Pink Floyd is one of the most successful, beloved and influential bands in rock history. Their best-known album, The Wall stayed on the Billboard Top 200 charts for a whopping 950 weeks. That’s over 18 years. The King of Progressive Rock bands inspired a lot of cover versions from bands that were clearly fans. Here’s a look at the 10 best covers of Pink Floyd songs.
# 10 – One Hot Second: Wish This Were Beer
We start off our look at the 10 best covers of Pink Floyd songs with a heartfelt and rather musical parody of the Pink Floyd classic, “Wish You Were Here.” Instead of mourning the loss of Syd Barrett to the group, One Hot Second’s version looks at the horror of office Christmas parties. It even has a bunch of crowd noises, as if echoing Pink Floyd’s use of sound effects throughout their songs. The guitarist does a perfect mimic of the acoustic guitar part.
# 9 – The Jesus and Mary Chain: Vegetable Man
The Jesus and Mary Chain not only tackles this obscure Pink Floyd song, but wrestles it to the ground and makes it cry, “Uncle.” The original 1967 version was pure psychedelia, with vocal reverbs and sound effects, but had a touch of whimsy to it. In this cover version, the Jesus and Mary Chain give it buzz-saw punk guitar and screams defiantly about being the Vegetable Man. This cover version first appeared in 1984 on the B-side of their debut single, Upside Down. The obscure beginning was only fitting since the original was a rejected song. For decades, you could only hear it on Pink Floyd bootlegs.
# 8 – Gregorian: Comfortably Numb
This is a faithful version, instrumentally, except for a fiddle replacing some guitar work. None of the lyrics are changed. However, that’s any the similarity ends. The vocals are done by a male voice choir more famous for their Gregorian chants than Pink Floyd covers. This gives the beloved Pink Floyd song an eerie quality, as if either all suffering rock stars from past, present and future are singing their pain simultaneously. This cover can be found on the 2006 album Gregorian: Masters of Chant Vol V.
# 7 – Metric: Nobody Home
One of the softest songs on Pink Floyd’s The Wall is a mournful little number about a touring rock star reflecting on his life as he unsuccessfully tries to phone his wife. Metric takes this song and strips it to the bone. Gone are the whispery voices, sounds of ringing telephones, strings and echoes at the end of lines. Metric just takes one voice and one piano and makes “Nobody Home” even more depressing yet more beautiful than the original. None of the lyrics are changed. This song appears on Metric’s 2009 album, Fantasies.
# 6 – Shadows Fall: Welcome to the Machine
Listening to this next item in our list of top 10 Pink Floyd cover songs, you have to wonder if the members of Pink Floyd were secret head-bangers. It didn’t take much to change this prog-rock classic into a heavy-duty version by the metal band Shadows Fall. It begins with a lovely ominous beginning and rumbles on from there. The vocals are faithful to the original. The tune is left mostly unchanged, though heavy with synths and a driving relentless beat. This cover version appears on the 2002 album The Art of Balance.
# 5 – David Bowie: See Emily Play
“See Emily Play” was pretty trippy for 1967, when it first appeared, but David Bowie takes the weirdness to a whole other level with his cover version. David Bowie loved to distort his voice in the studio and he indulged that here. He also added a mountain of special effects which drowns out the vocals at times, but yet it still sounds right for a Pink Floyd song, since that band used a lot of special effects and vocal distortions. This cover version was originally released on David Bowie’s 1973 album of cover versions, Pin Ups.
# 4 – The Hot Rats: Bike
This is a light-hearted cover of this trippy, borderline-creepy little known love song from Pink Floyd . The vocals in this cover are very Marc Bolan. It’s much easier to understand the lyrics here than in the original. This is about as special-effects heavy as the original. This cover version appeared on the Hot Rats’ 2009 covers album, Turn Ons.
# 3 – Foo Fighters: Have a Cigar
Shades of what would be The Wall appear on this cynical song about the rock music industry on Pink Floyd’s other masterpiece, Wish You Were Here. Foo Fighters takes the original and makes it even more sinister by turning it into a driving stormtrooper-like march with pounding drums, screaming lyrics and roaring guitars. Although all the special effects are removed and the instrumentation changed, drummer and singer Taylor Hawkins does keep one thing the same – the long, drawn-out “yeah” at the end, sung exactly like in the Pink Floyd original. This originally appeared as a B-side to the 1999 single Learn to Fly.
# 2 – Of Mice & Men: Money
This is one of those covers that does not play too much with the original tune and keeps all of the original lyrics but has a distinctive flavor that makes it distinctly different from the original. Of Mice & Men hammer into this classic, making it even more ominous and cynical than Pink Floyd’s original. It has an amazing use of silence to hammer some points home. It does not have the samples of coins and cash registers but does have a digital coin sound as if the listener had just made an online purchase to listen to the rest of the song. This cover version came out on the 2018 album Defy.
# 1 – Capital Cities (featuring Tupak Shakur): Breathe
This is the most unique tune in our list of top 10 covers of Pink Floyd songs since for several reasons. First, it heavily samples the original “Breathe” and mixes it with a sample from Tupak’s 1997 song “Smile” and sets it all to a funky beat you definitely can dance to. And we never thought we would be able to dance to a Pink Floyd tune without the use of heavy pharmaceuticals, but you can dance drug-free to this for three minutes and forty-seven toe-tapping seconds. This cover version can be found on the 2012 album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery.
10 Best Covers Of Pink Floyd Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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