Top 10 Guitar-Based Cover Songs of All Time

Posted by Michael Mueller on March 25, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Cover tunes can be a risky proposition, but every once in a while, an artist reworks a classic so well that it completely overshadows the original. Here are 10 of our favorites!

10. "You Shook Me" Led Zeppelin
This Willie Dixon-penned blues from Led Zeppelin's 1969 debut showcases a few of what would become Jimmy Page's signature licks.

9. "Train Kept A-Rollin'" Aerosmith
This Tiny Bradshaw song has been covered by Johnny Burnette, the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and many others, but none tops Aerosmith's balls and bluster!

Jeff Beck8. "Higher Ground" Red Hot Chili Peppers
I can't say that the Chili Peppers really improved on this Stevie Wonder classic, but they certainly honored his genius with this high-energy romp.

7. "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" George Thorogood
John Lee Hooker is the king of one-chord blues, as he ably showed on his 1966 version of this tune. But Thorogood's blue-collar sound and playful demeanor perfectly suits the content.

6. "The Man Who Sold the World" Nirvana
It's safe to say that David Bowie is tired of heyoung fans approaching him after concerts to say they think "it's cool you're doing a Nirvana song." Ouch!

Eddie Van Halen5. "Cause We've Ended as Lovers" Jeff Beck
To this day, Beck's take on "Lovers" remains the standard by which instrumental guitar ballads are measured.

4."The Sky Is Crying" Stevie Ray Vaughan
This Elmore James tune has been played by more blues guitarists than you can shake a pool cue at. But Stevie Ray's is the go-to version.

3. "You Really Got Me" Van Halen
Some people credit the Kinks' original version as the advent of heavy metal, but Van Halen's raucous and playful romp is definitive.

2. "Hallelujah" Jeff Buckley
This Leonard Cohen tune has been covered by almost 200 artists, but only Jeff Buckley achieved perfection.

1. "All Along the Watchtower" Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix simply owns this Dylan tune. Honorable mention to Dave Matthews for his spine-tingling live performances of it.


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CoolcatNYC on April 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Sorry guys, but the Johnny Burnette Trio version is 100x better than Aerosmith's.

GtrMan777 on March 29, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Perry and Whitford didn't do the studio version, but it's Aerosmith's live version that smokes! But ur right, it is strange. I wonder how many people know that.

Walker on March 28, 2010 at 7:12 AM

I've got to laugh when people write about Train... being a great Aerosmith cover when Joe Perry and Brad Whitford didn't even play on it.