It became part of the punk lore.
Take a classic song and rip through it, reconstructing it into the then modern age.
Sometimes it was because the song was loved and sometimes it was with a snotty, year zero destruction of the past – oddly many of these versions now sound, arguably, better than the originals.
1. My Way – Sid Vicious
The ultimate fuck off love song.
When Saint Sid was despatched to the studio to stick his biker boots into the Sinatra classic he somehow contrived, even with his goofy sneering voice and sense of destoying the original end up with the definitive version of the song, the version that the songs’ lyric writer Paul Anka (he wrote the English words based on the French song “Comme d’habitude” composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux, with lyrics by Claude François and Gilles Thibault) always claimed was his favourite.
2. I Heard It Through The Grapevine – The Slits
With those feminine Rhythms finally being provided by the male Budgie the Slits got seriuosly good on this cover of the Marvin Gaye classic, creating a sound infused with outer space dub and a frisky rhythhm that recreated the song as one of their own and a version that still sounds futuristic to this day.
3 Johnny Was – Stiff Little Fingers
SLF’s ferocious take on the Bob Marley song was their Police And Thieves moment when the punk mob acknowledged the equal power of reagge and tore it up. the songs poignent lyrics of death and guns hit a raw nerve with the band.
4 Walk On By – The Stranglers
A leftover from their pre fame days of playing sarcastic cover versions, Walk On By ended up being a 1978 hit for the band and was one of the great Stranglers moments. As soon as the bass enters you know you are off on a trip and the surly vocal and the middle section nicked from the Doors make this 7 minutes of musical bliss.
5 She’s Not There – UK Subs
Uncle Charlie’s unlikely cover of the Zombies song and sung by bassist Paul Slack belied his roots back into the sixties but the Subs’ added energy suddenly made the song an international sweaty dive mosh pit classic.