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The Great Rock & Roll Cover-Up

OK, I’m not talking about any musical skull-duggery.  Everyone knows that artists cover other artists songs — a lot.  And not ones where the artist is sued for copying, like “My Sweet Lord”.  I mean fully legitimate covers.  (And I don’t mean “samples” either.)

But half the time, we hear songs that we don’t even know are covers!  The original version is either from a fairly obscure artist or was before our time.  Here are a few examples:

A soul singer named P.P. Arnold released “The First Cut is the Deepest” in 1967.  But most of us are more familiar with the Rod Stewart version, or the equally excellent Sheryl Crow version.  Of course, I never knew before that it was actually written, but never recorded, by Cat Stevens!

Speaking of songs that were written by someone famous for someone else famous, “Manic Monday” by the Bangles was written by Prince!  And speaking of the Bangles, I imagine most people know that “Hazy Shade of Winter” was actually a Simon and Garfunkel song.  In my opinion, the Bangles did the version that S&G had in mind.  Theirs was more like a demo.  That guitar riff sounds like it was meant to be electric.

“Cum On Feel the Noize” was not a Quiet Riot original, but was recorded by a band called Slade in 1973.

And of course, it’s hard to even count the covers of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young is probably the best known, but Matthews Southern Comfort had a minor hit out of it that sounded completely different than the CSNY version.  And The Assembled Multitude, the studio band that gave us the 2.5-minute “Overture from Tommy”, also recorded a version of “Woodstock”.

Now Manfred Mann’s covers of Bruce Springsteen songs are in a category all their own.  Check back next weekend and we’ll talk about those.

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