Cover vs. Original

The Letter


The Box Tops scored their first hit with the song "The Letter", but Joe Cocker made it an international hit when he spruced it up with his English - Soul vocal styling. Joe Cocker's version was the first I ever heard and was moved by, but it is just a well crafted song, making the original stand up in its simplicity.

- Tyler, Atlanta, United States, 19.06.2007


Joe Cocker
1970

vs.

The Box Tops
1967

CD-Cover: Joe Cocker - Mad Dogs and English Men 42 % 58 % CD-Cover: The Box Tops - The Best of the Box Tops: Soul Deep
Results of the voting: Cover versus Original
Click on the cover for listening Click on the cover for listening
Joe Cocker 452 Votes The Box Tops

Comments about The Letter:

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It's the battle of hoarse-voiced vocals. Cocker's phrasing and intensity, and the arrangement, give his version the edge over the solid but lackluster original.
- Rob L., Vancouver, United States, 27.08.2010
I love Joe Cocker's work and his is a great cover, but I still like the Box Tops version better. However I could listen to either and be happy.
- Balrog, Victoria, Canada, 07.09.2009
I'm not a big Joe Cocker fan, but his version of The Letter is one of my all-time favorite songs. The horn riff is just tremendous, and it always brightens my day.
- Tim, Canandaigua, United States, 18.08.2009
The time period was different, and so is the style. You can’t compare apples to oranges! Clean verse gritty. If you like soul and feeling you have to say Joe’s version is better. If you like clean orchestral sounds then the Box Tops will do just fine. The lead singer might be able to pull off a version similar to Joe’s I think, that would be interesting???
- Wyatt Harrison, Ferndale, United States, 18.08.2009
The time period was different, and so is the style. You can’t compare apples to oranges! Clean verse gritty. If you like soul and feeling you have to say Joe’s version is better. If you like clean orchestral sounds then the Box Tops will do just fine. The lead singer might be able to pull off a version similar to Joe’s I think, that would be interesting???
- Wyatt Harrison, Ferndale, United States, 18.08.2009
Love Joe Cocker, but The Box Tops did a better version of this song - in my humble opinion . . .
- Kathe, Albuquerque, United States, 06.05.2009
I was in high school when the Box Tops' version came out. It was very popular, but it sounded pretty bland to me. When I heard Joe Cocker's version, a couple of years later, the song was very vivid. I couldn't believe how much music got packed into 4 minutes; the vocals, 2 instrumental solos, the back up singers, etc. The live ambience helped too. It's still a favorite of mine, 39 years later.
- Steven, Orange, NJ, United States, 14.02.2009
Granted Joe Cocker is covering this song, I think his version is sick, especially with Mr. Russell on the keys. I guess what it all comes down to is which style of the song you are in the mood for.
- GB, Charlottesville, United States, 14.01.2009
Joe Cocker took what was a rather mundane pop song and made it into a kick a** classic. Lots of catchy, soulful riffs, with Leon Russell on piano. Cocker is one of very few artists that can IMPROVE a song!
- Doug, New Hampshire, United States, 18.12.2008
here's unquestionably the original box tops the better version! buut..... do you know Dynamo 5 ?? (are playing a cover of "the letter" on the soundtrack of the german film "sonnenallee") - certainly my favourite version of the letter!!
- Karin, Vienne, Austria, 21.02.2008
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