As I announced a few blogs ago, I am happy to present to you a blog written by my pal, Max. I stumbled on his blog when I first started blogging. I found he and I were around the same age, loved the same music, TV shows, and movies and we’ve become very good friends. You can find his blog here: https://powerpop.blog/
I mentioned that I have wanted to write a blog on the Beatles for some time. Max is quite a Beatles fan, too. I thought he’d be the perfect guy to write a Beatles blog for me. Actually, he’s gonna do two! He recently interviewed me for his blog regarding my radio career, so he kind of owed me at least one blog! LOL. So without any further ado, here’s Max and the first “official” Beatles blog on this page …
COVER SONGS BY THE BEATLES
Hello everyone! I want to thank Keith (nostaligicitalian) for allowing me to interview him for my blog. Keith mentioned to me about guest hosting his blog. I’m sorry to say this to all the readers, but I will be here twice! What I’m going to do is list my top 10 songs that the Beatles covered (today)…and my top 10 songs that people covered of the Beatles (next Saturday). I want to thank Keith for thinking enough of me to let me share this.
I first found the Beatles when I was 8 years old (in 1975) and have read and listened to them ever since. Their original songs are what set them apart from everyone else then and now, but they did play some interesting covers.
The Beatles did mostly covers when they played Liverpool and Hamburg before their fame. They had great taste picking them and they also did some B sides because they wanted to do songs every other Liverpool band wasn’t doing. Although I’m a huge Beatles fan…I’m not suggesting that any of these are better than the original (Except a couple). In some cases though the Beatles brought attention to the song which the original artists were usually really grateful.
I’m only listing songs that were on studio albums not any live albums like Live at the BBC. So lets get this started!
10: Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes version will always be my favorite of this one…and I remember the Carpenters did it also in the 70s.
The Beatles version was good, but I have heard a live version that is a little more up. Would American audiences be interested in a young white British group covering a black R&B pop smash hit? Capitol Records didn’t think so. They decided against including the song on their first album “Meet The Beatles!” for just that reason.
After three million copies of the album had been sold by mid March, Capitol was ready to rush-release another album to cash in on the excitement. And you better believe they included “Please Mister Postman” on that next release, “The Beatles’ Second Album.”
9: Bad Boy – For me this is punk Beatles. John’s voice carries this song. They were in the middle of filming Help! when Capital Records in America requested a few more songs.
They went back in their Hamburg/Cavern days and picked two to record – Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Bad Boy. The Beatles don’t stray too far from the original Larry Williams rendition of the song while compensating for the saxophone and piano dominated arrangement with guitars and subtle organ/electric keyboard work…it is a bit more energetic than the original. (KEITH: I actually had no idea this was a cover song, until I bought a Larry Williams album!)
8: Slow Down – Larry Williams wrote this song. They recorded 3 of his songs. More than any other songwriter but themselves.
There was no internet or a good way to get lyrics back then. Ted “King-Size” Taylor from the rival Liverpool group The Dominoes remembers that The Beatles all sat in a row and took down one line each of all the songs they did… Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Slow Down all of those – and “the next time we saw them they were playing all our stuff.” (KEITH: I never heard this story!! That’s great!!!)
7: Money – It fit their style perfectly but John sounded as if he held back a little on this one. I still like it but it probably could have been better.
The Beatles performed the song live, vocals and all, for six full takes until everyone was satisfied. George Martin play piano on this song. (KEITH: Barrett Strong’s version was a staple on Michigan oldies stations. It was written by Barry Gordy and was the first Motown hit!)
6: Dizzy Miss Lizzy – This is one of the first guitar riffs I learned on guitar. It’s simple and if played right it can light up a club or bar. A song written by Larry Williams, John Lennon would later cover this live in 1969 at the concert in Toronto.
This was recorded on the same day as Bad Boy. (KEITH: I think the Beatles version of this has a bit more “oomph” to it. Larry’s version sounds weak in comparison.)
5: Long Tall Sally – Paul did his Little Richard best on this song. They were playing this song way back in 1957.
Long Tall Sally has the longest legacy of all the songs in The Beatles catalog, but that is the song held an affectionate place in the hearts of The Beatles all of those years. (KEITH: What a vocal on this one! Paul knocks it out of the park!)
4: Rock and Roll Music – I was introduced to the song by the Beatles.
Their backs were up against a wall. They were not able to compose enough material on such short notice to fill an entire album. So they were happy to record their renditions of some of their favorites. “Rock And Roll Music” fit the bill. It’s another song that they knew well. They kept playing this song through their touring career. (KEITH: A classic by Chuck Berry, however, the Beatles kick it up a notch. Such a great sound to this one.)
3: Roll Over Beethoven – Everything from George’s guitar to his vocals are spot on in this Chuck Berry cover. “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” John Lennon.
They had perfected this song on stage during the last seven years. It was the first of two numbers immortalized by The Beatles from the catalog of the most influential songwriter/performer of the fifties…Chuck Berry. (KEITH: The song itself is a great track. I always though the Beatles version was better than Chuck’s. If I had to pick a favorite version – it might be the version by ELO.)
2: Twist and Shout – John Lennon sounds demented in this song in all the right ways. It was the last song they cut that night after recording the entire album and John just got through it. They adapted the original arrangement within their limited ‘guitar-bass-drums’ format and did so very well.
Although The Beatles’ adaptation was a direct reflection of the hit version by The Isley Brothers, I feel safe to say that this version became the definitive version of the song. (KEITH: I would agree. How can you even touch this version of Twist and Shout?!)
1: You Really Got A Hold On Me – This is my personal favorite. The popular opinion would probably be on Twist and Shout as being the best song they covered…and I think John was beyond great on that…but these harmonies are hard to beat on this one. You can’t compare Smokey to anyone…but the versions are apples and oranges.
It had been recently recorded by its writer Smokey Robinson and The Miracles and first hit the charts only earlier that year, debuting on the Billboard singles chart on January 12, 1963. Yet just over six months later, The Beatles chose to translate the song themselves. This was the first song they chose to record for the album. They do a unique version of it that has stuck with me. Below we have a bonus…an isolated vocal of this song. (KEITH: I like their version better than Smokey’s. Cool vocal track. Never heard it before. Thanks for sharing.)
More next week….
These are some of my absolute favorite Beatles cuts!
I’m looking forward to Max’s follow up next week, which will feature songs by the Beatles that were covered by other artists! I hope you are, too!!