Some of the most amazing Classic Rock songs ever recorded were not originally done by our rock and roll heroes. Here is a short compilation of the original versions of rock songs we all know and love. It’s cool to see how (or if) they arranged the songs differently than their original counterparts. Take a listen and see which ones you like, or not, or which ones may be better than their rock and roll covers!
I Love Rock And Roll – The Arrows
Joan Jett may have had the platinum-selling hit single in 1981, but the song was cowritten by Alan Merrill of a British band The Arrows and first released in 1975.
Move It On Over – Hank Williams
The killer cover by George Thorogood & The Delaware Destroyers was originally a 1947 country hit for the legendary Hank Williams.
Hard To Handle – Otis Redding
It’s hard to top the original, recorded and co-written by Otis Redding. Even though the Crowes have the most popular rock version of the song, bands and artists like The Grateful Dead and Tom Jones also worked it into their live repertoires in the 60s and 70s. On the radio promo CD single of Hard To Handle, there’s a remix with horns similar to the Redding version.
Reason to Believe – Tim Hardin
Both Hardin’s original from 1965 and Rod’s 1971 hit cover are beautiful, plaintive arrangements, but very different in sound.
Me And Bobby McGee – Roger Miller
Just a few months before Janis recorded her legendary version, Roger Miller released his version of the Kris Kristofferson-penned song as a single.
Piece Of My Heart – Erma Franklin
Aretha’s older sister Erma Franklin released this classic a full year before Janis and Big Brother made it theirs.
Hush – Joe South
Even though the sounds are different, Deep Purple took the basic arrangement of the song Joe South wrote and first recorded, and turned it into a hard rock anthem.
(Oh) Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Of course we know this outstanding original by the great Roy Orbison, covered by Van Halen in 1982. Just gives me an excuse to post this!
Crossroads – Robert Johnson
You can hear the pain and conflict in Johnson’s voice when he recorded this song in room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas on November 23, 1936. Clapton, Baker and Bruce’s arrangement, while less painful, is certainly powerful in its own right. RIP, Ginger.
Ready For Love – Mott The Hoople
I guess this counts! When Mick Ralphs joined Bad Company in 1973, he brought along a song he’d recorded with his previous band, Mott The Hoople, that appeared on their “All the Young Dudes” album. Bad Company’s version is similar to the Hoople original, safe for a few lines of verse taken out. Also, BadCo’s version doesn’t add the instrumental song “After Lights,” like Mott did on their album.