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Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

The last ever photo of the Beatles together, as far as I know. Ringo and Paul wave goodbye, George looks exceedingly pleased, and John looks for Yoko (or perhaps Allen Klein).

Tomorrow, 10 April, marks the 40th anniversary of Paul McCartney announcing the official disbandment of The Beatles. Of course, the Beatles were finished long before that. The final session for the Abbey Road album was, as the song had it, The End. And the guys knew it. Still, nothing was announced until 10 April 1970, when Paul unilaterally declared the Beatles kaputt. There was one post-Abbey Road recording: Harrison’s I Me Mine, which was finished in January 1970 and appeared on Let It Be (which therefore is correctly identified as the Beatles’ final album, even if almost all of it was recorded before Abbey Road, and the end of the group’s activity is accurately dated 1970, and even if John’s final contribution was in 1969).

I have featured The Beatles at length on this blog. First there two sets of album tracks and b-sides (here and here), then three post-split albums compiled from the Fabs’ solo carrer ( 1972, 1975 and 1981). On top of that, I’ve featured Beatles curiosities and curious covers, with more of that still in store, studied my favourite Beatles LP sleeves, and discussed songs that inspired the Beatles and that the Beatles inspired. Add to that a couple of originals of songs the Beatles covered, there seems to be only one significant gap in my Beatles coverage.

So here is the first of three compilations of good covers of Beatles songs. The first takes the songs of the 1962-66 period, up to Revolver. The tracklisting runs in a rough order in which the Beatles released these songs; I hope that despite the eclectic mix the sequencing is smooth.

Some of the featured songs are fairly rare. The Supremes’ version of I Saw Her Standing There, with the lovely and tragic Florence Ballard taking lead vocals, was recorded for their 1964 A Bit Of Liverpool album, but was not used for it. It was finally released in 2008. Likewise, the Carpenters’ splendid cover of Can’t Buy Me Love never was an album release. It appeared on a 1970 interview recording which also includes live-in-the-studio takes of 12 songs (including Can’t Buy Me Love, Help, Ticket To Ride and Come Together). The Bee Gee’s version of You Won’t See Me apparently was recorded in Australia (possibly for the Spicks And Specks sessions), shortly before the future purveyors of toothy hirsuteness broke through internationally.

Some songs presented an obvious problem: to select one of several great covers. The choice was the hardest between Jackie Wilson’s and Ray Charles’ versions of Eleanor Rigby, from 1969 and ’68 respectively. I have often cited the latter as a great example of a cover eclipsing the Beatles (the other, featured here, is Earth, Wind & Fire’s Got To Get You Into My Life). In the end I opted for Wilson’s lesser known version. Likewise, I was torn between Grady Tate’s version of And I Love Her and Esther Philips And I Love Him. Tate’s voice is one of my favourites in popular music, so he got in. It seems appropriate to close the set with a track from a song-for-song covers album, Taxman from the Don Randi Trio’s 1966 jazz-rock re-imagining of Revolver.

I have tried to keep the length of this mix to the standard CD-R length. Here, however, I had no choice but to exceed that length. It was a question of leaving out Deep Purple’s excellent 6-minute version of Help. I have left it in, so the running time is about 1h25min.

TRACKLISTING
1. Keely Smith – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1965)
2. The Supremes – I Saw Him Standing There (1964)
3. The Mamas & The Papas – I Call Your Name (1966)
4. Nils Lofgren – Anytime At All (1981)
5. Carpenters – Can’t Buy Me Love (1970)
6. Ramsey Lewis Trio – A Hard Day’s Night (1965)
7. Rosanne Cash – I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party (1989)
8. Grady Tate – And I Love Her (1974)
9. Marianne Faithfull – I’m A Loser (1965)
10. Pearl Jam – You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (2003)
11. The Dillards – I’ve Just Seen A Face (1968)
12. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Yesterday (1968)
13. ‘Wee’ Willie Walker – Ticket To Ride (1967)
14. Deep Purple – Help (1968)
15. Stevie Wonder – We Can Work It Out (1970)
16. Cheap Trick – Day Tripper (1982)
17. Johnny Rivers – Run For Your Life (1966)
18. Bee Gees – You Won’t See Me (1966)
19. Paul Westerberg – Nowhere Man (2001)
20. Miriam Makeba – In My Life (1970)
21. Bud Shank – Girl (1966)
22. Jonah Jones – Michelle (1969)
23. Earth, Wind & Fire – Got To Get You Into My Life (1978)
24. Jackie Wilson – Eleanor Rigby (1969)
25. Emmylou Harris – Here There And Everywhere (1975)
26. The Vines – I’m Only Sleeping (2001)
27. Don Randi Trio – Taxman (1966)

GET IT! (PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    April 9th, 2010 at 00:49 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Latanya
    April 9th, 2010 at 08:11 | #2

    Thank you. To tell you the truth, I only like Stevie W’s and Earth, Wind, and Fire’s covers. But, I’ll give the other tracks a try.

  3. Latanya
    April 9th, 2010 at 08:12 | #3

    Something’s wrong with both links : (

  4. halfhearteddude
    April 9th, 2010 at 11:42 | #4

    Ah, WordPress playing the fool by combining two URLS…

    The problem is fixed now.

  5. James
    April 9th, 2010 at 15:46 | #5

    Can I make a suggestion for the next volume? Dion’s version of “Blackbird.” (Yes, that Dion, as in “and the Belmonts”). I couldn’t believe how good it was when I first heard it (but I didn’t know anything about his rewarding folk-rock albums then, or his blues recordings, for that matter, which are also good).

    The Earth, Wind and Fire cover comes from the notorious movie Al This and World War III, yes?

    You are a brave man for choosing Cheap Trick over Otis Redding, I must say. :)

  6. April 9th, 2010 at 17:57 | #6

    Nice playlist, but I think you overlooked the most interesting Beatles cover of the 90s.

    Dionne Farris. “Blackbird.”

  7. Rhod
    April 10th, 2010 at 03:19 | #7

    Another great mix from a great site. Love the diversity of the interpretations

    Regards

    Rhod

  8. Geoviki
    April 10th, 2010 at 07:57 | #8

    What a nice selection! I know about half of them, so I’m looking forward to listening to the rest.

    And thanks for the alternate link, it’s very much appreciated. I’m very headshy about Sharebee after getting a pretty nasty virus from the site just by opening a window and rolling over a link (not even clicking). Took me most of a Saturday to recover from it.

  9. halfhearteddude
    April 10th, 2010 at 09:32 | #9

    Shit, I forgot about Otis…

    James, I’ll try and seek out Dion’s version of Blackbird, but — and here steve simels has read my mind — I have Dionne Farris’ vesion lined up. Let’s see if Dion can knock her off the list.

    EWF’s version of Got To Get You etc is from the il-begotten Bee Gees/Frampton movie of Sgt Pepper’s.

    Geoviki, I didn’t know about that issue with Sharebee. I’ve read up on it, and it seems that some pop-ups are problematic. So I’ll not use Sharebee in future. Thanks for alerting me.

  10. April 10th, 2010 at 12:22 | #10

    thanks Dude – for another great mix

  11. Matt
    April 11th, 2010 at 08:32 | #11

    Another wonderful idea beautifully executed. Keep it coming!

  12. April 16th, 2010 at 16:29 | #12

    Emmylou’s version of ‘For No One’ came up on the iPod shuffle the other day – gorgeous, of course.

  13. Asli Jat
    May 1st, 2010 at 06:06 | #13

    Many Thanks …

  14. Scott Brown
    December 2nd, 2010 at 05:24 | #14

    I’ve been listening to Donny Hathaway’s rendition (live) of Yesterday. Man oh man is it special.

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