Motor Sister have never been afraid to show their influences. In fact, they started out as a Mother Superior cover band before branching off to do their own material. But their love of music isn’t just related to Mother Superior and they know their way around a cover or two, so we decided to reach out and see which cover songs are the favorites of the band’s members.
In this list, singer Pearl Aday, guitarist Scott Ian and singer-guitarist Jim Wilson take us down the rabbit hole with their favorite covers of all-time. In fact, some of these covers are so good, you may not realize they were actually covers because these versions stand out so much.
As you might expect, the members of the band are quite well versed on hard rocking covers, but they also show an equal knack for finding the gems in some soul and R&B classics as well.
Before we jump into their choices, check out some of what Motor Sister can do. The track “Right There, Just Like That” arrives today (April 13) to rev up your soul. “The riff was so driving and sexy, the song had to be about a girl who just wants to have fun,” says Wilson. “And it really shows the strength we have with two strong singers.”
“Right There, Just Like That” is featured on the band’s Get Off album, due May 6. Get your pre-orders in right here.
Motor Sister, “Right There, Just Like That”
Now check out Motor Sister’s picks for their favorite cover songs below. Take it away, Pearl and Scott and stay tuned for Jim’s picks a little further down.
“Kick Out the Jams” (Rage Against the Machine)
Originally by MC5
Pearl Aday: “Undeniable pure force, energy with power of Funk beat and Rock/Metal guitars.”
Scott Ian: “Yes! All the energy and excitement of the original re-amped through the RATM lens. It’s even kickier and jammier.”
“Easy” (Faith No Nore)
Originally by The Commodores
Pearl Aday: “The only person who could successfully deliver this as smoothly as Lionel is the great Mike Patton.”
Scott Ian: “I agree with Pearl 100 percent. This was a completely original cover idea in 1992 that only Faith No More could’ve pulled off because of Mike.”
Originally by Boston
Pearl Aday: “Masterful musicianship and vocals to rival the original. Pure joy.”
Scott Ian: Thanks! The first Boston album is in my top ten albums of all time. I’ve talked about covering the whole record. “Smokin’” fit us really well right out of the box so we did that one first.
“Black Coffee” (Rival Sons)
Originally by Humble Pie
Pearl Aday: “Steve Marriott deserves no less a tribute than from the amazing Jay Buchanan.”
Scott Ian: “Yeah, if you don’t know Steve Marriott, you should. He’s one of the best singers ever. Jay kills it.”
“Stone Cold Crazy” (Metallica)
Originally by Queen
Pearl Aday: “A driving Hard Rock classic pushed over the edge into a full on Metal assault.”
Scott Ian: “It sounds as much like a Metallica song as it does a Queen song. It’s just so much fun to hear Metallica having so much fun playing this.”
“Hurt” (Johnny Cash)
Originally by Nine Inch Nails
Pearl Aday: “Pass the fucking tissues. Heavier than the earth.”
Scott Ian: “This version of the song may just be the heaviest thing I have ever heard. I can feel the weight of Johnny Cash’s life in every word. It moves me to tears every time.”
“Whiskey in the Jar” (Thin Lizzy)
Originally an Irish traditional 17th century song
Pearl Aday: “It’s real live historical Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Scott Ian: “I always thought this was a Thin Lizzy song. Anyone have an mp3 of the 17th century original?”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Devo)
Originally by the Rolling Stones
Pearl Aday: Nobody does it anything like Devo. This stands on its own as a classic while perfectly honoring the original.”
Scott Ian: The definition of making a song your own. The beat Alan Myers played on this version is almost as iconic as Keith Richards’ original guitar riff.”
“Respect” (Aretha Franklin)
Originally by Otis Redding
Pearl Aday: “I love Otis Redding with my whole heart, but this is most definitely Aretha’s signature. ALL HAIL THE GREAT ARETHA.”
Scott Ian: “I didn’t know this was a cover song until Pearl got me way into Otis 20 years ago. In my humble opinion, and as great as Otis is, this has been Aretha’s song since 1967.”
“Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley)
Originally by Leonard Cohen
Pearl Aday: “Leonard Cohen slays me. Jeff Buckley slays me. Consider me slayed, EVERY … SINGLE … TIME. Perfection.”
Scott Ian: “If this version of ‘Hallelujah’ doesn’t move you, you’re a serial killer.”
“Diamonds and Rust” (Judas Priest)
Originally by Joan Baez
Pearl Aday: “Read what Scott wrote below, and then read it again…”
Scott Ian: “There is only the Priest version. Joan Baez is unlistenable.”
“California Man” (Cheap Trick)
Originally by The Move
Jim Wilson: I’m sure most people think “California Man” is a Cheap Trick original but it was originally recorded by the brilliant British band, The Move. The song was written by their genius band leader, Roy Wood, and also features Bev Bevan and Jeff Lynne (who co-produced the track with Wood). It was released as a single in the U.K. in 1971 on the Harvest label and in the U.S. in 1972 on United Artists.
Thanks to Cheap Trick and also Sparks (another of my favorite bands as a teenager) talking about the influence of The Move and Roy Wood in interviews, I started seeking out their discography and they became a huge influence on my music. The original version is a ‘50s style romp with Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne trading vocals on the verses. Roy’s singing style on the first verse is a tribute to Little Richard and Jeff takes the second verse in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis. There’s horns and piano and amazing drums by Bevan.
Cheap Trick recorded the song on their 1978 album Heaven Tonight and did it in the style of Cheap Trick! With amazing guitars approximating the original riffs and then there’s Robin Zander who can sing the shit out of anything!
“All Along the Watchtower” (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Originally by Bob Dylan
Jim Wilson: Bob Dylan was on a roll when he released “All Along The Watchtower” on his John Wesley Harding album in late 1967. A year later, Jimi turned the song upside down with his rendition included on his Electric Ladyland double album masterpiece.
Jimi replaced Bob’s harmonica riffs with soaring guitar solos and Dave Mason played additional 12-string acoustic guitar. Bob Dylan agrees and once said, “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way.”
“We Can Work It Out” (Stevie Wonder)
Originally by The Beatles
Jim Wilson: Of course, I couldn’t live without the original Beatle version, but Stevie’s recreation from his 1970 album Signed, Sealed & Delivered is a prime example of how to handle a cover version. Stevie was 20-years-old at the time and was about to show the world what a musical genius can do. Keep in mind, Stevie plays and sings EVERYTHING on the track. Funky as hell.
“Release Me” (Def Leppard)
Originally by Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters
Jim Wilson: Released in the U.S. in 1988 as the b-side of “Armageddon It” by Def Leppard, “Release Me” was credited to ‘Stumpus Maximus & The Good Ol’ Boys.’ In actuality, it was Def Leppard providing the backing track with lead vocals by road crew member, Malvin Mortimer.
A hilarious send-up that starts (kind of) serious but after each chorus, the song keeps modulating until Mortimer’s voice can’t take anymore. And there’s a Queen-style vocal outro for the conclusion. DEFINITELY, the best version of this song ever.
“Are You Ready?” (Rollins Band)
Originally by Thin Lizzy
Jim Wilson: I’m biased on this one but it was such an honor to play guitar harmonies and riffs on this track with the one and only Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy. It’s from the first album that I worked on with Henry Rollins in 2000 called Get Some Go Again. If you’re a Lizzy fan, you should check out our version!
“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (The Rolling Stones)
Originally by The Temptations
Jim Wilson: I just love The Stones’ take on this classic by the Temptations! Charlie Watts is on fire and Billy Preston plays the funky clavinet. Mick and Keith’s vocal pleas are soulful and heavy. And that guitar solo! Amazing. From the 1974 album, It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll. A few years later, the Rolling Stones recorded another Temptations’ cover that is equally as good, “Just My Imagination.”