If imitation is a sign of flattery, the Beatles should feel very flattered as their famous Abbey Road album cover has been imitated many times. Here we will take a look at 10 of the best imiations of the Abbey Road cover.
Abbey Road was the last album the Beatles recorded but not the last one to be released (that honour going to Let It Be) but as a finale to the bands career it is right up there. The second half of the album may have been nothing short of a glorified amalgamation of unfinished songs but it still works. It was the album that saw George Harrison’s songs truly being accepted as being as good as anything Lennon or McCartney had to over. It even found a place for one of only two songs written by Ringo Starr – Octopuss’s Garden (the other one, fact fans, was Don’t Pass Me By from the White Album). But we are not here to talk about the music – let’s leave that until another day. Here we will be looking at the album cover, one that has gone down in history as one of the best.
Abbey Road – The Beatles
Famously, this album cover has gone down in history for many reasons. One of which is the amount of alleged clues on the album to the whole ‘Paul is Dead’ hoax. (For more information: Click Here). Another reason is because it has been imitated so often. Here we will take a look at some of the famous ‘spoofs’ of the Abbey Road cover.
Paul Is Live – Paul McCartney
Nowhere better to start than with a Beatle himself. As noted above, there were allegedly clues on the Abbey Road cover about the death of Paul McCartney. Well this cover from one of his solo albums is meant to poke fun at the original. This solo album from 1993 uses the same basic photo as the original but has been altered quite a bit – obviously.
The Abbey Road EP – Red Hot Chili Peppers
What better way to ‘spoof’ one of the most famous album covers of all time than to strip off all your clothes and cover your modesty with a sock? The EP was released in 1988 (yeah when the Chili Peppers were good!) and included a version of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Fire’ which featured original guitarist Hillel Slovak (who died of a heroin overdose the same year). As covers go, this one is quite iconic too.
McLemore Avenue – Booker T and the MG’s
You can just imagine how the discussions for this album went in the Booker T and the MG’s camp. They must have thought that, if they copied the Abbey Road thing, which was so successful, maybe they would reap the benefits. Not only did they spoof the cover, they went as far as to fill the entire album with instrumental cover versions of the Beatles albume. It was called McLemore Avenue because that was the street their recording studio was on. It was released in the spring of 1970, only months after the Beatles Abbey Road.
Late Orchestration – Kanye West
Well if you are going to release an album that was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios, the idea must cross your mind to just go outside and use the crossing as a cover for the album. That is exactly what Kanye West did for this 2005 album of live songs recorded with an orchestra.
Here Comes The Sun: A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles – Various Artists
Well if you are going to make an album of cover versions of Beatles songs, what better cover to spoof than the famous Abbey Road one? Some pretty good cover versions on this album. If you are a Beatles fan and/or a reggae fan it is still worth tracking down a copy of this album.
Jive Bunny Plays the Beatles
Jive Bunny, the mastermind of a Yorkshire DJ, burst onto the UK music scene in 1989. Their first two singles raced to the number one spot. The novelty was taking excerpts of songs from the 60’s and 70’s and mixing them into a new song. The novelty soon wore off for the record buying public but that didn’t stop Jive Bunny from releasing more and more stuff, including this album of Beatles covers.
It’s not just musicians that get in on the act of spoofing famous album covers – kids TV programmes started doing it. It must have taken the ideas department ages to come up with this idea – not!
Even the Simpsons got in on the act. This is actually very representative of the original album cover, including the cigarette being held by Bart – Paul McCartney. It does raise the question though – where is Maggie? Maybe she is the one taking the photo!
In the Simpsons episode, Barbershop Quartet, Homer, Barney, Apu and Principal Skinner form a barbershop quartet. The whole episode is a spoof of the Beatles career. It is arguably the best Simpsons episode ever. The quartet were known as the Be Sharps and one of the albums they released was Bigger Than Jesus. If you don’t get the reference of that title to the Beatles story then look it up!
Shabby Road – The Rutles
For the last one in this list we have the best spoof Beatles band doing the best spoof Abbey Road imitation. This album was from the Rutles, whose story was told in the film ‘All You Need Is Cash’. It featured Eric Idle (Monty Python), Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band), Ricky Fataar (Beach Boys drummer in the 1970’s) and John Hasley (who sold a lot of fish in the 80’s!). The prefab four rocked and weren’t too shabby.
So there you have, a look at some of the best imitations of the famous Abbey Road album. Considering how good and how iconic the original album cover was, it is no surprise that it has been imitated and parodied as many times as it has.
P.S. This article was originally published by the same author on Triond on the 10th of January 2010 and can be found by clicking HERE.