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40. Pentangle – Sally Go Round The Roses (The Jaynetts cover)

Pentangle were the archetypal acoustic jazz-folk fusion band of that limited genre, and a stark contrast to the more lumpen folk revisionings of folk-rock. That was due in no small part to the exemplary rhythm section of Terry Cox, drums, and Danny Thompson, still one of the prime go-to double bassists in the field, both experienced jazz musos. Hooking up with exemplary guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, and the pure singing tone of Jacqui McShee, their main hurdle was how they could be classified and promoted. Hindsight has been more fulfilling of Pentangle’s importance than the audiences of the day, with boxsets and records of live performance bolstering their reputations ever more with the passage of time. Familiar with their version of “Sally Go Round the Roses,” I had no idea it was a cover. Had I known, I would have expected it to be of an obscure folk song, or even traditional, not of the song now often deemed to be one of the prototypes for the Girl Group phenomenon that inspired this project. That the song was based loosely on the nursery rhyme of “Ring Around the Roses” may be why Pentangle got on board. – Seuras Og

39. Pearls Before Swine – There’s No Other (The Crystals cover)

Pearls Before Swine were psychedelic folk-rockers, a sort of hippie lo-fi dreampop band before the term existed. Their cult following is small but devoted enough that not only have they had their catalog brought back into print, but they also have had their barrel scrapings released as well. The Wizard of Is collects a bunch of odds and ends, along with a live concert that has a cover of the Crystals’ “There’s No Other (Like My Baby).” It’s hushed, tender, and weaves a remarkable spell in just under two minutes. – Patrick Robbins

38. She & Him – Oh No, Not My Baby (Maxine Brown cover)

If Zooey Deschanel ended up in a time machine, she would have fit right into the ‘60s. She’s shown her appreciation for the decade as early as her character’s karaoke performance of Nancy Sinatra’s “Sugar Town” in (500) Days of Summer. This cover comes from a 2014 She & Him covers album of “classics” and is right in Deschanel’s vocal wheelhouse. Straightforward and sultry, with a little extra jazzy backup instrumentation, this cover convincingly maintains the innocence of the baby in question. – Sara Stoudt

37. The Box Tops – You Keep Me Hangin’ On (The Supremes cover)

Around, but too young to have much sense of time, I have always thought this prime slice of slo-mo rock’n’soul beat the Vanilla Fudge to the post. A small disappointment, thus, to discover it came a year later; it may, therefore, be a cover of the Fudge’s cover, given the same speed and the moody organ intro. But there is a bit more joy, hope perhaps, given the lyric, the pop sensibilities struggling through the sludge of proto-metal posturings and emerging triumphant. Alex Chilton has the R&B chops to hark back to the original. For fact fans, this was the only track on the album, 1968’s Cry like a Baby, where the band itself actually backed Chilton, it being session men elsewhere on the record. The Box Tops had quite a short season in the spotlight; only Chilton had much life after the band wound down, as part of the energetic vibrancy of Big Star, the power pop jangle masters influencing any number of melodic guitar bands to this day. – Seuras Og

36. Those Darlins – Then He Kissed Me (The Crystals cover)

Nashville rock and roll band Those Darlins lower the temperature significantly on their cover of the Crystals classic to great effect. Performed live for Seattle station KEXP in a shady glen at 2014’s Pickathon Music Festival, Those Darlins present “Then He Kissed Me” as a small, jangly jamboree, reveling in the song’s joyful core with just a few acoustic guitars, a single maraca, and Jessi Zazu and Nikki Kavarnes singing in humble unison. The band maintain some of their trademark garage rock bite under the surface; watch in the video as Zazu and Kavarnes exchange a few cheeky glances here and there, keeping the sincerity in check. Thankfully, nothing comes across as disingenuous. Those Darlins find a balance in their cover of “Then He Kissed Me” that feels refreshing and suits the group’s idiosyncratic style perfectly — retro and modern, gritty but sweet. – Ben Easton

35. Bob Dylan & George Harrison – Da Doo Ron Ron (The Crystals cover)

Bob Dylan is a man of many talents, but his most curious gift might be his ability to successfully cover songs whilst remembering virtually none of the words. This has happened numerous times over the years, with live performances like his takes of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin’” or Van Morrison’s “And it Stoned Me” being prime examples. Miraculously, they both manage to be great covers, because Bob captures the essence of each song even when the words escape him.

The same is true of this cover of the Crystals’ 1963 hit “Da Doo Ron Ron,” performed with George Harrison at a casual studio jam in 1970. Sure, Bob rarely remembers more than the first line of each verse – which he repeats over and over before retreating as quickly as he can back into the ultra-catchy chorus – but the words aren’t the point here. It’s the sense of joy and abandon, and the company of his beloved friend George on guitar and backing vocals. Bob and George spend the entire song sounding as if they are about to burst out laughing, which they presumably did as soon as the tape finished rolling. – Tim Edgeworth

34. Genya Raven – Back In My Arms Again (The Supremes cover)

Genya Ravan came so close to stardom so many times. Atlantic Records macher Ahmet Ertegun signed her 1960s band Goldie and The Gingerbreads after seeing them open for the Rolling Stones. They released the song “Goin’ Back” before Dusty Springfield, but producer Andrew Loog Oldham withdrew it from the market due to lyric disagreements, paving the way for Dusty’s version to go top-ten three months later. When her band dissolved, Ravan’s luck continued as Clive Davis scooped her up for a solo deal. Oh, and along the way she produced the Dead Boys’ debut. Yet she never had a huge hit. This great Runaways-esque Supremes cover was yet another unfortunately failed attempt. – Ray Padgett

33. No Joy – He Cried (The Shangri-Las cover)

A drone-y, shoegaze cover of a ’60s girl group song doesn’t sound likely to retain much of the original, but in the case of No Joy’s version of “He Cried,” there’s a bit of logic. The original is decidedly un-poppy, seeming to drag itself across the finish line after three minutes of marching drums and swirling strings. No Joy replaces the drumbeat in part with a sludgy bass and then surrounds it with guitars that ring, then buzz, and then finally thunder. Throughout most of the song the vocals hover somewhere in the ether above the guitars but far off in the distance. The six minutes of noise sound nothing like a girl group single, but somehow there’s more than a bit of the original embedded within. – Mike Misch

32. The Morning Benders – He’s a Rebel (The Crystals cover)

Back before they changed their name to POP ETC, the Morning Benders recorded Bedroom Covers, a download-only selection of pop songs written throughout the previous half century. They have a rambunctious joy to them, particularly “He’s a Rebel.” Originally recorded by the Crystals – well, Darlene Love and the Blossoms, but that’s another story – the cover isn’t part-defiant, part-devoted, so much as it’s all-lo-fi-celebration, right down to the heavily echoed handclaps at the end. – Patrick Robbins

31. Aerosmith – Remember (Walking In The Sand) (The Shangri-Las cover)

If there’s anything that separates Aerosmith’s ‘70s era from their second and third comings in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it’s Steven Tyler’s voice. In the band’s early era, he was known for his unforgettable howls. Such was the case with the band’s bluesy cover of the Shangri-Las’ “Remember (Walking in the Sand).” Recorded for the 1979 album Night in the Ruts, the track features Tyler as his ‘70s best. He screams out “Whatever happened to/The girl that I once knew,” with enough passion to break 1,000 hearts and cause some major vocal cord damage. – Curtis Zimmermann

The list continues on Page 4.

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  4 Responses to “The Best ’60s Girl Group Covers Ever”

Comments (4)
  1. Great list, and even after your “honorable mentions” there are still a ton of other contenders. I personally like Jeff Beck and Imelda May’s version of “Remember (Walking In The Sand),” that you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjdkjGwGJQc.

    Also, speaking of the Shangri-Las, their version of “He Cried” was actually a cover of Jay & the American’s hit song, “She Cried,” which ITSELF was a cover! Thanks again.

  2. Imelda May & Jeff Beck – (Remember) Walking in the Sand
    Rachel Sweet – Be My Baby/And Then He Kissed Me
    The Stray Cats – You Can’t Hurry Love
    Lucius – You Keep Me Hanging On

  3. If we accept that My Sweet Lord was rightly found to be a reworking of He’s So Fine, then this cover that blends both those tunes qualifies for this list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90V–oQ8IwM

    Did I zip through your list too fast and miss where you featured Laura Nyro and LaBelle from Gonna Take a Miracle?

    I’ll pick this one from among the several options off the record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3JpeBNBrkg

    • You did miss it, Kevin; go to #20 and you’ll see we picked the same song as you, and then one more for good measure!

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