The most pointless Beatles covers ever... WITH AUDIO!
I don't normally buy Mojo magazine. Basically, it seems to me that the mag is for people who are stuck in the 1960s and 70s, and prefer their 2006 music to be recreations of the styles and sounds of that era.
But an article about the Beatles, featuring Paul McCartney talking about their recording techniques tempted me beyond endurance. So £4.10 UK pounds left my wallet and the July 2006 edition entered my library.
What Sir Paul had to say about recording was certainly interesting, but I'll leave my comments for another time. You can always buy the mag ;-)
But it was the free CD that amazed me. The Beatles' Revolver, in its entirety, and all cover versions! Revolver Reloaded, it is called.
It has to be said that Beatles songs have been covered many times. But it's so hard to compete with the originals, and this CD proves exactly that.
I don't mind hearing a busker whining Blackbird through the tunnels of the London Underground subway network. Or a lookalike doing a turn on Stars In Their Eyes. But to make a Beatles cover version that is artistically credible calls for a completely fresh approach to a song that is known so very, very well.
There are three ways to approach a cover version...
- One is to copy the original, but with a different voice. With a really good singer, this can work well. It's not pretending to be anything that it's not.
- Another way is to sing the song on top of a different groove. Sounds promising, but it usually just sounds like that. Too easy.
- The third, and respectable, way to cover a song is to strip it down to its bare essentials, then rebuild it as though you have never heard the original.
I know you want to hear, and in the spirit of a review of both the magazine and the original Revolver, I present two examples, compared with The Beatles' recordings.
The first is George Harrison's Taxman, performed on Revolver Reloaded by Catfish Haven.
Compared to the original, have you ever heard anything so pointless? It's an exact copy, except not as good and with bits missed out. And what a dull production.
The original Taxman is fierce, as it should be given the subject matter.
I can't say that I'm very impressed by any of the other songs. But then it's a tall order to compete with The Beatles.
However there is one ray of light, and that is Tomorrow Never Knows performed by Jason McNiff. It's a complete rethink and reworking.
If I were being picky I'd have to say that the value of the original was that it was, well, so original. We just hadn't heard music like that before. Many didn't even recognize it as music.
Jason's version makes it rather prettier than it really ought to be, but hats off for trying.
And hats off to Mojo too for giving it a go. But their game will need to be raised when it comes to Sgt. Pepper!