10 Beatles Covers from Alternative/ Indie/ Punk Artists
The 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ debut in the United States is upon us and it has everyone buzzing. Of course, the most common way for bands to pay tribute to other bands is via the cover song. Last week, Lauryn Hill, the Flaming Lips (with Sean Lennon), Sting, Lenny Kravitz, and Broken Bells have each gone on Letterman and performed Beatles’ songs, covering “Something“, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds“, “Drive My Car“, “Get Back“, and “And I Love Her“, respectively (videos linked). Covering the Beatles goes way back, and some Beatles covers have gone on to become classics in and of themselves, such as Joe Cocker’s rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends” and Jimi Hendrix’ “Sgt’ Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Not all covers are classics – most are pretty bad – but many alternative and indie artists have pulled off some pretty good versions of their own. In the spirit of Beatle-mania, I present some Beatles covers that are sometimes overlooked, all from artist that 2bitmonkey enjoys:
- “Dear Prudence” performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees. This cover of the White Album classic gets its own radio play, and from just one listen you can understand why. Siouxsie Sioux manages to increase the already high intensity level of the original as you can hear the pain in her voice, while the song never loses the dream-like state of the original. Robert Smith of the Cure lends a hand as lead guitarist, as an all-star was needed in every spot for this cover.
- “Wild Honey Pie” performed by the Pixies. Another White Album cover, this one gets the full scream treatment by the Pixies as the opening track on their compilation of BBC radio sessions, Pixies at the BBC. A great rendition of the song that Pixies fans will love. Non-Pixies fans may find this version an abomination, but this is their problem, not mine!
- “Happiness is a Warm Gun” performed by the Breeders. Need more Kim Deal performing the Beatles? Like with Wild Honey Pie, fans of the singer will wholeheartedly embrace this cover. You can find it on their album Pod.
- “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” performed by the Feelies. I swear that there were non-White Album songs as well, but I guess for some reason the best of the best come from there. This song deserves a little punk-ification and the Feelies nail it. It appears on their album Crazy Rhythms.
“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” performed by Pearl Jam. I have a love/hate relationship with Pearl Jam (as many fans of alternative music do) but this is Eddie Vedder at his very best. Just the way he sings the “Hey!” represents everything that is good about Vedder. Listen, and I assure you that by the end you’ll be singing along. The song appears on the I Am Sam soundtrack, which is a collection of Beatles covers.
- “Michelle” performed by Rubblebucket. Never heard of Rubblebucket? You should. They’re an indie-dance band out of Brooklyn, but they’re much more than that. Because they’re a seven-piece band playing a wide variety of instruments, you never know what direction a Rubblebucket song will take you down, except that it will inevitably be catchy. This cover was named by Paste Magazine as one of the top 50 Beatles covers of all time.
- “Come Together” performed by the Butthole Surfers. They mangle the lyrics and wreak havoc with their instruments as only the Butthole Surfers can. Despite this, they manage to maintain the integrity of this Abbey Road classic. I would have been ecstatic to have seen the Buttholes perform this one live.
- “Helter Skelter” performed by Hüsker Dü. It seems like everyone has covered Helter Skelter, from U2 to Oasis to Marilyn Manson. (Seriously, there is an entire website dedicated solely to covers of this one song.) I picked up the Hüskers version as one of 3 songs on the “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely” 12″ maxi-single at a record show last year. It’s probably not the best of the many covers of this song, but a must-listen for Hüsker Dü completists like me.
- “Something” performed by Radiohead. It’s a little bit surprising that this is the only Beatles cover from Radiohead floating around. I could imagine Radiohead hitting it out of the park on a wide variety of Beatles tunes, from ballads like this one to more psychadelic music like we hear on Sgt. Pepper’s. On Something, the band stays fairly faithful to the original, which can be difficult when copying a band as great as the Fab Four, but Radiohead has the chops to pull it off.
- “Back in the USSR” performed by the Dead Kennedys. This one appears on the DK’s album Live at the Deaf Club and is pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be. This is the Beatles turned into hardcore punk. The DKs were never my favorite punk band but it’s hard not to like this rendition if you’re a fan of punk music.