So last month’s post was 25 fab covers of Beatles songs. With several thousand to choose from, it only seems fair to add 25 more to make it an even 50 – so here goes. Keep in mind the rules – only one cover allowed by any group and of any song (and honestly the order is pretty fluid).
26.Lee Rocker – I’ll Cry Instead
Truthfully it was so close between Joe Cocker’s version and this great rockabilly that it was painful to leave out one or the other last month (went with Joe since his was older). This shows that the Stray Cats bassist (real name Leon Drucker) could hold his own as a lead singer (maybe better than Brian Setzer’s growlier voice). The 2003 album Bulletproof is the source for this hot rocker.
27.Cheap Trick – Magical Mystery Tour
One of the greatest power pop bands of all-time, Cheap Trick does outstanding covers (notably Roy Wood – “Blackberry Way”, “California Man”). This song appears on the album The Greatest Hits. It would have made the top 25 except for the last minute when the song wanders aimlessly to an end.
28.The Wallflowers – I’m Looking Through You
Son of Bob Dylan (Jakob) covers the Beatles – and does a pretty darn good job of it. The movie soundtrack to the 2001 movie i am sam was supposed to be Beatles songs, but the rights proved to be a problem thus the use of nothing but remakes. As a covers album you could do worse than picking up this soundtrack (Eddie Vedder, The Black Crowes, Sheryl Crow, etc.). The original name of Dylan’s band was The Apples (coincidence?).
29.Jake Shimabukuro – In My Life
While it was his 2006 version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that made this ukulele virtuoso a sensation, “In My Life” is far more gentle and affecting. Too bad John Lennon couldn’t hear this emotional version of his composition with only bass and uke. Hawaiian born Shimabukuro has done several albums of simple instrumentals that make for great background music to a lazy day. “In My Life” comes from his six-song 2007 EP My Life which also has a nice “Here, There And Everywhere” cover.
30.Ghost – Here Comes The Sun
From 1969’s Abbey Road, this is perhaps George Harrison’s best song. It is such a light and happy song – except when done by these cartoonish Swedish heavy-metalers. Ghost recorded the song in a minor key which seems to imply regret that the sun is coming up (perhaps a vampire needing to get to his coffin?). Their cover is pretty tough to come by only appearing on the Japanese version of their 2010 debut LP Opus Eponymous (2011 in the U.S. and Japan).
31.Ramsey Lewis – Day Tripper
Jazz pianist Lewis has been recording since 1956, but it was his 1965 instrumental version of “The In Crowd” that made him popular with a larger audience. His Wade In The Water album had this groovin’ take on the Beatles rocker “Day Tripper” – the #5 B-side to the #1 hit “We Can Work It Out”. Lewis’ workout hit #74 in 1966. The drummer for this record was Maurice White who later formed Earth, Wind & Fire.
32.The Smithereens – Don’t Bother Me
George Harrison’s first recorded composition wasn’t one of his best, but sounds pretty darn good as done by power poppers The Smithereens with crunchier guitar. This was from their 2007 attempt at redoing the entire Meet The Beatles! album – appropriately titled Meet The Smithereens!. Guitarist Jim Babjak proved to be a pretty fair lead vocalist on this song (the late Pat DiNizio sang lead normally).
33.Yes – Every Little Thing
In 1969 a new group appeared named Yes with a debut album of that same name. Members were Jon Anderson lead vocals, Peter Banks guitars, Chris Squire bass, Tony Kaye keys and Bill Bruford drums. Progressive and jazzy was their style. Of the eight songs, two were covers including this workout on the Beatles VI album cut “Every Little Thing”. Starting an aggressive jam, they settle into the song at about 1:43 save for a small foray into “Day Tripper”. Live is where to appreciate Yes who have done excellent versions of this song through the years.
34.The Jeff Healey Band – Yer Blues
So once again it was hard to choose between Jeff Healey or Kenny Wayne Shepherd for last month’s blog version of John’s nasty “Yer Blues”. A slight edge went to Shepherd, but Healey tears it up pretty good as well on his 1995 Cover To Cover album. At age one, he lost his eyesight to cancer. Starting at age three, Healey (who passed away just before his 42nd birthday in 2008 of cancer again) had an interesting way of playing the guitar – flat like a lap steel instead of up against his body.
35.Restless Heart – The Night Before
With occasional break-ups and reformations, Restless Heart have been performing country music since 1984. In that time they placed 24 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. For their 2004 comeback album Still Restless, the band turned in this acoustic workout of the 1965 movie song from Help! with fiddle and dobro for good measure.
36.Joemy Wilson – Eleanor Rigby
Beatles On Hammered Dulcimer is a fine 1989 album by Joemy Wilson which doesn’t appear on youtube (other than “For No One” which is okay, but not as good as “Eleanor Rigby”). The gentle nature of “Eleanor Rigby” seems to fit the almost music-box sound.
37.Marianne Faithfull – Yesterday
While Paul’s now standard from 1965 was a #1 single in the U.S., it was left to folks like Matt Monro and Mick Jagger’s girlfriend to have the U.K. hits back then. Faithfull’s version went to #36 over their in November of 1965 and featured an ethereal choir (arrangement by Mike Leander? who did the honors for the fabs on “She’s Leaving Home”). It was nearly a toss-up between this gentle version and the psychedelic take by Eyes Of Blue.
38.Tony Furtado with Alison Krauss – I Will
Banjo player/guitarist Furtado is only a year older than this McCartney song from the 1968 double album The Beatles (vocalist Krause is three years younger than that LP). This track is found on Furtado’s 1992 Rounder Records LP Within Reach. On the original, John and Ringo provide percussion while Paul handles all the rest.
39.The Ventures – I Feel Fine
Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Mel Taylor and Don Wilson were an amazing band. With supposedly over 200 album releases, The Ventures have been the greatest American guitar instrumental band ever (The Shadows gave them a run for their money in the U.K.). Back during the ’60s it seemed like every few weeks they would pump out an LP filled with contemporary covers of vocal songs done instrumentally along with a few originals. “I Feel Fine” was cut by the Ventures at least three different ways back in the day – appearing on the 1965 Knock Me Out LP, Live In Japan ’65 (not released till later) and as the backing arrangement for “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” from their excellent Christmas album.
40.Gryphon – Mother Nature’s Son
Not too many bands have ever sported members playing bassoon and krumhorn, but that can be said for medieval progressive band Gryphon. On their 1975 Transatlantic album Raindance, they chose to do one cover version – Paul’s White Album solo song “Mother Mature’s Son”. Formed in 1973, Gryphon are still going as a band today.
41.The Helio Sequence – Tomorrow Never Knows
This live video doesn’t do justice to the excellent studio version on their 2000 album Com Plex, but that cut isn’t on youtube so at least you can see these two guys workout on stage. Brandon Summers on guitar/vocals and Benjamin Weikel on drums, keys and vocals make up this Oregon band. For better or for worse, the original Beatles track from Revolver can in many ways be credited as the first song to make extensive use of sampling (using tape loops brought into and out of the live mix).
42.The Hollyridge Strings – Love Me Do
Oh my, this is an embarrassing guilty pleasure. Arranger Stu Phillips activated the catchall band name The Hollyridge Strings for this Capitol label cash-in for parents and rock & roll phobic kids. They actually charted (albeit at only #93) with “All My Loving” from this LP back in the summer of 1964. Phillips’ m.o. for this song was heavy echo and pizzicato strings with a bit of a backbeat (not too much however – didn’t want to get mom and dad too worked up). The RNR Dentist owns several of their LPs covering everyone from The Beach Boys to Nat King Cole. After Phillips, Mort Garson and Perry Botkin, Jr. carried the mantle forward for several years of Beatles covers.
43.Oasis – I Am The Walrus
Oasis (and specifically the brothers Gallagher) have been accused of borrowing heavily from The Beatles, but it is hard to criticize a band that loves ’60s British pop. Released in 1994, Definitely Maybe was their debut album going on to sell over eight million copies worldwide. One of the singles from that album was “Cigarettes & Alcohol” and the B-side was a loud nasty live version of John Lennon’s “I Am The Walrus”. For the 2014 CD remaster release, two extra discs were added to the original release one of which included all the single sides.
44.Linda Ronstadt – Good Night
The Ringo sung White Album track “Good Night” was Lennon’s most tender song – written for son Julian. It gets a bum rap as being sappy, but if you can hear this without getting choked up you are a better (?) man than I. In 1996 Ronstadt released an album of lullabies – Dedicated To The One I Love with this as the closer. It won a Grammy the following year.
45.Trouble Tribe – Dear Prudence
Don’t pay too much attention to the stupid video with the slow-motion women; only enjoy the fab cover of John’s White Album track. This appeared on the self-titled 1990 hair-metal album by Trouble Tribe who didn’t have a lot of success, but did manage to put out a nice version of this song. It starts with easy guitars then gets heavier around the 1:16 mark.
46.Liverpool – Glass Onion
Yet another Lennon track from The Beatles, these guys do a pretty faithful take with an aggressively attractive bass part. It can be found on the 1997 album In Our Own Way which was made up mostly of Beatle covers/medleys and a couple of very Merseybeat sounding originals. There are so many Beatles cover bands that it is hard to find someone who hasn’t been in a Beatles cover band. In addition to Liverpool, for instance, you have Liverpool Legends, Made In Liverpool, Liverpool – A Tribute To The Beatles, etc.
47.Gary Brooker – Old Brown Shoe
On Nov. 29, 2002 on the first anniversary of George Harrison’s passing, a musical gala was held in his honor. The lead singer of Procol Harum, Gary Brooker, chipped in this rockin’ version of one of George’s most forgotten songs (and one of his best). “Old Brown Shoe” was the B-side to the single “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. The Concert For George album has some other goodies including Jeff Lynne’s “I Want To Tell You” and Eric Clapton’s “Beware Of Darkness”.
48.The Naturals – I Should Have Known Better
Back in the day, nearly every Beatles song could have charted (except maybe “Revolution #9”). In the U.S. many more tracks by the Fab Four did indeed chart than in the U.K. where LPs, EPs and singles were mostly stand-alone affairs. As the U.S. single B-side to “A Hard Day’s Night”, “I Should Have Known Better” did chart at #53 back in mid-1964 however it was only an album track in the U.K.. Many groups seized on The Beatles’ material for their own releases to capitalize and one such one-hit wonder was the British band The Naturals who had the only chart version of this song (#24) in their own country. It’s a bit faster and driven by hand-clapping and everybody knows that all songs are better with hand-clapping (and maybe cowbell).
49.Me First & The Gimme Gimmes – All My Lovin’
Here we have an amped up punk-rock pastiche of the first song The Beatles performed on their Feb. 9, 1964 The Ed Sullivan Show debut. Like the Dickies before them these guys have done punky covers of unexpected songs (starting with their 1995 single desecrating John Denver). Apparently the name of the band is taken from a children’s book. “All My Lovin'” is found on their Blow In The Wind LP from 2001. I include this as a tribute to the Rock N Roll Dental Assistant, Meagan who is a big fan of this group.
50.Translator – Cry For A Shadow
It seems fitting to end with a cover version of one of the oldest Beatles songs. The Shadows were Cliff Richard’s backing band and managed a long career doing guitar instrumentals under the leadership of Hank Marvin. As the only song credited to John Lennon & George Harrison in the Beatles canon, “Beatle Bop” was retitled as a tribute to The Shadows. When the Beatles recorded in Germany back in 1961 mostly backing Tony Sheridan, it was certainly inconceivable that people would still be enjoying these recordings nearly six decades later. For a new wave band that had limited success back on their initial run starting in 1979, it is amazing that Translator are still going today. This cover version was a B-side to the single “Break Down Barriers” in 1983. It is also a bonus track on the 2008 CD re-release of their album No Time Like Now.