Music Review: Update, The Beatles Complete on Ukulele, March 2011

Within days of starting this blog I was already putting the good word in for one of my favourite things I have ever discovered online, The Beatles Complete on Ukulele. If someone mentions The Beatles or ukuleles within my earshot, they leave my presence with at least a passing understanding of what this website aims to accomplish.

The mission of this site –which started publishing during President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and intends to complete its project during the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics in 2012– is to publish an original cover of a Beatles song every week  until the entire discography has been reworked in any number of genres by artists from around the globe. The only rule is that at some point the cover must include at least one ukulele. This is about giving creative people a task and letting them go to it. The results have been remarkable. I stand in awe of what artists can do with their medium. The Beatles produced an incredible body of work, and that body can be stretched in ways that continue to amaze me.

I have twice reviewed the entries to date, here and here. It’s been too long since I’ve revisited that subject, and I apologize for that. I’m also sorry to admit that while the site has grown and thrived, it has migrated to a new dedicated domain that rendered all of my earlier links invalid. Further, many of the excellent essays I praised have not made the journey to their new home. I have now revised the links on my earlier reviews, but I beg your forgiveness if the content I referenced may no longer synch up with what appears there now.

Anyway, I’ve been asked by one of the site’s founders to resume my brief synopses, and I’m delighted to do so. If you would like to listen to any of these songs without going to the individual pages, this page can stream all of them for your enjoyment. I feel compelled to include the following disclaimer: I have no formal musical training, nor am I any kind of critic. The following opinions are mine alone and informed only by my background as a Beatles fan who almost certainly first heard the Fab Four in utero. I am absolutely willing to concede my ignorance on any technical points of musical theory. With that in mind, enjoy!

Once again, songs 1 through 48 have been reviewed here, and songs 49 through 71 have been reviewed here.

72. — This Boy covered by Andy Burri
released on the week of June 1, 2010

Sadly, the essay for this entry is now lost. I can only speak to the music. Fortunately the cover is lovely and true to the original. It’s a gentle ukulele-drive homage that does justice to the original without any of the flamboyant departures some of the earlier covers attempted. It’s a great addition to the project, but I wouldn’t call it a stand out success.

73. — I’ve Just Seen a Face covered by Mumtaz Jafri
released on the week of June 8, 2010

I’ll confess I’ve tried to do this justice in karaoke, and I have failed miserably. My vision of this song is much closer to the cover Mumtaz Jafri offers: Slow, dreamy, melodic rather than frantic. The original –as so often happens during the high-water mark of Beatles fever– is a headlong rush into the microphone. It’s an avalanche of sound, of enthusiasm, of optimism. Who hasn’t met an individual and within ten seconds known you will never forget that special someone? That’s a difficult thing to reproduce, and Mumtaz prefers the slower and more deliberate approach. My only criticism to his take is the replacement of the introduction with drums rather than the ukulele that might have offered an interesting contrast. All the same, this slower tempo is a pleasant departure from the original.

74. — Sexie Sadie covered by Julian Velard
released on the week of June 15, 2010

This is another one where the essay has disappeared, although I remember it being interesting. The cover has a greater emphasis on the bass line and drum beat than the original, but in a good way. Julian Velard leans into the lyrics in a way that is absolutely satisfying. He lends a worldliness to a song that I know and love well. Some of the harmonies remind me of the Beach Boys, which I enjoy because of The Beatles’ own fascination with the California boy band who also became artists after their early 60s teenie-bopper fame.

75. — Michelle covered by Floanne
released on the week of June 22, 2010

I have, in the past, bemoaned covers done in another language. I can’t do that here. If ever there was a song that should be done in a different tongue, it’s Michelle. It almost cries out for a full-French rendition, and here Floanne does it with the welcome addition of the clinking of glasses, accordion, and the casual conversation of a Parisian cafe. Only the electric backing percussion pulls us away from the mental image of a 1960s francophone coffee house. The essay is interesting, but I somehow remember it being of greater depth. Perhaps it was edited during the transition to the new site?

76. — Please Please Me covered by Deni Bonet
released on the week of June 29, 2010

I confess, I love when a violin is more accurately called a fiddle. The instrumentation on this impresses me to no end. Deni Bonet twists the lyrics a little bit into the present with her interpretation of this being a Craigslist interaction, but the whole song wins me over, hands down. Again, the essay is sadly lost. I hope the site’s organizers will restore it sometime soon: This was one of the original Beatles hits, and I would be curious to learn more about the context in which it was composed.

77. — I Wanna Be Your Man covered by We’re Late for Class
released on the week of July 6, 2010

To the extent that a middle-class white boy can love the Blues, I love the Blues. One of my fondest musical memories is attending the Thunder Bay Blues Festival a couple of summers back, and if this had played there, the crowd would have been on their feet. The essay, as usual, is a fantastic read: This time we compare The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and a powerful argument is made for the Stones winning out because The Beatles can’t sing about sex without blushing. A great cover with a great essay. I don’t know if I can put this in my top ten, but it’s right up there: No doubt about it.

78. — I Me Mine covered by Stacie Rose
released on the week of July 13, 2010

George Harrison fascinates me. He’s a great song writer who had to bide his time in the background of John/Paul’s glory for most of his career. I Me Mine is a great song, and he got it out there under his own flag even while the two Mozarts of his generation sat five feet away from him. I think Elliot Smith’s cover is the definitive rendition, but Stacie Rose does a lovely job with this all the same. The essay is also a strong addition, as usual. Listen, read, and enjoy!

79. — The Ballad of John and Yoko covered by Tred
released on the week of July 20, 2010

If Cheech Marin covered this song, this is what it would sound like. I don’t mean that as a criticism. This song shouldn’t be taken seriously. This is John Lennon telling the press to piss off, and you can go just about any way you want with it. I like the original, but it never should’ve been a number one hit. This rendition is a lot of fun. The essay’s good too, although I expected them to pontificate, which they chose not to do.

80. — Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da covered by Victor Spinetti
released on the week of July 26, 2010

For a musical cover of this song, I would recommend The Grab Bag’s delightful take on it. This version has much less to do with music than with history. The essay does a lovely job of setting the stage, and then they let Victor Spinetti –a storied actor with an amazing relationship to The Beatles– do a spoken word edition of the song, hamming it up along the way. I don’t dislike it. It’s different, but that’s one of the wonderful things about the project: Sometimes they don’t give you what you want. They give you something you wouldn’t have found anywhere else.

81. — All You Need Is Love covered by Nikki Gregoroff
released on the week of August 3, 2010

Nikki Gregoroff starts off with the opening strains of the Canadian national anthem and then sets off into a cover that brings a tear to my eye. Her voice is perfect. The ukulele is prominent. The emotion is there. I hear this, and I see the famous broadcast that The Beatles did via satellite in June of 1967. You just want to clap your hands and sway. The essay, as usual, is a fine addition. This one really speaks to me. Two thumbs up!

82. — I Should Have Known Better covered by Samantha Fox
released on the week of August 10, 2010

If ever there was a Beatles tune that can make the transition to dance music, this is that song. Samantha Fox pulls out all the stops and brings in all the electronic tricks to make something you want to hear pumping out of speakers taller than you are. The essay also goes to an interesting place: John’s marriage to Cynthia. Everyone knows this song. Few know this story. This is a classic example of what this project can offer to the casual Beatles fan.

83. — Julia covered by Don Rosler & Emily O’Reily
released on the week of August 17, 2010

There are two things you need to know about Julia: Julia was John Lennon’s mother’s name, and this song is him trying to explain Yoko Ono to his dead mother. It’s the only song John ever sang without accompaniment, and it is a beautiful, touching piece of treacle. Don Rosler and Emily O’Reily have done something amazing with this work: They’ve made it sound like a father and daughter trying to compose the song in the first place. It is halting and haunting and thoroughly respectful. The essay, as usual, is wonderful too. I love this cover. It is everything I could have hoped for.

84. — When I’m 64 covered by Dr. Harry Steinberg
released on the week of August 23, 2010

Elsewhere in this review I’ve spoken of oom pa pa bands and spoken word versions. Where should those two logically come together? When I’m 64 is the logical fit. This is another one of those songs Paul McCartney wrote, daydreaming about the good old days of the music his parents grew up with. It’s pure vaudeville. It’s also the first song I ever sang in public, and I was heckled for it. There’s something absolutely lovely about hearing an old man stumble through it, rather than a cocky and flippant 25-year-old Paul (or a 19-year-old Geoff, for that matter). And, of course, if you’re going to have an old man speak it instead of sing it, a tuba in the background is almost a requirement. Would I listen to this as an original song? No. Would I listen to it as a cover coming at the source material from a unique and authentic frame of reference? Of course! The essay does a nice job of explaining the background, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from The Beatles Complete on Ukulele.

85. — Girl covered by Snax
released on the week of August 31, 2010

Girl is another one of those songs that you sometimes forget The Beatles did. They did so much! Still, if you’re going to cover Girl, you should either go big or stay home, and Snax goes big in spades. The essay left me a little flat, to be honest, but I still enjoyed the entry all the same.

86. — I’ve Got a Feeling covered by Jon Worley
released on the week of September 7, 2010

The original I’ve Got a Feeling is a delicious train wreck: The Beatles were done. Totally done. The first half of this song is by Paul for Linda. The second half is by John for Yoko. They only did it once in public, on a rooftop in February, and it was the last time they ever played together. The song’s premise is one of optimism for the future, but its present is mired in the idea that a great thing has ended and no one is happy about it. What better song to cover via Rhythm & Blues? Jon Worley does a fantastic take on a song that makes you want to jump up and down even while you’re weeping. It’s medium and message colliding in a way that I think The Beatles would appreciate. I enjoy this one on a lot of levels. It’s well worth a listen.

87. — Martha My Dear covered by Chris Palmaro
released on the week of September 14, 2010

This is another McCartney tip of the hat to the music of his forefathers, so why not let piano jazz take a crack at it? Chris Palmaro does a fine job of hitting all the high points, and just when you’re concerned he’s drifting into easy listening he let’s something straight out of vaudeville –complete with tinny reverberations– add some excitement. He then dials it back in a tempo that marmalade pouring uphill could appreciate. He emotes, and his pauses say more than the lyrics ever could. He finishes on a half-completed sentence, and that’s appropriate. This song sounds better with a longing finish than it ever did sitting on the White Album as Paul’s ‘Yes, I’m going to do this again, John.’ The essay, as I’ve so often said, is well worth a look as well.

88. — Rain covered by Wang Chung
released on the week of September 20, 2010

Too often, The Beatles Complete on Ukulele puts the named instrument on the back burner while they explore other themes. In  this cover, the ukulele is handled by a virtuoso, and we see just what it can really do. Rain is not a great Beatles song, but if you let those notes shower down upon you like the precipitation in question, backed up by some maracas, the result can be both musical and magical. The essay didn’t really hold my attention, but I’ll confess I only skimmed it. See what you think for yourself.

89. — Strawberry Fields Forever covered by Patsy Monteleone
released on the week of September 28, 2010

This cover was done by one man with a ukulele on a single microphone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is one of the definitive John Lennon songs. It’s gentle and soulful and wistful, and it should never be cluttered up with bells and whistles. Patsy Monteleone gets that. Several times now I have praised this site’s ability to pair up a chanteuse with her ideal song and let her voice do all the heavy lifting. This is the first time I can say categorically that a male singer did the same. He has no crutch or support or fall back. This succeeds or fails on his interpretation and his ability to communicate, to emote. It’s just beautiful, but it’s also terrifically masculine. It’s a handsome cover, I suppose.

90. — You Won’t See Me covered by Victoria Villalobos
released on the week of October 5, 2010

This is another wonderful rendition, true to the original without being repetitive. Victoria croons the words lovingly, and you perceive a longing look from a distance as she sings. I don’t think the phone effects were necessary, but additions of this nature seem to be so common on this site that I must be missing something there. I am, as I’ve said many times, a musical illiterate. I enjoyed the essay, too: I had this song pegged as one of John Lennon’s stalker songs; I didn’t realize it was Paul McCartney’s empathy for unrequited fan love that drove this one home.

91. — Help! covered by The Drastic Mono Band
released on the week of October 12, 2010

The cover starts off with the chords to Imagine, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for. The original Help! was so frantic, so furious, while the lyrics just beg you to slow down and linger, to feel, well, helpless. Help! by John Lennon was sung as if he had all the power while bemoaning the fact that everything he was certain of was slipping away. This cover is slower, more methodical. It actually sounds like The Drastic Mono Band wants someone to come to their aid, to offer sympathy. The essay was an interesting read about the movie, that terrible rush job of a movie, and how The Beatles were just exhausted with the whole process of being The Beatles. I enjoy this cover and this essay. It’s another fine addition to the collection.

92. — I’ll  Be Back covered by Nicki Richards
released on the week of October 18, 2010

This cover sounds like something you would hear at a Disney theme park restaurant. The essay is an ode to plagiarism. Is it weird that I like both of them anyway? I have no in-depth commentary here. This is just pleasant mood music. Take it as you will.

93. — What You’re Doing covered by Carolee Goodgold
released on the week of October 26, 2010

This song has a palpable sense of energy held in check through great effort. There’s something very Pink Floyd-esque in what the bass is doing, and the frantic plucking of the ukulele does a lovely job of adding urgency. Honestly, half way through hearing this cover I forgot what the original song even sounded like. This is better. This is so much better. It’s funny how often that happens on this site when the Beatles’ lesser known works gives an artist a chance to shine. Interestingly enough, the essay focuses on why this is a lesser known work: It was written under a ticking clock. They were asked to produce yet another album –the fourth in 21 months– before the kids got sick of Beatlemania. This song is the result, and I’m glad. It gave Carolee Goodgold an opportunity to make it absolutely her own. Well worth a listen!

94. — Things We Said Today covered by Joy Askew
released on the week of November 2, 2010

I’ve already mentioned Peggy Lee’s Fever in another review, but there’s something about Joy Askew’s introduction to this cover that made me think of Fever again. Maybe it’s the snapping fingers. Maybe it’s the playful promising tone she takes. Honestly, the rest of the song gets a little lost in the shuffle. It’s not all Joy’s fault: The original uses harmonies to such powerful effect, she was right to include them in her own rendition. At the same time, flipping back and forth between her starting tone and then the chorus, leading to a bridge that doesn’t sound like either, culminating in a final versus that brings all of the previous treatments together… It’s all just a little cluttered for two minutes. The essay is also a rare miss –at least to my untrained eye– in that it focuses on the technical matters of chord progression. There’s nothing wrong with this entry, except that it leaves me wishing I understood more about music from a critical perspective.

95. — Flying covered by The Tim Ouimette Big Band
released on the week of November 9, 2010

I’m told Flying is the only instrumental the Beatles did, although I do wonder where some of the Yellow Submarine album would fail to qualify.  Working from the assumption that Flying is the brass ring for an instrumentalist, how fitting, then, to let a jazz musician have his way with it? And how merciful of Dave to take a nine-minute piece of mood music and have Tim Ouimette whittle it down to the crucial three where you can recognize both where he is in the song and what he is doing to it as an accomplished trumpeter and trombonist. The essay is a good addition. All in all, a lovely part of the collection!

96. — Got to Get You Into My Life covered by Tabitha Fair
released on the week of November 16, 2010

This essay smacked me between the eyes with an overlooked revelation: This is Paul McCartney’s unabashed attempt at Motown? Of course it is! How have I never realized that before? We’ve seen Paul try Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys and Little Richard and Vaudeville. Of course this is his bite at the Motown apple. How did I not see that before? Tabitha Fair avoided the temptation of doing a Motown cover of Paul’s Motown efforts. The Four Tops already did that. Instead, she decided to make it… I can’t believe I’m actually typing this… Funkadelic. What did Motown transition into? Funk. What should Got to Get You Into My Life be covered as? Who cares, as long as it’s funky. Great entry, all the way around. I’m still deciding if this is something I can listen to regularly, but that’s probably because I’m as white as Paul (if not whiter, although that’s a tall order).

97. — And Your Bird Can Sing covered by The Mild Thankful Hogs
released on the week of November 23, 2010

I have a problem reviewing this song: And Your Bird Can Sing is the dividing line between my early love of The Beatles and the larger, rounder appreciation I enjoy today. Growing up on the Oldies The Beatles get a staggering amount of radio play, and so it was very easy for me to know fifty great songs word for word without ever actually going through the albums track by track. When I finally got around to doing just that –and, before anyone judges me, keep in mind I was discovering the music of my own generation about the time I was old enough to start buying CDs, so The Beatles took a backseat to music written within my own lifetime for a good twelve years– And Your Bird Can Sing was the first song I came across that convinced me to go through the complete discography.

I’ve heard the Beatles sing in German because of And Your Bird Can Sing.

I’ve listened to the Abby Road recording sessions because of And Your Bird Can Sing.

And Your Bird Can Sing is the hidden gem that I’m proud to have found on my own, and because of that I really don’t want to judge this cover or this essay. I enjoyed them both. More than that I shouldn’t say, because my demands in this one case are just too unrealistic: To cover this to my satisfaction would involve trapping lightening in a bottle and teaching it to play the ukulele, then hiding it away somewhere I’ll only find after a concerted effort. No cover should ever be held to that standard.

98. — Two of Us covered by Alessi Brothers
released on the week of November 30, 2010

I knew in the first bar that I wasn’t going to like this cover. It’s just a little too precious for my tastes. It’s sappy. If you throw this cover into a pot for a couple of hours over a low heat you’d have syrup in the end. The original, to me, is about Paul and John in their early days. The essay brought to my attention the fact that Paul was also thinking of Linda and the future. Either way –and both ways– there is an emotional depth and breadth to his lyrics and delivery that is entirely absent in the Alessi Brothers rendition. The essay, as usual, is a strong contribution.

99. — From Me To You covered by Sophie Madeleine
released on the week of December 7, 2010

One of the amazing things about this whole project is how far and wide the site’s organizers have gone in their pursuit of new genres and voices to dress up songs that feel like old friends. One of their consistent triumphs –in my humble opinion– is their real gift for finding female vocalists who just step in and own a piece of music. Sophie Madeleine does most of this cover with just her and a ukulele, and at the end I’m left wishing Lennon and McCartney had put in another verse. I don’t want her to stop. It’s a gentle and soothing lullaby, whereas the original was one of their Beatlemania anthems designed to be belted out into a screaming crowd. The contrast compliments both renditions, as the essay itself admits was the intent. Well done!

100. — Baby’s in Black covered by Jenny Baldwin
released on the week of December 13, 2010

This sounds like something off the Oh Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, and I mean that as a compliment. Jenny Baldwin took this Beatles’ Irish hymn and put a Southern twist on it that almost demands I hum along. Where the Beatles original –while amazing in its musicianship, as the essay illustrates– leaves me wishing they had better mikes and less infatuation with mono sound back in 1964, this cover makes the harmonizing something to really marvel upon. Great addition to the collection, absolutely.

101. — She’s Leaving Home covered by The Goff Sisters (With Their Mom & Dad)
released on the week of December 20, 2010

There are some songs that can only be covered straight: Do a note for note rendition, and punch up the back beat if you have a mind for it. I’m thrilled that the Goff Sisters (and their parents) knew they were covering a classic and treated it with the same respect as Sarah MacLachlan demonstrated. This song needs different instrumentation the way the Statue of Liberty needs to ditch the stola for a miniskirt. The essay is a great addition too.

102. — Paperback Writer covered by The Noble Three
released on the week of December 28, 2010

I can’t get enough of this one. I really can’t. It injects some much needed romance into an original that is almost brutal. The Beatles’ version is so hungry, so demanding, you can’t tell if they’re singing it straight or if you’re on the outside of an inside joke. It’s a song about raw ambition, insatiable desire. There’s nothing soft in it, and there’s nothing hard in this rendition:  If Simon & Garfunkel had come up with Paperback Writer, this is what they would have done instead. It’s almost wistful. I’m not entirely sure the singers actually want to make a living writing novels, but considering the state of the publishing industry maybe that’s for the best. The essay, as usual, gave me further insights into a song I thought I knew well. Did you know Paul wrote this when his aunt accused him of only writing about love? I will definitely be adding that to my collection of Beatles trivia to bore people with at parties.

103. — Every Little Thing covered by Matt Backer
released on the week of January 4, 2011

This is a perfectly serviceable cover of a perfectly serviceable Beatles song. I’m afraid neither one particularly speaks to me. I think Matt Backer did a fine job covering a well-known song from the Beatles backlist, but it’s not an out of the park home run for me: I don’t know where he wanted to go with it, but this really feels like he played it safe when he didn’t have to. Interestingly enough, the  essay takes a long look at one of the worst covers ever of this or any song: The band Yes covered this in 1969, and from everything I’ve just read it was a powerful argument in favour of the Cultural Revolution in China.  Maybe there’s something to be said for staying close to the metaphorical shore?

104. — Let it Be covered by The Beatles Complete on Ukulele Community Choir Featuring Barrack Obama
released on the week of January 11, 2011

On the second anniversary of The Beatles Complete on Ukulele –and the second anniversary of President Barrack Obama’s inauguration– the site decided to remix Obama himself into a choir presentation of a Beatles song so iconic it must have been intimidating as all get-out for any one individual to cover. The result is engaging, and very reminiscent of the fan-made YouTube videos that were such an integral part of the experience of seeing the United States elect a president I admire a great deal. The essay is also interesting. More than interesting, actually. The essay is fantastic. I’ve never actually quoted one the site’s essays before if memory serves, but there’s  a line here that actually made me laugh out loud, so I hope they will forgive me: “It drips with quasi-religious overtones that would make Christopher Hitchens reach for an Uzi.” I don’t know why, but that just tickled me. This whole entry into the collection is greater than the sum of its parts. Enjoy!

105. — I Want to Hold Your Hand covered by Violet Ryder
released on the week of January 18, 2011

There are a couple of things I want to highlight here: First, credit where it’s due, Violet Ryder has walked that fine line between a straight homage and actually making this song her own. It takes a lot of finesse to do that, and she makes it look easy. The ukulele is handled by the same artist who covered Rain, and you can tell that the ukulele is no after-thought instrument in his capable hands.

Second, this week’s essay is written by Natalie Barratt –David’s wife– and it’s first sentence reads, “I don’t like The Beatles.” The essay that follows is a healthy dash of cold water in the face of The Beatles love-in in progress, but it swings back around to a respect for what The Beatles can sometimes offer, and what The Beatles Complete On Ukulele is accomplishing with covers exactly like Violet Ryder’s. Listen to one. Read the other. You will not regret doing either.

106. — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band covered by DFW Crew
released on the week of January 25, 2011

If any Beatles song needed to be done as a Hip Hop cover, this is it. A friend of mine recently suggested ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll’ should be relabeled ‘Sex, Drugs & Hip Hop’ for the 21st Century, and I believe Sgt. Pepper’s is the perfect place to start. As the essay does a lovely job of illustrating, this is the song where Paul McCartney declared the Beatles were not a boy-band. Rock’n’Roll took a huge step towards becoming just Rock with this song, which was itself a whimsical introduction to an album that changed the way people perceived the Fab Four. No more matching haircuts. No more matching suits. No more singing about unrequited love. From now on The Beatles were artists neck-deep in the late 60’s drug culture, and anyone who had a problem with that should hand in their pop-culture membership and retire to a rocking chair to pine for the good old days. Can you think of a better medium to cover that message than Hip Hop?

107. — Dig It covered by Sophia Ramos
released on the week of February 8, 2011

This essay shines a light on a man who all Beatles fans should already know: Billy Preston. Think of a Beatles song you love from Let It Be. How many instruments are playing? The fifth one is being played by Billy. He really was the fifth Beatle, but he was black (with the afro to prove it), so unless you’ve actually seen the video of that last concert they did on the roof, you have no idea The Beatles had a regular fifth member who did a lot of their heavy lifting instrumentally. John Lennon even suggested making it official, although the closest Billie got was a co-credit on ‘Get Back.’ This cover by Sophia Ramos is all about the influences black musicians have had on music and pop culture. It’s a wonderful cover of an off-the-cuff song. Well done, all the way around.

108. — Ticket to Ride covered by Jenny Dee & The Dreams
released on the week of February 8, 2011

I spoke earlier about Paul McCartney’s attempt at Motown. This cover is Motown’s attempt at Lennon/McCartney. The essay makes no bones about it: Motown and The Beatles happened at the same time and were intimately aware of one another. This cover is a fantastic rendition of two of the most powerful musical influences of the mid-60s coming into contact with one another. Well worth a listen!

109. — You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) covered by Dubcheck
released on the week of February 15, 2011

The essay and I are of one mind: This is the silliest thing The Beatles ever put their name to. So let me ask you a logical extension of that statement: What would Shaggy do with this song? Yes, Mr. Boombastic himself. Okay, the project didn’t get Shaggy, but they got a terrific artist from the same genre. This is just a fun cover on a flippant song, and I believe it gets there handily. I have no points or stars system, but this is a solid entry all the way around.

110. — You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away covered by Conrad Korsch
released on the week of February 22, 2011

I had the most powerful feeling that this song was being covered for a second time that I searched both my own entries and The Beatles Complete on Ukulele’s own past releases. Apparently I am wrong, and I’m left wondering what wonderful acoustic cover of this song I am mixing up in my memory. Eddie Vedder, maybe?

All the same, this is an amazing song, and –once again– the essay opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on a tune I have known and loved since infancy. A red flag has existed in my consciousness since my mid-teens: The line “Turn my face to the wall” has a very specific context within the time of the Spanish Inquisition. If you turned your face to the wall during your deathbed confession, it was evidence enough of you being a secret Jew that your family could be punished after your demise. That’s not a line of dialogue an educated European would put into a song without a reason, and that reason had better have a lot more meaning that teenage angst over a girl who doesn’t feel the way about you that you feel about her. That line is about deep-seated bigotry, about the fear of being found out for what your truly are. Who was being persecuted in the 1960s in the same way that Jews were being persecuted in the 1400s in Spain? How about homosexuals? How about The Beatles’ gay manager, Brian Epstein? Listen to that song again. Amazing stuff.

111. — I’ll Cry Instead covered by Shane Attwooll
released on the week of March 1, 2011

Again, so much of my enjoyment of a given song is based upon the further context of the essay. John Lennon wrote this song when he was on top of the world, and John was never as happy as when he was actually miserable. So, if we had to approach false optimism through music, what genres would be most appropriate? If you answered honky-tonk country music with an oom pa pa band accompaniment, you and I need to stop drinking the same kool-aid. All the same, this is a good cover of a middling song with a fantastic essay backing it up.

112. — Hello Goodbye covered by Sharlotte Gibson
released on the week of March 8, 2011

This cover is just fun. I’m not calling it great. I’m not calling it art. I just like it for what it is: This is the Hello Goodbye I would want to hear in a restaurant that has live entertainment while you dine. It’s a straight-shooter of a cover that rounds all the bases without trying to reinvent the wheel. Who needs the wheel to be reinvented? It rolls, doesn’t it? As the essay argues quite effectively, this is Paul’s take on John’s Imagine: The trouble with the world is that people disagree, but Paul doesn’t want to be confrontational about it. He wants people to acknowledge their differences and move on. If Sharlotte Gibson was pitching the same message with this song, I’d tap my toes and hum along. It’s a fine addition to the collection, no doubt about it.

113. — If I Fell covered by Durga McBroom
released on the week of March 15, 2011

Am I crazy, or did the site’s organizers throw open the gates to an Easy Listening cover? There’s nothing wrong with it, I guess. That’s the point, really. Easy Listening ruffles no feathers, raises no hackles. You put pleasant background music and a terrific singer together with a familiar melody, and then you play it in K-Mart while people push a grocery cart up and down the aisles. As the essay argues, this was one of John’s true ballads: This was a song he wrote for some hypothetical pre-Yoko woman who was going to fill his world with happiness. He put himself into Paul’s song-writing place and produced this wonder. This cover just feels flat in comparison with the leap John must have taken to produce the original.

114. — A Hard Days Night covered by Kathryn Raio
released on the week of March 21, 2011

This is a decent cover of a fantastic song, and the essay left me completely underwhelmed. A Hard Days Night was the zenith of Beatlemania’s high noon. There wasn’t a teenager in the English speaking world in 1964 who didn’t know this song by heart. I like the instrumentation. I like the vocals. I take nothing away from this entry other than the mild suspicion that an ensemble could have brought some passion to it that Kathryn Raio’s Asian Pop rendition loses in its carefully calculated homage.

115. — Misery covered by The Big V
released on the week of March 29, 2011

This really is one of my least-favourite Beatles songs. Within that context, The Big V do just fine. They sound like they’re having more fun with it than the Beatles had. The essay actually tries to tie these lyrics into the John Lennon assassination. Misery, indeed.


I have also posted reviews for the 1st through to the 48th cover, the 49th through 71st cover, and the 116th through 161st cover.

And now we’re up to date! I guess I’ll do another round of reviews in three or four months. Cheers, everyone, and be sure once again to check out The Beatles Complete on Ukulele. Bookmark it. Sign up for the Facebook group. This thing is updated weekly, and you always get value for your visits.


9 thoughts on “Music Review: Update, The Beatles Complete on Ukulele, March 2011

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