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Cover versions of songs are almost always worse than the original. Mostly they're just a straight copy and you do end up wondering what the point of doing that really is.
It doesn't happen in any other art form. No-one writes the same book as someone else, no-one knocks out a poem previously written by someone else, do they?
But there are exceptions.
So in this feature I'm celebrating the cover versions that are better than the original, starting with Jeff Healey's version of The Beatles 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'
A George Harrison song that first appeared in 1968 on The White Album, the lead guitar was famously played by Eric Clapton. Guitar World ranked his solo as the 42nd best ever in rock.
Wikipedia says - Clapton wanted a more Beatley sound, so the sound was run through an ADT circuit with varispeed, with engineer Chris Thomas manually 'waggling' the oscillator: Apparently Eric said that he didn't want it to sound like him. So I was just sitting there wobbling the thing, they wanted it really extreme, so that's what I did.
Now, I love the song, but that solo has always sounded a bit out of key to me due to Thomas's 'waggling'.
It's often forgotten that it was on the 'B' side of Ob-la-di-ob-la-da in most countries - and got to number 1 all over the world. But in UK and USA it wasn't released. The Marmalade had a number 1 hit in UK with this, of course.
Fast forward to 1990 and Jeff Healey's Hell to Pay album. His version is much more strident, biting and powerful. The solo is a searing, emotional crescendo, full of attack and melancholy. George must have liked it because he actually appears on the track on backing vocals.
Healey had genius in his locker;a genius he only occasionally took out, but you can hear it on this. He tears the skin from the bones of the song and in doing so makes it cry and hurt like never before. Stinging guitar rains down on your ears as he wrenches emotion out of the fretboard and in doing so, takes it to a whole new level of emotional intensity. A great song, made greater by this cover version, which, interestingly, George Harrison also loved.
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