Monday, February 05, 2007

Strawberry Fields Remake

"All This and World War II" was a film project that was released in 1976 that lasted but one week in the theaters. It featured remakes of classic Beatle songs recorded by various artists, backed by studio musicians and the London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack album was released to a lot of hype, and I ran out and bought it immediately. I listened to it a couple of times and then promptly gave it away, all because of Leo Sayer. He did an absolutely horrendous rendition of "I Am The Walrus," and when I went back to the original recording, which was (and still is) one of my favorites, I heard Leo's version in the back of mind. So I brought it over to my friend John's house, who had the most comprehensive collection of anything and everything connected to The Beatles that I had ever seen, and I promptly turned it over to him under the condition that he never play it in my presence.

Most artists have no business covering perfection. They should stay away from The Beatles. To this day, I shun most Beatle remakes. I have no interest in hearing The Smithereens letter for letter remake of "Meet The Beatles," nor do I even care to listen to the "new" mash-up Beatles' album "Love." I heard bits of it at my brother-in-law's house over the Christmas holiday, and I was panic-stricken. He knew how much of a fan I am of The Beatles, and he put it on specifically for my enjoyment. How could I begin to explain that I didn't want to hear it, because of Leo Sayer? Because when I listen to "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" I don't want to hear "Helter Skelter" buried in my mind-mix of the record?

It was like the time my aborted cover band wanted to perform versions of "Tell Me Why" and "You're Gonna Lose That Girl."

"We're not playing those songs."

"Why not? I thought you loved The Beatles."

"I do."

"You don't like those two songs?"

"They are two of my very favorites. That is precisely why I don't want to play them."

"I don't get it."

" I know..."


One of the exceptions to this rule is Peter Gabriel's take on "Strawberry Fields Forever," from the aforementioned soundtrack. It does the original proper, and I love his vocal performance and the lush, Hollywood orchestration.



Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Yeah, hear ya. I don't mind popping out "Long And Winding" or "She's Leaving Home" at a bar piano but I wouldn't release 'em.

I once did a King Crimsonish gamelan-treated-guitar version of "Rain" once that didn't offend too much.

Mostly I let myself do a pastiche like "Matinee" every now and then.

4:27 PM  
Blogger roxtar said...

A very fine band called Crack the Sky did a cover of "I am the Walrus" on their live album that did not suck. That took a certain amount of nerve in 1978.

4:57 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

I like live Beatles covers when they are well-done - and my cover band did a rockin' version of "You Can't Do That" and a very nice version of "If I Needed Someone," but I know we would have butchered some of the songs that they wanted to do.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

I guess I'm too much into the idea of songbooks (trying to work up a post on it, in fact) not to think that the excellent songs by Lennon-McCartney should not be done by whoever wants to do them. They should reamin current, not only through the Beatles's records but in new versions. (That 96.45% of these covers will suck is frankly typical of pop music output.)

I once posted a version of "Oh Darling" by Joe Williams, recorded about 1970, that most assuredly did not suck.

9:08 AM  

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