The Black Keys have covered several classic rock songs during their slow but steady climb to the top of the music world. In celebration of the release of their seventh album, the highly appealing 'El Camino' (out Dec. 6), we're taking a look at five of the best. The two-piece band from Arkon, Ohio has demonstrated an uncanny knack for discovering fresh ways to present the core building blocks of blues and rock music, and the off-the-beaten-path songs they choose to cover reveal the duo as true fans of these artists. So, it stands to reason that the Top 5 Black Keys Classic Rock Cover Songs are all pretty great:

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    'Act Nice and Gentle'

    The Kinks

    The upbeat acoustic country-rock of the B-side to the Kinks' 1967 single 'Waterloo Sunset' gets slowed down into a sultry, electrified plea by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney on the Black Keys' third full-length, 2004's 'Rubber Factory.' The album was recorded in an abandoned power plant in the duo's original hometown of Akron, Ohio, where they made their first five albums before relocating to Nashville.

  • Karl Water, Getty Images
    Karl Water, Getty Images

    'Funk #49'

    James Gang

    The duo send a shout-out to an earlier generation of Ohio rockers with this live version of the James Gang's 1970 classic. Working in an even more stripped-down environment than that legendary trio, and without the benefit of the original's beloved layered vocals, the Keys nonetheless fill in all the spaces very nicely, with Auerbach doing a particularly good job on Joe Walsh's guitar parts.

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    'Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles'

    Captain Beefheart

    Patrick Carney's echoing, 'When the Levee Breaks'-style drum work dominates this cover of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's gorgeous 1972 love song from the 'Clear Spot' album. The Black Keys contributed this version to the 2009 'Covered: A Revolution in Sound' collection in 2009. Compared to some of their earlier cover songs on this list you can see how much depth and nuance they've managed to add to their recordings without losing any sort of immediate appeal.

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    'The Wicked Messenger'

    Bob Dylan

    The Black Keys once again soup up a country-rock chestnut, this time from Dylan's 1967 album 'John Wesley Harding.' Their version appeared on the soundtrack to the surreal and intriguing 2007 film 'I'm Not There,' which found six different actors portraying Dylan at various stages in his life. The Keys trade the original shuffling arrangement and folky instrumentation for something more direct and primal (then again, considering there's just two of them, what choice did they have?), with Auerbach unleashing a particularly low and snaky guitar solo to wrap things up.

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    'She Said, She Said'

    The Beatles

    On their 2002 debut album 'The Big Come Up,' the Black Keys made their influences clear by including several cover songs. Most were from bluesmen such as R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, but classic rock snuck on there too, in the form of the Beatles. Trading the trippy, eastern-sounding elements of the Fab Four's 'Revolver' version for something more southern and swampy, the group maintain the original's sense of mystique very nicely.

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