I was recently listening to the excellent 2002 compilation When Pigs Fly: Songs You Thought You’d Never Hear. The album is a collection of “unexpected” cover songs by seemingly mismatched artists. For example, Don Ho doing “Shock the Monkey” and Herman’s Hermits doing “White Wedding.” Great stuff. But the best track is undoubtedly Lesley Gore’s version of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” with its soulful verses and “girl group sound” choruses.
Lesley Gore, one of the top female pop stars of the ‘60s, best known for “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me,” had a successful musical career from 1963 until her untimely death early this year.
Listening to Gore’s “Dirty Deeds” reminded me that Pat Boone had tackled similar “unexpected” AC/DC cover territory five years prior on 1997’s In a Metal Mood: No More Mr Nice Guy album. Boone, whose career was basically based on being the safe, parent-palatable alternative to Elvis Presley, broke with the conventions of his fundamentalist fanbase on that album—a collection of heavy metal covers done in a Vegas style. Boone does a Rat Pack-inspired version of “It’s a Long Way to the Top.”
Pat Boone had a successful career as a singer dating back to 1954 where he, for the most part, recorded “safe for white people” versions of black artist’s rock and roll songs.
Both of these “rocking but not rocking” covers of AC/DC tunes are great. Which one would win in a face-off? It’s hard to say. Personally, I think “Dirty Deeds” is better source material than “It’s a Long Way to the Top,” but man, Boone’s arrangements on his cover are ace. For my money though, Gore barely edges Boone out—I’m a sucker for ‘60s female pop singers.
Can you make the call? Or perhaps you have a suggestion for a better “unexpected” AC/DC cover? Let us know in the comments.