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Listen: Five Beatles tribute albums you need to hear

From jazz and soul music to dub and reggae, The Beatles has been a favourite of musicians for over five decades

Beegie Adair: Yesterday, A Solo Piano Tribute to the Music of the Beatles. Courtesy Adair Music Group
Beegie Adair: Yesterday, A Solo Piano Tribute to the Music of the Beatles. Courtesy Adair Music Group

Guitarist Milos’s Blackbird The Beatles Album, follows a long line of eclectic artists covering the band. Here are five more to check out now

I am Sam by various artists (2002)

This is the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, starring Sean Penn. The film’s director, Jessie Nelson, set herself the ambitious task of populating the movie with original Beatles songs. The finances required to obtain the rights forced them to revise plans and, instead, get the songs performed by various artists. Fortunately, those enlisted – from singer-songwriter Rufus Wainright to Aussie rockers The Vines – were enthusiastic about covering their heroes, and the end result is great covers. Some, such as Sarah McLachlan’s Blackbird, stay close to the original, while Ben Harper gives Strawberry Fields Forever psychedelic grit.

Rubber Souled by various artists (1993)

Soul music’s key themes of hope and heartbreak make its artists ideal to reinterpret the works of the Fab Four. This collection also proves just how perfectly adaptable many of The Beatles’ songs are to the genre. Those that feature on this LP are deep, groove-filled renditions of the 1960s band’s biggest hits, and all the big names get involved for the recording. Al Green turns the jaunty I Want to Hold Your Hand into a luscious gospel song, Otis Redding injects a serious dose of funk into Day Tripper, and Wilson Pickett’s roaring vocals, meanwhile, make Hey Jude even more epic.

Yesterday: A Solo Piano Tribute to the Music of the Beatles by Beegie Adair (2008)

A hidden gem. The American jazz pianist may not be a big name, but she is a lovely interpreter on the keys. In this solo piano recording, she takes on a dozen Beatles classics – from Can’t Buy Me Love to Yesterday – and strips them down to their bare essentials. Through her measured and leisurely approach, Adair allows us to focus on The Beatles’ brilliant songwriting arrangements. At all times, Adair is respectful to the characters of the songs: her take on Yesterday is beautifully moving, while her rendition of Michelle is as soothing as it is colourful.

Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band by Easy Star All-Stars (2009)

As the adage goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This New York City band’s dub music interpretations of Radiohead and Pink Floyd gained them an international audience, and so their move to The Beatles’ back catalogue wasn’t exactly surprising. That said, there is a lot to enjoy in their versions of the Fab Four’s masterpiece Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. For one thing, they stripped down many of the psychedelic elements of the record and replaced them with cool dub rhythms and relaxed vocals. The standout track is A Day in the Life, in the hands of these dread heads, it’s smooth and assured.

The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits by The Chipmunks (1964)

This album is what it is, so don’t over-think it: it was created when the animated music group and their high-tuned vocals were popular. Four of their fans were The Beatles themselves, who granted The Chipmunks’ creator – who was a real life human named Ross Bagdasarian – permission to raid their back catalogue and record cover versions of the band’s much-loved hits. The songs chosen on the record, all represent The Beatles’ early material, from albums including Introducing… the Beatles (1963) and Meet the Beatles (1964). Listen and expect nothing more than a fun and zippy affair.


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Updated: November 26, 2018 11:39 AM



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