10 Unlikely Covers From Classic Rock Acts
The Who cover The Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" - Thedieguitomusic2 / Youtube
While classic rock was a treasure trove full of authentic masterpieces from bands and acts that grew in a creatively diverse era, them covering a song or two from predecessors aren’t unheard of. Most of these are in the same style or derivative of the classic rock sound, which isn’t a surprise at all since it’s only sane to stick with the tried and tested – but not these guys. Here are some of the most unusual covers from our favorite classic rock acts, compiled in a list of ten.
“Hey Joe” by the Leaves – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Surprising isn’t it? Jimi Hendrix played “Hey Joe” with such conviction that it’s hard to imagine that it was a cover of the Leaves’ original song. The brooding, dark atmosphere of his version just raises the tension to a whole new level.
“Summertime” by George and Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward – Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company
The legendary Janis Joplin and her backup Big Brother and The Holding Company borrowed the jazz track from Porgy & Bess and turned it into a classic thanks to the old blues feel of the new rendition.
“Shortenin’ Bread” (traditional song) – The Beach Boys
This song was often used during plantation season, as well as being a children’s song. It was also quite racist in the original context, good thing the Beach Boys went with modified lyrics. There were too many opportunities for vocal harmonies on this song, which wasn’t a surprise when Brian Wilson managed to utilize it fully.
“The Comedians” by Elvis Costello – Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison was on the way to a successful comeback had his death not cut it short. Mystery Girl included this gem on its lineup, an Elvis Costello original that was already lyrically perfect but only waited for Orbison to take it to another level.
“Dream Baby Dream” by Suicide – Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s musical taste is as wide as his fan base, so it’s no surprise that the Boss touches territory that most classic rock fans would be surprised of. He explored “Dream Baby Dream” by Suicide, who usually did darker themes with exceptions like this one.
“Stupid Cupid” by Connie Francis – Queen
This cover proves Queen’s aptitude in adapting to any musical style and deliver it with finesse. “Stupid Cupid” was way before rock and roll became a thing, perfectly adapted by Queen with such conviction to sound like their own.
“Shapes of Things” by The Yardbirds – David Bowie
David Bowie reveals his fascination with Brit rock of the ’60s with his cover of the Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things”. The glam-rock icon turned this psychedelic classic into a relevant piece once again, sprinkling glitter dust all over it without losing the potent grit it already had.
“Till There Was You” by Meredith Wilson, From Music Man – The Beatles
While the Beatles were quite busy dishing out their upbeat pop-rockers in their early days, Paul McCartney unknowingly sourced a musical track by covering “Till There Was You” from The Music Man. This paved the way for the Beatles to access a much older fan age bracket than they were used to.
“Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys – The Who
This was mostly spearheaded by Moonie the Loonie as his love for the Beach Boys and sunny stretches of sand were captured by “Barbara Ann”. He even gets to sing high harmony parts on the song, but all jokes aside, this was an absolute banger for the band.
“Alabama Song” by Brecht-Weill – The Doors
Jim Morrison probably admired “Alabama Song” for its camaraderie with The Doors’ edgier themes. What makes this extra peculiar is that the song came from the 1920s – way too edgy for such an early decade.