4 Bands That Directly Referenced The Beatles—To Honor Them, or Otherwise

You’d be hard pressed to find a musician—especially one who grew up in the ‘60s—who wasn’t influenced by The Beatles, so it’s hardly surprising that countless songs have been recorded that reference the Fab Four and their work. Not nearly as many have gone to the lengths of referencing The Beatles directly, though, with an album or song title. And among those who did go to the trouble of naming an album or song after something Beatles-related, not everyone did it as a way to show their appreciation for the band from Liverpool.

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Each of the four acts featured here referenced The Beatles in an album or song title; in terms of their intent for doing so, they are split right down the middle. Two of these bands did it to show their love for The Beatles. As for the other two…well, read on to find out why they did it.

1. Veruca Salt, Eight Arms to Hold You

The reference in title to Veruca Salt’s 1994 debut album, American Thighs, was an obvious nod to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” but the meaning behind the title of their follow-up album might have only been discernible to hardcore Beatles fans. Eight Arms to Hold You was supposed to be the title of the Beatles’ second film, but just prior to its release, it got changed to Help!

Veruca Salt’s homage to The Beatles didn’t stop with the album title. In the bridge of the lead single, “Volcano Girls,” Nina Gordon sings a melody similar to that of the verses in The Beatles’ “Glass Onion.” The lyrics also mirror those written by John Lennon for the second verse of “Glass Onion,”
where he sings:

I told you about the walrus and me, man
You know that we’re as close as can be, man
Well, here’s another clue for you all
The walrus was Paul

Just like Lennon, Gordon references one of her band’s past songs (“Seether”) as well as a bandmate and fellow songwriter (Louise Post).

I told you ‘bout the seether before
You know, the one that’s neither or nor
Well, here’s another clue if you please
The seether’s Louise

The bridge also references “Seether” by beginning with the squeaking sound of guitar strings as heard throughout Veruca Salt’s first big hit.

By the time Veruca Salt made their third album, Post was the only member left from the version of the group that made American Thighs and Eight Arms to Hold You, but the band continued to reference The Beatles. Their third album was entitled Resolver, changing just one letter from The Beatles’ Revolver.

2. The Replacements, Let It Be

The Replacements’ third album was not the first time they connected themselves with The Beatles. On their preceding album, Hootenanny, the song “Mr. Whirly” includes melodies from “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Oh! Darling.”

When The Replacements used the name of The Beatles’ final album for their own release, they weren’t intending to make a statement. Frontman Paul Westerberg told Magnet Magazine that the band was listening to the radio in the van and decided they would name the album after the next song the station played. Once “Let It Be” came on, they were all the more motivated to stick with it as an album title, because it would irritate their manager and label co-founder Peter Jesperson, who happened to be an ardent Beatles fan.

Once The Replacements settled on the title, they decided to take the concept further. The cover of Let It Be shows the band’s four members sitting on the roof of a house as an allusion to the Beatles’ famous rooftop concert. The house, incidentally, was the Minneapolis home of guitarist Bob Stinson and bassist Tommy Stinson’s mother, Anita.

Once you get past the album’s cover, though, there isn’t much that evokes The Beatles. While the band branched out stylistically on this album (even covering KISS’ “Black Diamond”), it’s still pretty punk.

3. The Residents, Meet the Residents

This avant garde band didn’t just hint at The Beatles with the cover art for their first album. They practically copied the artwork from Meet the Beatles verbatim. The images of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr are altered but still recognizable, and the album’s title is presented in the same colors and font. Even the tagline, which reads “The First Album by England’s Phenomenal Pop Combo” was replicated, but with “North Louisiana’s” replacing “England’s.” It was appropriate for the Residents to use someone else’s image for their artwork, since the band’s members have remained anonymous throughout the group’s existence.

There’s no hint of The Beatles across the album’s dozen tracks, but it does open with “Boots,” which is a cacophonous reworking of part of the chorus from Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” The album’s closer, “N-ER-GEE (A Crisis Bluesuite)” intersperses The Isley Brothers’ “Nobody But Me” among a variety of noises and melodies.

4. Cheap Trick, “Taxman, Mr. Thief

This track from Cheap Trick’s 1977 self-titled debut makes no secret of its intent to honor The Beatles. The title rhymes with “Heath,” as in the English politician Ted Heath, who is referenced in The Beatles’ “Taxman” as “Mr. Heath,” and Cheap Trick also references “Mr. Heath” in the chorus of their anti-taxation song. The Beatles themselves get name-checked in the second verse, as Rick Nielsen writes, Like the Beatles, he ain’t human / Now the taxman is out to get you.

[RELATED: 5 Classic Rock Bands Keeping the Flame Alive in the 21st Century]

Cheap Trick never named an entire album as a tribute to The Beatles, but their 1980 album, All Shook Up, was produced by “fifth Beatle” George Martin. They also started covering the entirety of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band live in the late 2000s, and released a live album of one of their performances, Sgt. Pepper Live, in 2009.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

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