Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
The Beatles is its official title, but everyone calls it the White Album, after its minimalist cover design – the group name embossed, a stamped serial number, and nothing else. Less than 18 months removed from Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles were an entirely different band, and the cracks in their base were multiplying too fast for anyone’s comfort. But the songs begun in Rishikesh kept coming, the boys kept playing, and the end result was a great big glorious mess – and that last word is one of the biggest keys to the White Album’s appeal.
The sheer diversity of the White Album makes it an ideal subject for an all-cover compilation. Phish famously covered it live in its entirety; many Beatles tribute bands have done the same. Here on Cover Me, we’ve put together thirty different artists coming at these songs thirty different ways, representing multiple countries and multiple genres. It’ll take four days to get through them all, one for each side of the original vinyl – but if you’re up for it, so are we. Let’s get on that BOAC flight from Miami Beach and see where it takes us…
Dead Kennedys – Back in the U.S.S.R. (The Beatles cover)
Dead Kennedys have a history of twisting the lyrics of their covers – that is, unless Elvis really did sing about coking up his nose in “Viva Las Vegas” – so you’d expect them to take a liberty or two with “Back in the U.S.S.R.” But no, it’s a straightforward rendition that moves not unlike gangbusters.
Songs Of Green Pheasant – Dear Prudence (The Beatles cover)
If Simon and Garfunkel were shoegazers, they’d be Songs of Green Pheasant. The band, consisting of Duncan Sumpner and whoever, have a sound that practically wins them a place in Roget’s Thesaurus as a synonym for “hazy.” Their take on “Dear Prudence” makes a warm, calm cloud of the song, one that would be more likely to send Prudence adrift in dreams than bring her out to smile and play.
The Link Quartet – Glass Onion (The Beatles cover)
This instrumental cover gives “Glass Onion” a little rubber Northern soul. Northern Italy, that is; the Link Quartet come from Piacenza and have had a place in the hearts of Hammond organ-lovers for over twenty years. Like the original, their cover’s got a good beat; unlike the original, you can really dance to it.
Arthur Conley – Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles cover)
Arthur Conley, the Otis Redding protege best known for his 1967 hit “Sweet Soul Music,” covered “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” with a little more of a reggae sound than the Beatles had. Having Duane Allman on guitar didn’t hurt, either.
The Pixies – Wild Honey Pie (The Beatles cover)
A song that made it onto the White Album because Patti Harrison liked it, “Wild Honey Pie” features Paul and Paul alone – or, in the words of one critic, “No other Beatles were harmed in the making of this song.” No Pixies were harmed in covering it, either. Really, when confronted by Black Francis and Kim Deal’s throat-shredding vocals, the song never stood a chance.
Dwight Twilley – The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (The Beatles cover)
Dwight Twilley, one of the founding fathers of power pop, is still cranking them out in his sixties. This version of “Bungalow Bill” comes from a collection of Beatles covers he released in 2008; there’s a comfort in knowing the degree to which he’s still got it. (Incidentally, here‘s Richard Cooke, the basis for Bungalow Bill, explaining how he came be the subject of the song.)
Girl in a Coma – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles cover)
We’re big fans of Girl in a Coma here at Cover Me, and on their cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” they come through again, applying maximum English and putting a spin on the song that’s very much their own.
U2 – Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Beatles cover)
U2 famously covered “Helter Skelter” on Rattle and Hum, but they’ve dipped their toes in other parts of the White Album pool – in concert, they once tossed a snippet of “Dear Prudence” into “One,” and in the studio, they covered “Happiness is a Warm Gun” as a B-side for their “Last Night on Earth” single. It ends side one of our tribute with a bang bang shoot shoot.