Admiral “Recovers” The Beatles; or, A Genre Waiting to Be Named

DEVIN McKINNEY  •  You have your cover versions of Beatles songs, and then you have your “recovers”—songs rendered as The Beatles would have done them, had they done them completely differently, or, in some cases, at all. One of the earliest and best entries in this imaginative and as-yet unnamed subgenre was It’s Four You (1994), by Australian soundalikes The Beatnix, which recovered, in authentic Beatlesque, Lennon-McCartney songs written for others. Apple Jam’s 2012 EP On the Wings of a Nightingale likewise restyled three songs by solo Beatles in various Beatles and post-Beatles styles. (AJ’s previous album, 2009’s Off the Beatle Track, was a second go at the Beatnix concept, using a mostly identical lineup of songs.) The result is not a cover band’s replication of the familiar, but a recovery of Fab sound and intent in places where, for one historical reason or another, it was never applied.

Just down the pipeline and into the mix of this genre waiting to be named is Please Please Me & 2 Other Songs, an EP by Admiral, on the Sound of the Sea label. Comprising Alan Grandy, Jeff Harmon, Marky Ray, and Chris Solt—former members of bands the terrible parade and/or Sputnik—Admiral takes the novel tack of recording three songs from the Beatles’ first album in different, but apposite, style.

According to the band’s blurb, the seed lay in John Lennon’s comment (seconded by Paul in the Anthology) that “Please Please Me” had been his “attempt to write a Roy Orbison song”—something slow and cumulative, with dramatic stops and starts, and quite different from the up-tempo power-popper conceived and urged into being by George Martin, which topped the UK charts and really set the boulder of history rolling. “A Taste of Honey” and “There’s a Place” are likewise subjected by Admiral to revision, restyling, and general “re”-ification, a la The Shadows and The Everly Brothers, respectively.

Sounds not bad at all to these ears. This genre attracts some imaginative people; someone should come up with a full listing of “recovery” species bred under the Beatle genus. (Where’s a taxonomist when you need one?)

Admiral’s songs may be sampled or purchased for download through Band Camp.



7 Comments

  1. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    The Beatnix also did a clever early-Beatles treatment of Stairway To Heaven

    • Avatar J.R. Clark wrote:

      Thanks, Sam! I gained a greater appreciation for Stairway to Heaven once the song was freed from Robert Plant’s irritating vocal mannerisms. Now I would love to hear a Beatle version of Misty Mountain Hop with John taking the “Walking in the park just the other day baby” and Paul taking the “Whaddya think I saw–aww-aww?”

  2. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Lennon/McCartney compositions, recorded once by the Beatles and then abandoned forever on their albums, deserve recovers. So many other (less creative) bands kept revisiting their old material because they had little new to offer. John & Paul were so full of new material… a lesser band would have released three new versions of “In Spite Of All The Danger” or “How Do You Do It” out of desperation.
    One thing about the Beatles, they never looked back; they kept rolling forward. This is a testament to their creativity but at the same time, many brilliant songs were left orphaned in old playlists. The “recover” artists are doing a great job of rescuing these tracks, dusting them off and showing them in a new light. It reminds me of what Bryan Ferry did with some of his old songs, re-imagining them as scratchy 1920s jazz recordings. I have to assume John would have loved what Admiral did with his songs. More power to these recover artists. They let me appreciate the Beatles even more.

  3. Avatar Alan Grandy wrote:

    Devin – thank you for your kind words and for checking this out; Sam – that you feel that John would’ve dug this totally made my day/week/etc…
    Cheers!

  4. Avatar G.C. Fields wrote:

    Here’s a lovely example of a favorite Beatles “recover” — a rendition of “Yesterday” as performed by the Creams, which first saw the light of day on a mid-Nineties Fabs tribute album called Without the Beatles. The band featured Alan Jenkins, who was a member of the British new wave combo the Deep Freeze Mice and was later in the Chrysanthemums (a group that belongs in some sort of hall of fame just for titling one of their songs “I Wish Marvin Gaye’s Father Had Shot Me Instead”).

    What pleases me about this particular arrangement of one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded popular music is that the Creams give it a spot-on uptempo Beatles ’65 full-band treatment:

    http://youtu.be/EHcdIh495HE

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