If you were to play only the first two notes of this song, most music fans would know what follows. That sort of skill takes extreme knowledge of the craft and profound individualism so that both can be distilled down to a level of accessibility and an easily recognisable sound. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
‘Come Together’ is a track so perfectly sophisticated that it barely even feels pretentious quoting da Vinci to say as much. The absurdist’s lyrics that follow are a high point of many in the back catalogue of John Lennon. And the song not only sets up the album that follows but helped The Beatles shape the sound of the future once more.
On paper, it might sound pretty hard to reinvent simplicity, but that hasn’t stopped a plethora of acts from trying over the years. Below, we’re looking at the six best efforts – from like-for-like send-ups to interesting embellishments – these are the five best covers of ‘Come Together’.
The five best covers of The Beatles song ‘Come Together’:
Ike and Tina Turner (1970)
Covering a track when its original release was still in memory was all the rage in the 1960s and early 1970s; such was the celebration of great music, it seemed more like a fanfare than an act of one-upmanship. Only 16 months after The Beatles had unleashed their sultry rollicking effort, Ike and Tina Turner were on the bandwagon and calling out full speed ahead.
The track is one that yearns for a bracing attitude, and very few duos can provide more of that in music history than the troubled pairing of Ike and Tina. Tina lends the sort of rousing vocal take that could shift clouds, while Ike’s inimitable guitar tone adds a visceral cutting edge.
Sarah Vaughan (1981)
Sarah Vaughan’s jazz vibrato vocal style has been butchered by a thousand shoddy imitations over the years, but every time you dip into her back catalogue you are reminded that it was worth the wave of faeces facsimiles that followed.
Weirdly, for her 1981 version of ‘Come Together’, she was joined by Toto in the studio. It is more faithful to the original than you might expect from the ‘Africa’ band, and, if anything, the few unexpected touches of synth organ sounds are crisply refreshing.
Smokin’ Mojo Filters (1995)
The Smokin’ Mojo Filters cover of the song was no doubt helped along by the fact that Paul McCartney was in the studio, as he joined Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Steve Cradock, Steve White and Carleen Anderson for a charity single.
The supergroup mixes up guitar tones for a strange mix of soul and Oasis-esque sound. Aside from that, the track is pretty close to the original effort in terms of the arrangement. The studio sound might not be all that refined but a cracking vocal and backing vocal take makes up for any lack of cohesion in other areas.
Joe Cocker (2007)
If Tina Turner’s voice fits the bill, then it only stands to reason that Joe Cocker’s rasping Yorkshire tones would do just the same. Having previously bettered The Beatles with his version of ‘With a Little from My Friends’, he set out to do the same one more.
This time, however, he set about it in a more eclectic manner. This song has a Tom Waits-styled jazzy vibe to it celebrating in the sparsity of the original effort. It might not have the same walloping energy of the original, but it is testimony to the track that even in 2007 people were finding new ways to mould it.
Arctic Monkeys (2012)
It is quite a rare thing for a younger generation to be honoured to be British, but in 2012 Arctic Monkeys delivered a healthy dose of pride. That alone is no mean feat, but this performance itself will live long in the memory of those who watched the London Olympics opening ceremony.
The Sheffield rockers didn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, they just threw a kitchen sink’s worth of gusto at the original. A few minor embellishments to the guitar solo did enough to add a twist of lime and the rest of it went down with thunderous ease. It is a rare thing indeed for the performance of a single track to be remembered by so many, but this was a moment to savour forevermore.