Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Welcome to part two of our all-cover collection of the Beatles’ self-titled epic. We’ve got nine covers here, done in styles ranging from blues and jazz to ska and country-rock to folk and indie-rock – in other words, a selection almost as varied as the White Album itself.
MP3: Madeleine Peyroux – Martha My Dear (The Beatles cover)
Madeleine Peyroux’s 2011 album Standing on the Rooftop opened with her cover of “Martha My Dear,” which answers the question, “If Billie Holiday were at peace with herself and singing this song in a fancy parlor on a Sunday morning, what would she sound like?”
MP3: Say Hi – I’m So Tired (The Beatles cover)
Say Hi is/to Eric Elbogen, who plays all his instruments in the friendly confines of his Seattle home. His cover of “I’m So Tired” was recorded for 2003’s Numbers & Mumbles, back when the band was called Say Hi To Your Mom, and does a good job at conveying a sense of Weezer, Lou Barlow, and pure exhaustion, not necessarily in that order.
MP3: Dionne Farris – Blackbird (The Beatles cover)
A decade before Arrested Development was a cult sitcom, it was an alternative hip hop band with a hit debut album and a top-ten single in “Tennessee,” featuring Dionne Farris. She went on to leave the band and record Wild Seed – Wild Flower, which featured “I Know,” winner of 1995’s That-Song-Was-Everywhere-That-Summer award. The album also had this cover of “Blackbird,” turning the song eerie and making it far more southern U.S.A. than Liverpudlian.
MP3: Bombskare – Piggies (The Beatles cover)
Where the original “Piggies” used a harpsichord to provide stately background for its social commentary, Bombskare applies a ska beat, and the song takes off like a race car on two flats. Scotland’s Ska Juggernaut (as their website calls them) recorded this for an eight-track-long tribute to the Beatles called – what else? – Skabbey Road.
MP3: Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles cover)
Lena Horne teamed up with the Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo on the 1970 album Lena & Gabor (later rereleased as Watch What Happens!); today, it stands as a memento to two jazz giants who knew how to make great music and have a blast in the process. “Rocky Raccoon” is one of the standout tracks; Horne and Szabo take the country out of the song – it seems to take place in a film noir now – but they leave the fun intact.
MP3: Georgia Satellites – Don’t Pass Me By (The Beatles cover)
“Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was the Georgia Satellites’ sole foray into the top 40, but where the general public saw a novelty act, those who took the trouble to dig deeper into their roots rock knew that Dan Baird and company had the goods in spades. Their second album, Open All Night, had a cover of “Don’t Pass Me By” that turned it into what allmusic.com calls “a bona fide Saturday night barroom country-rock number” – something that must have pleased its composer no end.
MP3: Lowell Fulson – Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? (The Beatles cover)
“Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” was a Paul track that John liked a lot, but it served as a bone of contention between the two because Paul recorded it with Ringo while John and George were otherwise occupied, and John never got the chance to be a part of the process. You can see why it would appeal to him – simple, direct, and raucous, right in his 1968 sweet spot. Lowell Fulson, West Coast bluesman extraordinaire, covered it on his 1970 album In a Heavy Bag; if John ever heard it, it may have given him a few more pangs of regret, but he likely would have gotten back to enjoying it in the end.
MP3: Jonathan Coulton – I Will (The Beatles cover)
Jonathan Coulton made cover song news earlier this year when his arrangement of “Baby Got Back” was, erm, borrowed by Glee without acknowledgement; he promptly subtitled his original “(In the Style of Glee),” cleaned ’em out in terms of sales, and donated the profits to Glee-sponsored charities. His cover of “I Will” is equally full of win, skipping where the original loped.
MP3: Priscilla Ahn – Julia (The Beatles cover)
One morning, Priscilla Ahn saw the moon still evident in the sky, which reminded her of the song “Julia.” She didn’t have it on her computer, and at the time it wasn’t available on iTunes. So, since she needed to hear it, she recorded her own version of it. That’s right – where someone else would have been frustrated that they couldn’t listen to it, Ahn tossed off this gorgeous cover in half an hour, just to scratch an itch. Oh, to be an artist…
Here‘s a guy who collects nothing but original pressings of the White Album.