Posts Tagged 'covers'

Beatles Covers Part 2

First off, when talking about instrumental covers of The Beatles, I accidentally left off some great work by Booker T and the MGs. Their wonderful disco sounds really made great instrumental versions of some songs, especially Eleanor Rigby (which shows off amazing use of the wah wah pedal).

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of covers of Beatles songs, and it would be impossible to list them all in one place. I took some time over the past few days to listen to some that I have and found a few that I don’t, and came up with this list of 42 examples (in alphabetical order by artist). Some will surprise you. Some are good, some are not so good and some are great, but I think they all deserve notice. Some of the artists covered multiple Beatles songs and I only noting one or two. With a few of exceptions, I am leaving off songs from the movie Across the Universe. I have written about this movie in previous blog posts, and I find all the covers exceptional. The two that are in this list are the most exceptional of the movie. One final note, some of these covers are recorded and some were live performances. All the live performances can be found in youtube so I have included them here.

I will comment on a few at the end.

  1. Aerosmith – Come Together
  2. Bananarama – Help!
  3. Bon Jovi – Here Comes the Sun
  4. Bono – I am the Walrus
  5. James Brown – Something
  6. Jim Carrey – I am the Walrus
  7. Ray Charles – Let It Be
  8. George Michael – The Long and Winding Road
  9. Judy Collins – In My Life
  10. Phil Collins – Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
  11. Sheryl Crow – Mother Nature’s Son
  12. Dave Matthews – In My Life
  13. John Denven – Mother Nature’s Son
  14. Electric Light Orchestra – Day Tripper
  15. John Farnham – I feel Fine
  16. Alison Kraus – I will
  17. Emmylou Harris – For No One
  18. Emmylou Harris – Here, There and Everywhere
  19. Eddie Izzard – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
  20. Michael Jackson – Come Together
  21. The Jam – And Your Bird Can Sing
  22. Elton John – Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
  23. Kansas (with the London Symphony Orchestra) – Eleanor Rigby
  24. Cyndi Lauper – Strawberry Fields
  25. Aimee Mann & Michael Penn – Two of Us
  26. Sarah McLachlan – Blackbird
  27. Bette Middler – In My Life
  28. Alanis Morissette – Norwegian Wood
  29. Alanis Morissette – Dear Prudence
  30. Ozzy Osborne – In My Life
  31. Tom Petty – I Need You
  32. Elvis Presley – Lady Madonna
  33. Billy Preston – Get Back
  34. Otis Redding – Day Tripper
  35. The Rolling Stones – I Wanna Be Your Man
  36. Sting – A Day in the Life
  37. Toto – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  38. U2 – Norwegian Wood
  39. Whitesnake – Day Tripper
  40. Paul Westerberg – Nowhere Man
  41. Carol Woods – Let It Be
  42. Yes – Every Little Thing

Some of the ones I like are obvious, but some really surprise me. Like for example Bananarama’s version of Help! This British girl groups had mile success in the US in the late 80’s particularly their remake of the 70s hit Venus. They recorded Help! together with the British comics French & Saunders and Kathy Burke to raise money for comic relief. The record hit #3 on the British Charts. I cannot tell you why I like this version; perhaps it is due to the homage to the Beatles in the comic video of just my love of girl groups in general.

Bono is one of the most successful artists in history and he was recruited to be in the movie Across the Universe. In the movie he play a character called Dr. Robert, loosely based on Ken Kesey. Bono was wonderful in the role, ad-libbing much of his way through his part. He got to sing two songs for the movie, and his I Am the Walrus is amazing.

George Michael has also had an amazing career (despite being part of Wham!) I loved his appearance on the tv show Eli Stone. He performed The Long and Winding Road in concert.

Judy Collins is perhaps one of the greatest living American folk singers. Her voice is extraordinarily beautiful and she recorded a wonderful version of In My Life (forgive the cheesy video)

John Denver had, I believe, one of the best male singing voices in our times. Yes, he was basically a county singer and I loathe country music, but he crossed over to the pop charts so many times, you can easily call him a pop singer. He did a number of different Beatles tunes, but when I heard him sing Mother Nature’s Son, I decided that the song was really meant for him to sing.

Alison Krauss is also a country singer and a fiddler. She has the record for the most grammy awards for a female singer and 3rd over all. This is a beautiful version of I Will.

Cyndi Lauper has always been a favorite of mine. Her wonderful work in her early career earned her 5 hit songs from one album (a first at that time), and she has an amazing voice and makes consistently beautiful music. This video is from a tribute to John Lennon that was performed at Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

Aimee Mann & Michael Penn recorded Two of Us for the movie I am Sam. I think that this is my second favorite Beatles Cover (next to Joe Cockers With a Little Help from my Friends). The song, written by Paul, was about his time with Linda, but if you listen to the lyrics it could be about any couple (perhaps really about he and John).

Alanis Morissette is an amazing singer. She recorded Norwegian Wood which is one of my favorite Beatles songs. The song is perhaps about a Lesbian encounter that leads to nothing and perhaps it is best sung by a woman.

Billy Preston is the only artist who got billing alongside the Beatles on any recording. On the single for Get Back the artists are listed as The Beatles with Billy Preston. He also played the Hammond Organ for much of the Get Back sessions (what later became the album Let It Be). Years later he appeared in the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the horrible movie that is loosely based on the album of the same name. He appeared as Sgt. Pepper and his song in the movie, Get Back, is perhaps the only good song in the film.

Lastly Carol Woods was cast as a gospel singer in the Movie Across the Universe to sing Let It Be. The first time I heard this version of the song (before I saw the movie) I was stunned. I mean is it possible for one artist to cover a song better than the original singers? I don’t know the answer, but this Let It Be is about the best I have ever heard. The song was made to be a gospel piece and the scene in the movie is perhaps the most moving of the film.

Well, thank you for indulging me in the fun exercise. I hope everyone enjoys!

Covers Day 2

Today I have two songs for you and again we are using one group, but this time I am choosing two covers of this group.

Simon and Garfunkel’s songs have been covered quite a lot and you can find recordings from everyone from Willie Nelson to Charlotte Church. But this is best and worst, so I have to fine a great cover and a poor cover.

One reason I think covers don’t usually work is that a songwriter usually writes a song in a particular style and the song works in that style. Bands often change the style of the song for a cover. It does not take genius to figure out that if a song worked in a particular style, DON’T MESS WITH IT! (Remember in the Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond, when he sold the song Love on the Rocks to a famous rock singer, the song did not work as a fast hard rock song, but as a slow ballad!)

So here are covers of two S&G songs. The poor one is poor because of changing the style of the song, and the good one (I will comment more on that one) is good because it keeps the style.

Enjoy?

First is one of my favorite S&G songs, America (I cannot believe anyone would cover this one! You cannot mess with perfection!) Covered by YES.

Second, for your listening enjoyment is a cover of the underappreciated S&G song Richard Cory. This is a rarely covered song, but it was covered by none other than Wings in their Wings over the World Tour in 1975-1976. Denny Laine sang lead here but Sir Paul is in there too. This clip is from a sound check in Australia.

Song of the Day – Covers Week

Welcome back to song of the day from another short hiatus.

Covers. You either hate them or you love them. I have read blog postings about covers in the past, but I heard a cover of a song last week which I believe should be in the top 10 worst covers of all time! I spent some time thinking about covers and I have come to the realization that it is VERY easy to find horrible covers of songs, but not so easy to find great covers of songs.

In honor of that moment when I heard that song (which will be revealed below) I am going to call this week, covers week. Each song of the day post in covers week will contain two covers. One that I feel is one of the worst covers I have ever heard, and one that is one of the best. I have not yet thought this through, as the idea to do this just came to me as I have been typing, so I do not know if I will be able to come up with 5 covers that I like, but I will try.

So I think I should have some rules. I am going to exclude covers that were made specifically for movies or stage musicals. There are tons of them (especially movies) and some are good and some are bad, but they have some purpose other than a singer trying to make a buck off of someone else’s work. I am also going to exclude covers that were hits for the artist doing the cover, but not for the original artist. This excludes many many many great covers, for example, Turn! Turn! Turn! By The Byrds is really a cover of Pete Seeger’s song. I think it will be more fun (and more challenging) to find good cover songs without using songs that are obviously good. And that is it! Everything else is game, and I hope that those who read my blog (and there are plenty who do according to my stats!) will comment and add their choices as well!

To start it all off, I am going to include the horrible cover that I heard last week. I say include as I have a number of offerings for this first post, and they are all from the same group.

The Carpenters, Karen and Richard, sister and brother were a mega hit in the 1970’s into the early 1980s. They were a significant group for a number of reasons. First off, they became a pop hit in an era when bands were moving more and more toward heavy rock. The Carpenters were able to become a success with a very soft musical style. They were also one of the first groups to experiment with what we today call the music video. Their success is also attributed to Richard’s collaboration with some of the greatest songwriters of all time, most of whom came from Brill Building success. Richard is also a gifted songwriter, arranger and producer. One other thing that was interesting about them was Karen’s vocal range. Although Karen had a range that covered three octaves, she was well known for her use of her low register. Alto singers were mostly unknown to popular music and that also gave them a distinctive sound.

The Carpenters were also known for covering many songs. Although Richard did write music, more than half of their recordings were written by other songwriters. So for this inaugural episode of cover week I have five covers from the Carpenters. Three of them go on my list of the worst covers ever and two on the best side. I’ll start with the worst (as that is more fun!)

For sure the most covered group in history is The Beatles. Generally, it is my opinion that no one should cover Beatles music. Cover acts don’t bother me (and there are many good Beatles cover bands) but covered recordings are usually horrible (with the notable exception of one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe). The Carpenters covered a bunch of Beatles songs, and at least two were recorded.

Enjoy!?

First we have Ticket to Ride, which somehow became a hit for them.

Next is Help! which was not recorded but there is this live version. Interestingly, Karen was a talented drummer which you see here.

To their credit, this is not nearly as bad as Ticket to Ride, and for sure better than the one that really made my stomach churn

Now for the good side! They made a lot of money doing covers, so you would think there would be something good!

Their biggest hit was a cover of Please, Mr. Postman, a big song by the Marvelettes and coincidentally also recorded by the Beatles. One other note, this video is silly and it was filmed at Disneyland.

One more good cover is of Herman’s Hermits There’s a Kind of Hush.


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