“Got To Get You Into My Life” was The Beatles’ tribute to soul music. While the song’s Wikipedia page suggests Motown was an influence, the horn-heavy arrangement has more in common with the rougher soul sounds coming from further south. I’m not certain as to whether Wilson Pickett or Otis Redding ever covered this song, but it certainly wouldn’t sound out of place (maybe with a bit more of an upbeat, swinging arrangement). Paul McCartney put a little grit into his voice here, he’s definitely belting as we get to the end of the song. While “Got To Get You Into My Life” featured on Revolver, the song didn’t become a hit until a decade later…over half a decade after The Beatles split up.
Barely two years after the original version of “Got To Get You Into My Life” hit the top ten, the song was revived by an actual R&B band. Well, calling EW&F just an R&B band is kind of reductive because Maurice White’s crew could play virtually anything. At any rate, The Elements were chosen to cover the song for the ill-fated film version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Now boasting a complicated, jazzy intro and the fluid vocal interplay of White and Philip Bailey, this version followed its predecessor into the pop top ten and got Lennon & McCartney a #1 hit on the soul chart, too. The story goes that the single version was rushed out before the movie so that it could be a hit in spite of the fact that the film is (allegedly) a dud. I haven’t seen the Sgt. Pepper film, so I can’t vouch for its quality or lack thereof, but it sounds like a dog.
I’m pretty sure I discovered Earth, Wind & Fire’s cover first, as it was a hit just when I was beginning to become aware of music. The first time I heard The Beatles’ version was in the mid ’80s, on the Rock and Roll Music compilation. I loved listening to it over headphones over our big boombox, because you could isolate the left and right channels, and specific instruments were confined to each channel.
Just goes to show that a great song is a great song. I’m not sure which of the two I enjoy more…but they’re both amazing. Why choose?