When it comes to crafting a list of Joe Bonamassa’s best, the task is a tough one. For starters, the guitarist began playing professionally before he was even a teenager—and he’s released a ton of studio and live albums in the decades since.
For this Top 10 list, Blues Rock Review is focusing on Bonamassa’s cover songs, many of which he thrills live audiences with frequently while performing onstage. (We have a separate list of Bonamassa’s top 10 songs, which you can check out here). Many of these tracks have appeared on Bonamassa’s live albums, and there are tons of videos on YouTube showing the energy and enthusiasm Bonamassa brings when he performs them (we’re including some of those links below). As with any other list like this, every reader will have their favorite top 10 songs—and we invite you to share yours in the comment section below.
10. “A New Day Yesterday”
Bonamassa released his cover of “A New Day Yesterday” on his debut studio album of the same name in 2000. The song was originally recorded by Jethro Tull and was featured on Jethro Tull’s 1969 album Stand Up. Bonamassa went on to record a live version of the song for his 2002 album A New Day Yesterday Live, and he revisited the track again for the 20th anniversary of his first album, which he released with newly-recorded vocals for A New Day Now. The song has also appeared as a medley on Bonamassa’s 2008 album Live from Nowhere in Particular and on 2021’s live album Now Serving: Royal Tea Live from the Ryman.
9. “Cradle Rock”
Bonamassa also covered Rory Gallagher’s “Cradle Rock” for his 2000 debut studio album A New Day Yesterday. The song initially appeared on Gallagher’s 1973 album Tattoo. On Bonamassa’s debut, his cover of “Cradle Rock” served as the album opener and was included on the live version of the album that Bonamassa released a couple of years later, as well as on 2020’s A New Day Now. It’s a track Bonamassa returns to often during live performances, and it was featured on 2012’s Beacon Theatre: Live from New York and on 2021’s Now Serving: Royal Tea Live from the Ryman.
8. “A Place in My Heart”
Bonamassa recorded a version of his friend and Whitesnake co-founder Bernie Marsden’s “A Place in My Heart” for his 2012 album Driving Towards the Daylight. Marsden, who died in August 2023, included the song on his 2003 album Big Boy Blue. Nearly a decade after the original song’s release, Bonamassa put his own soulful spin on it, allowing the track to swim in slow and prodding vocals before diving into the track’s guitar solo. Though not one of Bonamassa’s well-known covers, it’s a masterful rendition that relies heavily on Bonamassa’s skills as a singer and guitarist.
7. “Well, I Done Got Over It”
“Well, I Done Got Over It” is a song Bonamassa only recently recorded for his latest studio album Blues Deluxe Vol. 2, which he released in October 2023. Originally recorded by Guitar Slim for a 1953 release, Bonamassa’s version was one of nine covers included on Blues Deluxe Vol. 2. Bonamassa’s cover is fun and jaunty, leaning into an upbeat tempo that perfectly matches the amusing music video created for the song. Bonamassa recently performed the song at the Midland Theatre when his tour stopped in Kansas City. (Check out Blues Rock Review’s photos from the show here.)
6. “The Thrill Is Gone”
Bonamassa often pays tribute to B.B. King, who was one of Bonamassa’s early mentors, during performances before live audiences. One of Bonamassa’s best tributes is his cover of “The Thrill Is Gone,” a song that first climbed the Billboard charts as sung by Roy Hawkins during the early 1950s but which experienced a revival in popularity after King released his version nearly two decades later. Bonamassa released his own cover on his Live at the Greek Theatre album in 2016. That album included another King cover that deserves an honorable mention on this list: Bonamassa’s take on “Boogie Woogie Woman” is fun and absolutely worthy of a listen for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.
5. “Tiger in Your Tank”
In his August 2014 concert celebrating blues standards recorded by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Bonamassa included a performance of “Tiger in Your Tank,” a song written by Willie Dixon that Waters turned into a blues classic during the 1960s. Bonamassa performed the song at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado and later released his performance on DVD and Blu-ray. A music video released later starts with old footage showing Waters performing the song at the Newport Jazz Festival before Bonamassa takes over the screen with his cover at Red Rocks. Bonamassa’s performance is on a much larger scale but just as lively as Waters’ original.
4. “Just Got Paid”
Speaking of lively covers, there wouldn’t be a list like this without Bonamassa’s cover of ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid.” This cover, which also made Blues Rock Review’s 2014 list of the Top 10 Joe Bonamassa Songs, appears frequently on Bonamassa’s set list and has also appeared on his Shepherds Bush Empire (2007), Live from Nowhere in Particular (2008) and Live from the Royal Albert Hall (2009) live albums. Bonamassa always seems to have a blast when he brings this song from ZZ Top’s 1972 album Rio Grande Mud to the stage, and it’s nearly impossible for audience members to not dance along.
3. “Midnight Blues”
Bonamassa delivers a beautiful rendition of Northern Irish blues and rock musician Gary Moore’s “Midnight Blues” on several of his own live albums. The song, which first appeared on Moore’s 1990 album Still Got the Blues, was included on Bonamassa’s Beacon Theatre: Live from New York (2012) album and was part of his Tour de Force performances in 2013. A performance of “Midnight Blues” also appeared on Bonamassa’s 2023 Tales of Time DVD and Blu-ray releases.
2. “Blues Deluxe”
Near the top of our list is “Blues Deluxe,” the song that gave Bonamassa’s “last shot” record in 2003 its name. As Bonamassa recalled earlier this year before the release of Blues Deluxe Vol. 2, he viewed Blues Deluxe at the time of its recording as an album that “would hopefully define the direction of whatever future career I might have.” The song was written by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart, and originally appeared on Jeff Beck’s debut studio album Truth with the Jeff Beck Group. Bonamassa brings the song to the stage often and has included it on his Shepherds Bush Empire, Live from the Royal Albert Hall and Tour de Force live albums. With well over 20 million plays on Spotify, “Blues Deluxe” is one of Bonamassa’s most popular songs on the music streaming platform.
1. “Sloe Gin”
Our list culminates with “Sloe Gin,” another track that made our earlier countdown of the Top 10 Joe Bonamassa Songs and which Bonamassa frequently brings to life onstage. Bonamassa’s version is a cover of Tim Curry’s recording, which was released on Curry’s 1978 album Read My Lips and written by producer Bob Ezrin and songwriter Michael Kamen. Bonamassa included his cover on his 2007 album of the same name and described the song a few years later as “probably my biggest song” during a 2011 interview with Total Guitar. Bonamassa’s soaring vocals and intricate mid-song solo have made the cover a fan favorite during concerts and on music streaming platforms like Spotify, where the track has collected more than 11.4 million listens. Bonamassa’s masterful playing on “Sloe Gin” has also inspired dozens of instructional videos on YouTube. In addition to Sloe Gin, the song has been included on some of Bonamassa’s biggest live albums, including 2009’s Live from the Royal Albert Hall, 2014’s Tour de Force: Live in London and 2015’s Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks.