They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.In music terms, that would apply quite aptly to the cover version. Massive Attack have certainly done a number of covers of other bands songs in their time, but as for this post I will be making a top 10 list of my favourite tunes other bands/artists have made out of Massive Attack tunes.
As you see from the title of this blog post, my list will not be including any Teardrop covers. The reason for that being is that - well I'm seriously fed up with the amount of Teardrop covers that are out there. There are of course, some rather good Teardrop covers. But to single out one or two would be very hard. I could make a separate blog post on just the top 10 Teardrop covers, if I really wanted to (something I may just do at some stage).
So my advice to anyone contemplating doing a Massive Attack cover - is do anything but Teardrop. You will instantly stand out from the crowd in my book. The market is just way to over saturated with Teardrop covers.
Back to this list, while I've numbered them for convenience sake, the entries are not really in any order of preference, except maybe #10 as being my overall favourite.
Also if you want to listen to some of the other Massive Attack covers that did'nt make this list, then you can check out this YouTube playlist I compiled.
Anyway to kick-off my list...
1. "Dissolved Girl" by vkgoeswild
I'd wager Dissolved Girl is one of the most popular Massive Attack songs that never got a single release. I loved it when i first heard it, however in the last few years I'd gone a bit off it. I will still admit though that it serves its purpose well as being the midway point on Mezzanine and understand its appeal to others.
It was'nt until I heard this immauclate piano cover of it on YouTube recently, that reinviograted my original love for the song. Its by vkgoeswild, who has a huge YouTube following for her amazing piano renditions of popular music. She also has a Teardrop piano cover as well, which I recommend you listen to as well, but seeing as I'm not doing Teardrop in this post, I won't be including it on this list.
2. "Safe From Harm" by Mo Solid Gold
I think this might be the only cover of a Massive Attack track that got a UK single release. I actually remember it too, when it came out in 2001. I was still only in the early phases of being a Massive Attack fan and upon hearing Mo Solid Gold's (now long since defunct) take on this Massive classic, I was'nt too pleased with the added gospel choir and the over the top male vocals.
Still on reflection, its not that bad of a cover at all, but then again that Billy Codham sample sounds good on just about anything.
3. "Live With Me" by The Twilight Singers
As of writing this post, Terry Callier passed away only a week ago, so I guess I felt compelled to try and include a cover of Live With Me on this. Thankfully, there's quite a good one out there by The Twilight Singers with additional vocals by Mark Lanegan, who might be more familiar to Massive fans, as he along with Martina Topley Bird were recently remixed by Massive Attack on a cover of a "The XX" song.
As for this Live With Me cover, Mark Lanegan successfully captures the yearning in Terry's vocals, but with an altogether more sullen rockier edge to them.
4. "Protection" by Dart
I tried "google-ing" the band Dart and could find practically nothing about them besides being from California. Nevertheless, their cover of Protection is a real winner, which they released on a 7" back in 1995. Hearing Protection with male vocals offers a slightly different perspective on the song, whilst being even more calm and relaxing than the original, if possible.
5. "Future Proof" by Telepotik
Telepotik, a Turkish electronica/trip-hop/downbeat (take your pick) band, who beyond this Future Proof cover have done a number of other Massive Attack and Portishead (for that matter), which are up on their YouTube Channel to watch (all of which are pretty interesting riffs on the original versions.
I picked their Future Proof cover as my favourite, I suppose because I wanted some 100th Window representation on this list and I just happen to think its their best cover too. It helps too that the lead singer ain't the worst looking in that black number she has on in this particular video. ;-)
6. "Be Thankful For What You've Got" by Cool Hipnoise
Well here we are with a cover of a cover! Massive Attack originally covered William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful, I believe at the behest of Daddy G. Along comes Cool Hipnoise, a Portuguese band that specializes in acid jazz and dub with a take of their own. They also have a pretty good cover in a similar style of One Love, even though that one is not on YouTube or anywhere else that's easily streamable.
7. "Weather Storm" by Craig Armstrong
You could probably contest the opinion that this is a cover in the first place, as the original version found on the Protection album is largely a Craig Armstrong composition to beginning with, what with Massive Attack merely adding on a sample from a "Pieces Of A Dream", on top of Armstrong's twinkling piano notes.
I don't think Armstrong minds too much, as Massive Attack did come through by signing him to their own record label, Melankolic, back in 1997 when he released his debut album, with his quite lush and epic reinterpretation of Weather Storm as its opening track.
8. "Angel" by Sepultura
I don't how many Massive Attack fans are into the more heavy stuff out - namely metal, but if your going to do a heavy metal take on a Massive Attack song, you can't do too wrong with Angel, as the song already had a very heavy vibe to it to begin with.
Sepultura, who hail from Brazil do a good job here (the bassline is still a killer), even though I'm not a fan of the vocals, but I'm not a overly keen fan of metal to begin with, so your mileage may vary on how many grunts and howls you can stomach in your music.
9. "Atlas Air" by Terenn
I could'nt do this list without including at least one cover of a Heligoland track. There's a number of unremarkable Paradise Circus ones out there, and then there's this one from YouTube user, Terenn. An overall more dirtier sounding reproduction of Atlas Air, which takes the almost cheesy sounding keyboard riff of the original and makes it even more pronounced throughout the track to great effect.
I would also advise to check out another YouTube video from the same user, which is a multi cam edit of live audience footage of Atlas Air from about 10 different sources. Puts my video editing skills to shame.
10. "Unfinished Sympathy" by Hooverphonic
Last, but not least (maybe even best, now that I listen to again), we have Hooverphonic's take on Unfinished Sympathy. I previously wrote a blog post on the release of this cover earlier this year, were I seriously impressed by what they did with it, but I'll just reiterate - I think its one of the best Massive Attack covers ever. The stripped back piano arrangement really leaves the emotion of the song bare and Geike Arnaert makes a fine substitute for Shara Nelson. I think most will agree at least, its a better Unfinished Sympathy cover that what Tina Turner came up with back in 1996. I'm still trying to erase the memories that one!
Thanks for taking a look at my favourite Massive Attack covers. If you want to add a few of your own please do so in the comments area below.