We've Got You Covered - 15 Great Beatle Covers

A Selection of Some of the Very Best Beatle Cover Versions

The Best Beatle Cover Versions
The originals reinterpreted. Which Beatles cover versions would be on your list of the best?. Getty Images - Mario Tama

OK. First things first. This is a personal list. There'll be lots of disagreement no doubt about the songs included, and of course songs that have been left off. The reason is there are just so many great cover versions of Beatle songs to choose from. Making one, definitive list is impossible.

So, here goes. In no particular order....   

1. Earth Wind and Fire  "Got to Get You Into My Life" In the article 10 More of the Best Beatle Love Songs we said this song can have two meanings: a song in praise of marijuana, or just another exuberant Paul McCartney statement about true love.

Or maybe both....Either way, this funky interpretation by Earth Wind and Fire has really stood the test of time. It is also included here in memory of the late Maurice White, founder of the band.

2. Stevie Wonder "We Can Work It Out" While we’re on the subject of cool, funky versions of Beatle songs, who could go past this one? Released by The Beatles in 1965, Stevie's version was included on his 1970 album Signed Sealed Delivered. No question. It is one of the best covers ever of this song.

3. Wes Montgomery "Eleanor Rigby" Time for a complete change of pace now, and also an instrumental interpretation. Montgomery is one of the great American jazz guitarists. This is taken from his 1967 album A Day in the Life (with orchestral arrangements by Don Sebesky). It is smooth, sophisticated and classy. 

4. Joe Cocker "With a Little Help From My Friends" When Joe Cocker first performed this as part of his 1969 debut album of the same name, he put his stamp on the song.

When he followed it up with definitive live versions at Woodstock, and then included it in his Mad Dogs and Englishmen concerts (and the subsequent legendary film of those gigs released to great acclaim in 1971), he cemented an enduring association with this arrangement.

5. Esther Phillips "And I Love Him" Over the years Beatle songs have been covered by millions of artists, but what does Paul McCartney himself list as some of his own favourites?

When asked in early 2016 to name just a couple he said, "There’s an early version of "And I Love Her", it’s called "And I Love Him" by Esther Phillips. I remember really liking that". Phillips' version was released on the Atlantic label in 1965. 

6. Ray Charles "Eleanor Rigby" Another Paul-nominated fave. This song has to be, behind "Yesterday", one of the most covered Beatle songs of all time. Ray Charles issued this version as a single in 1968. It also appeared on his album A Portrait of Ray

7. Marvin Gaye "Yesterday" Another song nominated by Paul McCartney as a personal favourite from all the many interpretations of this, his most-covered of all songs. Gaye recorded "Yesterday" for his 1970 LP That's The Way Love Is. Gaye takes ownership of it in his own inimitable style.

8. Elvis Costello "Penny LaneCostello just nails this live version (performed before none other than President Obama, and Paul McCartney himself, at the White House - no pressure). The amazing piccolo trumpet solos are by Master Sergeant Matthew Harding of the President’s own United States Marine Band. It was recorded at a concert honouring McCartney in 2010 when was awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel and Willie Nelson.

9. St Vincent "Dig A Pony" Another live version, and all the better for it. This John Lennon song dates back to 1969 and was first released on The Beatles Let It Be album in 1970. Annie Clark’s solo guitar version was recorded at the All Points West Festival in 2009.

10. Alison Kraus "I Will" First heard on The Beatles White Album in 1968, Kraus’s version re-interprets this Paul McCartney tune with a gentle banjo/bluegrass take that just works.

11. Ritchie Havens "Here Comes the Sun" How different is this version? Richie Havens had the honour of being the opening act at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. He performed a couple of Beatle songs ("With A Little Help From My Friends" and "Strawberry Fields Forever"), but this 1970 interpretation, done in his typical open tuning style, is one that stuck.

12. Nina Simone "Here Comes The Sun" And now for a completely different version – Nina Simone's approach to this song could not be more of a contrast to Richie Havens', but it still taps into the beauty at the core of George Harrison's original. Lovely.

13. Regina Spector "Real Love" John Lennon's "Real Love", as covered by Regina Spektor for the fund-raiser album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. This has always been favourite as a Beatle song. Spector's version is a good one too.

14. Jimi Hendrix "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" This is the very first cover ever of this song. Hendrix performed it live on stage - just two days after the most famous of Beatle albums was first released - at the Saville Theater in London on June 4 1967, and with a couple of real-life Beatles actually in the audience. Quite audacious really. Sadly, there's no film or audio of that show. This clip comes from December 22, 1967 at London's Olympia Theater. As Jimi warns before he kicks it off: “Watch out for your ears! Watch out for your ears!”

15. Los Manolos "All My Loving" Of course there are some cover versions that are so bad, they are good! Los Manolas has to qualify, surely. What more needs to be said?