Without The Beatles, album review: 50 original rock and roll classics covered by The Fab Four

 

Trying to guess which Beatle was influenced by which artist or group is the sort of lunchtime pub discussion that could go on for hours. This double CD of songs covered by the Fab Four  should jolly things along.

Rumour has it that John was big fan of the girl-group sound, which is why the group covered “Please Mr Postman” by The Marvelettes, “Chains” by The Cookies and possibly “Boys” by The Shirelles (although Ringo, who does the vocal duties when the group covered it on the Please Please Me album, may have had a hand in that).

But what’s obvious is that if John was a fan, he was a devoted one. He must have heard “Devil In Her Heart”, which was included on With The Beatles, when it was issued in Britain on the obscure Oriole label by the even more obscure Donays. You’d probably have to pay a few hundred to find a copy nowadays.

Meanwhile Paul was more of a melody man who liked songs with a touch of class about them such as black crooner Lenny Welch’s “A Taste of Honey”, Buddy Holly’s “Words of Love” and even the Broadway show tune “Til There Was You” (from the musical The Music Man) which is heard here in a slinky version by Peggy Lee.

George’s tastes are harder to judge, although the Ray Charles-like rocker “Some Other Guy” by Ritchie Barrett, which the Beatles covered during one their BBC Radio outings was certainly included in a published list of his favourite records.

In the end it doesn’t matter who liked what as the group’s taste in music was as inspired as it was wide, encompassing early Southern soul in the shape of Arthur Alexander’s “Anna”, rockabilly from Carl Perkins (“Honey Don’t”) and classic Motown (The Miracles’ “You Really Got A Hold On Me”).

No other UK group was covering such a wide range of quality material and although Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting skills would soon eclipse the need for songs to cover, it’s still good to be reminded how an obscure rhythm and blues B-side or a luminous Bacharach and David ballad found their way into the consciousness of global record buyers via the fab four.

£11.99, Jasmine records. Click here to buy

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