Who Did It Better: Status Quo vs. Camper Van Beethoven
Camper Van Beethoven covered Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, but who did it better?
by Walter Price
I have a freakish if not unbalanced thought process when it comes to cover songs. On most accounts, or when it comes to certain bands rather, I don’t like folks messing with classic originals. Artists like The Smiths, Stones, Zeppelin, Status Quo, as the list would start, shouldn’t be messed with. But every once in awhile comes a cover that is as good or does something to the original that makes me go, “Alright, this is cool. I can dig it.”
In January of 1968 legendary English Rock N’ Rollers, Status Quo released the single “Pictures of Matchstick Men” (B-side “Gentleman Joe’s Sidewalk Café”) and it made a pretty minor dent in overall popular culture at the time. Never the less, the track would go on to become a rock classic and be covered by many, Type O Negative ft. Ozzy, Slickee Boys, and later Kasabian had a go but in the pop-culturally weird year of 1989 ‘modern rockers’ Camper Van Beethoven (from their Key Lime Pie album) utilized their blend of ska, psych-pop, punk and alt-rock to Francis Rossi % Co’s template of “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and went #1. But does that chart position make their take better than the original?
You be the judge:
Status Quo (1968)
Camper Van Beethoven (1989)
R.I.P. Rick Parfitt
Status Quo website / Camper Van Beethoven website
German version also available!