3/30/11

Beatles Covers #9: A Mix Tape for Your Listening Pleasure


I used to shake my head in disgust whenever I'd hear a fab four cover.  I remember wondering why Elton did Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - what was the point? It was like remaking Gone with the Wind or repainting the Mona Lisa.  It's already been done perfectly, what exactly do you hope to prove by covering it?

Fortunately, I'm not as jaded and protective of the Beatles as I once was.  In fact, I've learned to see Beatles covers as a genre of music unto itself.  It's interesting to listen to the infinite variations each artist brings to the table.  Sure, they're horrible 99 times out of a 100; but, like a B-movie, you learn to appreciate its awfulness (if that makes sense).

Of course there's a limit to my tolerance.  I put one track on this mix tape that crosses the line - Bananarama's version of "Help".  Whereas Shatner's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is wonderfully bad, this 80s synth cover is beyond bad.  I literally have a physical reaction to this song; my hands become sweaty and clammy, my heart palpitates, and my left eye twitches uncontrollably... I had to shut it off for fear of a stroke.

That being said, there are some good ones on here. My personal faves are Junior Parker's desolate version of "Tomorrow Never Knows" and Nilsson's medley, "You Can't Do That".

The Truth - Girl
Sparks - I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Bee Gees, Peter Frampton - Getting Better
Peter Sellers - A Hard Day's Night
The Hollies - If I Needed Someone
William Shatner - Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Cilla Black - For No One
The Gods - Hey Bulldog
Harry Nilsson - You Can't Do That
Wilson Pickett - Hey Jude - Wilson Pickett
David & Jonathan - Michelle
August - Eleanor Rigby
Grady Tate - And I Love Her
Barracudas - All My Lovin'
Hans Staymer Band - Come Together
Tom Newman - She Said She Said
George Benson - Golden Slumbers / You Never Give Me Your Money
Junior Parker - Tomorrow Never Knows
Tomorrow - Strawberry Fields Forever
The Ramsey Lewis Trio - A Hard Day's Night
St. Louis Union - Girl
Bananarama - Help

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14 comments:

  1. spooky tooth do a mean "I Am The Walrus"
    and longines symphonette have an entire album of thier own signiture hatchet-jobs on the beatle's oeuvre.
    good post!

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  2. Great collection! Hadn't heard the Junior Parker version of Tomorrow Never Knows before - amazing.

    Worth pointing out that the Bananarama song is a 'straight' version of a comedy song they did for the Comic relief charity - the 'funny' version at least puts it in context! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSiPd3UJg8U (not in the same league as the daddy of all UK charity/comedy songs, of course - Cliff and The Young Ones doing Living Doll... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OsL6HLyCqM )

    If you want *really* awful Beatles covers from that era, I suggest the cod soul of Wet Wet Wet doing A Little Help From My Friends - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUsJh1kKM6Q and for a possibly great one, Candy Flip's new-summer-of-love E'd-up Strawberry Fields takes a lot of beating :-)

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  3. In grad school I had a real San Francisco hippie prof and one time he said something about improving on the original "like Joe Cocker singing a Beatles song."

    I also like Aerosmith's version of Come Together.

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  4. Oooo, I hadn't heard the Spooky Tooth cover version; I'll have to check that out!

    Has to be better than Sheryl Crowe's rendition of "Mother Nature's Son". Gag.

    And Comic Relief or not, there's no excuse for that Bananabomination.

    I like Aerosmith's "Come Together" - it suits them. Just as "Got to Get You into my Life" suited Earth, Wind and Fire. "Helter Skelter" suited Motley Crew, but the f***ed it up. Pat Benetar did it better than them.

    I'm not much into Mayan prophesies, but I think their ancient texts say something about P Diddy doing a cover of "And Your Bird Can Sing" being a warning sign for the apocalypse.

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  5. The Moving Sidewalks (pre- ZZ Top Billy Gibbons) did a smokin psychedelic version of I wanna hold your hand. They really turned the song into something totally new.

    Check it out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87dHLPMF07g

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  6. and let's not forget anne murray with her amazing (not!) cover of "you won't see me"......God bless her ;)

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  7. Siouxie & the Banshees did a nice cover of "Dear Prudence". They even made a video for it but I couldn't immediately locate a good quality one from the web.

    And more appropriately for Retrospace the early 70's protopunks of The Tubes covered "I Saw her Standing There" very energetically. I heartily recommend the superb live album What do you want from Live? where the track can be found.

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  8. Oh yeah, I forgot about U2's Helter Skelter which I really really like.

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  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUBAGLinKfI

    Peggy Lee's take on 'A Hard Day's Night' is somewhat solid.

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  10. I may get tar and feathered here but I preferred Elton's version of Lucy in the Sky to the original.I believe I read somewhere that even John Lennon felt it was superior. Just my 2 cents.

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  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li580259YwU

    godhead - elanor rigby
    alright cover.

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  12. Elvis' version of Something from Aloha in Hawaii is as good a cover as you'll find.

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  13. The B52s do a mean Paperback Writer.

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