Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Tony Rounce, the guy at Ace Records who compiled Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney, had an easier job than most people who put together tribute albums. For one, this wasn’t an album that required all-new recordings by current bands; Rounce got to cherry-pick the best of the best from the ’60s and ’70s. For another, when the greatest songwriting team in the history of rock and roll is being interpreted by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Little Richard, it’s going to be hard not to put together an excellent product.
But Rounce goes further than that, finding little-known artists and little-known tracks by well-known artists. Result: the album is one exciting discovery after another, proving once again that the pop songcraft of Lennon and McCartney flawlessly translates to soul, blues, gospel, and more when left in the right hands. Some of those hands follow…
Chubby Checker – Back in the USSR (The Beatles cover)
“Back in the USSR” is one of the all-time great album openers, and it opens Come Together in the form of a spirited rendition by Chubby Checker. Years past his Twist peak, Mr. Checker shows can still bring listeners out to the dance floor.
Fats Domino – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (The Beatles cover)
Fats Domino may have found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, but he found a bunch more in his rollicking cover of “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey.” The piano’s got an easy groove to it, and Fats’ warm, friendly voice is one you can’t help responding to. He’s only released a few Beatles covers, not a full album’s worth – ain’t that a shame?
Wee Willie Walker – Ticket To Ride (The Beatles cover)
Wee Willie Walker didn’t get the attention he deserved back in the sixties, when he recorded “Ticket to Ride,” his one single for Goldwax Records. Lucky for us, he’s still going strong (here’s his website); last year he released If Nothing Ever Changes, which contained a killer cover of “Help!”
Black Heat – Drive My Car (The Beatles cover)
Black Heat is another act that didn’t get its due share of the spotlight, recording three funk albums in the ’70s before fading away. They left a few treasures behind on those albums, one of them being their cover of “Drive My Car”; the Rubber Soul track benefits with the introduction of actual soul to its story of would-be starlet and chauffeur.
David Porter – Help! (The Beatles cover)
David Porter was quite a name for those who studied the Stax label; they knew him as the co-writer of “Soul Man,” “Hold On! I’m Comin’,” and others. The other co-writer was Isaac Hayes, who made an even bigger name for himself as a recording artist. Porter may not have reached Hayes’s level of success on that score, but he got in some solid work, including his urgent cover of “Help!” Lennon was always proud of the song, believing it to have been a true expression of his mindset at the time; Porter can be equally proud of his own work, giving the song a dash of dynamic seasoning.
Come Together track listing:
1. Chubby Checker – Back In The USSR
2. Maxine Brown – We Can Work It Out
3. Fats Domino – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
4. Wee Willie Walker – Ticket To Ride
5. Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine
6. Mary Wells – Please Please Me
7. Gene Chandler – Eleanor Rigby
8. The Vibrations – And I Love Her
9. Chairmen Of The Board – Come Together
10. Billy Preston – Blackbird
11. R.B. Greaves – Paperback Writer
12. The Moments – Rocky Raccoon
13. Black Heat – Drive My Car
14. Junior Parker – Lady Madonna
15. David Porter – Help
16. Linda Jones – Yesterday
17. Otis Redding – Day Tripper (Take 4)
18. Lowell Fulsom – Why Don’t We Do it In The Road
19. Little Richard – I Saw Her Standing There
20. Donald Height – Don’t Let Me Down
21. The Main Ingredient – Get Back
22. The New Birth – The Long And Winding Road
23. Al Green – I Want To Hold Your Hand
24. Aretha Franklin – Let It Be