20 Of The Greatest Classic Rock Covers Of 1970s
via VHTelevision / YouTube
In the early times (and even today!) it’s not easy to cover a beloved song without dealing with the consequences; there is always a fine line of hatred from all the purists. But the burgeoning popularity of radio in the 70s paved the way to a new set of rules from listeners and fans alike. With these 20 songs below, it’s the mere proof of that— oftentimes the covered songs enhance what the originals are lacking. And so, they’re considered one of the best. Take a look at the top 20 classic rock covers of the 1970s.
20. “Burning Love” – Elvis Presley (1972)
Arthur Alexander was the first to sing this, but this perhaps became a well-known Elvis Presley song. “Burning Love” gave the king of rock n’ roll his biggest single after “Suspicious Minds.”
19. “Smiling Faces Sometimes” – The Undisputed Truth (1971)
The Temptations released the single earlier in the same year, but not until The Undisputed Truth’s version that the song earned a spot on the charts.
18. “Stand By Me” – John Lennon (1975)
Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” had a more R&B soul feeling to it, whereas, the John Lennon version inside his Rock ‘n’ Roll album was intentionally made into rock. This was Lennon’s last hit before his 5-year hiatus to become a househusband.
17. “Black Magic Woman” – Santana (1970)
Fleetwood Mac’s original “Black Magic Woman” is charming, but Santana’s electrifying version is indeed a special highlight. “Gypsy Queen” is often paired with it during Santana’s concerts.
16. “I Shot the Sheriff” – Eric Clapton (1974)
It seems fair to include this Clapton classic inside the greatest cover versions. The guitarist helped the Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley with his popularity after he covered Marley’s song.
15. “Woodstock” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
Written and performed by Joni Mitchell earlier in the same year, she was inspired to make a song out of the iconic Woodstock Festival after the stories given by her then-boyfriend Graham Nash. Coincidentally, Nash’s group, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, also recorded the song inside their album, Déjà Vu.
14. “You Really Got Me” – Van Halen (1978)
The powerful blues-based recording of the song all started with The Kinks, and it was further continued by the then-rising band, Van Halen, who got a jumpstart to their careers all thanks to this one. Van Halen’s version is more powerful and eruptive, typical to many of their songs afterward.
13. “Love Hurts” – Nazareth (1974)
Possibly the most beloved version of “Love Hurts” can be credited to Nazareth, who turned the country song into more of a power ballad one. The Everly Brothers originally recorded it 14 years ago.
12. “Proud Mary” – Ike & Tina Turner (1970)
You can’t take Creedence Clearwater Revival’s legacy from their magnificent song “Proud Mary,” but you can, however, relate its greatness as to Ike and Tina Turner’s version. The latter transformed the song with more soul and funk, perfect for grooving.
11. “Me And Bobby McGee” – Janis Joplin (1971)
First sung by Roger Miller, it experienced a resurgence of popularity when Janis Joplin covered it for her final album Pearl. It was the first and only no. 1 single of Joplin and was the last song she recorded before she died.
10. “Jesus Is Just Alright” – Doobie Brothers (1972)
This gospel song was originally written and performed by Art Reynolds Singers in 1966. It received a fair amount of popularity when the Doobie Brothers recorded it, claiming a spot on the US charts upon its release.
9. “Wild Horses” – The Rolling Stones (1971)
Although The Rolling Stones gave so much credit for the song’s popularity, little did people know that Gram Parson’s group The Flying Burrito Brothers recorded it first. Not as popular as the Stones, but equally great with differencing styles.
8. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Diana Ross (1970)
Originally performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, it was a massive hit and regain the surge of popularity once more when The Supremes’ Diana Ross recorded her rendition. Ross was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance with this.
7. “Dancing in the Moonlight” – King Harvest (1972)
“Dancing In The Moonlight” was written by Sherman Kelly and recorded first by Kelly’s band Boffalongo in 1969. It wasn’t until 3 years later that the song would have its worldwide fame after King Harvest recorded it.
6. “Statesboro Blues” – Allman Brothers Band (1971)
This Piedmont blues song made the Allman Brothers Band a jam band during their live shows, which was pleasurable and enticing to hear. Originally, it was written and performed first by Blind Willie McTell in 1928.
5. “Roll Over Beethoven” – Electric Light Orchestra (1973)
“Roll Over Beethoven” is a Chuck Berry Classic, and ELO made sure to capture that feeling as they created an 8-minute version entirely all on their own. For the latter’s version, it included an opening line from Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.”
4. “Without You” – Harry Nilsson (1971)
A lot of you are familiar with Nilsson’s version, but “Without You” was actually written and recorded by Badfinger first. The latter was only a minor hit and didn’t receive much praise until Harry Nilsson’s rendition.
3. “Whiskey In The Jar” – Thin Lizzy (1972)
For our 3rd spot, we have “Whiskey In The Jar” by Thin Lizzy. This traditional song is often recorded by dozens of artists, yet nothing could compare to Thin Lizzy’s version. The group’s version uses a hard rock rhythm, in contrast to the old folk tune.
2. “Blue Bayou” – Linda Ronstadt (1977)
“Blue Bayou” was originally a Roy Orbison song, but Linda Ronstadt’s version was the well-known one, often used during her live performances. It marked Ronstadt’s mainstream popularity and is often credited to her rising fame worldwide.
1. “When the Levee Breaks” – Led Zeppelin (1971)
Going in on our 1st spot, this phenomenal song wasn’t an original Led Zeppelin; it was first recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie with a country blues vibe. Upon the suggestion of frontman Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin recorded it, with Jimmy Page creating a whole new riff to isolate from the first recording. John Bonham’s drumming prowess stands as a highlight of the song.