Cover versions of  original songs are regarded by some as a valid re-interpretation, or sincere rendering of a piece of music that already exists, others see covers as derivative, wholly lacking in creative merit or artistic worth, and yet some of the most obscure songs that have been re-birthed via covers, are admired for their uniqueness and often uncanny sense of imbuing a song with a completely different persona.

Cover versions abounded in the Ausmusic of the 1950’s and 1960’s as early rock and roll and then beat music transformed the local music scene and existing songs were pilfered from all over the world and covered by local artists. We should celebrate the great cover versions of songs that enabled our local musicians to find an audience in a market already crowded by at first American and then British performers, and nourished the emergence of a more confident and  capable local music industry that nurtured creativity and encouraged others to take great original Australian songs to the rest of the world in the next 50 years.

Let’s stop the “covers cringe” and nominate our top ten Ausmusic singles covers of all time, and here they are from 4TR:

Top 10 (Original versions in brackets)

  1. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia (Ednaswap) +
  2. Funky Town – Pseudo Echo (Lipps Inc.)
  3. Locomotion- Kylie Minogue (Little Eva)
  4. The Horses – Darryl Braithwaite (Ricki-Lee Jones)
  5. My Island Home – Christine Anu (Warumpi Band)
  6. I Get a Kick Out of You – Gary Shearston (Ethel Merman)
  7. Eleanor Rigby- Zoot (Beatles)
  8. Dear Prudence – Doug Parkinson In Focus (Beatles)
  9. It Ain’t Necessarily So – Normie Rowe (The musical “Porgy and Bess”)
  10. Black Betty- Spiderbait (Ram Jam)

Top 10 Honorable Mentions

  • Poison Ivy – Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs (The Coasters)
  • The Day You Went Away – Wendy Matthews (Soul Family Sensation) *
  • You’re So Vain – Chocolate Starfish (Carly Simon)
  • Forever Young – Youth Group (Alphaville)
  • Shout – Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays (The Isley Brothers)
  • Don’t You Know Yokomo – Dinah Lee (Dee Dee Sharp)
  • Hitchhiker – Bobby and Laurie (Roger Miller)
  • Big Time Operator – The Id and Jeff St. John (Zoot Money)
  • In the Summertime – The Mixtures (Mungo Jerry)
  • If Not for You – Olivia Newton- John (Bob Dylan)


+ ARIA Single of the Year 1998

* ARIA Single of the Year 1993

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