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August 14 2022 4:39 PM ˚
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Beatles covers that are guaranteed to please

Jean Claude Elias
Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years. (Photo: Jordan News)
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A search on the audio streaming platforms for instrumental covers of the Beatles’ most famous songs returns a very large number of tracks. Which is understandable for, after all, the major part of the group’s extensive catalog indeed consists of famous songs, of mega-hits, to use the industry’s preferred term to describe best-selling music. The English band’s recordings are now beyond passing trends and have become a global, true, musical cultural heritage.اضافة اعلان

How good are these cover tracks, and do they do justice to the celebrated group? How pleasant are they to listen to?

It is difficult to review or discuss in only one story all the Beatles’ covers that have been released since they split in 1970, given the high number, and variety of styles and arrangements that have been made to date. If we look, for example, at those done on piano, Carl Doy, the British-born New Zealander pianist would first come to mind, with his exquisite selection, tasteful arrangements and interpretation of several songs written by the Beatles.

But for now, let me just focus on the guitar-based covers, the guitar being the one instrument that surely represents the band best.

A playlist exceeding 60 pieces was compiled after the search. It featured a mix of 10 different musicians and groups, with the most remarkable amongst them being Stephen Bennett, Notis Mavroudis, Pedro Javier Gonzalez, the Guitar Tribute Players, the Yoyo International Orchestra, and the United Guitar Players. The quality, the appeal of these Beatles’ covers on guitar vary a little, not only from one performer to another, but also from one song to another, even amongst those played by the same performer.

Canadian Stephen Bennett’s rendition of “Here, there and everywhere” is the most beautiful of them all. It also happens that the song is one of the greatest compositions by the Beatles. Bennett smartly manages to keep the subtlety of the melody and of the harmonies. He plays naturally, simply, without adding any useless frills, keeping the same original chords and soft tone. The way he does “Hello goodbye” comes as a good, though not particularly impressive, interpretation.

Pedro Javier Gonzalez is a Spanish flamenco virtuoso. His contribution here is invaluable. With “Get back”, “And I love her”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Drive my car”, “Help”, “I need you”, “Let it be”, “Michelle” and “Norwegian wood”, the musician truly makes the best out of his acoustic guitar, both in terms of arrangements and interpretation. He just injects a little, a gentle, dose of flamenco, mainly in the rhythms, while maintaining the feeling of the original song. His rendition of “And I love her” is particularly beautiful and shows genuine inspiration. Gonzalez understands two things very well: the guitar and the Beatles.

The Guitar Tribute Players bring us “All you need is love” – by far their best cover – “Can’t buy me love”, “I want to hold your hand”, “The long and winding road”, “Something”, “While my guitar gently weeps” and “With a little help from my friends”. All are pleasantly done, but only the first one can be considered great.

Greek guitar maestro Notis Mavroudis does a sweet rendition of “Girl”. It is interesting to note that the original number by the Beatles was already written and played with a noticeable Greek flavor, most likely intentionally. This is confirmed in a Wikipedia article: “The song's instrumentation has specific similarities to Greek music”. Indeed, the back beat as well as the way the 12-string guitar sounds conjure up echoes of Greek music. Mavroudis also plays his own version of “Honey Pie”.

The Yoyo International Orchestra does a cover of “You’ve got to hide your love away”, and the United Guitar Players of “She loves you”.

Instrumental covers of well-known, highly successful pop songs have been fashionable for years. These are usually rearranged for easy listening and bet on your musical memory to get you to remember the original songs, to go reminiscing, and to enjoy them again and again, though somewhat with a slightly different sonic flavor.

For the musicians doing the cover, the operation is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they know that the popularity of the original is likely to help attract listeners and ensure a successful outcome, on the other, rearranging and playing a Beatles song while preserving its intrinsic beauty and spirit is a big challenge, one that not all musicians can meet.

Most of the above-mentioned covers meet this challenge fairly well, and are guaranteed to please you, even if you are not a Beatles fan or have never heard the original songs.

Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.

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