Apr 092008

I’ve talked smack about Beatles covers several times on this blog, finding many that either try to ape the original and of course fail, or try to be different but just make you want to listen to the originals. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I prefer any of these to the originals, I’m glad I’ve discovered each one of them. As with most of the Beatles’ earlier albums, the track list is a little fuzzy, being different on the British and American versions. In this case though, they just cropped a couple songs off of the US album. What, are we not good enough for Doctor Robert or I’m Only Sleeping? So we went with the original tracklist, giving you a little extra bang for your proverbial buck.

Nickel Creek – Taxman
Of all the Beatles songs to turn into bluegrass, Taxman doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice, but Chris Thille and co. make it work with lots of rapid-fire mandolin and a fiddle solo.

Richie Havens – Eleanor Rigby
As he often does, Havens changes the rhythm on the vocals a bit, with a voice you can’t tune out. More unusual for him is the jazz phrasing and heavy production.

Suggs – I’m Only Sleeping
Horn-infused neo-reggae, it eclipses the more straightforward covers of this one with an African sound and funky drumming

Ronnie Montrose – Love You To
Slow and spacey at the beginning, echoey sitar soon combines with 80’s drumming and screaming electric guitar solos (what Montrose is known for).

Marina V – Here, There and Everywhere
The opera voice can be a little much at first, but once you get used to it the plunky piano suits the melody quite well. I wish that unmemorable string section wasn’t there to clutter things up though.

Sebadoh – Yellow Submarine
Nothing if not interesting, this one opens with a quote about a “psychiatric disorder” that is surprisingly apropos. It sounds like an insane asylum, where the inmates got a hold of a couple drum kits and a drunk fourteen-year old. It might give you a headache, but so would any of the dozens of for-children covers I could have posted too.

The Livid Kittens – She Said She Said
Another loud one here, it’s a little more traditionally “music” as a kind of punk take with electro overtones. Definitely the best band name I’ve heard in a while too.

Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine
Redmond does his best Wilson Pickett impersonation here, and that’s in no way a bad thing. Blaring horns, belting background singers, and voice-cracking screaming by Redmond takes the soul all the way.

The Charles River Valley Boys – And Your Bird Can Sing
Off one of the earliest Beatles tribute albums, Beatle Country is also one of the best, adding slide guitar, banjo and everything without losing the heart of the originals as so often happens with genre-themed tribute discs. These boys got on their game fast, releasing this song the same year the original came out.

Elliott Smith – For No One
Smith has done a shitload of live Beatles cover, but his voice is perfect for this one, mourning and resigned. Strummed acoustic is all this song really needs, those his little scat singing halfway through is a nice touch.

Dr. Sin – Doctor Robert
Billed as Brazilian’s best hard rock band, in honor of their name these guys did a whole album of doctor-themed songs, Listen to the Doctors. It’s more interesting than I would expect a metal cover of the Beatles to be, with punchy drums and yes, a lengthy guitar solo.

Doug Kilishek – I Want to Tell You
Thanks to Brian from Coverville for cluing me into this one, it’s a hard-driving rocker that makes its punches then gets out, clocking it at just over two minutes.

Ryan Montbeau Band – Got to Get You Into My Life
Never heard of these guys, but I like their sound, jammy without making me fall asleep like most jam bands. It’s plows right ahead, never losing it’s energy with long musical “exploration” that so often kills potentially good songs live. Download the full show here.

Stereo MC’s – Tomorrow Never Knows
Another one that gets the “interesting” classification, it’s a electro-dance remix-like version (though not actually a remix, as the vocals are not the original). Loads of nice covers of this one abound, but this is by far the most unique.