Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a three-and-a-half minute clarion call about the joy of sex. No “take my heart” sentiments, no “our love’s gonna last” – just one loud, raunchy, glorious celebration of a one-night stand, bypassing the brain and going directly to the gut (and points lower). There’s something primal about it – the simple beat, the easy to remember words, the sheer volume of the performances – that gives the listener a feeling both of power and control over that power. Little wonder that the song is de rigueur for pole dancers: it empowers both the men and the women; its instant familiarity makes hearing the opening notes like welcoming back an old friend; and by God, it’s fun.
So what happens when other musicians take “You Shook Me All Night Long” in a different direction? Here are five answers.
Arab Strap– You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC cover)
Arab Strap take it down from eleven, using acoustic guitar to show how the song would sound as a Scottish campfire singalong. Vocalist Aidan Moffatt half-sways, half-staggers from belligerent verses to tender choruses, adding a level of intimacy. With the solo and the last full chorus cut, it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome – one can almost hear the boozy applause as the singer half-bows and passes the guitar to the guy on the right, trying to hide in the smoke and knowing full well his version of “Puff the Magic Dragon” can’t top that.
Hotwire– You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC cover)
Hotwire follows the opening riff note for note, and then they hijack the song into rockabilly country. The greasy, bawdy feel of the original is a perfect fit for this band. There’s nothing campy about their treatment, and their respect doesn’t straitjacket the song, either – it’s a little bit looser and just as much fun.
The Lost Fingers– You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC cover)
Lost in the ’80s, the debut album by The Lost Fingers, featured gypsy jazz renditions of hits of the ’80s. You may find it disconcerting to hear a French-accented vocalist delivering the words as though soft-shoeing around Parisian lamp-posts and puffing on Gitanes. This version is less loyal to the song than to the style; the fit into their vehicle may not be a comfortable one, but you can’t fault the smoothness of the ride.
Timo Raisanen – You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC cover)
Timo Raisanen is big in Sweden – understandable enough, as he records his brand of indiepop there. He gives the song the sensitive haunted treatment, turning it from a universal experience to a tremendously personal one. His version moves the song back up to the head and the heart.
Bing Ji Ling – You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC cover)
New York City musician Quinn Luke, recording under a name that doubles as the Chinese word for “ice cream,” specializes in giving a ’60s/’70s old-school vibe to his soul-electronica. His cover of “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a masterpiece. Sounding uncannily like “Debra”-era Beck, he replaces the guitar with the clavinet and pumps out a vintage get-down groove that gives the song a whole new type of fun. No longer wearing t-shirt and jeans, “You Shook Me All Night Long” has on downtown finery, and it knows it’s looking fine.
There’s plenty other great AC/DC covers out there; find out about some of them in our archives.