Saturday, August 18, 2007

Playlist: Best Beatles covers evar!

As a lifelong Beatles fan, I have a fetish for cover versions of Beatles songs. Back in my vinyl-hoarding days, I was particularly interested in black Beatles covers. They seemed like a closing of the circle, since the Beatles began their career rocking a lot of American R&B.

(Click here to hear John doing Ray Charles’s “I Got a Woman,” from the “Live at the BBC” double-CD.)

Now that I’m an MP3 fanatic, I’ve accumulated hundreds of Beatles covers from around the world. Below are my five all-time favorites. Click the song titles to hear them streaming.

(I’d love to hear about your personal favorite Beatles covers. I’m always looking to fatten my collection. So comments are especially welcome.)

5. “All I’ve Got to Do” – Peter Lipa

I like unorthodox Beatles covers. Peter Lipa, a jazz singer from Slovakia, did an album full of them in 2003. It’s called “Beatles in Blue(s).”

This track is freaky in a special way. I can spin it any time and it’ll elevate my mood.

Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.

4. “Dear Prudence” – Jerry Garcia Band

Garcia jams this one live in concert for nearly 12 minutes. I could listen for twice as long. Recorded in 1990, this track is from the double-CD “Jerry Garcia Band.”

3. “No Reply” – The UnHerd

This 1999 track is sung by Larry Hoppen, semi-familiar voice of the old Top 40 band Orleans. Nothing unorthodox about it... just straight-ahead polished pop, and catchy as hell.

Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.

2. “Something” – Screaming Headless Torsos

I pointed to this upload a couple of weeks ago, but here it is again. Dean Bowman’s wigged-out vocal and Dave Fiuczynski’s virtuoso guitarisms make this track a funk-metal classic in my book.

1. “Things We Said Today” – Mary McCaslin

This is exquisite. McCaslin takes one of the least memorable songs from the Lennon-McCartney catalogue and claims ownership with a spellbinding folk-acoustic interpretation.

From her 1996 album “Old Friends.” Downloadable from iTunes.


Doctor Memory said...

No love for Jimi Hendrix covering "Day Tripper"? For shame...

Mike J. said...

"They seemed like a closing of the circle, since the Beatles began their career rocking a lot of American R&B."

Hat tip of my fedora, UBM. The Black American musical artists, as you are well aware, gave the musical impetus to the British pop scene from The Beatles of yesteryear to the Joss Stones of today. I love to read/hear the old clips of The Beatles, Eric Clapton, etc. and the more recent interviews of the Rod Tempertons talking about the influence the music had on them.


susie said...

I am so with you on Jerry singing "Dear Prudence". I saw him do it live a few times and the whole place would sing along. It was magic.

Stevie Wonder's cover of "We Can Work it Out" is also incredibly awesome - to the point that if I had to pick I'd choose his version.

Thanks for sharing these others though - love the Beatles covers.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thank you, Suze... since I got this Jerry Garcia track from you! And seeing that it's not available on MP3, and I'm not into the Dead, I would've never encountered it otherwise.

Undercover Black Man said...

Mike J., thanks for the comment. John Lennon was into black songwriters that most black people never heard of, like Arthur Alexander (who wrote "Anna [Go to Him]").

DeAngelo Starnes said...

The Crusaders' intense reading of "Eleanor Rigby" live in concert from their album "Scratch."

Living Colour "Tomorrow Never Knows."

Jaco Pastorius "Blackbird."

jena6 said...

Stevie Wonder's cover of "We Can Work it Out" is also incredibly awesome - to the point that if I had to pick I'd choose his version.


Michael Jackson--"Come Together."
Lakeside--"I Want to Hold Your Hand."

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Speaking of "Come Together," the Quincy Jones production of the Brothers Johnson version of that song is simply nasty!

Undercover Black Man said...

^ That one's in my top 10.

msl said...

How about Eddie Hazel's "I want you(she's so heavy)"? I love that one!

CG said...

Aretha Franklin's "Let It Be!"

And Fiona Apple's "Across the Universe."

Joe said...

Check out "I am the Walrus" by XTC. Could be the only band that can out-Beatle The Beatles.

Agree on the Living Colour, too; absolutely awesome!

David J. Loehr said...

How about the Smithereens' cover of the entire Meet the Beatles album, Meet the Smithereens? I like it because it's not slavish imitation, it's just good. It's nice, loose, just shaggy enough to hear that they're really having fun with songs they love. (And it, too, is on iTunes.)

As someone who also does a lot of graphic design in my theatre work (under the umbrella title of "artist in residence")--and having done a group of faux-Beatles covers for a promotional thing--I appreciate the album cover, which is very nicely done.

ace said...

not a cover but a mash-up.

You Won't See Me mixed with the percussion bits of Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up:

Look for Beatles vs. Marvin Gaye on first set. Song begins after outro from last song.