I love a cover

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I love a good cover. Today, I ran across this list of the best and worst covers of all time and it got me thinking about the art of covers. I know people who hate them, regardless of quality and a lot of people just don't seem to get the point. To some degree it goes back to that punk ethos of DIY, and the frequently heard defense for many a mediocre act, "At least they write their own stuff."

So what?

Really, isn't it better to take a great song and reinterpret it than pump out your own mediocre rip-off? Obviously, economics and the expectations of the music marketplace demand that a band hoping to be anything but a bar act write some of their own material, but I, for one, would love to see a resurrection of the long-dormant practice of putting a cover version or two on albums. It not only gives the listener a peek at the band's influences and taste, it can also really bolster the strength of an album if a great cover replaces a mediocre or dull "original."

It can also be a real service to fans, especially the younger ones. In my younger days, before filling every available slot in my brain with music trivia and history, I was introduced to some pretty important acts through other bands' covers. The Cowboy Junkies tipped me to the Velvet Underground, R.E.M. introduced me to Syd Barrett and the Jam was my entry point to the Kinks. In light of how important those acts, particularly the VU and Barrett, ended up being to me, I owe a considerable debt of gratitude to the bands that covered them, giving me not only a great song, but also a push in the right direction musically. -- Cory Casciato

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