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Jeremiah Tucker: Of all the Beatles covers, these 10 are the best

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Because it’s the dead of winter, because it’s bleak, because when something perfect is broken it sometimes comes back stronger — here are 10 of the best Beatles covers:

• Fiona Apple: “Across the Universe.” Recorded for the 1998 movie “Pleasantville” and produced by pop maestro Jon Brion, Apple’s gorgeous version of the John Lennon classic induces a feeling akin to spiraling out across the galaxy, buoyed along by her rich, calm-to-the-point-of-almost-bored voice, an affect a deity or a supremely cool girl might assume about the wonders of the cosmos. It’s the rare cover that doesn’t radically change its approach to the song but manages to improve on the original.

• Al Green: “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Green’s cover of The Beatles’ first American No. 1 hit blows away the original, joyfully and effortlessly, like ending a fight before it starts with a disarming laugh. The first time I heard this, I had no need to ever hear the original again, both because I generally find early Beatles quaint and uninteresting — even as I recognize the perfect pop songwriting involved — and because this version multiples by a factor of 10 the joy and ecstasy of first love hinted at in the original. The studio chatter that opens the song — Al Green shouting, “I got the feeling now!” and a band member responding, “Shut up, Al Green” — is, like the song itself, perfect.

• Cristina: “Drive My Car.” Cristina was on ZE Records in the ’80s when the label was near the zenith of hipness, a nexus point for New York’s noisy no wave scene and bands doing interesting things with dance-oriented music. I first heard Cristina’s cover of The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” classic on a compilation called “Mutant Disco,” an accurate description of the music. Theatrical and frenetic, Cristina leans into the car-as-sex metaphor hard and turns the straightforward rocker into a party starter for outsiders.

By: Jeremiahn Tucker

Source: Joplin Globe

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