Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-19-2019, 09:52 PM
EinsteinsHund's Avatar
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NRW, Germany
Posts: 2,582
Best Robert Johnson cover?

Many, many people in blues, folk and rock covered him, and I personally have heard a lot of them. For me covers always work best if they make something new out of a song and transfer it somehow, maybe to the here and now of the recording or to a different mindset of the interpreting artist. In this regard, for me Stop Breaking Down by the Stones works best. It's a number like tailored for them and the album on which it is included. Stuff I got'll bust your brains out baby, it's gonna make you lose your mind is a line that could have been written by Jagger himself, and though it's an electric version with drums and all, it's faithful to its source. What do you think?

ETA: here's the original Stop Breaking Down Blues by Robert Johnson
__________________
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 01-19-2019 at 09:56 PM.
  #2  
Old 01-19-2019, 09:55 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 34,753
Crossroads by Cream is pretty damn good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PE9HvSdcaL4

Last edited by Acsenray; 01-19-2019 at 09:56 PM.
  #3  
Old 01-19-2019, 10:40 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: republic of california
Posts: 5,580
I remain pretty fond of ZZ Top's version of Dust my Broom.
__________________
Just another outlying data point on the bell curve of life
  #4  
Old 01-19-2019, 10:56 PM
Penfeather's Avatar
Penfeather Penfeather is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4,137
Cowboy Junkies, "Me and the Devil".
  #5  
Old 01-20-2019, 02:15 AM
TreacherousCretin's Avatar
TreacherousCretin TreacherousCretin is offline
Horrified Onlooker
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Posts: 5,403
When I saw the thread title my immediate reaction was to come in and nominate "Stop Breaking Down" by the Stones.
Oddly, Keith doesn't appear in the track- the slide guitar is Mick Taylor, and the Keith-style rhythm guitar is played by Mick Jagger, who also blows the terrific harmonica lines.
  #6  
Old 01-20-2019, 02:24 AM
peccavi's Avatar
peccavi peccavi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: South Bay, SoCal
Posts: 120
Thanks OP...for sending me down a YouTube wormhole!!

I've just spent three hours hopping around various covers, coming to the inevitable conclusion that there are so many great covers of Robert Johnson's songs that it is impossible to define, let alone pick, a "best" cover.

I'll illustrate with one of Robert Johnson's most covered songs "Dust my Broom" (Though even for some of the lesser known songs mentioned here, how can any discussion of Stop Breakin' Down not include this cover by Junior Wells and how can covers of Me and the Devil Blues not include Gil Scott-Heron's? And that's without mentioning John Lee Hooker's unique interpretation of Johnson's Terraplane Blues! But I digress. ). Laying out my case:

It is possible that the list of definitive covers of Dust My Broom starts and ends with the version by Elmore James (from the 50's!)

Definitive singer (versus player/musician)? Hard to top Howlin' Wolf

But...Muddy Waters does a pretty tasty version.

Then there are covers by my favorite family of musicians, the King Family (Freddie, B.B., and of course Albert)

When you get to the Age of Rock, you can't ignore Peter Green, Bernard Allison, or...there are no words (literally).

Why yes, after my sojourn on YouTube, I did have a lot of tabs open. Why do you ask?

I rest my case. Just too many eclectic and magnificent versions of a foundational songbook from a protean talent to choose from. (Though, I think that this "version" is likely not in contention )
  #7  
Old 01-20-2019, 04:03 AM
BobBitchin' BobBitchin' is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: central Fl
Posts: 748
I'll nominate a personal favorite.

Sweet Home Chicago, Blues Brothers.


Side note, it was the last song Stevie Ray ever played.
Side side note, It was the first song I ever played in front of a paying crowd.
  #8  
Old 01-20-2019, 12:03 PM
Dropo Dropo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 493
Limited to consideration of “the best” Robert Johnson cover ever, this thread ended for me with post #2.

Other covers I happen to like, but for which no legitimate case can be made as “the best” include:


“Stop Breaking Down” – The White Stripes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erBEthgSGe0

“Me and the Devil” – Robert Lucas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovgzXpF7DFA

“Love in Vain” – The Rolling Stones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDb5iXrWzZI

One of many awesome live versions during the Mick Taylor years.


“Traveling Riverside Blues” – Led Zeppelin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThyIlQnapJk

Strictly speaking, not a cover, but a general tribute to RJ
  #9  
Old 01-20-2019, 01:47 PM
Sunny Daze's Avatar
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Bay Area Urban Sprawl
Posts: 11,619
Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks
  #10  
Old 01-20-2019, 01:57 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 13,487
Quote:
Originally Posted by peccavi View Post
When you get to the Age of Rock, you can't ignore Peter Green
Though that video claims it is "Peter Greens", on that piece he is only playing the plodding rhythm along with Danny Kirwan. Jeremy Spencer is the one playing slide and singing.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 01-20-2019 at 02:00 PM.
  #11  
Old 01-20-2019, 02:17 PM
EinsteinsHund's Avatar
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NRW, Germany
Posts: 2,582
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny Daze View Post
Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks
Great interpretation, but not a Robert Johnson song.
__________________
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
  #12  
Old 01-20-2019, 02:53 PM
Sunny Daze's Avatar
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Bay Area Urban Sprawl
Posts: 11,619
D'oh! I thought I researched that before posting. Apparently Google is NOT reliable. Who knew?
  #13  
Old 01-20-2019, 04:46 PM
digs's Avatar
digs digs is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: West of Wauwatosa
Posts: 9,031
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Crossroads by Cream is pretty damn good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PE9HvSdcaL4
First blues song I ever heard... started a life-long love.

Born in the mid-50s, I'm from that generation that didn't hear the blues til some white dudes started playing it. It took the Beatles playing Chuck Berry and the Stones playing Robert Johnson to clue us in.

So when bands like Cream and Zeppelin showed off their blues roots, it was great! Especially Jack Bruce's bass (fretless, yet!) and Clapton's guitar (and vocals! Jack Bruce did almost all the singing in Cream, that's why at the end you hear Jack Bruce say "Eric Clapton, please. Vocals!").
  #14  
Old 01-20-2019, 05:17 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,395
I'm a huge fan and admirer of Johnson, but to be fair, while I Believe I'll Dust My Broom was first recorded by Johnson, it was around long before Johnson's recording https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_My_Broom. I usually associate it with Elmore James who may have passed it on to Johnson, but it may predate James also.

On the incredible Guitar Boogie album (featuring early blues interpretations by Clapton, Beck and Page) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guitar_Boogie_(album), Eric's rendition of Dust My Broom is titled: Tribute to Elmore and one review of the album talks about how it showcases how Dust My Broom influenced all three players.
  #15  
Old 01-20-2019, 05:30 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,395
Quote:
Originally Posted by digs View Post
First blues song I ever heard... started a life-long love.

Born in the mid-50s, I'm from that generation that didn't hear the blues til some white dudes started playing it. It took the Beatles playing Chuck Berry and the Stones playing Robert Johnson to clue us in.

So when bands like Cream and Zeppelin showed off their blues roots, it was great! Especially Jack Bruce's bass (fretless, yet!) and Clapton's guitar (and vocals! Jack Bruce did almost all the singing in Cream, that's why at the end you hear Jack Bruce say "Eric Clapton, please. Vocals!").
To be pedantic, all three (Clapton, Bruce and Baker, with Clapton being to last to admit it) have publicly acknowledged that Cream was a jazz trio with its initial roots in the blues. Clapton has said that while Crossroads was based on Cross Road Blues, he's also mentioned using riffs from other songs (not all Johnson's) to create his interpretation, which has changed numerous times over the years, with some before and after the most well known version on Wheels of Fire having a very different tempo.

Bottom line is of course, that no matter how we got to Johnson's and the other blues pioneer's works, it's all good as long was know and appreciate where it all started!

Last edited by lingyi; 01-20-2019 at 05:31 PM.
  #16  
Old 01-20-2019, 05:31 PM
EinsteinsHund's Avatar
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NRW, Germany
Posts: 2,582
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
I'm a huge fan and admirer of Johnson, but to be fair, while I Believe I'll Dust My Broom was first recorded by Johnson, it was around long before Johnson's recording https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_My_Broom. I usually associate it with Elmore James who may have passed it on to Johnson, but it may predate James also.

On the incredible Guitar Boogie album (featuring early blues interpretations by Clapton, Beck and Page) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guitar_Boogie_(album), Eric's rendition of Dust My Broom is titled: Tribute to Elmore and one review of the album talks about how it showcases how Dust My Broom influenced all three players.
It's true that not everyone of the 29 songs Robert Johnson recorded were his own compositions. I don't know about Dust My Broom, I've always thought that Elmore James' electric version was a much later cover. But for example, neither If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day (aka Rolling And Tumbling), Walkin' Blues nor 32-20 Blues were completely his own.

ETA: but that's the way the blues and its evolution has always worked, until today.
__________________
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 01-20-2019 at 05:34 PM.
  #17  
Old 01-20-2019, 05:39 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,395
As much of a guitar god as Johnson has become (to an extent rightly so), I've seen documentaries with his contemporaries that talk about how he took from others without recognition. What is never disputed is that he was an incredible player that rose out of the ranks and left a legendary legacy because of his early recordings and untimely death.

My personal top three blues players are: Johnson, Elmore James and Leadbelly and their ranking changes depending on whom I'm listening to at the moment.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:23 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017