There are a lot of great rock n' roll artists in the world, but we all know what the deal is. Almost every successful rock band in history, aside from the original ones, started off as cover bands. Although most of them later went on to write some incredible original material, some of their covers were so iconic that they became more popular then the original. Some people love covers, some people hate them. Personally for me, if a band has too many popular covers, it makes me feel like they are incapable of writing their own material. But as with all things, there are good covers and there are bad covers. Here are 7 covers which are better then their original.
Written By: Nine Inch Nails
Covered By: Johnny Cash
If you wanna know how much I know about new music, I thought Nine Inch Nails did a crappy cover of a Johnny Cash song, but no. Although Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt" is extremely popular the song was originally written by Ohio industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails. It was released as a single on April 17, 1995.
In 2003, the song was covered by country music icon Johnny Cash, just before his death. The song immediately became a hit, and is now more synonymous with Cash then it is with Nine Inch Nails. Nine Inch Nails might have written it, but Cash perfected it. Johnny Cash's version is louder, faster, heavier and rocks harder. It's just far better. I don't know how a country singer outdid a rock band, but he did.
6. I Put A Spell On You
Written By: Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Covered By: Creedence Clearwater Revival
This song is an absolute classic and has been covered by everyone from Nina Simone to Marilyn Manson. However, the best and most popular rendition of the song is by Bay Area rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. It's no surprise so many artists have covered this song. It was originally released in 1956 by Cleveland artist, Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The screeching lyrics and scary theatrics of Screamin' Jay were way ahead of their time. The song shaped the entire rock n' roll world and is said to have inspired the shock rock movement. Rolling Stones Magazine still ranks it in the 500 greatest rock songs of all time. But I'm also noticing a trend of bands from Ohio getting covered. I guess there is a reason the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame is located there.
5. Baby Please Don't Go
Written By: Big Joe Williams
Covered By: AC/DC
This is another one of those classic songs that has been around forever. This one was originally written way back in 1935 by Delta Blues musician, Big Joe Williams. It has been covered by everyone from Van Morison to Aerosmith. However, the AC/DC version is my absolute favorite. The song was released in 1975 on their debut album "High Voltage". At the time, it was considered the highlight of their live shows. To this day, it is the only cover song to be featured on an AC/DC album. With their enormous catalog of original kickass songs, this song still ranks as one of my all time favorites. And the video for it is absolutely hilarious. There is something about Bon Scott in drag that cracks me up. That alone earns it a spot on the list.
4. Land of Confusion
Written By: Genesis
Covered By: Disturbed
This is another song I had no idea was a cover until recently. I was never a fan of Genesis so I always thought this was a Disturbed song, especially since their version was a huge hit when it came out in 2005. However, it turns out the song was originally written by the English "rock" band Genesis and released in 1986. Maybe it's the fact that I've grown to love Disturbed's version, that I absolutely can't stand the original version. The Disturbed version is just louder, heaver and rocks harder. Plus their video for it is way more badass then the creepy Genesis video. This is one instance where older isn't necessarily better.
Written By: Billy Joe Royal
Covered By: Deep Purple
This is another song I was surprised to find out was a cover. With this one however, I feel a lot of people don't realize it's a cover, as it's become so synonymous with Deep Purple. It was originally released in 1967 by Georgian rocker, Billy Joe Royal. Don't worry, I hadn't heard of him either until an hour ago. Anyway, the song was covered the following year by Deep Purple and quickly became a hit. It should be saying a lot that a British band wants to cover an American song. But let's be honest, the original version kind of sucks. This is another example of the Americans creating something, and the British perfecting it.
2. Do You Wanna Touch Me
Written By: Gary Glitter
Covered By: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
This is by far the closest cover of all of the songs on this list, although most people also do not realize that this is a cover. This popular rock anthem was originally released in 1973 by British glam rocker, Gary Glitter and was covered by Joan Jett over a decade later. Listening to both versions, there isn't much of a difference, aside from the fact that the guitars on Joan's version are heavier, and there's a woman singing. But this song is so synonymous with Joan Jett that most people simply pretend the Gary Glitter version doesn't exist. It also deserves to be number 2 on this list for the simple fact that we have a woman covering a song which was originally sung by a man. And she certainly outdid him. She really outdid him. This time, the Yanks outdid the Brits.
1. With A Little Help From My Friends
Written By: The Beatles
Covered By: Joe Cocker
Rule number one of covering the Beatles, don't cover the Beatles.....unless you're Joe Cocker. This is one time when the Beatles really got served. The song was originally released by them in 1967 and was covered by fellow Brit Joe Cocker, the following year. I think this is one instance where the cover is just as popular as the original. The Joe Coker version is longer, heavier and has extra riffs. The singing and melody is also far better then the original. I appreciate the Beatles' contribution to the music world, but this is one time when I'm glad they were covered. This time, the Brits perfected their own music.
Unfortunately, GAG only allows you to post 15 videos, so here are some honorable mentions.
Black Sabbath's cover of Crow's "Evil Woman"
Jimi Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"
Manfred Mann's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Spirits in the Night"
Thin Lizzy's cover of the Irish folk song "Whiskey in a Jar"
Deep Purple's cover of Billy Roberts' "Hey Joe"
Thanks for reading/listening.
If you have any covers you really like, post them in the comments section.