Tracks of 2014: Under the Covers

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Our look back at the best tracks of the year continues with some of the year’s best cover versions.

Brownout - The Wizard “Brown Sabbath”, eh? An, erm, interesting idea: a latin funk outfit covering one of metal’s sacred cornerstones. But a good song is a good song in any genre, as this horn-honking, staccato hammering of Ozzy and co proves.

Chuck Billy - Thriller A metal tribute album to Michael Jackson was another questionable idea, but the schlock horror theme of this Jacko classic at least lends itself to a doomy, mud-caked revamp. It isn’t remotely subtle, but what did you expect from the supersized Testament frontman?

Brent Hinds - Ain’t No Sunshine The Mastodon frontman threw fans a curveball with his album of covers, what with most of them coming from genres a fair way from home territory. But this version of the Bill Withers classic shows you can turn a great, emotionally resonant voice to pretty much anything.

Rascal Flatts - Kickstart My Heart The squeaky clean country pop outfit gave this Motley Crue favourite a shiny Nashville treatment, and it’s not quite the car crash you might have feared. They even throw in a bit of banjo fret-shredding at the end. Good attitude.

Thunder - Long Train Runnin’ (Live) Danny Bowes’ formidable pipes are well-equipped to tackle this Doobie Brothers classic, and when you listen to the vocal line you realise that with a different backing, it was always a hard rock song waiting to be sung.

The Winery Dogs - Stand His new band with Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy have already written some smart songs in their own right, but they evidently don’t mind ex-Poison man Richie Kotzen delving into his personal back catalogue, a highlight of which is this self-empowerment anthem.

Blues Pills - Elements And Things Tony Joe White’s singer-songwriter original from 1969 always had a touch of trippiness about it, and that’s what these psychedelically inclined Swedes tap into on a feisty Jefferson Airplane-style reading of it.

Alejandro Escovedo - We Used To Be Friends This Dandy Warhols single seems a left-field choice of cover for the Chicano country-punk veteran, but he repurposes the cool, sarky original with a sense of wounded yearning that’s entirely his own.

Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox - Sweet Child O’ Mine Postmodern Jukebox specialise in New Orleans-style big band jazz reworkings of popular classics, and the impressive blues voice of Miche Braden really helps to light up this horn-wailing Dixieland number.

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - Straight Up As part of an album devoted to songs made famous by female vocalists, these cover specialists take Paula Abdul’s kittenish ‘80s hit and reshape it effortlessly into a thundering, speed-addled mosher.