Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
November 22, 1963 is a date that resonates with people the world over – not least because it’s the day that both Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis passed away – but it’s an important date in the music world too. It was on this day, fifty years ago, that the Beatles released their second album, With the Beatles. Certainly that date resonated with the Beatles – they released the White Album five years later to the day, and that was no coincidence – and the music they released on that fateful day had proven to resonate just as long.
We’ve brought together fifteen covers of the songs that were on With the Beatles for your enjoyment. There’s some irony in this, as the original album was almost half covers itself, but some of these songs are now more associated with the Fab Four than the original artists, and those artists can certainly find more to enjoy than to cringe about what John, Paul, George, and Ringo did to their work.
MP3: Richard Thompson – It Won’t Be Long (The Beatles cover)
Playboy learned their lesson: if you’re going to ask Richard Thompson for the best songs of the millennium, don’t be surprised if you get the best songs of the millennium. He gave them selections that went back to the 13th century – none of which Playboy thought worth sharing with their readers, but which Thompson would develop into a successful theme tour. One of his choices was “It Won’t Be Long,” which he described as “the greatest pure pop of the 20th century, from the fortuitous alliance of John and Paul and the other George (Martin).”
MP3: Susanna Hoffs – All I’ve Got To Do (The Beatles cover)
Susanna Hoffs is a true student of rock and roll. She’s performed ace covers with the Bangles, on her own, and with Matthew Sweet on their Under the Covers albums. This cover of “All I’ve Got To Do” comes from an all-cover EP she recorded as a labor of love, called From Me To You. That’s all she had to do.
MP3: Emilie Autumn – All My Loving (The Beatles cover)
Emilie Autumn combines cabaret and electronica into a hybrid she calls by many different names – my personal favorite is “Victoriandustrial.” You get a pretty good sense of what exactly that means on her cover of “All My Loving.” No joyous walking bass here – just some twitchy percussives and swooning voices, a combo that shouldn’t work so well in theory but makes brilliant sense in practice.
MP3: Cotton Mather – Don’t Bother Me (The Beatles cover)
“Don’t Bother Me” was George Harrison’s first recorded original song, one whose initial promise would be far surpassed by George’s later work. Here it’s covered by Cotton Mather, an indie-rock band from Austin, TX that blew Noel Gallagher of Oasis out of the water (and rightly so) with their Kon-Tiki album. This cover sounds emptier than the original, and in this context that’s entirely appropriate.
MP3: The Smithereens – Little Child (The Beatles cover)
In the late aughts, the Smithereens were proving themselves to be the nation’s best early-Beatles tribute band. Meet the Smithereens! is their full-cover album of Meet the Beatles!, the bastardized American version of With the Beatles (which wouldn’t see the light of day in the USA until 1987), and the first of two all-Beatles cover albums they would release. Judging by their cover of “Little Child,” another two would not be unwelcome.
MP3: Ray Charles – Till There Was You (Meredith Wilson / The Beatles cover)
Paul McCartney famously cracked a joke in front of the queen that “Till There Was You” was “recorded by our favorite American group, Sophie Tucker.” In fact, the girthful Tucker never recorded the song from The Music Man. Ray Charles did, however, and while his cover may not reflect much of the Beatles’ influence, it reflects all of Ray Charles’s, and that’s more than any show tune has a right to ask for.
MP3: Helen Shapiro – Please Mr. Postman (The Marvelettes / The Beatles cover)
When the Beatles toured England in early 1963, they were fourth on the bill, which was headed Helen Shapiro, a 16-year-old who had five top-ten hits to the Beatles’ one. Her record company did her dirty, not letting her record “Misery” (which John and Paul wrote for her) and sitting on her recording of “It’s My Party” until after the unknown Lesley Gore released her classic version. But when she was hot, she was very very cool, with a rich voice belying her years. Listen to this version of “Please Mr. Postman” and see for yourself.
MP3: M. Ward – Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry / The Beatles cover)
“Roll Over Beethoven” has never lost its power to thrill. When Chuck Berry wrote it, he tapped into the excitement that comes with telling the old guard to step aside, and that’s an excitement that every generation gets to feel, whether it’s the Beatles recording it seven years after Berry or M. Ward blazing through it fifty-six years after Berry, neither one losing the song’s sense of freshness.
MP3: Stackridge – Hold Me Tight (The Beatles cover)
Stackridge was a prog-rock band of the early ’70s that doesn’t get mentioned among the gentle giants of the genre as much as they should. They had a bit of a rough go of it, especially at the end – their concept album Mr. Mick got so much record-company meddling that the final result played no small part in the band breaking up. At least their white-reggae take on “Hold Me Tight” made it out before the implosion, much like Kal-El leaving Krypton if he’d landed in Montego Bay instead of Smallville.
MP3: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – You Really Got a Hold On Me (The Miracles / The Beatles cover)
“A Chan Marshall-esque vocalist who mines a looser, folkier, bluesier vein,” allmusic.com calls Thao Nguyen, and it’s a dead solid hit of a description; there’s no question she’s got a truly Cat Power-full voice and sensibility. But she’s no copy-Cat either, proving herself able to inbue her songs with both roominess and intimacy. It’s hard to explain, but so easy to listen to, as she proves on her cover of “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” the song she says changed her life (listen here for her explanation why).
MP3: Suzi Quatro – I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles cover)
Americans of a certain age remember Suzi Quatro as Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, Pinkie’s little sister and no slouch in the cool department herself. In real life, she was a pioneering female artist/musician who found greater success in Europe than in her homeland. Her cover of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” a song the Beatles famously wrote for the Rolling Stones, proves her to be just as badass as Mick Jagger himself, in her own very special way.
MP3: Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou – Devil In Her Heart (The Donays / The Beatles cover)
The Donays were a high school girl group with a sound much like the Marvelettes. In their entire career they only recorded two songs, for one 45, and it was sheer luck that George discovered the B-side of that 45 and brought it to the world as “Devil In Her Heart” (the boys changed the pronoun). This cover comes from Mojo magazine’s own full-cover-album We’re With the Beatles released earlier this year, and if you think you’ve heard Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou recording other material of George’s, well, you may be right.
MP3: The Pretenders – Not a Second Time (The Beatles cover)
“Not a Second Time” was the song that led William Mann, a scholarly music critic for The Times of London, to review them as more than mere teenybop idols. “…one gets the impression that they think simultaneously of harmony and melody… so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of ‘Not A Second Time’ (the chord progression which ends Mahler’s Song of the Earth),” he wrote, and while Lennon admitted never knowing what Aeolian cadences were (“To this day I don’t have any idea,” he said in 1980. “They sound like exotic birds”), it must have pleased him to have his work taken seriously. Chrissie Hynde took “Not a Second Time” seriously as well, delivering this no-nonsense cover about refusing to step back into an unhappy relationship as though the song were written just for her.
MP3: Waylon Jennings – Money (That’s What I Want) (Barrett Strong / The Beatles cover)
The Beatles’ cover of “Money (That’s What I Want),” the closing track of With the Beatles, ranks right up there with “Twist and Shout” as one of their best covers ever – the way John sings “I wanna be free,” you can hear it ripping him apart that he knows some of that freedom has been lost for all time. The fact that the Fab Four can lay claim to having done the definitive version of “Money” hasn’t prevented others from taking their own shots, and not without success; among others, the Kingsmen (of “Louie Louie” fame) and the Flying Lizards have charted with it. Waylon Jennings’s cover of “Money” rings as true as any of them, and it serves as a more-than-appropriate wish for the man who created outlaw country.
Bonus MP3: Tributos – All My Loving (The Beatles cover)
This instrumental acoustic cover of “All My Loving” couldn’t be dismissed out of hand, at least not by us. It comes from Beatles ‘n’ Choro 3, part of a multi-volume collection of chamber/jazz/samba-flavored Beatles covers. The description may sound generic, but the music certainly doesn’t – this has a beautifully gentle sway to it, and seemed just the right way to bring our look at this classic album to a close.
The original With the Beatles is available on iTunes and Amazon.