The Bowie Cover Catalog


The most substantial writing on Bowie that I’ve done since his death is, fittingly, not for this site. You can find it at Aquarium Drunkard today.

Starting with Kenny Miller’s “Take My Tip” in 1965 and ending with Jason Lindner’s “Dollar Days” from January 2016, it’s a look through the Bowie catalog, as sung and played by others. There’s likely something for everyone to enjoy in the set. A wonderful discovery for me was the synth trio Anōmy and their take on “TVC 15.”

Top: “What have they done to me songs?” 1977.

35 Responses to The Bowie Cover Catalog

  1. Andy says:

    Wedding Present + David Bowie = the Fall

    • comicalArchitect says:

      That Little Wonder cover definitely eclipses the original. I feel like RTR did it the way it was always meant to be done.

    • I did the Iggy. says:

      Always lived that Last Town Chorus version. It’s good stuff

  2. ofer says:

    Great read – i’d also add M Ward’s “Let’s Dance” to the essential covers shortlist –

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just my two pence but “essential cover” is an oxymoron

  4. Jason Das says:

    Nice. Cool to see you over at A.D., Chris!

  5. decon says:

    Holy cow. That Seal cover. I would pay twenty bucks for a studio version of that.

  6. Marck Menke says:

    Two Bowie covers that may well surpass the originals are

    Nico’s version of Heroes and Dead Or Alive’s Rebel Rebel.

    I know I shall be accused of blasphemy… so what.

    … and the reason for the sublimity of both covers is the same: Nico and Pete Burns lived and understood the full ramifications of the song’s story more deeply than the songwriter himself.

    (I also posted this on Aquarium Drunkard but I really ‘Dame’ is the more essential site for it.)

  7. BenJ says:

    Huh? What happened to my comment?

    • col1234 says:

      if you include a link, the moderation filter catches it (due to a spam attack I had a year or so ago). just have some patience & I’ll approve it.

  8. BenJ says:

    All right, trying this again. It’s been lost in the shuffle of Bowie tributes, but Esperanza Spalding’s If You Can See Me is excellent.

  9. MC says:

    I’m still gutted about Prince, so right now, of the recent flurry of DB tributes, the Purple One’s piano take on Heroes resonates with me most. It’s just a fragment, but it’s an amazing, impassioned reading of a track that’s such a masterpiece in its original studio incarnation that it’s pretty much uncoverable (though many have tried). In a similar vein is Michael Stipe and Karen Elson’s devastating rendition of Ashes To Ashes.

    I’m familiar with 4 of the covers surveyed in the article. (Amazingly, I haven’t listened to the Moz Drive-In Saturday before.) I think Mackenzie, Amos, and the Au Pairs all do the originals proud, underlining a point I’ve always made about cover versions: if you tackle a major artist, stick to lesser-known deep cuts, and you have a better shot at putting your own imprint on it. The Bauhaus version of Ziggy, on the other hand…I guess they play it proficiently enough. They manage a reasonable facsimile of the Spiders playing live, but I’ve never enjoyed Peter Murphy’s Dracula-has-risen-from-the-grave mannerisms, and he certainly doesn’t do anything for me here. (I much prefer their punky stab at Telegram Sam.) What the Prince and Stipe covers show is that it (usually) takes a master to do another master justice.

    Btw, nice piece, Chris. Cheers!

    • MC says:

      Just wanted to add, I haven’t listened to Esperanza Spalding’s If You Can See Me in its entirety yet, but I think it’s great she picked that song, for the reasons mentioned above.

    • Galdo says:

      ” if you tackle a major artist, stick to lesser-known deep cuts, and you have a better shot at putting your own imprint on it.”

      I couldn’t agree more.

    • s.t. says:

      Bauhaus is great, but their covers often feel perfunctory rather than inspired. At least Rosegarden Funeral of Sores is fun.

  10. Greg Evans says:

    I’d probably have to mention Rickie Lee Jone’s Rebel Rebel (from her Pop Pop album) and, more importantly, Seu Jorge’s Bowie covers from “Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou,” which really are rather sublime.

  11. Thin Man says:

    Man, that Anõmi cover of TVC15 is amazing (and you comment that this is the version of the girl inside the TV made it even better). I’m surprised none of the excellent covers of Amanda Palmer in her tribute album to Bowie did’nt made the list, it’s truly awesome.

    • col1234 says:

      not a fan. but glad others are!

    • Andy says:

      Rather wish you hadn’t hipped me to this. I normally find Amanda Palmer repulsive on basically every level (no, I am not casting aspersions on her looks), but this is kind of undeniably good, and head and shoulders above most covers of anything, the above links included. Certainly her cover of Blackstar is impeccable and stellar, Ashes to Ashes pretty much too…

  12. particledots says:

    i dont normally dig this kind of soft-jazz kind of vibe, but i like this treatment of i cant give everything away…liked the simple approach of the video as well

  13. SoooTrypticon says:

    Vespucci’s cover of Slow Burn is pretty good. Glad to see Girl In A Coma made your list (:

    I’d love to see Anohni cover Let’s Dance closer to Bowie’s acoustic treatment from the 2000s.

    • Stolen Guitar says:

      Love this acoustic of Slow Burn…I’d always thought Townsend’s scorching guitar line was essential for the song but clearly not. Thanks for posting it.

      • SoooTrypticon says:

        My pleasure. Chris’ site is still the best. Great article Chris!

  14. Dr Z says:

    Lea De Laria’s Fame from her all Bowie cover album House Of David is a recent favourite, that girl can send a note out and bring it back.

  15. Patrick says:

    Apparently in an interview I saw that quoted her , Marianne Faithful was offered Man Who Sold the World before Lulu took it up.

  16. colincidence says:

  17. sakura_starfall says:

    I think Anomy might actually be The Kransky Sisters…

  18. Ed Lucas says:

    Hi. Allow my to humbly submit this fairly faithful cover of Ashes to Ashes. I have to fess that it took until DB’s death for me to take interest in his work. I offered that I might correct that and asked some folks where to start, and of course got conflicting answers! I said I’d do a cover and my friend dared me to do this song. Having never heard of it, at least my mind was fresh, so I set about learning it and found this site extremely helpful in getting into the Bowie headspace and understanding the song and the man a lot better, and opening up a great many avenues as other artists/trends/references were made.

    I played most everything but the guitars and was joined by a friend who was excited to join in on it. Enjoy!

  19. Ed Lucas says:

    Sorry ’bout that double posted video…

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