You Really Got A Hold On Me - The Beatles

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"You Really Got A Hold On Me" - The Beatles (1964)

The Beatles' subtly-retitled version of Smokey Robinson's million-seller "You Really Got A Hold On Me" featured Lennon on lead with Harrison providing close harmonies and McCartney on backing vocals.

McCartney comments in the documentary Anthology:

“A lot of our tracks may not have been 'cool'. I think if we'd just been cool, we wouldn't have made it how we did. But that was a great aspect of us. John would do A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues or You Really Got A Hold On Me - you could call that cool.”

The original version of “You Really Got a Hold on Me” was a smooth and soulful ballad, but Lennon twists and wrings out each syllable. “You treat me badly, I love you madly” he moans demonstrating almost pure panic.

Music critic eorge Starostin adds:

“The track is transformed by John from a professional, but generic R&B workout into a brilliant "epic" with an atmosphere that's close to sarcastic and even has a bit of darkness to it. While the melody does not belong to the Beatles, the interpretation is all theirs. Their slowest, most "plodding" number so far it almost lulls you to sleep with its nasal Lennon delivery, but then brings you up to your feet in a flash as the boys trade lines with one another in a fashion that might not be as smooth and effortlessly  flowing as those coming from the Miracles, but is every bit as convincing, and more passionate.”

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack comments how the vocal arrangement is very complex with the relationship between the lead and backers frequently alternating between trio, solo, and some antiphonal (performed by two semi-independent voices in interaction) singing.

He adds:

“Smokey does it in the higher key of C with a different scanning of the words. The original arrangement also features saxes and notably, a fadeout ending. John has the good sense here to sing it single tracked, but while his performance has an obvious intensely raw sincerity to it, Smokey's own smoothness is rather hard to beat.”

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