Yes, I know, cover versions of songs can suck eggs. Sometimes they are slavish imitations of the originals, hoping to cash in on familiarity. Sometimes they try so hard to be wildly different than the original that they succeed only in being wildly different than the original. No matter what, though, the original usually is better than the cover.
The song “I’m Shakin'” has been around the block a couple of times.
Little Willie John, whose 1956 waxing of “Fever” went to the top of the R&B charts, did the first version of the song, way back in 1961.
The Blasters never failed to get the crowd moving with their jazzier version, first recorded in 1981. I remember almost being knocked over a couple of times when they played it at one of their shows.
The new edition of the song by John Anthony Gillis, known better as Jack White — formerly of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and many other bands and one-offs — is a rollicking, no-holds-barred workout with a couple of slicing guitars, some hand claps and female back-up singers added to the mix.
The AllMusic guide White’s version of “I’m Shakin'” “clumsy” and “cabaret.” If it is “clumsy,” its perfectly “clumsy,” consistent with White’s analog, tape and razor blade approach to record-making. He makes “I’m Shakin'” entirely his own. It is indeed a record, in the best mid-70s meaning of the word. It’s over-the-top in a good way.
So, here it is. I dare you to remain still while listening. The thing just moves. And enjoy the wacky home-made video mash-up featuring the Soul Train dancers: