As a rule, I don't enjoy cover versions. Oh, okay, I like cover versions of songs I like, by artists I like. John Lennon’s version of ‘Stand by Me’, for example. I’d argue it improves upon the original because it’s a song about insecurity and need. At the point in his life when he recorded it, Lennon was estranged from Yoko Ono on his extended so-called ‘lost weekend’. He certainly knew about insecurity and need.
Perhaps Ben E. King, who made the original famous, did too. But he sings it with an altogether more majestic and secure vibe. He’s not a lost, thiry-something-year-old trying to recapture the happiest part of his life.
But I still haven’t seen Zappa Plays Zappa live. Even though Frank’s son Dweezil leads the band, it will never be Frank on that stage – even if he is on the screen, accompanying them through a few numbers. But I do have to admit, having heard recordings and seen clips – they are some of the best cover versions of Frank Zappa’s music I’ve ever heard. But it ain’t Frank.
I also quite like a version Missy Higgins does of the Skyhooks song ‘You Just Like Me ’CosI’m Good In Bed’ but I think my attitude mostly dates back to that ‘is she or isn’t she?’ early stage of her career. Sorry, I can’t find a clip of Missy playing it. Here’s a live version of the Skyhooks, with an embarrassingly long and no longer quite funny cross-over from Hey, Hey It’s Saturday.