Originals vs Covers – 3 C=O

In this episode we will look at Cover versions that equal the Originals, thus the C=O.

If you’re wondering why we’re here readĀ Part 1 of this series where we had talked about Originals vs Covers and the triggers for this series. We actually had a Part 2, just a few days ago where we looked at Cover versions that were better than the original. Click that link and check those songs out.

Here, we shall see that in one or two cases, the versions are quite different, yet, the cover stands out as a force as strong as the original. As before, you will get a link to the original, link(s) to cover versions and a rationale of sorts for their equal status.

Let me know if you agree, disagree or are just meh, whatever, man. Use the comment feature below to do that.

Here we go then, songs where the cover version is just as good as the original!


Covers = Originals

Songs where the cover version equals the quality of the original. The second of three such essays.
Romeo and Juliet - Dire StraitsThe KillersThe cover version retains much of the feel of the original. It doesn't break new ground but stays faithful to the original.
I shall be released - Bob DylanThe BandAiy! The two are similar in so many ways and yet they have so many differences. I'd listen to either version with no issues at all. Actually, I'd probably end up listening to both back to back. This song benefits from having a Nobel Laureate as lyricist.
"Now, yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
A man who swears he's not to blame
All day long I hear him shouting so loud
Just crying out that he was framed"
Wooden Ships - CSNYJefferson AirplaneA bit of a trick question, one of my favorite trick questions, one that is usually received with an eyeroll by the long-suffering companion. This song was written by Crosby and Stills of CSNY and Paul Kantner of the Airplane. CSNY is the more well-known version, but both retain the angst. CSNY gets the dreaminess and despair better, but the Airplane got the ship straining, Jorma's guitar and Grace's nose (and voice) on their side. 1-1, methinks
All Along the Watchtower - Bob DylanJimi HendrixAnother one of those songs which trip up people as to the original. Hendrix drives it and his guitar brings out the poetic flavour of the theme. On the other hand, Dylan gets out the message, clean and nasal.
Morning Dew - Bonnie Dobson1. Grateful Dead
2. 31st of Feb
I shall provide a separate essay covering just this song in the near future. Meanwhile, excuse me while my head wanders off.
Hey Jude - The BeatlesWilson PickettThe original was written for Julian Lennon as his parents John and Cynthia were separating. A great song of advice and hope and looking forward and the all together now, na na na sing along.
The Wilson Pickett version is rock history kicking in at 2:54! 'Who's that guitar player?' asked Eric Clapton.
Chantilly Lace - The Big BopperJerry Lee LewisAn almost indistinguishable version by JL Lewis. The Big Bopper is the other one in the plane, The Day the Music Died. "but.....but....but..."
Summertime Blues - Eddie CochraneThe WhoCochrane's version has that guitar and the feel of ther . The Who's version has that guitar and that nut behind the drum kit and Entwhistle's growl.
Who do you love - Bo Diddley1. Ronnie Hawkins and The Band
2. George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Bo rocks it straight with the trademark beat that is beyond the scope of this exercise. Ronnie and the Hawks, aka The Band, are simply having a lot of fun on this during The Last Waltz concert. And Thorogood is thoroughly great!
Cocaine - JJ CaleEric ClaptonClose your eyes and listen to both and tell me they are very different (except for the guitar solo)
I shot the sheriff - Bob MarleyEric ClaptonGreat song by Marley. Great cover by EC.
First cut is the deepest - Cat StevensSheryl CrowAh - yes. Straight cover of a great song. Ignore the blond lady with the boots and the Gibson Hummingbird in her hands.
Walk this way - AerosmithRun DMCLovely song from Aerosmith. Run DMC adds scratch and retains Joe Perry on guitar.
Jumpin' Jack Flash - Rolling Stones1. Leon Russell
2. Ananda Shankar - honorable mention
Oh yeah! Nothing I can say is enough for the first version. "Just a couple of numbers from Leon" says George Harrison and boy do those couple of numbers rock!
Ananda Shankar gives it the sitar treatment. Different!
Baby It's you - The ShirellesSmithGreat song gets an upgrade while retaining the flavour of the original. Sha la la la...
Living next door to Alice - New WorldSmokieA minor point release not a new version, to borrow from my techie past. "Alice's gone but I'm still here".... should be a lesson to all of us.
You've got a friend - Carole KingJames TaylorTwo friends doing the same song. Very little changes - listen to either one, anytime. And do not forget to sing along!
My Favorite Things - Julie AndrewsJohn ColtraneA very different version, but an eminently enjoyable version. The original is much loved, the cover less so, but it's the cover that comes on in my car....
Born Under a bad sign - Albert KingCreamAh - what an delight of a song with some great lyrics! "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all!" Albert's guitar and clean backing hold the original up nicely. The cover has Eric's guitar, Jack's vocals and Ginger's drums. (Get those headphones on, proper over ear ones, as I did šŸ˜‰ )
Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon and GarfunkelBanglesThe Bangles add a slashing electric guitar and an urgency, but somehow still manage to retain the reflective nature of the song.
Revolution - The Beatles1. The Beatles
2. The Beatles #9
There's a slow, bluesy version that bops along, then a rockier version and then there's #9. "Number 9, number 9, number 9" - something I used to repeat under my breath in particularly boring meetings. So now you know...
Melissa - 31st of FebruaryAllman BrothersAnother tricky one. The 31st of February has the voice of Brother Greg and the guitar of Brother Duane and the other *is* the Allman Brothers... The Allman Brothers version is a straight evolution of the song, but both work for me


The songs in the list above are not in any particular order, or rather they are in the order in which I thought about them. All opinions are personal and trivial details may or may not be true, but are presented as currently known by me.

You are free to disagree! Just use the comment box below and let me have it!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Chakra Incognita

    ‘”Number 9, number 9, number 9″ – something I used to repeat under my breath in particularly boring meetings. So now you know…’
    This is the weirdest ever thing that you wrote in any post
    I learnt a lot of new stuff here. As for Cocaine, the Calcutta band doesn’t do a bad job either.
    I must listen to the cover of Hey Jude – haven’t heard it

    1. SloWord

      Hahaha! True! Eye rolling and smaking myself would not have gone down well…
      Oh – not heard Wilson Pickett version of Hey Jude?? That’s Duane kicking in. Eric heard that and wanted to meet “that guy” and thus the Layla sessions were ignited.