Sunday, May 04, 2008

Greatest Beatles Covers: Raffi Plays "Octopus's Garden"!

The Beatles are the most popular band in, like, the world. As such lots of people have covered their songs, or recorded their own little tributes to them. While these "tributes" are usually very nice and respectful (like "Love" or that shitty "Across the Universe" shit) some of them are weird or scary or gross or make no goddamned sense. They are sometimes recorded by people who you wouldn't expect to record Beatles tributes - bands who, on the surface, seem to have little to nothing in common with the Beatles (or bands who really shouldn't have anything to do with them). And of course, they are a lot of fun to listen to, if your tastes are perverted enough.

Here are some I feel I need to discuss here.

The Replacements - Mr. Whirly

It starts off with an out of tune guitar rendition of the mellotron riff in "Strawberry Fields Forever," then blasts into some weird hardcore-punk song about doin' the twist and shakin' like this. So y'know, at first it doesn't sound like a Beatles tribute at all, it just sounds like the band threw in a cute little dig for all the pop music fans out there. But THEN, 40 seconds in - for SOME reason - the song becomes a sloppy version of "Oh! Darlin'" with Paul Westerberg singing weird, alternate lyrics:

"Mr. Whirly, please don't call me
I've been drinking alone
Whirly, please don't follow me home!"

Then the song becomes that weird punk song again. Umm, ok.

I guess this isn't too surprising - the Replacements have always had an odd fascination with the Beatles, something you wouldn't expect from an underground 80's punk band. Their fan-favorite album is called Let It Be, after all, and I've heard that they once covered "Let It Be" live and substituted the lyrics with another song of theirs, "Fuck School." Heh.

Oh, and rather than credit the song to "Lennon/McCartney," the credits just read "mostly stolen." Now that's class, folks.

The Dukes of Stratosphear - The Mole From The Ministry

So the Dukes of Stratosphear were just XTC pretending to be a 60's psychedelic rock band, and they did it really well (buy their albums plz). While most of the Dukes' songs were clever re-workings of 60's psych-rock cliches, "Mole From The Ministry" took things a step further - by completely ripping off "I Am The Walrus". The chorus has almost the exact same backing track, although the melody and lyrics are much simpler, avoiding the dickish faux-Dylan wordplay John Lennon so famously shat out in the original.

To drive things home a bit more, check out the video XTC recorded for the song.


Laibach - Let It Be

OK, it's an insane Slovenian industrial version of the Beatles' entire "Let It Be" album. I mean, Jesus Christ.

Now to be honest, I do not know this album well. I don't have access to it. I only know of its existence 'cuz my friend Luke has it, and he's played it for me, and it's fuckin' loopy. For a little background, Laibach are a Wagnerian electro-industrial band who dress in psuedo-fascist uniforms and write songs that sound like Nazi chants. Now imagine a band like that doing "Two Of Us" and you'll realize why you need to go out and find this album right now if you care about the Beatles at all.

I did manage to find their cover of Across The Universe on Youtube, though. It doesn't really sound very heavy or anything, but it is creepy. Listen to how they pronounce those words, man. SLOVAKIA.

Jesus just look at that album cover, why do people do this

The Beastie Boys - Sound of Science

OK so let's ignore the creepy Beatles tribz for a second and focus on a TOTALLY FUCKING AMAZING Beatles mix, masterminded by some of the greatest rappers ever (along with those crafty Dust Brothers) and found on the classic album Paul's Boutique. The song starts off slow, sampling a barely audible oboe from "When I'm 64", segueing into a weird mid-song jumble with someone shouting "ROPE-A-DOPE" over the crowd noise from the beginning of "Sgt. Pepper's". But then - glory of glories - it consolidates into the back-beat of the "Sgt. Pepper" reprise with the guitar riff from "The End" pasted on top, with the Beasties trading off their usual witty one-liners. It sounds awesome, you can dance to it, and it might be the best Beatles rap sampling ever done, ever (that includes you, Grey Album).

Unfortunately you could never get away with this kind of sampling nowadays without EMI shoving the fork of the law up your spaghetti. Honestly, how the Beasties got away with this - and how the album is still released commercially with all the Beatles samples intact - is bewildering to me. But thank God for it.

Ok... ugh. Enough cool stuff. One more. Here's where it gets weird.

The Residents - The Beatles play The Residents and The Residents play The Beatles

ugh album art

In case you didn't know, the Residents are an avant-garde "rock" band that have been recording weird, insane shit since the early 70's. Their first album was called "Meet The Residents", which featured the exact same album cover as "Meet The Beatles" only with silly drawings all over it. So, yeah, like everyone else in the world they have a weird fascination with the Beatles.

A few years later they released this single. Hoboy. The A-Side is a full-on Beatles collage, somehow managing to make a mix of well-cherished Beatles nuggets sound demonic and frightening. It's a healthy mix - there's a little of Lennon's "Mother", "Mr. Moonlight," a constantly repeating "Tell Me What You See," an insanely looping riff of "Tell Me Why", a slow creepy vocal from "Blue Jay Way," and a bunch of other assorted songs starting and stopping so damn quickly you'd think someone was messing with the knobs on Fucked-Up Residents Radio. Besides the unconventional song choices though, there's a few clips here that you would only expect to hear from the Residents - most notably, Paul McCartney's weird chant of "Please everybody, if we haven't done everything we could have done, we've tried," a mantra which sounds eerily tired and dejected to me, especially surrounded by of all these classic Beatles songs. There's also a smattering of unsettling stage prattle near the end ("This is Johnny Rhythm sayin' goodnight to y'all, and god-blessya!") and a slow, eerie fadeout. The whole thing is just... not right, at all.

And the B-side is the Residents' cover of "Flying." You know "Flying", right? That cute but kinda weird instrumental that Ringo has a credit on? Yeah, that's why they chose it, apparently, 'cuz every Beatle is credited on it. But the Residents' version - ugh man. It starts off with a bunch of creepy, disaffected voices humming the song a-capella with only a tiny, repeating drum beat behind them. Of course, it's not long before frightening synths and evil laughing voices start to creep into the mix. And then - oh lord.

What happens is the song starts to sound kinda nice. For a little bit. Then we hear some creepy Residents voice echoing that now-classic McCartney chant "IF WE HAVEN'T DONE EVERYTHING WE COULD'VE DONE, WE'VE TRIED! HAHAHAHAHA!!" Then, for some reason, the voice skips as if the CD's busted, and the song morphs into the Macy's Day Parade Live from the Ninth Circle of Hell. The laughter heightens, with the "Flying" melody vaguely discernible in a now totally mutated form, and before you know it a chorus of awful circus-y voices are spelling out "F-L-Y-I-N... G!!" in a horrifying chant, over and over.


If you find this single anywhere, buy it. No, fuck that, you'll never find it - just ask me for it. It's on my computer. I don't know how I got it, but I found it, and I want you to hear it. Message me, IM me (I need friends) and I'll send it to you. I guarantee you you'll never hear anything like it, ever, in your life.

To be honest though, I bet John Lennon would get a kick out of this if he were still alive. Hell, the Beatles were a bunch of fucked-up acid tabbers themselves. Watch that video for a little while and it's not long before those limeys start to sound like the Residents themselves - and they recorded this crap on CHRISTMAS singles! For their FAN CLUB!! Jesus Christ! If I were an excited 14-year-old 60's teenybopper, this shit would scare the ever-loving hell out of me.

But seriously, IM me.


Luke said...

Erm, you got it right the first time, but do try to keep Slovenia and Slovakia straight, please. Dick.

Sean Rose said...

same place

Sean Rose said...

all central european countries are exactly the same

Steve said...

if its not america its nowhere

Steve said...

also oingo boingo had a cool version of 'i am the walrus' but i dont think it's that fucked up

Luke said...

Actually, no. Not the same place. I had a horseburger in Slovenia, and I didn't have in in Slovakia. There's your difference.

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