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Under The Covers, Vol. 6

Under The Covers, Vol. 6

Under the Covers, Vol. 6

This week’s list of covers includes a lot of oldies but goodies from Jimi Hendrix, Black Crowes, Joe Cocker, Cheap Trick and Johnny Cash.

Joe Cocker – “With a Little Help from My Friends” (The Beatles)

This song was originally released in 1967 as part of  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Joe Cocker covered it in 1968, and it remains one of the most covered songs in rock and pop. It has been covered over 50 times.

Original Version

Cover by Joe Cocker

Which is better?

Joe Cocker’s version wins here. There is more emotion in it. The Beatles version is upbeat, and it is groovy, but I love Cocker’s bluesy rendition. Slowing the song down helps. It feels like it was written to be performed like Cocker does it. Maybe it is because I grew up with Cocker’s version as the theme song to The Wonder Years.

Black Crowes – “Hard to Handle” (Otis Redding)

The original version of this track was released following Otis Redding’s death in 1967 on the album The Immortal Otis Redding. A lot of artists have covered trhis song, but The Black Crowes’ version is probably the most well known. It was part of their debut album Shake Your Money Maker in 1990.

Original Version

Cover by Black Crowes

Which is better?

This is a tough one for me. Redding’s version gets into a better groove, but Black Crowes rock it out. I love the horns in the original, along with the vocals. I have to go with Otis on this one.

Cheap Trick  – “Ain’t That a Shame” (Fats Domino)

This song was originally released in 1955 as a single. It reached #10 on the Billboard Pop Charts, and sold over a million copies. It was also featured on the American Graffiti soundtrack. Cheap Trick covered the song on a 1979 live album Cheap Trick at Budokan.

Original Version

Cover by Cheap Trick

Which is better?

Fats Domino’s version is classic 50s rock. I love the steady piano chords and driving beat. It seems simpler in a way. The cheap Trick version has some interesting guitar distortion at times, but not enough. Fats wins here.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “All Along the Watchtower” (Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” first appeared on John Wesley Harding in 1967. Since, it has been a favorite for rock groups to cover. Notables include: U2, The Dave Matthews Band, The Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam. The Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded their version in 1968.

Original Version

Cover by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Which is better?

The Jimi Hendrix Experience version is probably my favorite version, and I’ve heard a lot of artists cover this song. So it would be a natural extension to say I like that version over the original. Jimi Hendrix’s guitar licks just make it for me. Kind of trippy at parts, outright blues at other times, a bit funky at still other times.

Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (Nine Inch Nails)

Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails originally recorded this track for the 1994 album Downward Spiral. Cash covered the song in 2002, as part of his last album of recorded material American IV: The Man Comes Around.

Original Version

Cover by Johnny Cash

Which is better?

The Nine Inch Nails version evokes more emotion. I love the Johnny Cash version, but NIN just has the true emotion of the song captured so perfectly. I don’t care who covers it, no cover of this song will ever be as good as the original.

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