“Yesterday” is considered the most-covered popular song of all time, but might The Beatles also be the most-covered band of the rock era? I’ll leave that one to the Guinness folks, but needless to say, there are thousands of cover versions of songs introduced by The Fab Four, most of which were written under the “Lennon and McCartney” umbrella. On June 7, Ace will release a follow-up to its acclaimed 2010 collection How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan, turning the spotlight onto the much-covered catalogue of the boys from Liverpool.
Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney brings together 24 such examples. While this may be considered a soul compilation in the broadest sense, the songs encompass a wide variety of genres: blues, gospel, pop and funk among them. The artists selected are a virtual “Who’s Who” of popular music: Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Little Richard, “Fifth Beatle” Billy Preston, and lesser-known but no less respected artists like Maxine Brown, Mary Wells, The Chairmen of the Board and The Main Ingredient.
As is expected from Ace, there are many rare treats awaiting discovery. Mary Wells makes a post-Motown appearance with “Please Please Me” while Scepter/Wand goddess Maxine Brown implores, “We Can Work It Out.” Chubby Checker takes on The White Album with a 1969 recording of “Back in the USSR” on the Buddah label, and the sweet soul harmonies of The Moments enliven “Rocky Raccoon” from that same seminal Beatles set. “Paperback Writer” shows that there was more to R.B. Greaves than “Take a Letter, Maria,” while the Chairmen of the Board appear with the title track, “Come Together.”
Come Together features versions of The Beatles’ first major U.S. hit (“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” courtesy Al Green) and their last (“The Long and Winding Road,” via The New Birth). More than one half of the tracks are from the period between 1965 and 1969; the earliest cut is Wells’ “Please Please Me” (1964) and the latest is “The Long and Winding Road” (1976). (The B-side of Wells’ single was actually the “My Guy” girl’s take on “I Should Have Known Better.”) Ace’s tribute is only appropriate as The Beatles openly admitted their great debt to the music of Black America.
Hit the jump for the complete track listing plus discographical annotation for each track. Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney is due in the U.K. on June 7 and in the U.S. shortly thereafter.
Various Artists, Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney (Ace, 2011)
- I Want to Hold Your Hand – Al Green (Hi single 2159, 1969)
- Back in the USSR - Chubby Checker (Buddah single BDA/100, BUD 5203, 1969)
- We Can Work It Out - Maxine Brown (Wand single 1128, 1966)
- Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey - Fats Domino (Reprise single RS-20810, 1969)
- Ticket to Ride - Wee Willie Walker (Goldwax single 329,1967)
- Good Day Sunshine - Roy Redmond (Loma single 2075, 1967)
- Please Please Me – Mary Wells (20th Century single 619, 1964)
- Eleanor Rigby - Gene Chandler (Brunswick single 55413, 1969)
- And I Love Her - The Vibrations (Okeh single 4-7257, 1966)
- Come Together - Chairmen Of The Board (Invictus LP ST-7300, 1970)
- Blackbird - Billy Preston (A&M single 1411, 1973)
- Paperback Writer - R.B. Greaves (Atlantic U.K. single 2091-170, 1971)
- Rocky Raccoon - The Moments (Stang LP ST-1003, 1970)
- Drive My Car - Black Heat (Atlantic 3258, 1975)
- Lady Madonna - Junior Parker (Capitol LP ST-564, 1970)
- Help! - David Porter (Stax single 2025-143, 1971)
- Yesterday – Linda Jones (Loma single 2099, 1968)
- Day Tripper (Alternate Take 4) - Otis Redding (rec. 1966, previously unreleased)
- Why Don’t We Do It in the Road - Lowell Fulson (Jewel single 802, 1969)
- I Saw Her Standing There - Little Richard (Reprise LP RS-6406, 1970)
- Don’t Let Me Down - Donald Height (Jubilee single 5671, 1969)
- Get Back - The Main Ingredient (RCA single 74-0252, 1969)
- The Long and Winding Road - The New Birth (Warner Bros. LP BS-2953, 1976)
- Let It Be – Aretha Franklin (Atlantic single 2751, 1970)