Along with any big hit single comes an inevitable string of cover versions of varying genres and, especially, quality.
● Thursday, 8 p.m.
● Bell MTS Place
● Tickets $62.75-$260 at Ticketmaster
The key to a good cover song is a true appreciation for the source material; if one does not understand what the song is really about, a reimagining of it or twist on it will likely be unsuccessful at best, unlistenable at worst. But a good cover, one that is thoughtful and full of care while still offering a new perspective, can create a truly special listening experience.
For example, Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile covered A Case of You by Joni Mitchell. It was a stunning rendition that respected the emotion and tone of the original but also put her signature stamp on it, and had fans of both hers and Mitchell’s swooning.
Fleetwood Mac’s massive catalogue of classics has, of course, resulted in some pretty out-there cover versions that range from Hole’s grunge take on Gold Dust Woman to Tame Impala’s fuzzy, psychedlic That’s All For Everyone and an Elton John-ified rendition of Don’t Stop.
Here’s five Fleetwood Mac covers which perhaps aren’t as good as the three mentioned above, but are certainly as unexpected. Some Fleetwood fans love ‘em, some hate ‘em and the rest will just be happy to hear the originals Thursday night at Bell MTS Place when the band — which includes drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, Christine McVie on keyboards, singer Stevie Nicks and newcomers Mike Campbell, formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn of Crowded House (filling in for estranged guitarist Lindsey Buckingham) — rolls through town for their rescheduled tour date after previously cancelling their Apr. 11 Winnipeg concert.
There’s something very odd about the haunting, beautiful melody of Dreams being backed by a ‘90s dance beat, but Irish sibling band the Corrs felt like it was the right way to go. To be fair, when it was released in 1998, people loved it: the bopping electronic beat paired with the Celtic strings was the band’s first breakout hit in the UK and they went on to play the track with Fleetwood himself at one of their concerts at Royal Albert Hall in London. All that said, it hasn’t held up particularly well and seems to be missing the original emotional intention.
This is a cover that starts out really beautifully with an acoustic guitar, hits a bit of an "oh no" moment in the bridge and then proceeds to waffle between painful and pretty for the rest of the song. In this case, the melody and tone remain relatively close to the original version of Landslide, so it’s more of a case of Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan’s voice just not always being the right fit; his signature slightly-off-key whine is even more off-key in the live version, so I’d suggest listening to the Pumpkins’ studio version instead.
Actress, singer and former Disney kid Hilary Duff hasn’t released a new music since 2015 save for the cover version of Little Lies she dropped in 2016, which was used as promo for the second season of her TV Land series Younger. Again, one Fleetwood Mac’s most iconic tracks is transformed into a club anthem, and while the first verses are harmless and catchy enough, the bass drop heading into the chorus and proceeding mish-mash of backbeats (and even some strings?) are confusing and clumsily put together. Add this to your spin-class playlist, that’s about all it’s good for.
In our newsroom alone opinions were divided on this cover of Rhiannon by California indie rockers Best Coast. The key change and addition of some jangly piano is a really weird hurdle to get over and there are a few major tweaks to the famous melody that just feel wrong. If you’re into covers that sound little like the original though, this one is might be for you. The studio version is not as cringeworthy as the live version, but it’s still sounds pretty rough.
Often cited as a hidden gem on Rumours, I Don’t Want to Know is a sweet, poppy bop about the end of a relationship, but the Goo Goo Dolls took things in a much more musically sinister direction with their indie-rock cover. Heavy, gritty guitars replace the lightness of the banjo on the Fleetwood Mac original, amping up the drama but losing a lot of the playfulness of the original. Vocalist Johnny Rzeznik does his best to maintain some semblance of a recognizable melody. I am not ashamed to admit I like a good Goo Goo Dolls moment (Big Machine, anyone?) but this isn’t their best.
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.