Trying To Get To You

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stax Hearts The Beatles

The Beatles were my first musical love. After John Lennon was killed in December of 1980, I dug up my older brother and sister’s copies of Revolver, the White Album, Let It Be, Sergeant Pepper and Rubber Soul and I was immediately hooked. They became an obsession, and I was soon reading everything I possibly could about them (my favorite Beatles book remains Philip Norman’s Shout) and rock in general, so my love of the Beatles soon took me to the music that influenced them, mainly 50’s and early 60’s rock, r&b and soul. The first time I ever heard the word Stax was from reading a John Lennon quote about his favorite music.

The Beatles exposed millions of people (like me) to American r&b and soul, and the artists at Stax were grateful for the exposure and enthralled with the Beatles music. And you can hear the Stax artists version of some Beatles classics on the new compilation, Stax Does The Beatles, due out on February 26. Featuring the likes of Booker T. and the MG’s, Isaac Hayes and Carla Thomas, it’s a collection I’m looking forward to getting.

But my favorite r&b cover of a Beatles song is not by a Stax artist, but by Al Green. His version of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” exploded the Beatles version, taking the innocence out of it and making it ridiculously sexy and funky. The horn lines, swelling in the bridge, add something that the Beatles, for all the infectious greatness of their original version, didn’t have.

Download: Al Green "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you're overlooking Otis Redding's Day Tripper! That's a mighty R&B blast. (Mind you, that Al Green tune's no slouch either!)

Randy said...

yes, Al Green's version of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" is amazing. It also has a completely new melody and chord progression from the Beatles' version. It's a new creation, more than a "cover" version. Another example is Nina Simone's version of "Revolution".

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