Sunday, October 11, 2009

Glad All Over

Of course we're not talking about that one Dave Clark Five song that tends to get overplayed on oldies radio station. No way. We're talking about a Beatles song, and since this is our last HarriSunday together, and since we're spending a few days talking covers, we're taking a look back at George's idol, Carl Perkins, the king of rockabilly. This "Glad All Over" is the single that Perkins released in 1957 (backed with "Lend Me Your Comb"), and which the Beatles recorded a couple times for their live BBC radio shows. One of those versions made it onto Live at the BBC, lucky us! But let's start out by listening to Carl's version. It rules.

Carl Perkins was a huge influence on the Beatles generally, but particularly on George, whose own early guitar solos have a total Perkins-esque bright, jangly quality to them. The band went on to cover a couple other Perkins songs in their commercial recordings, "Honey Don't" and "Matchbox," but more importantly (I think) they brought a touch of the rockabilly sound to a lot of their early work, thanks largely to George's Perkins-inspired guitar work. It's just such a cornerstone of what one thinks of as the Beatles sound, isn't it?

Anyway, here's the Beatles' "Glad All Over," with George freaking tearing up the lead vocal.

I mean, it's funny, almost, to hear this country-fried little number sung with such gusto by George and his super-thick Liverpudlian accent, but damn, it's so rad too. Note that the Beatles have actually slowed this down a bit, which seems to make this an exception to my theory that in most cases the Beatles speed up the tempo of the songs they cover to make them more manic and rocking. Here, though, slowing down the almost bluegrass-esque quick talkiness of Perkins' original actually does make it more rocking-- it's just that in this case they had to slow it down a bit for it to sound more like rock and roll and less overtly country. That's what makes sense in my head, anyway.

But this is another early song in which George almost surprises you with his kickass singing. John is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing rock vocalists who ever lived, and Paul has an appealing sweetness to his tone and wicked good intonation-- plus, he's got that Little Richard scream thing that he can pull out at a moment's notice. Compared to these two, George comes off less strongly, and it didn't help that early on the band gave him vocals on teenybopper bait like "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" and so forth. You have to go even earlier than the commercial recordings to hear that George had a great, rough-around-the-edges vocal style all his own, the kind of style that makes you not really give a damn how out of tune he might be. Here on "Glad All Over" he's so good I want to scream. There's that adorable little yee-hah flip he does with his voice on the chorus, for one thing, and then too each time he starts a verse up there at the top of his range is sounds almost giddy. Oh, and the end, when they repeat the chorus as loud as they can, it's George leading the whole band along to a banding, crashing end. It so rules.

Unsurprisingly, George's guitar work in this song also rules, each note played with palpable affection for Carl Perkins. Everyone else backs up George nicely, but more than on most songs, you get the feeling George just owns this one-- that it's his turn to be the bandleader. (It's probably just because there aren't any backup vocals that I get this vibe, but I swear there's also an element to the sound that makes George sound totally in control, if that makes sense.) Everyone's having fun, though, especially Ringo-- check out the way he drives the song in the instrumental break without ever losing control over the beat of the thing. Classic Ringo awesomeness. But most of all, this one belongs to George, and in my opinion, he bests his idol handily. Fantastic live song for them, for sure.

"Glad All Over," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 2 track 15 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994.


  1. I guess I'm just not a fan of George's voice on these early covers. It's fun to hear his pronunciation of things but his actual singing voice just lacks something, to me. I listen to this and I hear a singer struggling to get the words out. Feels like he's going to trip over his tongue any minute. Whereas John and Paul always sound like they're in charge of a song, George often sounds like the song is in charge of him. I don't his Roll Over Beethoven either.

  2. Interesting, but kind of well-put. See, on Live at the BBC I generally I feel like his delivers vocals that he never quite manages on the first few albums. I have this feeling that being in the studio on might have made him nervous or something. Me, I dig this one, myself, because he DOES sound in charge to me-- but you're right, the Roll Over Beethoven on With the Beatles lacks something.

  3. you should check THIS version out -it's audio only - but the video is absolutely awesome if you can find it (it's on old-fashioned DVD)

    george steps in to prompt carl on the vocals