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Monday, 16 March 2009

Cover Track #10

While watching one of many of the recent Motown documentaries, there were some great insights into the nature of covers in the early/mid 60s, and specifically the Beatles' covers of Motown tracks. On their 1963 album, With The Beatles, there were three Motown covers - Money, You Really Got A Hold On Me and Please Mister Postman.

Watching the documentary on the 1965 Motown tour of the UK, there are some really interesting talking heads, and they make the point that these covers of black US soul music, including the Motown tracks, were tracks that most people didn't really realise were covers. In the UK at that point, Motown hadn't taken root, and it was only a couple of pirate radio stations that played their music, and so buyers of the Beatles records were mostly unaware that these tracks were covers because they hadn't heard them before. The fact that the whole area of 'covers' was much more murky back then than it is now was presumably also a big factor. But like Paul McCartney says on the show, "not everyone was a connoisseur", so most people didn't know.

Another interesting comment came from a guy who was a teenager in the 60s, and he remembers that when he expressed a certain irritation at these covers at the time, he was seen as being a pretty eccentric by his friends. But as he puts it, why the hell would you want to hear the Rolling Stones doing Can I Get A Witness? when you had Marvin Gaye's original version?

It's a great documentary and in this Motown 50th anniversary year is bound to repeated again on BBC somewhere. My favourite non-cover related bit is a great story from Martha Reeves about being introduced to Guinness. It's probably the best doc I've seen in the recent batch, so well worth you seeking out.

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