Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Fifty years ago today, the Beatles’ best album was released. It can be argued that Sgt. Pepper is their greatest album, and Abbey Road could be considered their most accomplished, but all things considered, nothing is better than Revolver.
Revolver saw three of the Beatles on hot songwriting streaks: John exploring his LSD-infused mind; Paul excelling at each genre he tried; George growing by leaps and bounds. Ringo’s contributions were nothing to sneeze at, either, with his work on “She Said She Said” frequently singled out as some of his best drumming. Let’s not forget producer George Martin and teenaged engineer Geoff Emerick, turning the studio into a laboratory to experiment in.
Combine all these talents at their most creative, innovative, and adventurous, and it’s no wonder Revolver left the rock and roll world frantic with wonder at how they could catch up to this landmark. Half a century later, they’re still wondering.
We’re never going to run out of artists covering the songs of Revolver. Below you’ll find some artists with dozens of albums to their names, and some artists with only one or two singles to theirs. They all recognize greatness, though, and they’re all willing to try on the Beatles’ glass slipper and see if it fits. Size up the following fourteen covers and see how well they did…
MP3: The KVB – Taxman (The Beatles cover)
Last year saw the release of The Magical Mystery Psych-Out – A Tribute to the Beatles, featuring modern-day psych-rock bands applying their talents to the work of the Fab Four. One of those bands is the KVB, who change George’s “Taxman” from a driving opener to a trippy one.
MP3: Ernie Garrett – Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
We’ve talked about five good covers of “Eleanor Rigby” in the past. Well, here’s a sixth, a Sweden-only single by Ernie Garrett that lays down a soulful groove that cooks. Then, in the last minute, once all the verses are finished – that’s where the track REALLY takes off. One of my most exciting finds in my five years of writing for Cover Me.
MP3: Suggs – I’m Only Sleeping (The Beatles cover)
Suggs, of Madness fame, brings his once and future band’s light ‘n’ playful ska sound to “I’m Only Sleeping,” the opening track on his 1995 solo debut The Lone Ranger. Produced by Sly & Robbie, the cover works better than most of the record’s originals, giving John’s psychedelic laziness an added little hop.
MP3: The Trypes – Love You To (The Beatles cover)
The Feelies were between albums when its leaders, Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, joined the Trypes. The band came to be seen as a Feelies offshoot, but it was already a distinctive entity before Mercer and Million arrived and would remain so long after they left. They were a warmer band, very much into the hypnotic drone sound of “Love You To,” making George’s song a perfect one for them to cover.
MP3: David Gilmour – Here, There and Everywhere (The Beatles cover)
“I really wish I had been in The Beatles,” David Gilmour told MOJO Magazine, explaining that the band “taught me how to play guitar, I learnt everything. The bass parts, the lead, the rhythm, everything. They were fantastic.” He may have had to settle for being in Pink Floyd, but he scratched his Beatle itch with this lovely cover of “Here, There and Everywhere,” recorded with his son Joe and given away on a MOJO CD.
MP3: Chris Eckman – Yellow Submarine (The Beatles cover)
Thanks once again to MOJO for supplying a Revolver cover; this comes from their Revolver Reloaded CD. Chris Eckman takes “Yellow Submarine” down a path that’s less of a novelty and more of a melancholy wonder.
MP3: Lone Star – She Said She Said (The Beatles cover)
Lone Star has been called “the band that punk killed,” due to being a heavy rock band that got its start around the same time the Sex Pistols got theirs, leading to near-instant obsolescence. Whether or not that was the case, they did release two albums that went top-50 in the UK charts. The eponymous first opened with a version of “She Said She Said” that lasted eight and a half minutes and was less a cover than a reconstruction.
MP3: Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine The Beatles cover)
Roy Redmond recorded two 45s for the Loma label, and that’s about all that anyone seems to know about him. That’s just enough to make him a cult figure in the soul music world. One of those four songs was “Good Day Sunshine,” which Paul is on record as calling one of his favorite Beatles cover songs.
MP3: I Fight Dragons – And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles cover)
Back when Revolver came out, there was no such thing as Nintendocore. Now the genre (heavy rock with a geek sensibility) has many bands that both play it and are influenced by it. The Chicago-based I Fight Dragons are a good example. Here they take “And Your Bird Can Sing” and supply it with both fuzzy digital noise and good old-fashioned indie-punk stomp.
MP3: Emmylou Harris – For No One (The Beatles cover)
Pieces of the Sky, Emmylou Harris’s major-label solo debut, fulfilled the promise shown in her collaborations with Gram Parsons on his two LPs. In particular, she showed remarkable taste in her choice of songs to cover, picking songs by Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and the Louvin Brothers, to name just a few. But she didn’t limit herself to country & western songs – and thank heavens, or we would have missed out on the midtempo heartbreak of her cover of “For No One.”
MP3: Dr. Sin – Doctor Robert (The Beatles cover)
Dr. Sin’s cover album Listen to the Doctors was made up of songs that had the word Doctor in the title. This gave them the chance to sing about Kiss’s Dr. Love, Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood, and the Beatles’ Doctor Robert. The Brazilian hard rockers give the song a “Stranglehold”-style groove that’s less spiky than the original, but works well in its own right.
MP3: The Smithereens – I Want To Tell You (The Beatles cover)
The Smithereens released two cover albums of early Beatles songs, but they could more than hold their own with later work too. Their righteous rockin’ take on “I Want To Tell You” appeared on Songs From The Material World, one of a flurry of George Harrison tribute albums that popped up after his passing.
MP3: Tabitha Fair – Got To Get You Into My Life (The Beatles cover)
Paul’s ode to pot (“like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret,” he later explained), “Got To Get You Into My Life” made it into the top ten a full decade after it was released. Nashville studio vet Tabitha Fair might not see the charts with her version, but that doesn’t make the funky-chicken ukulele ‘n’ synth-backed track any less enjoyable.
MP3: Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows (The Beatles cover)
Junior Parker was a key figure in the development of R&B, and it was his version of “Mystery Train” that Elvis took a liking to. His later work may not have the cachet of his earlier stuff, but he never stopped raising his velvet voice until death stilled him just shy of 40 years old. On 1971’s Love Ain’t Nothin’ But a Business Goin’ On, he covers both the opening and closing songs from Revolver. His “Taxman” is a great piece of funk – it’s where Cypress Hill got their sample for “I Wanna Get High” – but “Tomorrow Never Knows” stands out for not even trying to outdo the studio wizardry of the original. It’s deep, spare, and beholden to a terrific smooth vocal by Parker.
The original Revolver can be found on Amazon, as can Robert Rodriguez’s book, Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘n’ Roll.