The Beatles Cover songs

The Beatles Cover songs

The Beatles some might say (arguably) are the best band in history. I say this! Few have amassed the body of work in the relatively brief time they were together, officially from 1960 to 1970. Ringo joined in 1962 to form the best-selling band of all time. And its not just about the quantity of songs but the quality.  Whether you are more a Lennon fan or McCartney, or you favour Ringo over George, they were all exceedingly talented.

I don’t want to get into the debate of Stones v. Beatles, hey straight up Rock and Roll and longevity needless to say the Rolling Stones win that battle! I shall blog the Stones as well in the future. So, just how many songs did they record? How many originals and how many were cover songs? Cover songs are important as they show some of the early influences on their music and songs they liked enough to re-record. 
According to Soundscapes the Beatles recorded 212 original songs between 1962-1970
Hal Leonard sights 213 original songs
Wikipedia lists 236 original songs and 69 cover songs for a total of 305
Seems odd we all can’t agree on a number, however for my purposes I’m going to focus on cover songs and my go-to authority on this is Secondhandsongs.com. They have the Beatles being covered on 192 original songs, not sure which of the either the 212, 213 or 236 originals have not been re-recorded by I guess there is still time.
Accordingly, they have listed the Beatles recording 102 covers from other artists. Mind you they included ‘technical’ cover songs like those of them covering their own songs and songs from Tony Sheridan who the Beatles backed up as “The Beat Brothers” and German versions etc. so the Wiki number of 69 seems more accurate.  I shan’t attempt to list them all, but I will talk about some of them and there’s enough to fuel several blog posts for sure. I’ll stick to actual Beatles songs originally done by someone else and not written by them. Just for your own edification I have over 200 Beatles songs in my library, and I have 85 songs in my Beatles covers/covered playlist.
Today I’d like to talk about some of the oldest ones, that is to say the originals that date back the farthest.
Maggie Mae” recorded by the Beatles in 1969.  This was a staple song for the Quarrymen and was widely played and recorded in the UK in the 1950’s and 60’s.
The Beatles add their own words but the song was based on the Traditional Folk song from the mid to late 1800’s but first recorded in 1905as “Good-Bye Maggie May” by J.W. Myers

Here is “Maggie May” by The Vipers Skiffle Group 1957
And yes I believe that Rod Stewart took the name for his hit song, though that’s the only similarity.

Here is a clip of Paul McCartney from “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” singing a snippet of the song. Originally a sailor’s song from what I’ve read so not out of place here.

This one is listed as recorded by the Beatles from 1963 but released on Anthology 1 in 1994.
Moonlight Bay” a silly version from a British Comedy show
The original song is from 1911 written by Edward Madden, and Percy Wenrich
Listed as ‘American Quartet and Orchestra’ first released in 1912.
Shimmy Shake” Live, At the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany 1962, Album released May 1, 1977
This song is based on “IWish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” written by Armand Piron but I think its just an instrumental only from 1921
Here’s one with lyrics from Muggsy Spanier “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” recorded in 1939
I would say this song inspired Chan Romeo in 1959 to write this song “Hippy Hippy Shake
The Beatles did it in 1962
Part 2 of the Beatles cover songs has some you may actually recognize from regular albums and some you probably didn’t know were covers!
Sources not mentioned; iTunes, RollingStone.com, thebeatles.com, http://www.vulture.com/2017/06/all-213-beatles-songs-ranked-from-worst-to-best.html

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

The Beatles cover songs Pt. 2

Beatles cover songs Part 2

Twist and Shout” covered 109 times to date was written by Bert Russell and Phil Medley and recorded by the Top Notes in 1961. Produced by a guy name Phil Spector. The Beatles would do more of his productions.

The Isley Brothers in 1962. The Beatles would be the third ones to cover this song in 1963 from “Please Please Me”
And, from the same album, “Anna” written and recorded by Arthur Alexander, 1962. Anna (Go to Him)the Beatles would be the second to record this song
A mashup of the two songs. This has been covered 16 times, here is Ricky Lee Jonestalking about the songs influence on her
A Taste of Honeywritten by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow based on the play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney and adapted from the theme song of the movie in 1961. This one I always though to be an original song though the character of the tune speaks otherwise so I should have caught on sooner.  It was originally recorded as a vocal track by Billy Dee Williams (yes that one from Star Wars) in 1961, though I can find no clips of it. Here are the Beatles; this song has been recorded as a vocal track and instrumental 174 times.
From “Please Please Me” (March 22, 1963). Barbara Streisand recorded it February 25, 1963 just before the Beatles did theirs. The Indie band “The Shins” recorded it in 2017.
With The Beatles” released in 1963 would contain another six cover songs
Devil in Her Heart written by Richard Drapkin, Originally by The Donays
Money (That’s What IWant) written by Janie Bradford and Berry Gordy, Originally by Barrett Strong
Please Mr. Postmanwritten by Robert Bateman, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Originally by The Marvelettes
Roll Over Beethovenwritten by Chuck Berry, Originally by Chuck Berry and His Combo
Till There Was Youwritten by Meredith Willson, Originally by Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra
You Really Got a Holdon Me written by Smokey Robinson, Originally by The Miracles
Here is Smokey with the Miracles in 1964 on “Shindig”, originally released in 1962.
The Beatles with lyrics in English and Spanish!

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

Bohemian Rhapsody

“Bohemian Rhapsody”-by Queen released Oct 1975 written by Freddie Mercury and there are 116 cover versions according to Secondhandsongs.com (Notwithstanding the version by Døsty Cåwshit in 1995, that’s Dusty Cowshit in English) most of them are pretty good!
From the album “A Night at the Opera”, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ stayed at the top of the UK singles chart for nine weeks. It is the third best-selling British single of all time, beaten only by Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’ 1997. It peaked at number 9 in the U.S. but reached number one in Canada. 
Read more about the band in this great article. 
A timely post for me as there’s just been announced a Freddie Mercury/Queen Biopic coming out apparently this fall. Here is a bit of a primer I guess to that movie which I am looking forward to seeing!

So a few years after the songs release in the late fall of 1978 I purchased two tickets to see Queen play in my hometown of London Ontario. We didn’t get a lot of big names in London and being a fan, this was pretty exciting. They were playing Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens December 3 and 4 and I guess tacked on the London date as it was not on the official tour schedule. I don’t remember how much I paid for the tickets, but I seem to recall somewhere in the $8-15 per range, but “nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me” because the concert was cancelled. Something about Freddie’s voice -being strained I believe, more like Freddie saying to the booking agent something like …so we are in Canada in the bloody cold? And now we’re playing a place called London, Ontario? In the winter Ya? Not bloody likely!

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara, September 5,1946 in Stone Town, Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania) He died on November 24, 1991 (aged 45) in Kensington, London, England. The cause of death was Bronchopneumonia  a complication of AIDS. Freddie had announced to the media he had aids on November 23, 1991, he died the next day. Not to focus just on Freddie because the rest of the band was very talented as well but I have to keep this reasonably short.
Mercury grew up in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England, in his teens. He formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.
In 1992, Mercury was posthumously awarded the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and a tribute concert was held at Wembley Stadium, London. As a member of Queen, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2002, he was placed number 58 in the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He is consistently voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.
Freddie Mercury enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic in West London where he studied art. He earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, later he used these skills to design the Queen heraldic arms in their logo.
So back to the song, when it was eventually released as a single, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became a commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976 which by today’s standards may not sound like much but back then it was huge. It topped the charts again in 1991 for another five weeks when the same version was re-released following Mercury’s death, eventually becoming the UK’s third-best-selling single of all time. It reached number two in the U.S. after the movie Wayne’s World in 1992.
Other interesting stuff from Wikipedia
When the band wanted to release the single in 1975, various executives suggested to them that, at 5 minutes and 55 seconds, it was too long and would never be a hit. The song was played to other musicians who commented the band had no hope of it ever being played on radio.  According to producer Roy Thomas Baker, he and the band bypassed this corporate decision by playing the song for Capital Radio DJ Kenny Everett: “we had a reel-to-reel copy but we told him he could only have it if he promised not to play it. ‘I won’t play it,’ he said, winking…” Their plan worked – Everett teased his listeners by playing only parts of the song. Audience demand intensified when Everett played the full song on his show 14 times in two days. Hordes of fans attempted to buy the single the following Monday, only to be told by record stores that it had not yet been released.
The same weekend, Paul Drew, who ran the RKO stations in the States, heard the track on Everett’s show in London. Drew managed to get a copy of the tape and started to play it in the States, which forced the hand of Queen’s US label, Elektra. In an interview with Sound on Sound, Baker reflects that “it was a strange situation where radio on both sides of the Atlantic was breaking a record that the record companies said would never get airplay!” Eventually the unedited single was released, with “I’m in Love with My Car” as the B-side. Following Everett’s escapade in October 1975, Eric Hall, a well-known record plugger, gave a copy to David “Diddy” Hamilton to play on his weekday Radio One show. Eric stated “Monster, Monster! This could be a hit!”
And from Rolling Stone Magazine
Brian May (guitarist, Queen): Mike Myers phoned me up and said, “We’ve got this thing which we think is great. Do you want to hear it?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Do you think Freddie would want to hear it?” Now Freddie was really sick by that time but I said, “Yeah, I’m sure he will.” Mike gave me a tape which I took ’round to Freddie and played to him. Freddie loved it. He just laughed and thought it was great, this little video. The funny thing was, we always regarded the song as tongue in cheek ourselves. If it would come on the radio, we would all be headbanging when it came to the heavy bit as well, us as a group. It was very close to our sense of humor. (https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-oral-history-of-the-wayne-s-world-bohemian-rhapsody-scene-20151130)
Sources; Secondhandsongs.com, Wikipedia, Rollingstone.com

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

Historic titles from my Library

Here are some songs based on originals that are quite old, I’ve traced some songs back to the late 1800’s that I have in my library and other’s the recordings are from the early 1900’s. Ever since Leon Scott de Martinville invented a device for recording sound in Paris 1857, developments by Charles Cross, Edison and Alexander Graham Bell pushed forward the ability to record sound and eventually of course-music.
The Gramophone was invented by Emile Berliner in 1887, and by 1902 cylinder molding developments made mass production of recorded music possible. By 1929 Flat discs became popular and the old cylinders became obsolete.

Read More »

Ma and Fats

Ma and Fats
I really enjoy finding songs that have interesting origins and sometimes a very long past.
See See Rider” (Blues) or also recorded as C.C. Rider
Original version and the writer (with Lena Arent) of the song, Ma Rainey-1924


Ma Rainey (called the “Mother of the Blues”) from what I have read was a larger than life performer who was a major recording artist for Paramount Records in the 1920’s. Born Gertrude Pridgett, she married another singer known as Pa Rainey, hence the name Ma. However, she made it no secret she preferred the company of women and referred to this in more than one of her songs. She started in traveling shows as a young teen and worked her way up to head lining her own shows. She was by all accounts a smart business woman and mentor to Bessie Smith (another time I can talk about “the Empress of  the Blues”). An inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 she paved the way for both black men and women in the recording of the Blues. When she retired from performing she opened three movie theatres in her hometown of Columbus Georgia and died in 1939.

The Grammy nominated Ester Philips recorded this perhaps in 1970 by it was released on an album in 1976, not one of her chart-topping successes but a very soulful rendition. She lost the Grammy for another song she had done to the legendary Aretha Franklin in 1972 or 1973, but apparently Aretha gave the trophy to her saying she should have won. Her life, cut short at just age 48 was quite tragic and fraught unfortunately like too many artists with drug abuse.
​Here is a remake of her song by Mitch Ryder in 1966, which I believe is the first version to give it a more rock and roll twist. Virtually duplicated by Eric Burdon and the Animals that same year. Not a chart maker for either of them but early in their careers and I think helped mold their style.
This song has been recorded over 250 times. It has become one of the great classic go-to blues songs but recorded by the likes of ‘non-traditional’ blues artists such as Cher and the Everly Brothers. Other notable covers are Big Bill Broonzy in 1934 a pioneer in the Chicago Blues scene, the great Lois Armstrong in 1957, the amazing Ray Charles in 1960, all the way up to Poppa Chubby in 2002 and it continues to be remade as recently as 2016 and I’m sure it will be again and again. As with many of these songs the lyrics and even the tune itself has varied quite a bit but all with the inspiration coming from the original.

I’m also a bit of a fan of Fats Domino and certainly one of his most well-known songs was “Blueberry Hill”.  A prolific artist with many original songs this however was among several covers he recorded.
Here is one of the first recordings.
Blueberry Hill” by Gene Autry 1940

Fats Domino did it in 1956 and is still the most famous recording of 164 versions, originally done by Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye in 1940. Written by Vincent Rose, the lyrics by Al Lewis and Larry Stock. Here is Fats version.

A hilarious video of Putin mostly faking a version
Sources; Wikipedia, Secondhandsongs.com, YouTube, various internet searches.
If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley (part 1)

We all know the King of Rock and Roll or at least recognize a song or two or three from him. Why do we (maybe not you but a lot of us) still listen to Elvis songs, many of which are now over 60 years old? Music for most of us is a personal thing, we like what we like because somehow on some level we can connect with it. Why is it when we play our favorite song for someone else they often offer a friendly nod or say, “that’s nice”? Why don’t they love it as much as you do? It could be the style or genre, maybe the artist, melody or the lyrics they don’t connect with, maybe it’s just missing the context that made you love the song. We could say it’s the music of our youth that sticks with us, but many people change their preferences over time. Hey, my sister talked me into going in on buying a Partridge Family album when I was 12 so I know this is true!
For me Elvis has an amazing voice and a unique way of delivering a song. Elvis wasn’t known for his song writing abilities and he didn’t read or write music. And though he played guitar, bass and piano and other instruments, he is not remembered for this talent.  All was surpassed by the love of his voice and grant you his looks and swinging hips for some. Here is a selection of popular and some less popular songs that were not original Elvis songs, but he certainly added something special and made any song he sang his own, for this first Elvis related post I’ll stick to 1956.
Thanks to YouTube and various posters who have done my work for me I can give you video or audio of these songs. And thanks to Secondhandsongs.com I have a great reference library!
Blue Suede Shoeswritten and first recorded by Carl Perkins in December 1955
Elvis recorded the song in February 1956 and easily the best know version. 
There’s a story around this song, perhaps for another day.
How’s the World Treating You written by two major stars in the music world Chet Atkins and Boudleaux Bryant and First released in 1953 by the Beaver Valley Sweethearts. Elvis did it in October 1956
Money Honeywritten by Jesse Stone and originally recorded by Clyde McPhatter and Drifters 1953. Elvis released it in 1956
My Baby Left Mewritten and first recorded by Arthur Crudup in November 1950. Elvis in 1956
Shake Rattle andRoll again a song written by Jesse Stone (Alias Charles Calhoun) and first released by Joe Turner and His Blues Kings in June 1954.
The best-known version of this song I think is from Bill Haley and His Comets from July 1954, but here Elvis was the seventh to try this one, released in 1956.
At 485 documented Elvis cover songs there is a lot more to be said! Not to mention original Elvis songs covered by other people. Much more here to discuss especially the issue of exploitation, particularly in the earlier days of the recorded music world. I plan share some on that in the future. For now, just enjoy some great tunes!
Sources; Wikipedia, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, http://www.atlasobscura.com, http://www.billboard.com and secondhandsongs.com

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

First Post

Here is the type of thing I like to talk about and share. Cover versions, that is songs re-recorded from the original or a variation of the original. These particular songs below relate to some of my longest and dearest friends and some of their musical interests.

R.E.M. “There She Goes Again”, REM 1983, Velvet Underground, 1967

“Dust My Broom”

Written by Robert Johnson , released in 1937

Elmo (Elmore) James version recorded in 1951, ZZ Top plays the James adapted version 1979

Graham Parker’s “Turned up too Late”

Pointer Sisters 1979, Parker in 1976

“Gypsy Woman” by the Impressions (Curtis Mayfield) 1961

Brian Hyland (of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini fame) 1970, Bruce Springsteen in 1994

“Bad is Bad” A song written by Huey Lewis et al but first recorded by Dave Edmunds in 1979 (Repeat When Necessary)

Then Huey in 1983

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “You Got to Move” 1950 cover count 32 (see more about her below), Rolling Stones 1971

..this is a traditional African American spiritual song like many others the words got changed over the years and by different singers, the Stones started playing in studio just kicking around, then live on stage in 1969 and then recorded it at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama that same year, added to Sticky Fingers in 1971. I read that Mick Taylor said their version was influenced by Mississippi Fred McDowell, a delta blues singer who was likely in his sixties when he recorded this version, he died age 66.

I included Tharpes version which is not the original because if you don’t know about her she was an amazing talent not only singing, writing and acting but a pioneer on guitar that influenced Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash (btw Maybelle Carter-June’s mother was no slouch on guitar either), Carl Perkins and later the likes of Clapton, Jeff Beck, Richards, Taylor and many others. She was ‘doing it’ first on acoustic then switched to electric in the mid 1930’s and through the early 40’s. She was primarily a gospel singer- there is a medley below, she was amazing. One of the earliest masters of the electric guitar, I agree with those that put her up there with T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson and Les Paul. She died from complications due to diabetes in 1973 at age 58 and buried in an unmarked grave.

Click here for another video on Tharpe’s guitar playing.

Going forward I will blog about artists, themes, time periods etc. I will wander around a bit on genres but I will pay more attention to my own areas of interest, that being the roots of rock and roll, blues music and topics relating to cover songs in general. Please check out some of my posts for a bit more detail on particular songs or artists and how they relate through the songs they cover or original songs covered by other artists.

Thanks, Randy

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!