Brilliant Cover Albums of Beatles

March 1, 2023

By Masamichi Okazaki

Many of the songs by the Beatles more than half a century ago have been covered and performed continuously by many musicians even today. The Beatles’ masterpieces are loved beyond the ages, and does not sound old at all. I have picked out three superb cover albums of such Beatles’ music.

#208 Solo Piano performance by Mehldau—Giving Out Rich Inspiration

Your Mother Should Know / Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles

Your Mother Should Know / Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles
(Nonesuch Warner Music WPCR-18585)

The gentle and beautiful melody flows out endlessly as if it were a classical piece. This is a collection of the Beatles’ works by Brad Mehldau on solo piano just released in February this year (2023). Here, Mehldau freely spins melodies based on inspirations from the Beatles’ songs. The collection does not include the well-known Beatles’ songs such as <Yesterday> and <Hey Jude>, but rather focused on subdued and unknown Beatles’ songs.

Mehldau says that he is attracted to the Beatles’ works because the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms are all innovative, and yet flow naturally without artifact. The Beatles’ <If I Needed Someone> from the album “Rubber Soul,” <For No One>, <She Said She Said>, and <Here, There and Everywhere> from “Revolver,” <I Am the Walrus> and <Your Mother Should Know> from “Magical Mystery Tour,” and <Maxwell’s Silver Hammer> and <Golden Slumbers> from “Abbey Road” are all serene and polished, and the charm of Lennon-McCartney melodies are highlighted once again. Mehldau’s performance is also characterized by the creative lines generated by the strong left-hand touch, and the fabulous balance between his hands is beautifully captured by the fantastic recording.

#209 Cover Album of “Abbey Road” by Young George Benson

The Other Side of Abbey Road / George Benson

The Other Side of Abbey Road / George Benson
(CTI Universal Music UCCU-5930)

The Beatles’ classic album “Abbey Road” was released at the end of September 1969. George Benson’s album, “The Other Side of Abbey Road,” considered as its cover, was recorded quickly from the following October to early November. Although Benson was not yet widely known, it shows how much he empathized with the Beatles’ music and how sensitive he was to the music of the new era. Although there are countless musicians who have picked out and performed the Beatles’ pieces, covering an entire album is not possible without exceptionally strong feelings and confidence. In <Golden>, <Oh! Darling>, <Here Comes the Sun>, and <Something>, Benson also shows his soulful vocals. Benson, who also loves pop and R&B music, is a first-class singer, but this is the first album he has featured his vocals in such a full-fledged way.

In <I Want You>, he also delivers a cool unison of vocals and guitar which later becomes his trademark. Don Sebesky's gorgeous arrangements in the background are also fascinating. The brilliant brass and soft string ensembles bring Benson’s personality to life in an even more thrilling way. George Benson’s first breakthrough as an artist came with the Grammy-winning “Breezin’” in 1976, and I was surprised that he had produced such a pop album a few years earlier. Just as the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” has not aged at all, this remains as one of the albums we should listen to even it was recorded half a century ago.

#210 Delicate and Stylish Martino’s Beatles’ Jazz

The Beatles in Jazz / John Di Martino’s Romantic Jazz Trio

The Beatles in Jazz / John Di Martino’s Romantic Jazz Trio
(Venus Records CD ⇒ VHCD-78198, SACD ⇒ VHGD-196)

John Di Martino, a pianist of Italian descent, is active mainly in New York City, and his melodic touch is attractive. Especially, many of his “Romantic Jazz Trio” performances fully demonstrate his delicate poetic turn of mind. It is pleasant to listen to many subtly-arranged Beatles’ numbers Martino performs, which emerge as delicate sensuous piano trio expressions. <The Fool on the Hill>, written like a gentle ballad, <Because>, which is regarded as the ultimate in delicacy, and the poetic <In My Life>― all of them are graceful and make us realize once again the attractiveness of the Beatles’ melodies.

The popularity of this album led to the production of “The Beatles in Jazz 2” two years later. The quality of the recording by Venus Records is also noteworthy, and the performance of the bassist, Boris Kozlov, and the drummer, Tim Horner, supporting Martino, are captured with truly realistic sound.

About the Author

Masamichi Okazaki

Masamichi Okazaki

Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to “JAZZ JAPAN,” “STEREO,” and others. He joined a big band, “Shiny Stockings,” as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).