Gretchen Wilson Rocks!

ChucksECountry chicks rock! Well, some do. And, one of them that do is Gretchen Wilson. I’m not a big fan of country music, but I don’t dislike the genre. I just don’t listen to it much, anymore. I did for a short time. So, the other day, I downloaded Gretchen Wilson’s latest disc, Under The Covers, released on June 4, 2013, which is an album of covers (well, duh!). On this album, Wilson covers only ’70s (mostly) rock songs,Gretchen-01 but she covers them as if she’s a rock chick, not a country chick doing rock covers, and she does it amazingly, and surprisingly, well. Needless to say, this is not a country album. So, yeah, Gretchen Wilson rocks, for sure.

I don’t know much about Gretchen Wilson or her music, but I do have her first two albums, Here For the Party (2004) and All Jacked Up (2005), in my music library. However, the only song of hers that I have listened to more than once or twice is the ballad “Raining On Me” (from All Jacked Up). I do know that Wilson’s debut single “Redneck Woman” was a Grammy Award-winning #1 hit. But, that song is not my thing. I also know that Gretchen Wilson admires the rock band Heart, and has performed with Ann and Nancy Wilson on several occasions. She even performed Heart‘s “Barracuda” live with Nancy Wilson and Alice In Chains at the 2007 VH1 Rock Honours.

Watch Gretchen Wilson perform “Barracuda” live here:

She rocks, right? Yeah, she does. But, as awesome as that performance is, she sounds too much like Ann Wilson, and not enough like Gretchen Wilson. But, her own voice was made for rock and, on Under the Covers, she uses her own voice, mostly. She covers songs originally by male artists and, the covers are pretty faithful to the originals.Gretchen-02 But, like I said in my random musing about all-female classic rock tribute bands, the fact that Gretchen Wilson is a chick covering songs originally by dudes makes them, by default, not so faithful. She selected these covers by asking her band to pick their favorite rock songs, and they all just happened to pick rock songs from ’70s. If I had to pick a favorite ’70s rock song for Gretchen Wilson to cover, I would choose Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Tuesday’s Gone”. So, let’s rank the tracks on Under the Covers from my favorite to my least favorite. But, note that my favorites, in most cases, are as much determined by how good Gretchen Wilson covers them as by how much I like the original songs.

(1) “I Want You to Want Me” (1977), Cheap Trick. Awesomely cool!! Wilson’s version is second only to Letters To Cleo‘s 1999 version, but it’s not very far behind. The original studio version did not chart in the US. However, the live version, from Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978), reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1979.

(2) “Everybody Wants You” (1982), Billy Squier. Awesome!! Wilson’s version is second only to Damone‘s 2006 version!

(3) “Over the Hills and Far Away” (1973), Led Zeppelin. The obvious pick would have been “Whole Lotta Love”, but this one is a better choice, even though Wilson tries to emulate Robert Plant‘s voice. Wilson, apparently, often performs “Rock And Roll” in concert, so watch a live performance here:

(4) “Hot Blooded” (1978), Foreigner. The music is faithful to the original, but Wilson doesn’t try to emulate Lou Gramm and, instead, lets her own raspy voice burn. Watch a live performance of this song on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson here:

(5) “Bad Company” (1974), Bad Company. This song, lyrically, is perfect for Gretchen Wilson and, vocally, she holds her own against Paul Rodgers. But, I would so love to hear her cover “Feel Like Makin’ Love”!

(6) “Her Strut” (1980), Bob Seger. Another perfect song for Gretchen Wilson.

(7) “Lights” (1978), Journey. Wilson’s voice always shines on ballads and this one’s no different. Journey, for years, has been trying to replace Steve Perry with singers who sound exactly like him, but maybe they should try Gretchen Wilson instead.

(8) “Bell Bottom Blues” (1971), Derek and the Dominos. Sadly, I have never been much of a fan of Eric Clapton, but this song has heart-breaking lyrics and a killer chorus, and Wilson delivers fittingly somber vocals.

(9) “Stay with Me” (1971), Faces. This cover shows that Gretchen Wilson is what Rod Stewart (who co-wrote the song with Ron Wood) would sound like if he were a woman. And, I would love to hear Wilson cover “Maggie May”.

(10) “Into the Mystic” (1970), Van Morrison. Good cover, but I would love to hear her cover The Waterboys‘ 1988 cover of Van Morrison‘s 1968 song “Sweet Thing”. The Waterboys own that song!

(11) “Doctor My Eyes” (1972), Jackson Browne. Good, but she sounds like Carol King, and I’d much rather hear her cover Brown’s “Somebody’s Baby” (1982).

(12) “Funk #49” (1970), The James Gang. My least favorite. No reason.

Bonus: Watch Gretchen Wilson perfoming “Crazy On You” with Heart live here:

If you like how Gretchen Wilson embraced her inner rock chick, then you’ll be happy to know that she may possibly release further volumes with rock songs from the ’80’s, ’90s, etc. Now, if you wonder what Wilson would sound like if she actually recorded an original rock song, then look no further than “Crazy” on her latest country album Right On Time, which was released April 2, 2013, shortly before Under the Covers.

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