"[Mark's] voice was just, was completely the voice of my teenage years more than any other singer, easily. When I think of myself, my bedroom, it’s Mark E. Smith, talking, ranting through something, completely." - Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead

Legendary and highly influential Manchester group The Fall were known for a few things over the course of 40 years and dozens of albums and band members: acerbic frontman Mark E. Smith's often brilliant, often bile-fueled wit; his proclivity for firing members at the drop of a hat and for odd reasons (like being seen dancing to "Smoke on the Water"); and an output that, for many years, was as excellent as it was prolific.

Regarding the post-punk band's revolving door lineup, Smith famously cracked, "If it's me and yer granny on bongos, it's the Fall." When Smith died in 2018, he took The Fall with him. But you can hear his and The Fall's influence in many groups, including Sonic Youth, Pavement, Girls Against Boys, LCD Soundsystem, McLusky, Art Brut, Parquet Courts and, more recently, Protomartyr, Fontaines DC, IDLES, Shame and Sleaford Mods. Smith's own heros included Can (which the band paid tribute to on the track "I Am Damo Suzuki"), the Velvet Underground, Gene Vincent, The Stooges, Sex Pistols, Frank Zappa and Johnny Cash.

As much as Mark E. Smith was a true poet -- and he was -- he and The Fall also had a special way with other artists' songs. Starting during the band's mid-'80s period when Brix Smith was in the band (and married to MES), The Fall began frequently recording covers, sometimes as singles. That carried on through the rest of band's run. You looked forward to seeing who they might tackle next. The Fall recorded upwards of 40 covers over the next 30 years and many of their best-known songs are by other groups, though a lot of people may not realize that. There lies Smith's genius -- The Fall always managed to make them sound they wrote them. Here are 21 of their best.

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21. "Junk Man" (Originally by The Groundhogs)

There are a few groups who feel psychically connected to The Fall, sharing an attitude and outlook, even while making wildly different music. Cult UK blues rockers The Groundhogs -- who backed John Lee Hooker and went prog in the '70s -- are one of those, and The Fall went to their well more than once. This cover of "Junkman," one of a few that are on 1994's Middle Class Revolt, is even grittier than the 1971 original, and lets things fester in the garbage can till there's a good stink on it. The song's riff is paired with a phlegmatic howl that screams "gag reflex," while the band stomps around in the dumpster with thudding percussion and bass (and vocals) that are fully in the red for maximum fuzz.

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20. "Funnel of Love" (Originally by Wanda Jackson)

Wanda Jackson's 1961 classic got the melody knocked out of it with this pummeling version from Your Future, Our Clutter which was The Fall's 2010 album for Domino. The lyrics are about the only thing that they keep, coming up with their own ripper of a riff, while constant feedback swirls around Mark E. Smith's unhinged vocal performance as everything seems to be swirling down the drain.

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19. "Houston" (Written by Lee Hazlewood)

One of The Fall's more low-key covers is this take on Lee Hazlewood's lonesome drifter ballad that was a hit for Dean Martin in 1965, and which they retitled "Lour 41 'Houston." For the first minute or so, it's just fuzzed out bass and Mark E. Smith, and the song probably could've stayed that way and still been effective, but more twangy elements are added slowly, while still keeping its dusty, dejected demeanor. It's the most "country" song on The Fall's 2003 album Country on the Click (which MES retitled Real New Fall LP after the record leaked early) and shows Smith could be a charmer sometimes.

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18. "Jungle Rock" (Originally by Hank Mizell)

Hank Mizell's 1958 original, which unexpectedly became at UK hit 18 years later, is a silly, if fun, early rock n' roll standard bearer, and this is a great example of The Fall -- on their album Levitate (same album as "I'm a Mummy" which is elsewhere on this list) -- turning novelty into gold. The song gets a somewhat electronic reinvention by The Fall, now driven by a breakbeat that nods to a different jungle. It also features a particularly surly delivery by Mark E. Smith, who works in some Jurassic Park lyrical updates to the original's story of discovering a dance party deep in the bush.

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17. "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" (Originally by The Move)

Mark E. Smith never had much time for hippies but The Fall had a blast with The Move's counter-culture anthem, recorded for 2005's Fall Heads Roll. The band's mid-'00s records could sound dodgy but this is a particularly banging production -- this one rips, and the "trippy" effects when MES sings "Can't seem to puzzle out the signs" work perfectly with his marble-mouth delivery. "Fun" is not a word that is often associated with The Fall but "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" is a very good time.

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16. "I'm a Mummy" (Originally by Bob McFadden & DOR)

Mark E. Smith had a genius ability to find a song that is by most measures "bad" and hear its potential as a Fall ripper. Written by the inimitable Rod McKuen and "sung" by voice actor Bob McFadden, "The Mummy" came along at the height of the last-'50s novelty record mania and falls into so-bad-it's-amusing territory. But The Fall make it genuinely awesome, giving it a '60s freakbeat makeover. Few can screech like MES, and his delivery of "I'm a Mummy!" makes the song.

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Matador-era The Fall press photo

15. "War" (Originally by Henry Cow and Slapp Happy)

1994's Middle Class Revolt was a disappointing album, but it did contain this inspired cover of this 1975 song from the collaboration between art-rockers Slapp Happy and Henry Cow. Where the original is warm and weird and full of helium. Mark E. Smith and crew pull it into the trenches, using its title as musical inspiration with relentless, pounding drums set against what almost sounds like Smith yelling "bang!" repeatedly, and a scuffed-up, droning riff.

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14. "Why Are People Grudgeful?" (Originally by Lee "Scratch" Perry, Joe Gibbs)

One of The Fall's most high concept covers, MES combines Lee "Scratch" Perry's single "People Funny Boy" and Joe Gibbs' "People Grudgeful," both of which came out in 1968. A little backstory: Perry & Gibbs used to work together at WIRL Records in Kingston, Jamaica but after an argument, Perry quit, started Upsetter Records and released "People Funny Boy" which was a dis on Gibbs (and one of the first examples of the looping sound people associate with reggae). Gibbs quickly hit back with "People Grudgeful." This cover, which went to #43 on the UK charts, transforms the two songs into one electro-ska-dub number that doesn't skimp on the grudge and could only come from The Fall.

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13. "Legend of Xanadu" (Originally by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)

To celebrate its 40th anniversary in 1992, UK music weekly NME put together a compilation titled Ruby Trax, featuring 40 then-current bands and artists covering classic UK #1 hits from its 40 years of publication. The three disc set included covers by The Jesus & Mary Chain, Blur, Suede, Tori Amos, Boy George, Teenage Fanclub, Ride and -- to remind you what year this was -- EMF, The Farm and Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Bassist Stephen Hanley says all the good songs were already picked, so they chose this 1968 single from one hit wonders Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The original is Spaghetti Western orch pop, but The Fall turn it into a crazed techno country jam. As only they could.

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12. "White Lightnin'" (Originally by The Big Bopper)

Written by the Big Bopper and made famous by George Jones, this ode to moonshine was a shoo-in for the Fall to cover and it's a little surprising it took them till 1991 to do it. This lineup of the band, which included keyboardist Dave Bush (who would later join Elastica), was the techno-iest The Fall ever got, and their take on the song is both punk and synthy, yet still hams it up like the original when it comes time to bellow out "White Lightnin'" like a thunderclap. It shouldn't work, but it's The Fall.

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11. "Just Waitin'" (Originally by Hank Williams)

Some of The Fall's best covers are ones where Mark E. Smith takes liberties with the music and the lyrics. "Just Waitin'" is a talkin' blues single Hank Williams wrote and recorded under his Luke the Drifter alias; an ode to doing nothing. In what is a rarity for a Fall cover, they give it more of a melody, while Smith adds a modern entry to the list of listless characters in the song who have their eye on something else: "The cretin is waitin for U2 to come on MTV again / but the producer is waiting for the blonde bird / and the blonde girl's waitin' for him." MES is always great in the observer role, and "Just Waitin'" fits him to a T.

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Brix-era Fall press pic

10. "A Day in the Life" (Originally by The Beatles)

Tribute albums were all the rage in the late '80s. In 1988, the NME put out a charity album, Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, where they had different bands cover every song on The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It included pop band Wet Wet Wet covering "With a Little Help from My Friends," Billy Bragg covering "She's Leaving Home," Sonic Youth performing "Within You or Without You" and, for classic closer "A Day in the Life," they got The Fall. The band do it justice, Mark E. Smith sings almost sincerely, and Brix shows off the jangly psych-pop side she'd further explore with her solo band Adult Net. And it still sounds like The Fall.

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9. "Lost in Music" (Originally by Sister Sledge)

When The Fall were trying to decide what to do for the Ruby Trax compilation, this was the other song contender, so they decided to record both at the same session. "Legend of Xanadu" won out for Ruby Trax, but they ended up using "Lost in Music" -- written by Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards and recorded by Sister Sledge -- for 1993's The Infotainment Scan, which was their first of two albums for Matador Records. As bassist Stephen Hanley wrote in his memoir The Big Midweek, "it’s as dancy as The Fall get but, once the vocals are in place, it goes from feeling like the happy disco celebration of the original to something more sinister." Smith's shrieks go a long way toward that sinister vibe, but it's still a banger.

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8. "Jerusalem" (traditional; words by William Blake, music by Hubert Parry)

In 1988, The Fall collaborated with avant garde choreographer Michael Clark on a ballet, I Am Kurious Oranj. The show opened with The Fall's take on the traditional hymn "Jerusalem," which features Blake's epic poem set to music by Hubert Parry; you may know the Emerson Lake & Palmer version from Brain Salad Surgery. Mark E. Smith told BBC DJ Liz Kershaw at the time, "We approach it like the Velvet Underground would," though with Simon Wolstencroft's pounding drums and Stephen Hanley's dark bassline it's closer to powerful, gothy territory, with Smith giving an especially bilous vocal performance (and changing some of the words along the way).

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7. "I Hate You" (Originally by The Monks)

The Fall have covered more songs by The Monks -- a band made up of American G.I.'s stationed in West Germany in the '60s -- than any other group. The first two covers appeared on the same album, 1990's Extricate!, where "I Hate You" and "Oh, How to Do Now" were simply listed as "Black Monk Theme Pt. 1" and "Black Monk Theme Pt. 2." (One wonders if MES got an unlabeled cassette and never bothered to find out the song titles.) Like "Mr Pharmacist" (which appears later in this list), "I Hate You" sounds feels like it somehow has The Fall's DNA imprinted on it, with its chugging beat, fuzzed-out bass and wild vocals. Smith's delivery of lines like "You you you you you know I hate you with a passion baby" are deeply felt ...and were most certainly aimed at Brix Smith from whom he was very newly divorced.

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6. "I'm Going to Spain" (Originally by Steve Bent)

Mark E. Smith not only had great taste in garage rock and country obscurities, he also had an ability to turn trash into treasure. Written and recorded by British actor Steve Bent, the 1976 original -- a drippy story of a factory worker dreaming of quitting his job and moving to Spain where he hopes he "can quickly learn the language" -- is terrible, and was included on 1978 K-Tel compilation The World's Worst Record Show. The Fall simplify the melody and structure just a little and manage to turn it into one of their most wistful and charming songs. It's also a rare example of MES singing and carrying a melody through an entire song.

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5. "Rollin' Dany" (Originally by Gene Vincent)

There has always been a heaping helping of rockabilly in The Fall's sound, but its influence became more overt once Brix joined the band (and married Mark E. Smith), and blossomed with this twitchy take on this 1958 Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps rave-up that is extra notable as the group's first studio-recorded cover. (Clearly, given this list, there were a lot more to come.) Few can match Vincent's effortless attitude, but Smith does in his own way; just listen to his amazing delivery of "I'm-a tellin' ya man, that cat'd fooled 'em all." The band, entering their mid-'80s prime, sound fantastic and give the "wah wah-ooh" backing vocals real oomph.

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4. "F-'oldin' Money" (Originally by Tommy Blake)

After a dark mid-'90s which hit its nadir at the infamous NYC show at Brownies that ended with an onstage fistfight, the whole band quitting and Mark E. Smith spending a night in the clink, The Fall returned with an all-new lineup and a welcome new focus on 1999's The Marshall Suite. There are two very good covers on the album: The Saints' "This Perfect Day" and Tommy Blake's "F-'oldin' Money." The latter turned out to be an all-timer with the new band in high gear, production that sounds live and loud, and MES very zoned-in. Blake's 1959 original has a whiff of novelty to it, but The Fall turn it into a classic.

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3. "There's a Ghost in My House" (Originally by R. Dean Taylor)

The Fall's biggest UK hit was a cover of Motown-signed Canadian singer R. Dean Taylor's 1967 single "There's a Ghost in My House" -- MES and crew got it to #30 in 1987. The original was not initially a hit but became a staple at Northern Soul club nights and eventually hit #3 in 1974. (It was also covered by Human League offshoot The British Electric Foundation in 1982.) The Fall take the fuzzed out descending guitar riff on Taylor's version and run with it, toning down the more overt Motown aspects and reworking it as a Fall song, complete with "spooky" keyboards and Mark E. Smith's haunted vocals. Bassist Stephen Hanley notes that what money they would've made off of the single went to paying for the expensive hologram sleeve it came it. Regardless, a classic.

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2. "Victoria" (Originally by The Kinks)

The Fall's second biggest UK hit was also a cover, coming in at #35 in 1988. It was also a college radio / 120 Minutes mainstay in the U.S. This was many people's introduction to "Victoria," knowing this before ever hearing The Kinks' original (from 1969's Arthur [Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire]). As usual, The Fall take "Victoria" to the pub, rough it up a little and introduce it to their brand of post-punk indie, with MES giving Ray Davies' lyrical invectives like "I was born, lucky me" even more withering sarcasm. It may not be better than the original but it's close.

Fun fact: The video for "Victoria" was shot on the set of the 1987 film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit and they used the cast's costumes.

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1. "Mr. Pharmacist" (Originally by The Other Half)

Some of the songs The Fall covered, the band had to reshape into their image; ones like "Mr Pharmacist," though, feel like templates for The Fall's sound and purpose. A psych-garage nugget song about scoring drugs, The Fall keep pretty much everything about The Other Half's original intact, but rev it up considerably. MES' was more of an amphetamines man than the psychedelics of the lyrics, and he really punctuates things with an especially bilious delivery. "Mr Pharmacist" is also one of the few Fall songs to have stayed in their set right up to the end and according to Setlist.FM was their most-played song ever. Another band may have written it, but "Mr Pharmacist" is quintessential The Fall.

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BONUS: "Elves" (aka "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog")

OK, not technically a cover, and credited to Mark E. Smith and Brix Smith, this track from The Wonderful & Frightening World of The Fall is basically The Stooges' "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog" with new lyrics from MES about "how shitty all Scottish groups" were at the time (according to him). As for The Stooges riff, Brix claims in the liner notes of the 2010 reissue of Wonderful & Frightening that she'd never heard The Stooges, at least not knowingly.  "I was truly unaware. I must have heard it and not even realised what I had done. Until later, and at which time I went to dig a hole in the dirt!" Mark would go on to sing lead on an actual cover of "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Clint Boon Experience in 1999. "Elves" is way better.

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Here are 14 More Covers by The Fall

"This Perfect Day" (The Saints)

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"Popcorn Double Feature" (The Searchers)

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"Kimble" (Lee 'Scratch' Perry)

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"Strychnine" (The Sonics)

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"Gotta See Jane" (R. Dean Taylor)

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"Bourgeois Town" (Leadbelly)

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"African Man" (Iggy Pop)

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"Shut Up" (The Monks)

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"Oh, How to Do Now" (The Monks)

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"Higgledy Piggledy" (The Monks)

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"I'm Not Satisfied" (Frank Zappa)

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"Strangetown" (The Groundhogs)

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"Cock in My Pocket" (Iggy and the Stooges)

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"Stay Away (Old White Train)" (Johnny Paycheck)

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"Pinball Machine" (Lonnie Irving)

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We also listed 15 Essential songs by the Fall (that aren't covers).

And here's a playlist of all the covers on this list that are on Spotify:

Few bands of the last 40 years have been as influential to indie, alt, what-have-you, as The Fall, and few bands remained as relevant for as long either. Bilious, scathingly funny, thoughtful, crazy, often inscrutable (both literally and figuratively), MES was a one-of-a-kind. Rest in peace, Mark.