“Pigs” is one of the three epic-length tracks from Pink Floyd’s mammoth Animals, an unauthorized reinterpretation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm as three prog suites (book-ended by two unrelated love song fragments for reasons only Roger Waters knows). Instead of Floyd’s animals representing archetypes in the USSR, the animals in this version represent archetypes in western capitalism. Animals is one of those Pink Floyd albums you discover later in your fandom, because there are basically no short songs – it’s an album that hardcore Floyd fans end up insisting is a favourite, but it usually takes time to get there.
Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
It’s the longest day of the year, so we have time to explore one of the longest songs we’ve ever celebrated in the long history of this website. Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” clocks in at 23:31. It occupies all of side two of their 1971 album Meddle, and it occupies the minds of the many Floyd fans who consider it the band’s peak achievement.
Thanks to several decades of live recordings, a kind of connoisseurship has developed around the song in its different iterations. Devotees weigh the pros and cons of the early-to-mid-70s concert recordings that feature “Echoes,” and compare/contrast those with the shows from the band’s post-Roger Waters period, and how they all stack up against the original studio version.
That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.
How does an obscure song from the mid-70s, “There’s No Way Out of Here,” receive several million hits on music streaming platforms? Like this: someone adds it to their Pink Floyd playlist or station. Which is entirely fair: the song nestles in quite comfortably between “Comfortably Numb” and “Money,” or any other Floyd standard you can name. Trademark David Gilmour vocal and guitar work? Check. Dire and heavy-handed lyrics? Yep, Roger that. Casual listeners naturally assume it’s a deep cut from The Wall, or Animals, or Wish You Were Here.
But of course it’s not Pink Floyd. Any die-hard Floyd fan will tell you the song is from David Gilmour’s overlooked self-titled solo debut from 1978. Some of those fans will further explain (whether or not you asked) that it’s about Gilmour’s feeling of entrapment with the machinery of major stardom. Or it’s Gilmour’s reflection on the fate of his friend Syd Barrett.
Wait, though: even the well-informed fans often overlook the basic facts: “There’s No Way Out of Here” is not a David Gilmour song either, and it’s not from ’78. The music and lyrics are by Ken Baker, whose band Unicorn recorded it in 1976 for their third album, Too Many Crooks.
No, it’s not quite a Pink Floyd reunion, but both Roger Waters and David Gilmour have – separately – taken to social media in the past week with new cover songs.
In 2019, Cover Me wrote about more new covers than in any year in our 12-year history. I know; I checked the numbers. Our News team wrote amazing stand-alone stories on sometimes tight deadlines, adding context and research beyond “here’s a new cover” quickie. Plus, we rounded the best of the best into monthly 30+ lists, and added even more for supporters of our new Patreon. Even our Features team, who ostensibly couldn’t care less whether a cover came out last month or last century, seemed to be constantly finding new things to slip into their deep dives.
The point here is not to toot our own horn… well, that’s not entirely the point. What I want to do is emphasize just how high the bar to appear on this list has been set. Calling these covers great almost does them a disservice. There were way more than 50 great covers in 2019. In fact, we’ve already got 150 more bonus tracks lined up for Patreon supporters (which, I know I mention it a lot, but it’s how we keep this site afloat, so please consider supporting us if you like what we do). Honestly, we could throw all of the above in the trash and still come up with a pretty impressive batch of 2019 covers. But these 50 below – these are the cream of the crop, the belles of the ball, the toppermost of the poppermost.
You won’t agree. I guarantee it. As you go through this list, there will be at least one cover you hate. Maybe more than one. And if you followed cover news yourself this year, you’ll probably be outraged when a personal favorite placed too low, or didn’t make it at all. Great! That’s the beauty of these lists: It’s all opinion. Extremely educated opinions in our cases – I can pretty much guarantee that we collectively listened to more 2019 covers than any other site out there – but opinions nevertheless. So dive in and discover something new. Then help us discover something new by adding your own favorites in the comments.
– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).
Today’s question, courtesy of Cover Me staffer Jordan Becker: What was the best/worst experience you have had seeing a “tribute” band?