From The Beatles to Shirley Bassey...
Even in their early days, playing hugely-hyped Sheffield gigs and having their bootleg recordings shared by thousands, Arctic Monkeys always looked like they were taking it in their stride – to the point where they were practically showing off. Since becoming one of the UK’s biggest bands ever, they’ve done exactly that, flexing their musical muscles by covering countless well-established hits from legendary musicians and of-the-moment pop sensations. No genre is unapproachable. Over the years, the five-piece have proven themselves a dab hand at covering glossy chart hits, freak-out prog, golden oldies and smooth R&B.
Below, we pick out some of Arctic Monkeys’ finest cover versions.
‘Red Right Hand’ (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds)
So good it was put to tape, this studio version of the band’s Nick Cave cover wound up as a b-side for ‘Crying Lightning’. It also made the Peaky Blinders season two soundtrack.
‘All My Loving’ (The Beatles)
In February 1964, another British export were hitting the big time. The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show, kickstarting their journey from Liverpool likely lads to becoming the Biggest Band Ever. And the midst of their own U.S. stardom, performing in Madison Square Garden, Arctic Monkeys decided to mark the historic occasion in style.
‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ (Tame Impala)
Thanks to the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge and Triple J’s ‘Like A Version’ series, Arctic Monkeys have no shortage of opportunities for covering present day hits. On the latter, they showed up in 2014 to take on Kevin Parker’s dose of sun-kissed misery, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’. It’s just Alex Turner and Matt Helders in the studio, but a stripped-down rendition does the trick.
‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (Shirley Bassey)
It takes serious guts to dish out a cover during a debut headline slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. It takes even bigger balls to take on a fellow headliner and all-round legend, Shirley Bassey. In fairness, Arctic Monkeys had to fill their set up somehow, being only two albums to the good. But their Bassey barnstormer is a polished, seriously impressive cover. And who knows, it may have kickstarted Turner’s slick, Bond-nodding obsessions, ergo The Last Shadow Puppets.
‘Come Together’ (The Beatles)
Remember the London 2012 Olympics? A harmonious two weeks where the UK forgot most of its problems, showed off its strengths, and came together? It was a brief moment, so don’t worry if the memory’s hazy. During a jaw-dropping opening night, Arctic Monkeys played a supremely cool version of one of The Beatles’ biggest hits. One of several inspired moments from Danny Boyle’s giant ceremony.
‘Only You Know’ (Dion)
Few bands make the jump from amped-up frenzy to heartfelt acoustics quite like Arctic Monkeys. This inspired take on a a little-known 1975 track from Dion DiMucci – also sampled by Jarvis Cocker on a 2006 solo album, fact fans – is up there with their best serene, pluck-centric numbers.
‘Walk on the Wild Side’ (Lou Reed)
Technically, it doesn’t take a great deal of musical skill to cover this legendary track from late New York hero Lou Reed. Two chords are all it takes. A half-decent vocal helps, too, especially for the “doo doo doo” parts. But there’s a tenderness to this Arctic’s cover that can’t be taught. It’s just a shame it was only performed once, back in 2013.
‘Love Machine’ (Girls Aloud)
Back when taking on a curveball hit in the Radio 1 Live Lounge remained a novelty, Arctic Monkeys were at their tongue-in-cheek finest when taking on Girls Aloud. Alex starts giggling midway through, but don’t let that distract from the ballsy brilliance of this take.
‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ (Drake)
This slick, groove-led cover of Canada’s finest also shadows as the best example of Alex Turner’s Dad dancing. Smooth moves, even smoother tones.
‘Take It Or Leave It’ (The Strokes)
Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes share one thing in common: they both found themselves whisked into a whirlwind of stardom, in a matter of months – arguably faster than any other groups from the ’00s. In their early days, the fresh-faced Sheffield boys channelled their inner NYC with this short, spiky version.