Today is Global Beatles Day, an annual online event organized by Faith Cohen that gives people around the world a chance to wax philosophical or just say something pleasant about the most important band in rock and roll history. Musicians have been honoring The Beatles with tribute albums for a long time now. Here’s a look at a few noteworthy efforts.
MOJO Magazine: Beatlemania/Volume 1. The super hip UK magazine always has a free CD stuck to its front cover, although the quality of these collections varies. This one from the September 2004 issue succeeds quite nicely by gathering a variety of American artists to interpret The Beatles in their native genres. Thus you have The Dillards and Charles River Valley Boys bringing toe-tapping Country and Western arrangements to “Yesterday” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face,” respectively; Detroit Emeralds elevating “And I Love Her” with gospel singing, and Billy Preston offering a funky instrumental take on “Eight Days A Week.” As a power pop/1960s aficionado, I’m drawn to The Posies’ “I’m Looking Through You,” The Cyrkle’s “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You,” and The Cryan Shames’ “If I Needed Someone.”
He Was Fab - A Loving Tribute To George Harrison. The artists on this 2002 Jealousy Records CD tend toward power pop, and they all hit the mark with their tributes to the quiet Beatle. The Drowners’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” gets things off to the a rocking start, and there’s fine work from Chris Richards, Phil Angotti and The Idea, Sparkle *Jets UK, The Lolas, Lisa Mychols, Jamie Hoover, and 13 other artists.
Listen To What The Man Said. Released on OGLIO Records in conjunction with Coming Up! in 2001, this tribute has popular artists like Semisonic, Robin Hitchcock, The Minus 5, Matthew Sweet, They Might Be Giants, Sloan, The Finn Brothers, World Party, and Judybats covering songs from Paul McCartney’s solo career. Tracks include “Band On The Run,” “My Brave Face,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and “Too Many People,” but surprisingly, “Listen To What The Man Said” is not included.
Coming Up! The bookend to Listen To What The Man Said, this OGLIO Records effort has independent artists like The Jelly Bricks, The Shazam, Starbelly, and The Masticators recording McCartney tunes. It has “Mull Of Kintyre,” “Helen Wheels,” and “Another Day.” “Coming Up,” by the way, is on the Listen To What The Man Said collection.
Fruits de Mer Records - Various Compilations. This UK vinyl-only indie label excels at bringing in current psyche and prog rock bands to cover classics from the 1960s. That includes mind-bending versions of Beatles songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” by Rob Gould, “Within You, Without You” by Jack Ellister, and “If I Needed Someone” by Stay.
Thanks to Faith Cohen for organizing this event; to the bands and record labels that given us the tribute albums; and all the musicians around the world who include Beatles songs in their live performances.
Have A Happy Global Beatles Day.