This version may be better than the Doobie Brothers' cover.
This is the original version of “Jesus Is Just Alright,” written by Arthur Reid Reynolds. It was first recorded by Reynolds’ own group, The Art Reynolds Singers, for their 1966 album, Tellin’ It Like It Is. Like many tunes from the 1960s it is just over two minutes long and nearly begs to be played on a loop.
In the 1970s, there was a run on the market for pop music with spiritual connections. Songs like “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum and “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens were dominating the airwaves when The Doobie Brothers dropped their second studio album, Toulouse Street, and made “Jesus Is Just Alright” a top 50 hit.
But not many people knew that it was actually a cover … of a cover.
The Doobie Brothers were introduced to the tune from The Byrds’ 1969 album, Ballad of Easy Rider. This is why The Doobie Brothers’ version is much closer in it’s arrangement to the Byrds’ version, rather than Reynolds’ original. In order to fit with the 1970s style, The Doobie Brothers added a bridge and extra refrains, which elongated the tune.
Here’s what The Byrds’ cover sounds like.
Which version do you like best?