AudioPerfecta.com’s unofficial anthem is God Gave Rock and Roll to You. It’s unofficial only because while I love Rock and Roll, this website is not specific to just one genre. I am committed to going beyond Rock, into Classical, Rap, World Beat, Country, or whatever else inspires me. However, I do believe that God did, in fact, give us Rock and Roll. I also believe that is my mission, nay, my duty to share said music. It is my responsibility to put Rock and Roll, or whatever music that inspires me, in the soul of everyone who will listen.
It’s also a well known fact that I love a good cover AND I love juxtaposition. This has led me to the idea for a series of articles: juxtapositioning cover songs with the original. As this is the first official article of audioperfecta.com, God Gave Rock and Roll to you (II) is the perfect song to juxtapose against itself. So, join me as I compare the original Argent version against the Petra and Kiss versions.
Argent version (1973):
Among the first couple listenings, one almost get the feeling that Argent rushed the verses. Having said that, a closer examination reveals a few deeper references. “Love your Neighbor,” is a reference to the moral of the Good Samaritan. “Love Cliff Richard, but please don’t tease,” talks about a bad boy rock and roller (arguably the cornerstone of British Rock), going soft. Perhaps the most interesting line in the song, “If you wanna be a singer or play guitar / Man you’ve gotta sweat or you won’t get far /’Coz it’s never too late to work nine to five,” refers to the “curse of man” found in Genesis 3:17. Putting all of these references together forms the thesis: Love one another, stay true to the music, and work hard for your dreams.
Petra version (1977/1984):
Petra did two versions of this song (well, three if you count the reprise on Come and Join Us). The 1977 version was, to be blunt, pretty damned annoying – almost nightmarish in sound. However, the 1984 version was identical in lyrical content, but sounded more of a standard mid 80s rock song. Petra took many liberties on this song, and changed pretty much all the verses. It’s hard to know if Petra got the Biblical Allusions in the original, but they seemed to focus on the “Work hard for your dreams,” part of the song. Petra then uses the song as a platform to preach – to say that God gave you your dreams of Rock and Roll, so Worship God. Interestingly enough, the 1984 version was the first version of this song I heard.
KISS version (1991 – God Gave Rock and Roll to you II):
The Kiss version serves as a spiritual successor to the original. Firstly, the sound was fully updated. While the original sounded like a nice little 70s rock song, the KISS version updated the sound to a full on hard Rock song. Then there’s the second verse. The one lyric, aside from the chorus, that Kiss keeps…“If you wanna be a singer or play guitar / Man you’ve gotta sweat or you won’t get far /’Coz it’s never too late to work nine to five.” Kiss then amends with “You can take a stand, or you can compromise / You can work real hard or just fantasize / But you don’t start livin’ ’till you realize.”
KISS gets the song right – at least on this verse. The first verse, however, seems a bit off. KISS talks about Rock and Roll being the key to monetary and worldly possessions – such as a fancy car. Argent’s version argues that Rock and Roll is the goal, not the means to a goal. But what can I say? It’s KISS…
So, who wins?
Which version of God Gave Rock and Roll to You is the best? Well, I’ll get this out of the way – it’s not the Petra version, but that’s a pretty obvious statement. Of the two versions left, they both have their merits. The Argent version had Biblical allusions in support of the thesis. And of course, that amazing chorus used in every version of the song. Still, KISS had a better sounding song. God Gave Rock and Roll to you gains a lot by being a hard rock anthem. There’s also the second verse – the Kiss amendment certainly adds something. So officially I say a hybrid of the song is the clear winner – if Argent sang the song in the KISS style, but with the original first verse, we would have the best version of this song. For the record, Rod Argent seemed to liked the KISS version.
Work hard, chase your dreams, and remember. God Gave Rock and Roll to you!