group The Persuasions, still going strong in 2000, tackled a lot of the hits on Might As Well… The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead: “Ripple,” “One More Saturday Night,” etc. But they dug deeper into the catalog, too, as on “Liberty,” a late-period live Dead track the band never got around to recording. They didn’t need to. Five years after Jerry Garcia’s death, The Persuasions delivered the definitive recording.
24. The Monkeywrench – Sugar Man (Rodriguez cover)
If you know the name Sixto Rodriguez, it’s likely from the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man. Well, Mudhoney side project The Monkeywrench were way ahead of the pack, covering his song “Sugar Man” twelve years before the rest of the world caught on. It channels vintage ’60s psychedelic rock, like something Lenny Kaye might have slotted onto Nuggets.
23. Johnny Cash – The Mercy Seat (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
By the third volume, Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series began to show diminishing returns. Critics said the gimmick of Cash covering recent rock hits (though those only comprised a small fraction of the albums) had gotten old, and 2000’s third volume Solitary Man didn’t deliver a breakout hit like “Hurt” would on volume four. But it, like every volume, remains chock-full of classic Cash covers. His versions of “Solitary Man” and “I Won’t Back Down” (the latter with Petty himself) are classics, but tops of all is his haunted death-row lamentation “Mercy Seat.”
22. Echo & the Bunnymen – Hang On To A Dream (Tim Hardin cover)
Folk singer-songwriter Tim Hardin is best-known – by far – for “If I Were a Carpenter.” But Echo and the Bunnymen dug deeper than that oft-covered chestnut, using singer Ian McCulloch’s voice to full atmospheric effect on “Hang Onto a Dream.”
21. Alejandro Escovedo – Evening Gown (Mick Jagger cover)
Speaking of digging deep…a cover of a Mick Jagger solo song. Pretty sure even Mick himself doesn’t remember most of his solo songs, the occasional five-star Rolling Stone review notwithstanding. In Alejandro Escovedo’s hands, “Evening Gown” sounds like an Exile-era Stones classic.
The list continues on Page 5.