Linger On: Six Distinctive Lou Reed and Velvet Underground Covers

Categories: Too Soon

4) Big Star, "Femme Fatale"

Almost as influential and revered as the Velvets themselves, Alex Chilton covered "Femme Fatale" for what ended up being Big Star's third album. He sounds positively tortured throughout the whole album, but rarely as much as here.

5) Joy Division, "Sister Ray"

In concert, Joy Division often covered "Sister Ray," the seventeen-minute track that closes the Velvets' White Light/White Heat. A live version appears on Still, Joy Division's posthumous 1981 collection. Captured live at London's Moonlight Club in April 1980, It's notable for the way it sounds, well, exactly like a Joy Division song. Bernard Sumner's guitar slashes like on "She's Lost Control," while Peter Hook plays his bass like a lead instrument and Curtis mutters the lyrics. "Should hear our version of 'Louie Louie'," Curtis cracks at the end. He would commit suicide about one month later.

6) Elizabeth Mitchell, "What Goes On"

"What Goes On" is the third Velvet Underground album's crown jewel. It's been covered by Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Psychic TV, the Feelies (one of the world's great Velvets interpreters), and Detroit dream-poppers Slumber Party, among others. However, we're partial to this version by family-music sensation Elizabeth Mitchell and her band, if for no other reason than it proves the Velvet Underground could even work as children's music.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
Sabina Da'Lover
Sabina Da'Lover

I am surprised Cowboy Junkies 'Sweet Jane' isn't included - even Lou said it was the definitive version...

Brittney West
Brittney West

Japan's All Tomorrow's Parties, Cowboy Junkies' Sweet Jane...


two covers of Femme Fatale and no mention of Cowboy Junkies' reinvention of Sweet Jane? It cemented their career as well as introduced legions of 90s kids to listen to Velvet Underground

allison.babka topcommenter

I was introduced to Lou Reed through U2's Zoo TV tour. The band was covering "Satellite of Love" and Lou Reed beamed in to close out the song on those giant television monitors. After that, I dug into Reed's solo work and Velvet Underground songs and was hooked. That's when I rediscovered R.E.M.'s "Pale Blue Eyes" cover and fell in love with it. 

Awesome post, Mike. :)


@EricLee31 That was a good one too, Eric.  Definitely one of the best known.  Two Nice Girls also did a good version around the same time that incorporated Joan Armatrading's "Affection."

Now Trending

St. Louis Concert Tickets

From the Vault