Like most people, I think, I tend to like versions of songs that I originally heard. Some songs I love are cover versions that I often didn’t even know were cover versions until years later (for example, Alice Cooper’s “Hello Hooray” was originally recorded by Judy Collins, but I had no idea until years after I’d heard Alice’s version). There are a lot of cover versions that I much prefer to the originals. It’s rare, but there are times when a cover version pretty much completely supplants the original in the public’s consciousness. For example, The Kinks’s “You Really Got Me” is a great song, but IMO, Van Halen’s version is infinitely superior. It’s an example of taking a song that sounds very ’60s and turning it into something more modern. In my mind, every cover that Webb Wilder has done has been better, or just as good, as the originals.
I tend to draw the line, though, at cover versions of songs recorded in my lifetime. It’s a very rare cover version of a song from the ’70s or ’80s that I even like. One notable exception is Coal Chamber’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock The Monkey.” Peter Gabriel’s song is a great song, but Coal Chamber managed to make a version that, to me, is every bit as good. It helps that they have Ozzy Osbourne singing, too. It’s not better than Peter Gabriel’s original, but I love their version just as much as the original. They took a great song and did something with it that made it different, but just as good.
(By contrast, I love the Genesis song “Land Of Confusion.” I despise the Disturbed cover of the song. I also despise the Disturbed version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” It may just be that I despise Disturbed.)