Friday, April 1, 2016

Cover Versus Original - You Really Got Me

In 1964, the Kinks changed the sound of rock music when guitarist Dave Davies slashed the paper cone in his amplifier and got a sound no one had ever heard before. With the release of the song "You Really Got Me," the Kinks arrived as a hard rock band with an international audience. For rock musicians, "You Really Got Me" became like "Livin' After Midnight" in that is was a fun song that every guitarist had to learn.

When the Kinks would play "You Really Got Me" live, the theater or arena would erupt and people would act as though they were hearing the most intense song ever written. Then in 1978, a bunch of kids in a band called Van Halen released their cover of "You Really Got Me" and suddenly the song was reborn. Kinks lead singer Ray Davies said he liked the Van Halen version because it "made him laugh," but legions of young rock fans around the world were definitely not laughing at Van Halen's interpretation.

The Kinks' original version of "You Really Got  Me" is quick and to the point. Dave Davies said it took him a year to write the song, and this is the result:

This is the song that set the standard for straight-ahead rock music in the 1960's and beyond. It is tame by today's standards, but it was a monster when it was first released.

Just 14 years later, this is how Van Halen interpreted the Kinks' classic tune:

I am a classic rock fanatic, but I also don't care much for convention. In music, nothing is sacred and this version by Van Halen does a lot more for me than the Kinks' original. Eddie Van Halen's solo is clean and much more organized that what Dave Davies did in 1964. As Van Halen is apt to do, they made this song their own and, to me, it works very well.

Verdict: Van Halen's version

George N Root III is a musician and has a tremendous amount of respect for all music, except Bruce Springsteen. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at