People have been covering songs for as long as there have been songs to cover. And sometimes they do it so well, it can eclipse the original in terms of popularity. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you will know that the vast majority of the music I listen to is rock and roll, so that’s where I’ll be focusing. So, here are my top 5 favourite covers.
All Along The Watchtower- Jimi Hendrix (Original by Bob Dylan)
Look, Hendrix so completely made this song his own that even Bob Dylan says his is the definitive version. Dylan’s original is a nice folky kind of tune that ambles along with its acoustic guitar and harmonica creating a lilting rolling quality and Dylan’s vocal delivery adds to the earthy nature of the song. Hendrix’s version bursts into life, and the song is now a completely different beast. It’s also a perfect showcase of Hendrix ability on the guitar, both as a lead player and a rhythm player supporting the song with little in between fills in the verses. This song evokes the 60s like few others and is one of Hendrix’s greatest recordings ever.
Ronnie Rising Medley- Metallica (Original songs by Rainbow)
This is a medley of four songs from Ronnie James Dio’s time with Rainbow; they are A Light in the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer and Kill The King. It was recorded for a tribute album recorded after Dio’s death from stomach cancer in 2010. What I like about this medley is that Metallica at no point try and absolutely replicate the originals. They make the songs their own. James Hetfield doesn’t try to replicate what Dio did, he sings in his style. The keyboard parts from the originals are largely handled by Kirk Hammet and the two guitars together make this a much heavier version than the originals. a great medley that shows respect to the talents of Ronnie James Dio while showing that Metallica are still a band to be reckoned with.
Live and Let Die and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door- Guns n’ Roses (Originals by Wings and Bob Dylan)
I’ve put these two together because they were recorded by the same band at around the time for the same project, that being the simultaneously released double albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Both songs are very well suited for where the band was at the time. They were destructively brilliant and they made these songs their own. Both were played extensively on the accompanying tour and both made a return on the recent Not In This Lifetime tour. They made both songs utterly their own to the point where most rock fans wouldn’t know that Guns n’ Roses didn’t write them. Both songs could be seen as almost a self commentary on where the band was, teetering on the edge of imploding and were at heaven’s door physically and mentally. Axl Rose’s delivery on both is ferocious when it’s required and mellow when it’s required. Slash, whatever he might have been on or however much Jack Daniel’s was in his system was at the top of his game here. They may have been celebrating their influences but they made the songs their own.
Cat Scratch Fever- Mötorhead (Original by Ted Nugent)
The original song is an ode to on the road… shenanigans, we’ll call them. Ted Nugent is famous for three things, his lightning fast blues and rock n’ roll licks, his controversial politics and his obsession with women on the road. Lemmy is the ultimate rocker. Equally as interested in the female form, this song fits Mötorhead to a tee. While the original was a good little rocker, Mötorhead amped it up and made it much more hard hitting.