Every great artist making music in the world owes some of its influence to other great artist. Musicians convey their love in a variety of ways, from name-dropping their idols to paying tribute. Cover tributes can take a variety of forms: some bands merely try to impersonate their influence, while others put their unique twist on an old classic that redefines the song. A great cover band can capture the essence of a great song and make it their own, expose it to a new audience, and change the way you think about the song. The following bands take music they love, put it in a new context, and expose a hidden magic.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Formed from several bands (NOFX, the Foo Fighters, Lagwagon, No Use for a Name, and the Swingin’ Utters), the Gimmes do something many punk bands dare not do: admit to liking those great hits. The Gimmes play covers of showtunes, country classics, and oldies with more respect than irony. They make it cool to like Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, and the Dixie Chicks.
Led Zeppelin are inevitably mentioned on lists of best rock bands for good reason: Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs are unlike little else every heard before in rock ‘n’ roll, and Zep’s lyrics are still awe-inspiring to young people decades later. Dread Zeppelin pays tribute to them in one of the most interesting ways: Set Zeppelin songs to a reggae beat and have them performed by an Elvis impersonator.
Richard Cheese more ironic than respectful, but don’t let that turn you off to him. He performs a lot of modern hits of various levels of appropriateness in the context of a sleazy lounge singer, and suddenly bands like the Beastie Boys, Metallica lose their edge and become mockeries of themselves. Some of Richard’s (or Dick’s) best hits are “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails and “Creep” by Radiohead.
The String Quartet/ Vitamin String Quartet
Classical music is only cool under certain circumstances, sadly. You can put it in your sappy movies, or pair it with Metallica, but listen to instrumentals alone and you may as well spend the rest of your days as a shut-in with a dozen cats. Enter The String Quartet, who perform the greatest hits of your favorites (Bob Dylan, Animal Collective, 311, and Guns ‘n’ Roses) on viola, violin, bass, cello and the occasional other instrument. Think of it as hard rock that won’t distract you with lyrics, a classier way to rock out.
Hayseed Dixie/Iron Horse
Should it be surprising that two bands are making a go of bluegrass covers of heavy metal hits?
Say “Hayseed Dixie” out loud so it sounds like “AC/DC” and you’ll realize this band’s goal: to put a redneck twist on old staples of heavy metal. Both bands dip into the catalogs of Metallica, Black Sabbath, and 1980s hair metal.
Two of the most successful rock bands combined into one, Beatallica combines Beatles and Metallica music (as well as each group’s unique mythos) to create a quite listenable musical experience. Their famous songs include “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Lightening”, “I Wanna Choke Your Band”, and “Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Club Band”. The band has been given the thumbs up by Metallica, who have even offered to help in any possible legal battles regarding rights to Beatle’s music.
While not strictly a cover band, the most commercially successful a cappella group, famous for their work on “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”, has famously covered “Brown-eyed Girl” a Beatle’s medley, and “Stand By Me”. All sounds on their albums is created by the voices and appendages of Rockapella.