There are few things in this life more pointless than the cover song that merely replicates the original. I’m not universally discrediting them–I love 10,000 Maniacs’ carbon copy of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night,” and Stone Temple Pilots’ faithful rendition of “Revolution” (by some band) is also quite awesome. But there’s a risk/reward equation in reworking a beloved song and sure, sometimes it doesn’t pay off–would anyone take the Carpenters’ bizarre takes on “Ticket to Ride” and “Help!” over some band’s originals?–sometimes you end up with Jimi Hendrix’s iconic and definitive take on Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” or those Stone Temple Pilots lads putting a gorgeous acoustic spin on Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days.”
Let’s not forget Eric Cartman’s timeless cover of “Come Sail Away.”
All this is to say that the Beatles do nothing special to separate their version of “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ recording the year before, but there wasn’t really much to improve on arrangement-wise. Smokey did a great job with it and the Beatles do as well. I’ll always opt for the Beatles’ version because it was the first one I heard and frankly, I think the harmonies and musicianship are a lot stronger. But they’re both vital.