Johnny Rosin Up Your Pick

“I don’t think punk ever really dies, because punk rock attitude can never die.”

Billy Idol

A Guitar Is Better Than A Fiddle

I’m here to take another look at a Punk Cover. Last time I talked about Goldfinger’s version of 99 Red Balloons that was originally performed by Nena. What follows is a copy-paste of the intro from the last entry (cos I’m lazy 😉 ), then we’ll get on to the song we’re looking at today.

What I originally wanted to do here was do a Top 10 about my favourite Punk Covers. But there are just to many that I love. So I’m gonna take the opportunity to talk about some of them individually.

You’ve all heard covers before, even if you didn’t know you had.

Whether it’s songs like Hallelujah by Rufus Wainright (from Shrek), All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, Mad World by Gary Jules (Donnie Darko) and loads of songs you probably didn’t even know were covers.

Covers are interesting to me. They can split people right down the middle. When I was in school, Busted covered Teenage Kicks by The Undertones which is one of my favourite songs of all time.

I fucking HATED the Busted version. Suddenly everyone “knew” the song and it was used as ringtones that would drive me nuts when they went off.

But lets get back on track. I’m here to talk about a particular type of cover, the “Punk Cover”. The most famous Punk Cover has to be Sid Vicious singing My Way (Frank Sinatra) and while it’s slurry, incoherent absolute insult to the original I still really love it.

Punk has always been a music with high energy, fast pace and badly tuned guitars. I was raised on Punk music so when I discovered Punk Covers I was a very happy teenager.

Sometimes Punk Covers are just fast paced versions. Sometimes they are complete nonsense. And sometimes they can change the meaning of a song entirely.

So let’s take a look at some music fuckery in the form of a Punk Cover.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia/Scunthorpe – Originally by The Charlie Daniels Band – Covered by The Toy Dolls

The Devil Went Down To Georgia is an upbeat country song originally written and performed by The Charlie Daniels Band in 1979 and tells the basic “deal with the devil” story.

The song tells the story of the Devil travelling through Georgia in a search for souls to steal, when he comes upon a young boy named Johnny playing his fiddle. The Devil challenges the boy to a wager to see who is the better fiddle player. If the Devil wins he gets to take Johnny’s soul and if Johnny wins he gets a fiddle made of solid gold.

The duel concludes with Johnny beating the Devil and claiming his prize with the awesome line “Devil, just come on back if you ever want to try again. I done told you once you son of a bitch I’m the best that’s ever been”. Johnny then proceeds an even better fiddle solo just to rub it in.

The sung was also famously covered once by Steve Ouimette for the video game Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock to be the final guitar duel in the games career mode. It is a much heavier version of the sung and was a great way to finish the game with. But anyway, I’m getting side tracked.

Now let’s jump forward to 1997 to The Toy Dolls and their cover called The Devil Went Down To Scunthorpe.

Now I love this version of the song for two major reasons:

  1. They replace all the references to fiddles with references to guitars
  2. They replaced Georgia with Scunthorpe which is just hilarious

For anyone who doesn’t know British towns very well, everyone in Britain loves Scunthorpe because of the hidden slur in its name. It sometimes turns up on important maps for apparently no reason but let’s face it, it’s there so scientists can get the word “cunt” on TV.

Sung in the classic British Punk angry voice it makes this song that much better in my opinion. Johnny is clearly just a rough council estate kid who doesn’t give a fuck. It even makes the “I told you once you son of a bitch I’m the best there’s even been” that much better, but only because they couldn’t put “I told you once you daft cunt” on the album.

So which do you prefer? Original or Cover? If you can think of any covers you’d like me to talk about next then feel free to chuck me a message and we can have a chat 🙂 .

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all next time. Until then, remember to take care of yourselves. Peace.


Bonus Video

The Steve Ouimette version of the song from Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock

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