Radio 1: Established 1967

The compilation of cover versions released to commemorate Radio 1’s 40th anniversary is chock-full of great cover versions. To save space, I’ll highlight the best…

Radio 1: Established 1967 is a compilation of 40 cover versions by 40 modern artists, one for each of the 40 years since Radio 1’s birth. It was a stocking filler from my wife this Christmas and truly lit-up my holidays. There are so many good tracks on there that I thought I’d just highlight a few of my favourites:

  • Band On The Run – The Foo Fighters (Cover of Wings): What is it about American rock acts and cover versions of Wings songs? Guns N’ Roses rocked Live & Let Die, and now Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters (is it ok to say that they’re better than Nirvana yet?!) do the same with this 70s classic. Two irrelevant facts – this prompted me to download the original, and Dave Grohl was on the same flight from LA to London recently; I was going home, he was going to see the Zep.
  • Under Pressure – Keane; (Cover of David Bowie & Queen): The best use of that amazing bass line since Vanilla Ice swiped it, Keane prove that they truly are more than a bunch of public school boys with rosy cheeks; this version of Under Pressure is, really, rather excellent.
  • Careless Whisper – The Gossip: (Cover of Wham!): There’s a lot of debate about Beth Ditto of The Gossip, but what seems unarguable to me is that she rocks. Hard. Here Beth takes a horrible 80s smoochie number and turns it into a blazing bolt of regret.
  • Stillness In Time – Calvin Harris: (Jamiroquai cover) – I’ve been unconvinced by Calvin Harris till now, but the way he takes (one of my favourite) Jamiroquai songs and turns it from a mellow number into an absolute floor filler which positively reeks of Nu Shooz, is, frankly, wonderful. Seriously.
  • No Diggity – Klaxons (Blackstreet cover): Klaxons are another band who have yet to win me over (I’m sorry, but Amy should have won the Mercury; no matter what they say, she’s more “forward-thinking” than they are) but this faithful, yet innovative cover of Dre’s R&B classic is, to my mind, their best work to date).

There are plenty of other great tracks on Radio 1: Established 1967, with honourable mentions going to Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Maxïmo Park, Natasha Bedingfield (no, really) & Franz Ferdinand. If I have one complaint, it’s that nearly all of the acts are indie bands or female pop singers; where’s the Dizzee, the Roots, the Ty? I’d love to see them treat indie songs in a similar way to how the indie acts treated tracks by Justin Timberlake & Britney.

Christ, if they’d managed that and hard started playing the results I might even start listening to Radio 1 again (although that’s probably reason enough for them not to have done so!)

1967 VW photo: Lazy Lightning on Flickr


  1. Agree with you re: boring/standard acts chosen to do the covers, but then they’re not billed as remixes are they? Furthermore, let’s not kid ourselves, but the CD’s there to sell records to the masses…

    D/loaded the Klaxon’s cover and heard the Keen cover… thought the latter was utterly boring and not a patch on either Bowie’s or Freddie’s versions (it is possible to inject a sense of individuality in a cover, as they both proved, but Keene have shown they clearly coulnt be bothered with any originality). Klaxon’s cover is a little more interesting as they play with the beat a bit, but really, why not push for reinterpretations of these fabulous classic songs… wasted opportunity in my opinion.

    Check out Lily Allen’s Mr Blue Sky for a cover that has personality. Or Ween’s Gin and Juice.

  2. I take your point that it’s about selling units, but R1 has a duty to promote new music. Or I thought it did.

    I agree that neither cover really stretches the boundaries, but have to say that I still think they’re not bad versions. I don’t think a cover has to be massively different to be of value Aretha’s version of Respect is not massively different to Otis’, but it is miles better (not that I’m comparing the tracks on this album to either!)

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