Jul 222022

Go back to the beginning

20. Joss Stone – Fell in Love With a Boy

Joss Stone is one of those artists who just seems to rub folk the wrong way. Despite the credits and plaudits given to her soulful phrasing, no matter what she does and whomever she works with, their credibility never quite carries over into her own persona. Let’s get it straight: The girl can sing, and what she does with this uptempo thrash is nothing short of transformative. This hit comes from her debut, The Soul Sessions, where she was taken under the wing of R’n’B diva Betty Wright and plonked in a studio of Miami’s finest crop of vintage sessioneers. Many were swift to let the musicians and production team take the credit, rather than her powerfully unadorned voice, free of the melisma her US contemporaries preferred to layer on in spades. Mind you, plenty didn’t like her for letting a White Stripes song in, alongside songs made famous by Bettye Swann, Carla Thomas and Aretha. We here at Cover Me thrive on that sort of choice. It is true, the voice is a bit too good, lacking much of the frailty that gives the edge over otherwise faultless technique, but that is a small concern and certainly forgives her the tinkering with the lyric. – Seuras Og

19. Film Score 5 – Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

Are Film Score 5 a real band? The only entry on their Spotify page is this Stripes cover. Ditto Discogs. This must be some musicians recording under a different band name; no way is this lush, intriguing arrangement the work of a first-timer. If anyone knows who’s actually behind this one, drop a note in the comments! – Ray Padgett

18. Common I – I Think I Smell a Rat

“I Think I Smell a Rat” is a great example of Jack White’s ability to wring a lot out of not very much; very few lyrics, a lick, and a chord sequence is all it is, but it’s pretty memorable. Greek prog rockers Common I don’t want to play it so simple. They play with the tempo, the volume and the arrangement, adding little bits of new music and extending the song by over 50%. The fierceness of the original is replaced by all sorts of different emotions, lots of musical technique and only a little bit of fealty to the original basic lick and chords. It’s like a mini-prog-suite version. It’s wacky. In a good way. – Riley Haas

17. Wanda Jackson – In the Cold, Cold Night

Only one performer featured on the aforementioned Rockin’ Legends Pay Tribute to Jack White has had their full-length record produced by White himself: Wanda Jackson, the Queen of Rockabilly. Jackson’s version of “In the Cold, Cold Night” is tricked out with spectral production (and backup vocals) from Shooter Jennings, who, like Jack, is himself an auteur at the midpoint of rock and classic Americana. Yet Jackson’s cover transcends the looming shadows of both of her young acolytes here. Instead, she finds some kinship with one of Jack’s most fundamental inspirations, and the original track’s vocal lead: Meg White. In terms of arrangement, the cover doesn’t go much beyond the original Elephant take. But Jackson’s swaggering cover still manages to pay some tribute to one of Meg’s rarest, and perhaps finest, feature moment in the White Stripes canon. – Ben Easton

16. EarthTing x Tedi Mercury x Alien Cake Music – Seven Nation Army

Alien Cake Music is an underground record label and artist known for their cosmic Lofi/Grunge covers. This chill version of the oft-covered song has a buzzy bass, a forward jazz drumset with whisks on the snare, and an echoey piano to carry the melody. Later, a trumpet with effects comes into the mix and vibes with the rest of the instruments. The vocal “ooo”s are the icing on the cake in the second half of the song. This slow-building, grooving version sounds like an original that we’d find on a hip Soundcloud account. – Aleah Fitzwater

15. The New York No Stars – The Big Three Killed My Baby

One of few protest songs the White Stripes ever wrote, “The Big Three Killed My Baby” captures everything that made the band stand out in the late ’90s, no matter what you know about the lyrics. Unbelievably primitive, loud, seemingly recorded badly on purpose, it was somehow released as a single. Now imagine if the Cowboy Junkies covered it. That gives you some idea of the approach the New York No Stars take, only this is way faster than the Junkies would play it. It’s laid-back, there’s room to breathe, the vocal is almost sultry. It’s a very long way from Motor City garage rock. – Riley Haas

14. Long Goners – My Doorbell

“My Doorbell,” from 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, tells a pretty simple story: A guy is waiting for his doorbell to ring after what sounds like a fight with his woman. The bell doesn’t ring, leaving him to consider the situation. Musically, it’s a swampy stomp, with bass, drum and piano predominating. The Long Goners’ version turns it into a pure country ballad, sung by a woman, without any gender switch. Who are the Long Goners? I have no idea. This was released on a tribute album, Indie Translations of the White Stripes as well as on a compilation of “Pickin’ On” tracks called Eclectic Bluegrass Collection Vol. I, but the band members are not identified. There’s a website for a band with that name, which doesn’t identify the band members (or list any of their releases) and describes them as bringing a “classic R&B/Soul/Pop Sound to the Country Music capital,” which doesn’t completely track the country sound of this cover. However, their website includes posts from a singer named Mary Beth Anthony. So, maybe she’s the singer. If she is, she did a very nice job. – Jordan Becker

13. Rejected Youth Nation & Cyril Neville – You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)

Omari Neville is a drummer, bandleader and part of a long legacy of musical Nevilles in New Orleans. His funk-metal band Rejected Youth Nation (now known as Omari Neville & the Fuel) were looped into participating in that Rockin’ Legends compilation. Though the group’s song choice is a relatively deep pick (featured second in the tracklist of Icky Thump), “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is also one of White’s most pleasingly straight-ahead power ballads. The group offer a take that’s loose and muscular–something resembling, well, funk-metal. Though Rejected Youth Nation is likely the greenest of the groups featured on Rockin’ Legends, the album’s titular Legend comes in the form of Cyril Neville: he delivers a completely electric lead vocal, uncovers the song’s unexpectedly deep wells of soul. – Ben Easton

12. Chris Farren – Broken Bricks

This cover is part of a series of “blind” covers where the performers cover a song they haven’t heard, and decide on a sound based on the lyrics alone. This premise results in a dream-pop approach to the heavy-rock original, the opening question more whimsical than cautionary. From grungy and raw to folksy and dance-club-y, this version still maintains that “storytelling of the downtrodden” approach to the song, albeit with a more positive attitude. “Yeah, yeah, yeah” we’ve been through it, but we won’t be “demolished.” – Sara Stoudt

11. The Oak Ridge Boys – Seven Nation Army

The Oak Ridge Boys are a country-gospel group with origins dating back to the ‘40s. Multiple lineup changes later, they scored numerous secular country hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s and have continued to tour well into the new millennium. The group’s 2009 cover of “Seven Nation Army” might be the only song in their repertoire that you can headbang to. With each subsequent verse the song seems to rock harder and harder – like a great metal song without the distortion. The group recreates Jack White’s iconic riff using the piano and their voices. The eerie end result plays more like a horror movie soundtrack than a song for the pews or the honkytonks. It’s far outside the group’s musical comfort zone, yet still somehow seems to work. – Curtis Zimmermann


Cover Me is now on Patreon! If you love cover songs, we hope you will consider supporting us there with a small monthly subscription. There are a bunch of exclusive perks only for patrons: playlists, newsletters, downloads, discussions, polls - hell, tell us what song you would like to hear covered and we will make it happen. Learn more at Patreon.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>