Spill Challenge No 22 – Covers That Never Were

Ah yes, the rules are the thing – erm…

A new challenge appears every Tuesday Morning or evening – or not.

No song may be chosen twice unless it is.

This week’s challenge is to choose a song that you would like to be recorded by somebody else.

For example it was once suggested in the letters page of the NME that The Smiths’ “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” would be the perfect vehicle for Shirley Bassey in her “I Who Have Nothing” mode.

Elvis Costello always hoped that Frank Sinatra would record “Almost Blue” but no joy there. Chet Baker recorded a lovely version of course.

So anyway, what other cover versions do you think should have happened but didn’t?

Who saw an open goal staring them in the face and said “Oh look, a squirrel?”

Clearly you’ll have to post another version of the same song unless you have mystical powers of which I know nothing.

Now, use your imagination and post songs you love that could have been even better.

Mitch can nominate himself but only if he then goes on to actually record the song.



(memo to self – never agree to do this again)

128 thoughts on “Spill Challenge No 22 – Covers That Never Were

  1. (memo to self – never agree to do this again)

    Nah, severin, you’ll be fine … never say never!

    Just enabling comments for now so that I can keep up to this tomorrow whilst whizzing around Greater Manchester.

    Time for bed.

  2. Hi Severin!!!

    What a great Idea for a challenge!!!

    I think I would like to see Torn by Natalie Imbruglia covered by YUI.

    I like the song Torn very much and I do like Natalie Imbruglia version of it, but I have always felt that it could be taken up a little in pace and if it was sung in a more rock like delivery it would not have that slightly helpless victim feel to it which it has in this version. #

    I am sure you know that YUI is my absolutely most favourite singer song writer and I think she could give this song a more rock and in defiant interpretation. You would never think of YUI as a victim in any of her songs, they are always about being brave, and taking control of your life even if times are difficult and I think she would have both the sensitivity and strength to give a really good and different interpretation to the track!!!

    Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

    YUI – Rolling Star (YUI in the style I would like her to cover Torn)

      • I like the Jewel version also, but for me it really similar to the Natalie Imbruglia version. I would like really like to see it given a different interpretation. I think YUI could do that!!!

        Do you know the version by Ednaswap who are the band who originally wrote it and recorded it? It is a rock song really and that is one reason I would like to see YUI do it, I think she could bridge between Ednaswap and the NI version.

      • Oh, so Jewel did do it then, i’m not completely nuts. Never knew of the original or that it was a cover. Have to say i like both Jewel’s and Nataile’s better than the original, bit too overwrought emo for me i think.

      • Oh….. maybe the world needs to solve hunger and find peace more……but you know what I mean I think so!!!

      • I didn’t like that original version! I wouldn’t have heard it and thought “that one needs covering” – shows how much I know.

        I do like Natalie Imbruglia’s version though and yep I do think that YUI could make a good job of it too.

    • That’s a good one Sakura, i’ve always had a soft spot for “Torn” and I think that Yui could definitely rock it up a notch!

      • Yes, I agree – I preferred the original (the doe-eyed one was getting on my nerves a bit) and think Yui could give the song a real blast!

  3. Came up with a good ‘un for Mazzy Star a while back, can’t think what it was now for the life of me, & it’s really bugging me. I hope you’re satisfied, Severin!

    Did think when listening to my excellent suggestion of Kenny Roger’s Ruby, that it would have been a good one for The Pogues to have a crack at.

    • The trouble with this topic is that the suggestions start to seem all too plausible and eventually you can become convinced that you have, in fact, heard that version.

      The Pogues? Ruby? Definitely got a copy of that somewhere, definitely……

  4. I had a dream once where I could hear Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit as a full on 60s rave-up. The obvious choice might have been the Who but it was more like a combination of early Yardbirds or Kinks with a bunch of fuzz.


    maybe like this

    with some Easybeats or Creation crunch. The only current band I can think of to play it would have been the White Stripes maybe or TP & the Heartbreakers. The Hives could maybe pull it off.

    • Damn, so I can’t choose “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Because I’ve always really, really wanted to hear Suede (c.1992) cover it as a piece of sleazy mid-tempo glam in the style of “The Drowners”. Bernard could do great things with the guitar riffs, and I can just imagine Brett singing “oh no, oh no, a dirty word” and “a mullato, an albino, a mosquito, my libido”.

      Off to think of something else now…

    • what a great dream, I dreamt I was at an unveiling of a new song by a band I love who were supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees the other night, if only I could hear it again, it was amazing!

      • Beth – I woke up with it as an earworm that was fading by my first cuppa no matter how hard I tried to hang on to it. Time to invent the dream recorder.

      • The bonkers American rock critic Lester Bangs used to go out with a girl who loved Neil Diamond (who he hated).

        He claimed that he once had a dream where she dispatched him to the nearest shopping mall to buy Neil Diamond recordings – anything at all by the man – but all he could find was “Neil Diamond sings Popeye The Sailor Man”.

        Years later on the “Saturday Morning” compilation Audiosurf did in fact record that song and did a pretty good job of it too.

    • The band I’m not going to mention this week did have that Dave Grohl sitting in on the drumstool at one point, after Stan had done his final flounce, so donds for them doing Smells Like Teen Spirit!

  5. I was just thinking the other day that for all of the covers of If I Were A Carpenter out there, i don’t think a definitive version has yet been done. But by who? Must give some thought.

    There are most likely many, many tunes the Stones in their prime, and the blessed Stevie Marriott should have covered, but it’s too late now :(. Must think on that one.

      • Stevie’s is great, of course! And i love the Four Tops too. And even Tim Hardin’s original is lovely. (I’m actually not all that big on Johnny and June, or even Robert Plant.) But i still think that there’s another version that we haven’t heard yet, but i don’t know by whom yet.

      • maybe. She could sing the phone book and have it sound good. Also thinking of some of the country guy singers with gorgeous voices – Lyle Lovett maybe, but if they left the country flavor out of it!

  6. I’m a big fan of RT and From Galway To Graceland is one of my favourites of his songs. And I also love Emmylou Harris and Boulder To Birmingham – it’s on her album Pieces Of The Sky, which is the first of hers that I bought. Here’s why I’d like Emmylou to have a go at FGTG:

    1 The titles are very similar, alliteration and all. Although Galway to Graceland is further.

    2 FGTG is a unisex song – it tells a story in which the narrator is not involved. (Unlike BTB.) So a woman can sing it just the same as a man.

    3 Both FGTG and BTB are about a woman’s response to the death of a famous musician – BTB is about Gram Parsons. (Both Gram and Elvis had posed in Nudie suits for album covers, as a matter of interest – to trivia fans anyway.)

    4 FGTG is a difficult song to sing and, much as I love RT, he sometimes doesn’t make a very good fist of it. As in this clip. But Emmylou, I feel, would be able to manage very well.

      • Basically, donds for Emmylou covering pretty much any song in the world – but this is a particularly beautiful prospect.

        I had a dream once where I met Nudie. He was a rather sad old man, and it meant a lot to him when I told him how iconic his suit for Gram Parsons had become.

      • no, the EmmyLou doesn’t seem to be working. Sounds like a good idea, I have to say, whilst I very much admire RT, I kind of agree with you about his delivery at times. Let’s see if this works

      • Oh, thanks, Beth!

        What’s more


        I can now access the YouTubes on my work computer! Have the evil IT guys relented, I wonder – or is it magic?

      • As covers go, I love Emmylou’s cover of “Tougher Than The Rest”, which doesn’t seem to be on youtube. But I actually love EBTG’s more:

        They win my award for both best ever cover artist (did I mention that already in another thread?) and most pointless cover artist – for their ludicrously faithful Only Living Boy In New York:

  7. The choice of song to be covered is fairly easy: I’d be delighted to hear anyone who can do a better job of Whitesnake‘s Crying in the Rain than they’ve ever done themselves. Potentially a great song, combining heavy riffs and David Coverdale’s usual blues obsessions, and they’ve never done it justice: original version on Saints and Sinners was wimpy and lumpen (I don’t think that’s completely oxymoronic), later version on the US-style Whitesnake album – chinhealer doesn’t come on here, does he? so I don’t need to apologise – completely lacked the right sort of grit and dirtiness, with too many keyboards and too much twiddly guitar…

    I can hear in my head how magnificent that ought to be. As for who might manage it, I’m thinking Four Track Demos-era PJ Harvey.

    • Björk has done some odd covers – not really for release though – I remember the Sugarcubes mucking about doing Dancing Queen.. and she merged into Downtown live a while back. There was also Ruby Baby and Can’t help loving that man on the Gling-Gló album.

      Strawberry Fields would be interesting…

      Now, this does it for me:

  8. I always thought Beyonce should cover Heaven17’s Temptation. Listen to H17 doing it now you can imagine the full-on Motown-esque bass/drums from Crazy in Love being done and the increasingly ascending strings as it reaches it’s climax.

    • I really like Temptation. I found myself pondering the lyrics the other day, probably while I was meant to be working. I’d always assumed it was about some kind of sexual encounter, but this being Heaven 17 it occurred to me it could be about consumerism or something like that. I could be wrong, I’ll have to read the lyrics but it would add a layer of irony to your fantasy Beyonce version. I would certainly listen to your fantasy version out of curiosity though.

      Rambling off on a tangent, I heard Jo Wylie or someone like that blabbering on a few years ago that Beyonce was “breaking the mould” because she admitted she struggled to stay thin….which is surely not breaking the mould at all, just trying harder to fit it…??! Anyway never mind…

    • I think Kim Myzell did a pretty good job of anticipating a Beyonce-like treatment of the chorus but it’d be interesting to pair BK up with a male singer to take on the verses….Prince?

  9. Beautiful topic, severin, whose only drawback is I’m going to have to restrict myself to one when I’m the sort of person who dreams up and bores people with the idea of Neil Diamond covering The Jam’s Tubestation (“they smelt of pubs, mmmnnn-and Wormwood Scrubs…”), Paul Weller in turn doing What’s Going On (he’d throw a “your” before the “philosophy” into the line “Don’t bother me with philosophy”), and George Formby doing Walk This Way (“It started with a little kiss, like this -” would be right down his street) or Hallelujah, but they’re all old obsessions, as is my Diamond-Dylan dream double album of reciprocal covers which I’ve bored on about here before. So here’s a not particularly out-of-the-box (i.e. I’m sure this was the sort of sound they were going for) but relatively recent epipihany: Scott Walker should have timewarped to do an all-guns-blazing cover of The Colourfield’s Things Could Be Beautiful:

    • OK – before anyone writes in – 9am brain blockage was at work remembering the bloody lyrics to What’s Going On, which are of course imprinted on the brains of most music fans, so of course the line was “Don’t punish me with [your, (sic Paul Weller)] brutality.” What’s going on indeed? Now then, where did I write down the names of my kids…..?

      • Roaming aimlessly on youtube a few months ago I found someone doing Killing Joke’s Requiem on ukelele…actually quite a serious version, I was very disappointed as I wanted to hear it done George Formby style.

      • Ah, the Diamond reputation for irredeemable cheese – a violation of justice so deep you’d expect Dylan to have written a ballad about it….

        ….and then for Diamond to do a cover of it from somewhere deep within the feverish reaches of my maniacal dreams, and then all shall fall before the crazed majesty of my lust for whimsical musical conundrums…!

        *cackles despotically*

  10. Given that Frank Zappa did the only version of Stairway to Heaven that doesn’t make me run screaming for the “off” switch when it comes on the radio, I wish he’d also covered Free Bird by Lynard Skynard. (I don’t dislike their version but I’m bored with it.)

  11. Up to about 10 years ago my wife had a well paid , secure ( ha !) job in IT which meant we were able to spend the equivalent of the Greek National Debt on exotic holidays etc ( hence all the talk about Hawaii from me).
    We would usually stop of in California on the way and, my daughter being of the right age, frequently frequented Disneyland.
    There one will encounter a tune so insidious, so “earwormy” that, I imagine, when I am on my deathbed and heading for the light instead of celestial voices and heavenly choirs I am going to be hearing-

    I’d “love” for it to be covered by Shonen Knife. I hope they never do though. It’s impossible to remove this song from my brain as it is.

  12. I have a bit of an agenda with this one. Some of you may know of my love for the band Jack and their lead singer Anthony Reynolds. Now, I adore his delivery and songwriting, but the world at large doesn’t. So I would like someone that the criticsand the CD buying public like to cover this song, Nico’s Children

    even though I doubt they could improve upon it. I’m thinking maybe Rufus Wainright? Or Brett Anderson? Patrick Wolf perhaps? I would love to wave a magic wand and get Anthony the recognition and financial reward I believe he deserves 🙂

    • Donds, as you know, for your agenda. I can’t imagine Rufus Wainwright in the housing benefit queue, but Brett Anderson would kill for a song like this.

      I’d like to hear The National do “Lolita Elle”:

      • great idea, The National are just the right sort of band for it. I actually don’t like Rufus Wainwright much (I prefer his Dad), but everyone else seems to which is why I suggested him, the National might break America for Jack though? It is a pipe dream.

        Lolita Elle is one of my other faves. Darn, now I have to go and listen to The Jazz Age and Pioneer Sounds.

        Perhaps Scott Walker could do a cover of a Jack song? Or Leonard Cohen now they might bring something new to the songs…

      • I always imagined Bright Eyes putting on Jack albums while writing his own.. but any covers would hit the same stylistic tics too closely.. Tom Waits to make the songs stink of Bourbon instead of Whiskey would be my pension fund choice!

      • thanks saneshane, I will check that out, I have a feeling it wasn’t quite my thing when I listened to some before, but I’m certain a ‘Spill list will be the best introduction.

      • I wouldn’t worry if it’s not for you – there is SO much music in the world – why waste time on trying to get into something? (when there’s plenty that feels right from the off)

  13. I often root for the underdogs and I’m partial to some of the work of much maligned and generally hapless 70s punk band Chelsea, and yet often find myself thinking that someone could have done a better job with their songs. I’ve seen them do one or two gigs in recent years that just made the original records sound old and creaky.
    My favourite song of theirs is their 1980 single Look At The Outside but I think they got that one exactly right so I’ll leave that one alone. Instead I’d go for their good-but-creaky 1977 single High Rise Living, and imagine it covered by Chaos UK in their late 90s period, a time when they were busy giving a gleeful boot up the arse to several old 70s punk gems. And while they were at it perhaps Chaos UK could have chewed up and spat out He’s A Psycho by the always-slightly-too-weedy Vibrators.

      • OT, but i’m off to ship my lens to LA now. Sold it Buy It Now in a day, which i sort of figured would happen going by the activity on there. Good – bought it for around $960 over a year ago and sold it for $840. Bad – totally hosed by EBay and Paypal fees. I had a guy in Mass offer to meet me halfway and give me cash, if it didn’t sell i might have been tempted to go that route even though i know it’s a major no-no.

    • High Rise Living !! Blimey that rings some bells from many a year ago. I still remember seeing Chelsea supporting the Stranglers in 1976 for the princely sum of 50p !!! They were excellent live in those days. Gene October was a bit of a character too and was infamous in my student circle for propositioning the bass player in our band !! He was not amused !! I always thought Right to Work was their best song and would like to hear Coldplay do a version of it. Would make interesting listening !

  14. How about ‘Glad to Be Gay’ by TRB covered by Queen whilst playing in Sun City sometime in the 80’s with extra cock-rock posturing and pyrotechnic emphasis on the ‘ay!’ at the end of each ‘sing if you’re happy that way’ line in the chorus :

  15. Tindersticks for the National for that matter would be nailed on for a cover of Witchita Lineman in their respective inimitable styles.

    Talking of fantasy cover versions that already exist (can’t help myself with this one – its brilliant and you couldn’t have made it up) – how about Divine Comedy doing Queens of the Stone Age. I never saw that one coming.

      • Not a massive fan of the Divine Comedy and would never have put them and QotSA together, but its total genius … and yes, i think its as good as the original (if not better).

    • That was pretty ace!

      I talked about Conor Oberst rebooting Glen Campbell’s career before, but the National would work well too!

  16. my bloody valentine’s – slow

    …covered by Grace Jones
    (with Tricky on backing vocals and Tony Allen on drums, Polly Harvey on guitar, Kim Deal on Bass with Björk and DJ Shadow doing ‘other noises’ (vocal and turntable))

    ….then they have to make it truly frightening… totally grooved bass heavy with traditional Afrobeat drumming structures and menacing lead vocals and heaving leaning/breathing, backing vocals and Björk style yelps and growls!

    that would make my morning.

  17. I love the Horrors, and i’d like to see them take on something dark and dramatic, maybe some Joy Division, like Transmission….

    ……bollocks! I’ve just checked Youtube and found that they did cover “No Love Lost”! It was back when they weren’t that good though, they could do a different track better justice now i’m sure.

    Anyway, here it is:

  18. Can I get another go as that one kind of exists? Good!

    I’d love to hear experimental drone favourites-of-mine Robedoor do a version of early experimental Japanese drone favourites-of-mine, Hadaka no Rallizes (裸のラリーズ or sometimes called Les Rallizes Denudes). It would have to be their signature track “Strung Out Deeper Than The NIght”

    Here’s the original:

    and here’s what Robedoor sound like for the uninitiated:

    • Hi Panthersan!

      I think to would be very interesting and to see how it was different and how the same!!!

      I love the original!!!

  19. My pick is Bat For Lashes’ hit “Daniel”, and my point is that it could’ve/should’ve been made available to Iggy Pop. Suppress Ms. Khan’s ethereal voice, and add Iggy’s world weary warble, and bingo!

    There’s a great cover of this (unfortunately not in Youtuby due to copyright infringement issues), by one Josh Reichmann, who has a sub-Iggy kind of voice (emphasis on sub), and does without most of the ambient synths. The song practically BEGS for Iggy to sing it, really…

    Here’s BFL’s original….

    • don’t you like Natasha’s singing? I’m having difficulty imagining anyone but her singing it, but if it were covered I’d prefer a radical interpretation.

      • Oh, I like her a lot! There’s nothing wrong about the song or her voice whatsoever. It was just a bit of a revelation for me, when I listened to that other cover I was talking about, that this would be perfect for Iggy just as well… Or even as a duet.

        For what it’s worth, I think Julianne Regan would be perfect for this song too…

      • ah, I see. In that case I reckon Diamanda Galas would make an interesting job of it too, she could probably make any song her own.

  20. OK, here’s a slightly weird one – but it does make sense when you listen to it. I always thought there was something ever so slightly The The-ish about Britney Spears’ Toxic. From the vocals, the title (toxic/infected), the instrumentation and arrangement. I could see Matt Johnson doing a sleazier more caustic version of this.

    • Maybe not as weird as you think, there was a vogue for a while for goth bands to do covers of Britney’s Hit Me Baby, One More Time , I must say that adapted quite well to a punk/goth approach. I can find no youtube evidence, it was mostly a live thing. A well written song can work in many different ways.

      • I think it was de rigueur for anyone who considered themselves even slightly alternative to cover Baby One More Time at one stage. I have a cover by Travis on my iPod. And I’m sure I heard other versions.

      • It ended up being radio one sessions – doing covers like that – but I think it started on XFM – come in do a track and then cover a pop tune – I have the flaming lips doing .. can’t get you out of my head.

        this is from an aol session and isn’t quite the same..

        and as was said before Sister of Mercy pretty much covered anything and made it their own.. would have liked to have heard them do either of those!

  21. This is basically, like, my dream job! I’ve often thought I’d like to be that person who chooses the winner’s song on X Factor. Or who chooses the material for a popular, but classy girl group.

    I have two choices – already!

    1) The comeback single for Girls Aloud. It has to be catchy, bolshie, in-your-face. It has to have various vocal lines running through it and the opportunity for some decent backing vocal harmonies. A (brilliant) cover would be particularly brilliant because Girls Aloud are notoriously bad at covers, so it would surprise everyone. And something ‘credible’ and unexpectedly underground would be doubly brilliant.

    The mistake they have tended to make so far is covering songs that have already been fantastically sung (by female singers) and basically reproducing them note for note: The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You”, Dee C Lee’s “See The Day”, The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump” (although I think the Aloud’s version of this is under-rated), er, Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”… They therefore need to take a brilliant, but perhaps poorly produced song and – in the parlance – “make it their own”. I hereby propose – and this may upset some in the audience – Girls Aloud covering Belly’s “Now They’ll Sleep”. In the glossy but hard-edged style of “Call The Shots” (with a bit of “Something Kinda Oooh” thrown in for good measure). A real, ballsed-out, synthed-up rocker. I think it just might work.

    2) I would offer this to David McAlmont if he fancies “Yes” Part 2, but that might be a bit predictable, so I would like to propose that Adele covers Wah!’s “Story of the Blues” in a “Rolling in the Deep” style.

    • I love Now They’ll Sleep, as I love every inch of Belly, but I think this is a phenomenal idea.

      In a related vein, I was sadly disappointed by the Sugababes’ version of “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” – which could have been great as a Sugababes record (though better, obviously, as a Girls Aloud one) but instead was done as fairly straight kindergarten indie.

      • Agreed, barbryn: Sugababes’ cover of IBYLGOTDF was a wasted opportunity. Too faithful, too hurried, completely lacking in sexy (which is surely what the ‘babes are about at their best).

  22. Oddly, severin’s comment about me nominating myself nearly happened. Back in the 70s, we did gigs for a promotor called Harry Holland. Harry went on to become Lloyd Honnegan’s manager and can currently be seen as a regular ‘extra’ on “Eastenders”. Anyway, we used to feature “Jungle Rock” in our set and he wanted us to record it. For various reasons, we didn’t and 3 months later, Hank Mizell’s original hit the sharts, 20 years after its first release!
    However, I’ve gone for one by Ral Donner, who was an Elvis soundalike. Ral’s first US hit was his cover of “Girl Of My Best Friend” which Elvis’s people never released on a 45 in America. Ral’s follow up was his only UK chart entry called “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Until You Lose It)” and I often wondered how it would have sounded by Elvis himself.
    Ral was such a fan, that he even died at the age of 42, like his mentor.

    • Brief personal snippet – Lloyd Honnegan’s sister Wendy was briefly a colleague of mine when we were both working at West Norwood Library.

      She was very proud of her brother and very distressed that few of us bookish types had heard of him.

      Anyway – Given that Elvis Presley has left it a bit late to cover this song, I think that Elvis Costello should be compelled to give it a go.

  23. I was wondering whether to choose an outrageous cover or one that would probably suit the covering artist. I decided on the latter and would love to hear Tom Waits do a version of “One for my Baby” by Frank Sinatra et al. If it’s anywhere near as good as his version of “Somewhere” then it will be a classic.

  24. This may be cheating since, like K D Lang, Johnny Cash could probably sing anything (and, in his later years, made an attempt to do so) but after hearing his version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”

    I had an inexplicable desire to see what he could make of this song. It’s been covered by a lot of people but I think it has a dark, morbid feel that is usually denied by the arrangement and production.

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