Saturday Night Video: (Re)Covered

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6splB7acXc

Joe Cocker, “With a Little Help from My Friends” (Original)

This is a glorious performance, perhaps the only cover of a Beatles’ song that surpasses the original; no mean feat.  It’s from Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour (1969-1971), which was a crazy affair — a huge traveling band (including a retinue of superlative backup singers, two drummers and a full horn section) — and might be regarded as the tour that effectively marked the end of the hippie era.  If that’s so, it went out with a sweet-natured little pop tune transformed into a secularized hymn.

Now that we’ve had a look at Frye speaking and writing about rock ‘n’ roll and popular music generally as a bona fide element of culture and worthy of study (here, here, and here), our occasional Saturday Night Video selections maybe enjoys a little more cachet.

Here’s a collection of great cover versions of great songs, most of which are more famous than the original.  A link to the original artist is included, if you want to compare.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUL6yQyFdq0&feature=fvst

Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower” (Original)

Yeah.  Undeniably the definitive version, and one of a handful of Hendrix performances most closely identified with him.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OLK_HSyy1U

Cream, “Crossroads” (Original)

Dear Lord.  While listening, keep reminding yourself that this is a trio.  Ginger Baker alone is playing like a one man drum line.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYFhWV8–io

Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee” (Original)

Ditto.  Can be heard and enjoyed anywhere, anytime, and it might break your heart every time.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJylcQ7CGfI

Rod Stewart, “Reason to Believe” (Original)

Anyone who doesn’t remember that Rod was once one of the great rock ‘n’ roll singers, this’ll remind you.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUiTQvT0W_0

Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares To You” (Original)

Again, a definitive version of the song.  Hands up anyone who has actually heard the original.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8App43SKMU

Okay, New Order was the direct descendant of Joy Division, whose song this originally was, so this may only technically be a cover.  Thanks to Amanda Etches-Johnson, I was reminded that “Ceremony” remains in everyone’s top ten New Order songs.  This version is from Sofia Coppela’s Marie Antoinette (Original)



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