What are the main similarities and differences between the original and cover versions of each of these songs?

Discussion Questions for Early Rock ‘n’ Roll Covers:

  • “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”: original version recorded by Big Joe Turner, 1954; cover version by Bill Haley and the Comets, 1954
  • “Mystery Train”: original version written and recorded by Junior Parker, 1953; cover version by Elvis Presley, 1955
  1. What are the main similarities and differences between the original and cover versions of each of these songs?
  2. Compare and contrast the vocal performances of Big Joe Turner and Bill Haley, and Junior Parker and Elvis Presley in their versions of these songs.
  3. In each case, do you think that the cover version was a “rip-off” of the original, or that it was a new treatment of the original?
  4. In your opinion, which version has a better “feel”? Why?

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