Just in time (well four months early, actually) for the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four‘s groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, MOJO‘s March issue devotes somewhere around 20 pages to the album — including its creation, the frenzy it caused, how they shot the album cover, that final crashing chord, and more. Like most people, I went through an intense Beatles phase where they were all I listened to and read about. Still, there were things here that I didn’t know about.
Of most interest, though, is the included CD that has various current bands covering Sgt. Pepper in its entirety. Some of them are a little too reverent (747s’ "Fixing a Hole," Bikeride‘s "…Mr. Kite") and Chin Up Chin Up try too hard to mess with "When I’m 64" — though they obviously drew the short straw and I’m not sure how you can win with that one.
But there are actually a couple real winners here. Scotland’s Unkle Bob take the string-laden "She’s Leaving Home" and give it a shoegaze treatment; and "Lovely Rita" becomes garage rock worth of Nuggets in the hands of Dave Cloud & the Gospel of Power. But the real shocker is Captain‘s take on "A Day in the Life." It’s must’ve been a daunting task covering that one, but they were clearly up to job — neither reinventing the wheel nor sticking too close to the script. It sounds like a real band playing the song, a version that sounds like could actually be played live.
Still, these are novelties. The Beatles catalog is well-known, so scrutinized, so ingrained in the public consciousness that for me nearly every song has been overplayed. I can’t think of a single Beatles cover that I actual seek out and listen to, though there’s got to be one I guess. Liabach‘s "Across the Universe"? The Fall‘s take on "A Day in the Life" or The Wedding Present‘s version of "Getting Better" — both from NME’s 1987 tribute album, Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father? I guess Siouxsie & the Banshees‘ version of "Dear Prudence" is pretty great. Is there an obvious one I’m missing?