Enjoy The Silence – Tulia

Polish group Tulia released their cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence in 2017. The group use a traditional form of open voice or ‘white voice’ folk singing that has been practiced for centuries in Central and Eastern Europe. The style is thought to have originated from singing in the open air whilst working in the fields. Characteristics of the style – such as a long unison (the same notes sung one or more octaves apart) by loud, strong voices – were believed to have magical powers in traditional cultures.

Enjoy The Silence was released by Depeche Mode as the second single from their seventh studio album Violator in 1990. In 2004 the band released a re-interpreted version of the song – Enjoy The Silence 04 – as part of their Remixes 84-01 project.


Poker Face – The Heimatdamisch

Combining Bavarian brass and Slovenian folk music, The Heimatdamisch’s cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face appeared on their 2015 album Highway To Oberkrain.

Poker Face was Lady Gaga’s second single and appeared on her debut album Fame in 2008. The lyrics are a reference to the narrator’s bisexuality, undisclosed to their current lover. With sales of over 14 million copies and multiple platinum awards, it is one of the best selling singles of all time.

Life on Mars – John Keating

John Keating’s instrumental cover of David Bowie’s Life on Mars first appeared on the album Space Experience 2 in 1975.

Described by the National Jazz Archive as ‘Scotland’s greatest ever musical arranger’, Keating (1927-2015) also worked as a trombonist, band leader, composer and conducter as well as being the founder and principal of his own school of music in Edinburgh. In the 1960’s he composed the theme to Z-Cars, a long-running BBC television police drama, and in the 1970’s he arranged and conducted several in a series of albums for London Records called the Phase 4 series, which were notable for their use of early synthesisers. Phase 4 referred to a series of phases that the recordings would go through: initially processed on a ten-channel mixing desk – cutting edge technology for the time – they were then mixed to a four-track tape, before being mastered to two channels for pressing into stereophonic vinyl records. Phase 4 records were often used as demonstration discs in hi-fi stores because of their sound quality and innovative use of stereo effects.

David Bowie’s Life on Mars? first appeared on his 1971 album Hunky Dory. The song was written as a parody of Frank Sinatra’s 1969 recording of My Way. The music of My Way was taken from a 1967 French song called Comme d’habitude (‘As Usual‘). American singer/songwriter Paul Anka had purchased the rights to Comme d’habitude and rewritten the lyrics. Bowie had written his own lyrics to the music of Comme d’habitude called Even a Fool Learns to Love (never released) but as he could no longer use the melody he instead wrote Life on Mars? as a riposte to Sinatra’s version of My Way.

At the time Bowie described Life on Mars? as “A sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media.” In 1997, he added: “I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”

The line ‘Look at those cavemen go’ is a reference to the song Alley Oop, a one off hit for The Hollywood Argyles in 1960.

I Don’t Like Mondays – The London Symphony Orchestra (feat. The Royal Choral Society)

The Boomtown Rats’ I Don’t Like Mondays was inspired by the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego, California which took the lives of two adults and injured eight children and a police officer. The shooter, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer said, when asked by a reporter the reasons for her actions while she was still barricaded in her house, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day”. For Christmas a few weeks earlier she had asked her father, an alcoholic who she was forced to share a bed with, for a radio but instead he had bought her a .22 calibre rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition.

Bob Geldof said about writing the song with Rats co-founder and keyboardist Johnnie Fingers:

“I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with Johnnie Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said ‘silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload’. I wrote that down. And the journalists interviewing her said, ‘Tell me why?’ It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn’t an attempt to exploit tragedy.”

Geldof later admtted that he regretted writing the song because he had made Brenda Spencer famous, saying “[Spencer] wrote to me saying ‘she was glad she’d done it because I’d made her famous,’ which is not a good thing to live with.

I Don’t Like Mondays was released as a single seven months after the shooting. Brenda Spencer was charged as an adult for the crime and a day after her 18th birthday in 1980 she was sentenced to life imprisonment. She is still currently incarcerated, 40 years later, having been denied parole several times.

The London Symphony Orchestra’s re-imagining of I Don’t Like Mondays runs at more than twice the length of the original and was recorded for their Classic Rock – Rock Classics album, released by K-tel in 1981.

The London Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1904 and is the oldest of London’s symphony orchestras, also claiming to be the world’s most recorded orchestra; it has made gramophone recordings since 1912 and has played on more than 200 movie soundtracks, including Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Royal Choral Society is a London based amateur choir, originally formed in 1871 and still active today.

Founded in 1962, Canadian company K-tel began life selling household consumer products through informercials and live demonstrations. Their first product was a Teflon-coated frying pan. Diversifying into LPs, often prominently advertised on television, their sales increased from $23 million in 1971 to $178 million in 1981.

Then I Kissed Her – Ingemar Bergman Troop

The Ingemar Bergman Troop were a Swedish trio whose members had previously played together in the prog-rock band Kaipa. Their reworking of Then I Kissed Her was released as a single in 1981.

Then I Kissed Her was originally recorded by The Beach Boys in 1965 as a reworking of The Crystals’ 1963 Then He Kissed Me, co-written and produced by Phil Spector. The Beach Boys version changed the gender of the narrator and added new lyrics to tell the story from the boyfriend’s point of view.

In the mid 1970s Bruce Springsteen was performing the song live, changing the title and lyric to Then She Kissed Me which was also the approach taken by Kiss on their album Love Gun in 1977.

In 1988 a Bhangra inspired cover of Then He Kissed Me was released in the UK featuring Nazia Hassan, South Asia’s ‘Queen of Pop’, performing alongside Rita Wolf and Meera Syal under the group name Saffron.

My Favourite Things – The Sachal Jazz Ensemble and the Wynton Marsalis Quintet

This East meets West interpretation of John Coltrane’s arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things was performed at The Marciac jazz festival in 2013.

In the 1970s and 80s, the military dictatorship of Pakistan resulted in the rapid obliteration of art, culture and tourism. The Sachal Jazz Ensemble, an offshoot of the Sachal Studios Orchestra, was formed with the intention of bringing together some of Pakistan’s most established classical musicians, many of whom had been forced into menial work as a result of the countries political climate. The ensemble found new audiences in 2011 with their tabla and sitar-infused cover of Dave Brubeck’s 1959 composition, Take Five.

Wynton Marsalis is an American trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis has won multiple Grammy Awards, and composed the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The first Wynton Marsalis Quintet was formed in 1982.

My Favourite Things was composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the musical The Sound of Music, which debuted on Broadway in 1959. The film version, sung by Julie Andrews did not appear until 1965, four years after John Coltrane had recorded his 1961 arrangement for his seventh studio album. Inspired by Indian classical music, Coltrane described the track as “my favorite piece of all those I have recorded”.

In 2019 Ariana Grande based her song 7 Rings on the melody of My Favorite Things. 7 Rings topped the charts in fifteen countries.

I Think We’re Alone Now – Lena Lovich

A polymath with an amazing presence and expressionist image, Anglo-American musician Lena Lovich recorded her version of I Think We’re Alone Now in 1978. Although released as the A-side of a single for UK record label Stiff Records, an original song on the B-side – Lucky Number – became the bigger hit and the single was re-released with the sides reversed. As well as the English release she also recorded versions sung in German and Japanese. Prior to her first single for Stiff Records, Lovich had attended art school, busked on the London Underground and appeared in cabaret clubs as an ‘Oriental’ dancer. She had also met Salvador Dalí at his home in Spain, worked as a go-go dancer with the Radio One Roadshow, toured Italy with a West Indian soul band, recorded screams for horror films and written the lyrics for disco hit Supernature.

I Think We’re Alone Now was originally a 1967 US hit for psychedelic pop/rock band Tommy James and the Shondells, who a year later had a second hit with Mony Mony, covered in 1981 by Billy Idol.

I Think We’re Alone Now was a hit again in 1987 when it was covered by 15 year old US pop sensation Tiffany, who covered the song a second time in 2005.

Other notable artists who have covered I Think We’re Alone Now include The Rubinoos in 1977, Snuff in 1989, Girls Aloud in 2005 and Greenday’s Billie Joe Armstrong in 2020.

Bittersweet Symphony – Booost / The Last Time – The Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Swiss reggae band Booost covered The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony on their eponymous 2013 album.

The string loop of Bittersweet Symphony, released by The Verve in 1997, is sampled from the 1965 Andrew Oldham Orchestra’s instrumental cover of the Rolling Stones’ 1965 song The Last Time, itself inspired by This May Be the Last Time, a 1954 recording by the Staple Singers which was an arrangement of a traditional song.

The Verve negotiated rights to use a six-note sample from Oldham’s recording from Decca Records, but they did not obtain permission from former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, who owned the copyrights to the Rolling Stones’ pre-1970 songs. Klein refused to grant a licence for the sample, leading to The Verve relinquishing all royalties from the song and the songwriting credits being changed to Jagger-Richards. In 1999, Andrew Oldham successfully sued for his own royalty share which he had never received, and for many subsequent years all songwriting royalties from Bittersweet Symphony went to Jagger-Richards-Oldham.

It would be a further twenty years before an agreement was finally reached, with The Verve receiving a share of the royalties to Bittersweet Symphony from 2019 onwards.

Neither the late Shirley Joiner, the arranger of The Staple Singers’ This May Be the Last Time, or her estate has ever received any royalties from any of the songs inspired by her original arrangement.

Whole Lotta Love – Alpha Blondy

African reggae artist Alpha Blondy’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love featured on his 2018 album Human Race.

In 1962 Muddy Waters recorded a blues called You Need Love with lyrics by Willie Dixon for Chess Records. In 1966 The Small Faces recorded a version of the song as You Need Loving for their debut album. Led Zeppelin’s recording of Whole Lotta Love appeared on their second album Led Zeppelin II in 1969 and was released as a single in 1970. The track frequently places in the top ten greatest rock songs of all time. Long-running UK chart show Top of The Pops used versions of the song as theme music for most of its history.

Similarities between Whole Lotta Love and You Need Love led to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin in 1985 which was settled out of court in favour of Dixon for an undisclosed amount. On subsequent Led Zeppelin releases, Dixon’s name is included on the credits.

Robert Plant later said about Led Zeppelin’s version of the song: “Page’s riff was Page’s riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, ‘well, what am I going to sing?’ That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that … well, you only get caught when you’re successful. That’s the game.”

Your Time is Gonna Come – Sandie Shaw

Sandie Shaw’s version of Your Time is Gonna Come was the first ever cover of a Led Zeppelin song on record and appeared on her self-produced 1969 album Reviewing The Situation, her last album of the 1960s. Although she continued to release singles throughout the 1970s, it would be over a decade before her next full album release, Choose Life, in 1983.

Your Time is Gonna Come was originally recorded by Led Zeppelin in 1968 and appeared on their eponymous debut album in 1969. After its recording it was never played live by the band.

Rock El Casbah – Rachid Taha

Rachid Taha (1958-2018) was an Algerian musician and activist based in France. In the late 1970s Taha founded a nightclub called Les Refoulés (The Rejects) where he would DJ Arabic pop classics over Led Zeppelin, Bo Diddley and Kraftwerk backbeats. Taha later became the lead vocalist for the Arab-language rock group Carte de Sejour, meaning Green Card or Residence Permit, who were strongly influenced by The Clash.

In 1981 Taha met The Clash in Paris before they were due to play at the Théâtre Mogador. Taha gave them a copy of a demo tape by Carte de Séjour. “They looked interested,” remembers Taha, “but when they didn’t get in touch, I thought nothing of it. Then, a few months later, I heard Rock the Casbah…Maybe they did hear it after all.”

Unlike the majority of The Clash’s songs, the music for Rock the Casbah was written by the band’s drummer Topper Headon. Before hearing Headon’s music, Strummer had already come up with the phrases ‘rock the casbah’ and ‘you’ll have to let that raga drop’ as lyrical ideas that he was considering for future songs. After hearing Headon’s music, Strummer went into the studio’s toilets and wrote lyrics to match the song’s melody.

In the mid 2000’s Mick Jones joined Rachid Taha for several performances of Rock El Casbah in support of the Stop The War Coalition who had formed to protest unjust wars, including The War on Terror instigated by the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

Summertime – Rosinha De Valença

Born in Rio de Jainero in 1941, Rosinha de Valença was a Brazilian composer, arranger and musician. She was considered one of the best acoustic guitarists in Brazilian music. At the age of 50 she suffered brain damage as the result of a heart attack and fell into a vegetative state. She died of respiratory failure 12 years later in 2004.

Summertime was originally composed as an aria by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera ‘Porgy and Bess’.