1. Dancing on Glass, by Motley Crue
During Motley Crue's big heyday it's no secret that everyone in the band was a big party animal. However, some times these hijinks involved habits that nearly killed them on multiple occasions. Bassist and primary Crue song writer Nikki Sixx probably faced this in worse ways than any of them with his heroin addiction that actually at one point did kill him briefly but was fortunately able to be brought back. The song Dancing on Glass while being an upbeat almost rockabilly type tune outlines the demons and troubles Sixx was facing during this time in 1987. The interesting thing is that while it has that classic vibe, at the same time it sounds a bit dark apart from the lyrical content.
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, by Bumblefoot
I'm sure many of you know the classic Elton John version of this lighthearted musical romp. Nearly 40 years later guitar extraordinaire Bumblefoot decided to do his own cover version of it. You would think that no one would be able to come anywhere near as good as the original masterpiece, but lo and behold Bumblefoot did it. Rather than the primary instrument being a piano however, he uses a mostly clean sounding electric guitar (Surprise, I know.). Bumblefoot also does the singing and as far as I'm concerned, he nails it. Overall he stays true to the nature of the original while still going completely in his own direction with it. This is the prime example of what a cover song should be.
3. Hair of the Dog, by Nazareth
I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell! If ever there were a song that could be considered the prime example of cowbell rock, Hair of the Dog, by Nazareth is it. It's raucous, gritty, and grooving. Many other bands have tried to emulate the nature of this rocker ever since it came out in 1975. Its chorus is memorable, its riff is iconic, and its beat sets the standard for groove rock to follow. Hair of the Dog is certainly a contrast from the wimpy laughable ballad that Nazareth is also known for: Love Hurts.
4. Whiskey in the Jar, by Thin Lizzy
It is not entirely uncommon for a rock n' roll band to take a traditional folk tune and turn it into something entirely new, unique, and amazing. In 1972, Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy took a stab at this themselves by covering an old Irish ballad called Whiskey in the Jar. It sounds almost nothing like the original tune, but that doesn't make it any less good. If anything, I like it far better. Blending acoustic and electric guitars, musically it makes you feel more of what the story teller is meaning to get across to his listeners. It is melodic, emotional, and most of all a great rock song. Metallica of course did their cover of this version, but I feel it doesn't even come close.
5. The Turn of the Screw, by Heaven and Hell
Before beloved metal vocalist and legend Ronnie James Dio left us, he got back together with former his former Black Sabbath band mates under the moniker Heaven and Hell to tour and create more music. The band was able to produce one album, The Devil You Know. The Turn of the Screw from this album in my opinion perfectly captures the refined doom metal music they had been creating in the early 1980s. It starts off crashing, slow, and loud but then picks up a bit into an ear worm of a riff. Right away you instantly know who is making this music without a shadow of a doubt if you know heavy metal music at all. The guitar solos are signature Tony Iommi work and sound almost exactly the way he did them in that era.