Thirteen Best “Day Tripper” Covers

1. Cheap Trick. I heard the band do this in a concert at the Orpheum in Boston well before a different  live version was released on their Found All the Parts EP in 1980. It blew my mind. Cheap Trick often did covers, but to actually do a Beatles song at the time was significant. This was the apotheosis of the  Power Pop movement, and it was considered far cooler to do fairly obscure covers of British bands or ‘60s garage acts than actually acknowledge the band to which every single Power Pop band owed its largest debt. It’s also a riff that fit Rick Nielsen’s wild-yet-precise live playing style perfectly. (Cheap Trick, of course, went on to work with John Lennon in 1980 and, in 2010, cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirely with orchestral backing.)

2. Nancy Sinatra. Instead of guitars, the riff is handled first by a brass section, then by a chorus of go-go dancers. And she growls it like “Boots.”

3. Otis Redding. He uses horns too. And seems genuinely perturbed to have “found out.”

4. The Fleshtones. Soaring instrumental rave-up, one of many uncanny Fleshtones recreations of a ‘60s Northwest frat party soundtrack.

5. Jimi Hendrix. On the BBC Sessions. Strips it down to garage essentials: “Can you hear me now?

6. Ramsey Lewis. The pianist attacks it in a manner similar to his biggest pop hit, “The In Crowd.”

7. Yellow Magic Orchestra. Messes with the Beatles timeline and does it in a psychedelic “Strawberry Fields” style.

8. Capital Gain. A consummate try-something-a-little-new local band cover for the largely extraordinary Boston Does the Beatles double-album in 1988.

9. Mongo Santamaria. The horns take the riff again, with a cha cha beat and an active dialogue among keyboards, saxophone and trumpets.

10. Daniel Ash. The riff and beat becomes the Goth undercurrent of a downbeat confessional.

11. Mae West. She acts it to the hilt, actually becoming the Day Tripper herself: “I’m a big teaser/I took him half the way there.” Produced by the great tin pan alley scholar and ukulele popsmith Ian Whitcomb.

12. Booker T and the M.G.s. Unending delights. The guitar part comes out from under the riff and plays a transformative blues solo. The rest of the band vamps on the basic melody, as a unit.

Tied for 13: Sham 69 and Bad Brains. Inventive live versions that nonetheless share a “guess you had to be there” vibe.

Five Worst: James Taylor, Anne Murray, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Lulu, Type O Negative.

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