Year of Release: 1969
Here's a riddle for you all - which Beatles album tracks haven't been released as singles by other singers or groups based anywhere in the world? "Revolution #9" would, I suppose, be the first obvious answer to this question, closely followed by "Her Majesty" and some of the other song cycle tracks off "Abbey Road" (but by no means all of them). After that, I wouldn't be willing to place too many bets. Wherever there's a Beatles song which hasn't been issued as a single already, there's always been somebody out there trying to generate a hit with it for their own group or label.
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is probably one of the more bizarre choices I've come across. "Abbey Road" is an astonishing album which showcases, possibly more than any other Beatles LP, how untouchable Paul McCartney's songwriting skills could often be. Taking McCartney's talents for granted has sadly become something of a familiar stance in recent years, but one listen to the roller coaster ride that is the song cycle on Side Two should be proof enough that the use of the word "genius" is not, in this case, inappropriate. Despite this, there is one definite weak spot on the record, and it's this thudding, clanging novelty march about a fictional mass murderer. Passably amusing for the first listen and then progressively more and more irritating thereafter, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is the kind of track skip buttons were invented for, doing very little but stink the place out with its violent whimsy. Whole debates have been had about why the hell this, of all the "Abbey Road" tracks, was granted such an early slot on the album.
Still, The Good Ship Lollipop - who I assume were a studio group - produce an accurate facsimile of it here, and one which is likely to be of interest to people curious about Beatles cover versions. A certain chirpiness and polite jollity is added to the fantasies about caving skulls in, and does, to my ears, add a few new twists to the track.
The B-side is interesting too, being a cover version of the sixties rarity "How Does It Feel" by The Perishers. It fails to match the mod majesty of the original track, but is definitely a slightly rawer and rougher interpretation.