First appearance at Number One for this hardy perennial: probably the best version to reach the top, which is saying something about the others as I still can’t stand it. The charm of the Beatles’ original – yet another Beatles song about togetherness, friendship, the importance of not being lonely – is that it’s Ringo singing it, and he’s not very good at singing so the help is tangibly needed.
So what happens when a great bluesy ox of a singer gets hold of it? The track gets quite a lot longer, and a great deal louder, and you can feel the charm being steamrollered out: who needs charm when you have force on your side? Ian Macdonald in Revolution In The Head mentions that the song became an anthem for “Woodstock Nation” and it certainly has an epic quality: everything in the song is massive, with Cocker’s performance probably the subtlest thing here. He stumbles and howls convincingly, but I still can’t help but regret that a sweet and hopeful song has got this Samson in the temple treatment. For me it’s an illustration of Cover Version Rule#1: if you slow something down, it becomes more serious. But that doesn’t make it more meaningful, and it surely doesn’t make it better.