Top 10 Rod Stewart Cover Songs
Like so many Brits who came of age in the early days of rock n' roll, Rod Stewart gravitated towards blues and soul. But he also loved folk music, latching on to Woody Guthrie and so many of the other greats from the Greenwich Village scene. That added difference helped him to stand out when he launched his solo career after leaving the Jeff Beck Group in 1969.
Throughout his career, he's paid tribute to his heroes repeatedly over the years by spotlighting their work. Most of his albums contain at least one cover, and the best of those obliterate the already-blurred lines between soul, folk and rock. And that's what we're celebrating here with our list of the Top 10 Rod Stewart Cover Songs.
Original Artist: Etta James
The first song on our list of the Top 10 Rod Stewart Cover Songs was originally the B-side of Etta James' 1968 classic 'Tell Mama,' Stewart gave the song a bigger audience four years later. As with all great soul singers, it's what Stewart holds back that's important, letting go only when he can't keep the pain inside any longer.
'Broken Arrow' was a deep cut from Robbie Robertson's solo debut. Stewart had a Top 20 hit with it in 1991 not only by giving it a smart and sensitive reading, but by bringing out the melody that the original only hinted at.
Stewart was listening to Bob Dylan long before he went electric, and four of his first five albums contain a Dylan tune. His take on 'Tomorrow is a Long Time,' which Elvis Presley also recorded, is his most beautiful, especially when he harmonizes with himself in the chorus.
Original Artist: The Valentinos
The Rolling Stones had a hit in mid-1964 with this deliciously nasty kiss-off, but it was originally written earlier that year by Bobby Womack and recorded by his group, the Valentinos. Stewart removes the country feel of both versions and replaces it with a rollicking barroom stomp.
Original Artist: Sam Cooke
It's always tough to cover your idols, but Stewart takes Sam Cooke's party anthem and turns it into something raucous. But stay away from the glossy re-recorded version from the 1987 soundtrack to 'Innerspace' and stick with Stewart's first recording, from 1972's 'Never a Dull Moment.'
The only track on our list of the Top 10 Rod Stewart Cover Songs credited to the Faces, who recorded the Paul McCartney ballad for their second album 'Long Player.' Ronnie Lane sings the first verse, but Stewart takes over on the chorus and never lets go.
Original Artist: Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse recorded a handful of albums in the '70s when they weren't in Neil Young's employ. Their 1971 debut featured this beautiful tune by Danny Whitten, who died a year later. Stewart paid tribute to Whitten in 1975 when he recorded it on 'Atlantic Crossing.'
Stewart topped the U.K. charts in 1977 by putting this on a double A-sided single with 'I Don't Want To Talk About It.' Written by Cat Stevens, it was also a U.K. hit for P.P. Arnold ten years earlier, and Sheryl Crow took it to No. 14 in 2003. But Stewart's acoustic rendition is the definitive one.
Original Artist: The Temptations
Stewart recast the Temptations' funky masterpiece as a rocker by the Faces, who were uncredited due to record company conflicts. This song also topped our list of the Top 10 Classic Rock Covers of Soul Songs.
Original Artist: Chris Farlowe
Chris Farlowe had a minor U.K. hit in 1967 with this song penned by Mike d'Abo of Manfred Mann. When Stewart got his chance to record it two years later, he asked d'Abo to come up with a clarinet melody line to come before the descending piano melody. That difference, coupled with Stewart's remakably empathetic reading, puts 'Handbags and Gladrags' atop our list of the Top 10 Rod Stewart Cover Songs.