UG News editor since early 2013. King Crimson fan. I handle the news around here.
Posted on Aug 01, 2014 02:45 pm
Music covers are definitely a massive trend in the rock world these days, as guitar-driven covers of today's popular songs tend to pop up in a matter of days after the original. But there's more to covers than being brief attention-grabbers.
If done properly, cover versions can overshadow the original to such an extent that most fans aren't even aware they're listening to a cover track in the first place. That's what we'll focus on right now, so check out our list of 12 cover songs more famous than originals.
Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower (Original by Bob Dylan)
Released merely six months after the original Bob Dylan version, Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" became one of late guitar god's most renowned track. To this day, the song is more commonly associated with Hendrix than with Dylan.
Joan Jett - I Love Rock 'N Roll (Original by Arrows)
When you think "I Love Rock 'N Roll," you think Joan Jett. OK, maybe Britney Spears, but definitely not the Arrows, the original performers of the track. Far from the classic hit made by Jett rendition in 1982, the song was originally released in 1975.
"After Midnight" was the first in a series of Clapton covers that basically gave JJ a career in music. Then there's the well-known "Cocaine," as well as quite a few others - Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Call Me the Breeze" and "Same Old Blues" come to mind.
Santana - Black Magic Woman (Original by Fleetwood Mac)
Staple Santana track "Black Magic Woman" wasn't actually written by the guitar legend, but by another guitar legend, the more underrated one. His name is Peter Green and you probably know at least some of his work with early Fleetwood Mac. If not, check out "Oh Well," it's a good starting point.
The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man (Original by Bob Dylan)
An entire list can be made on famous track originally written by Dylan, but we'll stop here, with the classic Byrds track "Mr. Tambourine Man." As the group's debut single, it propelled the act into rock giants. They didn't take long to cover it either; Dylan's version was released on March 22, 1965, whereas The Byrds rendition saw its release on April 12, 1965, mere three weeks afterwards.
Johnny Cash - Hurt (Original by Nine Inch Nails)
The story of Johnny Cash covering NIN is quite a well-known one, we'll just leave a quote from Mr. Trent Reznor here: "I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form.
"I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning - different, but every bit as pure."
Metallica - So What (Original by Anti-Nowhere League)
Metallica made several punk tracks way more famous than originals with their 1998 cover album "Garage Inc." but Anti-Nowhere League's "So What" definitely stands out as the song coming from the least famous artist that became the most famous. Interestingly enough, Metallica first released the cover as a B-side of "Sad But True" single.
Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused (Original by Jake Holmes)
Consisting of only guitar, keys and vocals, the original version of "Dazed and Confused" was written by folk rocker Jake Holmes, and still features that distinctive descending bass note part.
Black Sabbath - Evil Woman (Original by Crow)
Not exactly a staple Sabbath track, "Evil Woman" still stands out as one of the band's groovier tracks. It took future metal gods less than a year to cover the original 1969 track. As for the Crow, the blues rockers ventured forth and are still active to this day, despite several breaks.
Animals - The House of the Rising Sun (Traditional song)
Speaking of traditional track, we might as well bring up Hendrix again, specifically the "Hey Joe" track. But since Jimi got his spotlight slot, we'll focus on Animals. Same story as before - not too many fans see it as a traditional, but a full-fledged Animals track instead. Talk about cover power.
Faith No More - Easy (Like Sunday Morning) (Original by Commodores)
It's quite debatable whether "Easy (Like Sunday Morning)" should make the list, seeing that the original Commodores version, written by singer Lionel Richie, topped several charts around the globe. But we'll go ahead and include the Faith No More version here since, well, it's Patton and co.
Rage Against the Machine - Renegades of Funk (Original by Afrika Bambaataa)
Taking quite a detour from the original Afrika Bambaataa electro hip-hop vibe, "Renegades of Funk" went on to become one of RATM's most famous tracks.
Got more suitable tracks to share? Do it in the comments.