Covers That Are Better Than the Originals: “Walk This Way”

We all know that the internet is saturated with music lists. If you want to read about the best rock songs about “fire,” then there’s a list out there. Best guitar solos? No problem. And you can definitely find lists of the kind of songs that popped into my head the other day, and that’s covers that are better than the originals.

A song that I’ve heard a few times recently out in public or on the radio is “Walk This Way,” and each time it’s been the original version from Toys in the Attic, and each time I get a little bummed out when I realize that I won’t be hearing Run, D.M.C., and Jam Master Jay for the next four minutes or so. Maybe my perception of the song is a bit skewed as Run-D.M.C.’s version from Raising Hell is the first one that I became familiar with, but not too long after falling in love with the 1986 re-working of the track (with help from Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, of course) I did pick up a copy of Toys in the Attic (one of those “Nice Price” cassettes, I believe), so I did spend time with the original in my teenage years but in my mind it’s never been as much fun as the ’80s cover. Run-D.M.C.’s version blended rock and hip-hop, which, yeah, flew too close to the sun or whatever in the ’90s, but some of the early rap rock was smack dab in the middle of my wheelhouse and I ate that stuff up. Licensed to Ill, “Wild Thing,” “Bring The Noise,” and other Public Enemy material for a pre-internet pre-teen that had yet to discover cigarettes, beer and weed hit the spot perfectly. Today, kids find stimulation in smartphones and social media, but BACK IN MY DAY it was a cordless phone (if you were lucky), MTV (again, if you were lucky), a Walkman, and a few cassettes… So, yeah, I go with the 1986 “Walk This Way,” and I don’t think that Aerosmith would complain about that one bit. That cover re-launched their career and gave them new life, so, hey, everybody came out on top.

We want to know what your picks are off the top of your head for covers that are better than the originals (without peeking at a list), so leave those in the comments and have a nice day.

More from Jason Thomas
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