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The Fab Five - Five Fab Songs In Five Hours
(UK) Promo CD (2004)
5 tracks / 12:10 / no booklet

Five sixties’ songs - ‘For promotional use only - or else Yoko will sue us!!’ - including Glad All Over, Walk In The Room and three early Beatles tunes: She Loves You, This Boy and Can’t Buy Me Love. The songs were recorded in one afternoon and they’re performed without any improvisations or new arrangements but in straight-forward sound alike style with beautiful vocal harmonies and the use of vintage Beatles instruments. Their version of This Boy will appear on Jealousy Records’ upcoming tribute to Ringo, Three Ringo Circus. They’ve reportedly limited themselves by opting for songs from ‘the British Invasion 1964-1966’, but let’s just hope they can do a decent later period Beatles performance as well. That way this band should be capable of presenting a faithful retro party or 60’s festival. (B.U. 186)

The Fabulous Wannabeatles - She Loves You / Don’ t Let me Down
(NL) LOP\401364 (2005)
3 tracks / 12:45 / 4-page booklet

A young inspiring Beatles tribute band from the Netherlands released with songs from two different phases in the Beatles career and a 7-minutes Beatles medley as bonustrack. The latter includes From Me To You, Love Me Do, Please Please Me, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Get Back + Reprise (“I hope we’ve passed the audition”), interspersed with interview interludes. The pronunciation of the singers may be somewhat too neat, but on the other hand, their instrumental performance is quite authentic - as is their stage appearance. A special code printed on the CD gives Internet access to live versions of I Feel Fine, Ticket To Ride, Help and Oh Darling. For the CD frontpage, there’s a choice between two images. (B.U. 187)

Percy Faith - The Beatles Album / Jesus Christ Superstar
(USA) Sony Music Collectables COL-CD-7507 (2002)
23 tracks / 75:27 / 6-page fold-out booklet

Two original albums released in 1970 and 1971 respectively now available on one CD, one of which is the Beatles Album: a selection of Beatles songs taken from various phases in their career, from Norwegian Wood to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and The Ballad of John And Yoko, so not necessarily just some of their ballads stuff, as is often common place with orchestras performing Beatles songs. Percy Faith’s interpretations of the Beatles repertoire all start with a short but new orchestral intro on most, not all of the songs. This is followed by the original melody and new arrangements or intermissions taking turns, either in muzak style or as a sound track to a movie. Besides the omni-present strings section, there are solo spots for trumpet (Eleanor Rigby, Fool On The Hill), harpsichord and drums (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds), bells and tambourine (The Fool On The Hill); The Ballad Of John And Yoko starts off with violins plucking, switching over to strings playing. So instead of giving in to re-playing note for note instrumentals, Faith’s occasional new melodies added puts this release somewhat above the average in this genre. A year later, The Jesus Christ Superstar tracks would even appear to sound instrumentally richer and varied with a more swinging, ‘brass’ impact. (B.U. 174)

Vinny Fazzari (a.o.) - Hello, Goodbye: Songs The Beatles Gave Away
(USA) CMH CD - 9476 (2007)
12 tracks / 31:14 / 4-page booklet

Because the title suggested a new compilation of the Beatles’ give-away songs, I initially thought it was another one in the small output of such releases on CD. However, it turned out to be a re-release of the 1999 Vitamin records album Lost Songs: Songs The Beatles Wrote But Never Recorded, which I reviewed in this column in BU 151 as follows: “With the use of vintage guitars and amplifiers as well as tabla, sitar, accordion and tamboura, the sweetness of some of the originals is stung with the band’s adult impression in a way the Beatles might have played them around the White Album era. (..) There are some very appealing novelties: That Means A Lot has a Spanish guitar combined with a psychedelic sound, Cat Call’s intro on harmonica and instruments getting pretty heavy. (..) In short: familiar compositions cleverly disguised in a well-crafted retro-pop coat. (B.U. 200)

Firefall Acoustic - ColoradoTo Liverpool A Tribute To The Beatles
(USA) Winged Horse Records 07 0251 (2007)
11 tracks / 34:18 / 4-page booklet

Jock Bartley and Steven Weinmeister are the two lead vocalists of 70’s band Firefall, who now perform in the US as an acoustic duo, performing Beatles songs. After popular demand, they’ve released this CD with enjoyable acoustic versions of some obvious ballad Beatles tunes. However, the unconventional picks from the Beatles portfolio: Within You, Without You, No Reply, I’ll Be Back and I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party are the initial surprises, as well as their version of the only rock song in this set, Come Together. The duo usually stays close to the familiar melodies, with basic acoustic instrumentation and beautiful vocals and harmonies. The little extras like a prominent role for accordion in Girl, the bluesy approach of Come Together or a new instrumental break as in I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party are the icing on the cake. And in case you’re interested in Bartley’s artwork of the Beatles, this can be found at www.jockbartley.net  (B.U. 201)
www.ant-bee.com/glassonyonpr.htm / www.firefall.com

Bernd Franck - Just Beatles Variationen Von Bach Bis Reggae
(GER) Merkton LC 08258 (2004)
10 tracks / 44:57 / 8-page booklet

Although the tracklisting doesn’t show any real surprises, next to each song the music variation or style is mentioned, varying from Bach, Salsa, Latin, Boogie, Gospel-Rock and Reggae - hence the album’s sub-title. And this variety is exactly what you get: classical piano improvisations around the original melody (Hey Jude), a new intro (I Feel Fine), fragments of the original melody heard in a fully new melody (With A Little Help From My Friends, Yellow Submarine) or the original tune almost unrecognizable (Here, There And Everywhere). And that’s exactly what makes the album worthwhile, Bernd Frank’s excellent versatile piano playing is entertaining and he improvizes just enough, until you think it’s time to hear a Beatles sound, he serves one up. (B.U. 177)

Frankie Goes To Liverpool
(GER) CD (2006)
17 tracks / 40:23 / 4-page booklet

This album features highlights from a live acoustic performance, recorded in March 2004, in a party cellar, called My Little Cavern, by a band whose members have roots in various Berlin bands. Both the (vinyl-crackling) intro and outro tracks are instrumental versions of Love Me Do, with an announcer introducing / ending the show. Except for songs like She’s A Woman and Two Of Us, the majority of ballads is an obvious song selection for this unplugged concept which includes I Will, In My Life and Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The band doesn’t do any costume and wigs changing, but concentrates on a close to the original performance, with an instrumental part that is rich in variety. It comprises of recognizable elements that are also included in the originals as well as new musical ideas. The singing however varies from enjoyable close-harmony to less satisfying vocals, especially when it comes to the higher regions and where words are pronounced with German accent, which somewhat spoils this effort. But I guess this isn’t noticed by the audience that responds with great enthusiasm. (B.U. 192)
www.ops-music.de / www.frankie-goes-to-liverpool.de



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David Garside - Half The Man - A Paul McCartney Tribute
(UK) Crockett Records CKTCD2 / DG2  (2006)
14 tracks / 43:42 / 4-page booklet

David Garside (guitar, piano, percussion, vocals)and his wife Elizabeth (cello, vocals) chose for a tribute to McCartney’s solo repertoire, with songs from Ram and Wild Life up until Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard. Besides just a few hit songs, the album’s full of never before covered versions of unfamiliar songs. These versions sound almost like demo recordings, without much vocal harmonies and with the limited,sparse use of instruments, they try to come as close as possible to the originals sound. Sometimes a more solid and fuller sound comes around when the cello sets in with musical counterparts, without harming the original sound (such as Waterfalls, which starts with a nice piano and cello duet introduction or Silly Love Songs which has an ‘outro’with peaceful repeats of the main line). Although it occasionally may sound too lightweight (Dress Me Up As A Robber), Garside’s intimate vocals are generally pleasant and match pretty well with the dark cello lines (Café On The Left Bank) and this includes the higher notes (Golden Earth Girl). Some songs may remind you of McCartney sound alike artists (At The Mercy is very 10CC-like and Love In Song has a Gerry Rafferty sound). The final cut is one of his own compositions, Old Fashioned Man, which sounds well in its right place. (B.U. 193)
Internet :

Ralf Gauck - A Hard Day’s Night
(GER) Wonderland Records WR9069 (2009)
11 tracks / 41:55 / 6-page booklet

After a successful Sting tribute, Fields Of Gold, this albums’ subtitle ‘The Beatles On Bass’, announces exactly what you’ll get: Beatles songs, including A Day IN The Life, Come Together and Lennon’s Imagine, performed on A Höfner 5000/1 fretless bass. Acclaimed bass player Ralf Gauck is former member of Chantal, who released various Beatles tributes. Gauck’s interpretations feature (long) new intros to Let It Be and Eleanor Rigby, a laid-back, easy listening version of And I Love Her and his bass either follows the lead vocals part or accompanies and at times takes an alternate musical line. (B.U. 203)

Internet: www.ralf-gauck.de

Andreas Geffarth - A Couple Of Songs “I Wish I HadWritten Myself”
(GER) Line Musik (2002)
16 tracks / 63:16 / digipack

This album of Andreas Geffarth’s favourites includes three Beatles compositions next to the folky Jethro Tull track Thick As A Brick to the Clapton Unplugged Layla and three instrumental versions of Freight Train, Amy and Blue Moon. The Beatles songs include: Here Comes The Sun, featuring pleasant, clear vocals over acoustic guitars, a bluesy Blackbird, with alternate guitar lines and in Norwegian Wood, the further the song progresses, the more the guitar accompaniment alternates, all being highly entertaining elements of his renditions. (B.U. 202)

Andreas Geffarth & Band - Come Together - Das John Lennon Tribute
(GER) Line Musik (2007)
18 tracks / 64:18 / digipack

As opposed to the acoustic setting of his earlier CD, Geffarth’s other Beatles-related album is a more solid, live John Lennon tribute album, titled Come Together, with 11 Beatles and 7 solo Lennon songs. The recordings originate from a setlist of 40 songs, performed at the Vogtland Theater Plauen, Germany (17-2-2007). Generally speaking, I found that his faithful, detailed renditions have the same feel as the Beatles originals, with accurate pronunciation in the vocals. Modest performances (such as a sparse guitar accompaniment in Strawberry Fields Forever) take turns with sets of rocking versions, with a remarkable beautiful, fine piece of drumming. A few songs have funny little adjustments: there’s Tomorrow Never Knows coupled with Give Peace A Chance and his version of All You Need Is Love includes more lines from other Beatles songs in the song’s finale. A very entertaining live tribute to Lennon, indeed. (B.U. 202)

The Gents - Follow That Star
(NL) Channel Classics CCS SA 20403 (2003)
16 tracks / 52 :40 / 28-page booklet

Two albums by the Dutch male vocalists ensemble the Gents, who’s aim is to share their pleasure in singing. Both albums are released in superior sound quality SACD format, of which the first includes a cappella versions of classical, standard and pop favourites for Christmas holidays, occasionally aided by two instrumental quartets and a double-bass. Of the available Beatles and solo Christmas songs, they voted for a version of Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime. For this song, the altos, tenors, baritones and basses sing lead vocals, harmonies and various instruments (except for authentic sleigh bells sounds), although it’s hard to really make something out of this odious tune. But when you’re a true fan of such broad male vocal range, you’ll fully enjoy most of the album during Christmas days. (B.U. 190)

The Gents - In Love …
(NL) Channel Classics CCS SA 23106 (2006)
19 tracks / 1:04:11 / digi-pack

The second album is a package of close-harmony versions of (sometimes translated) love songs composed by Billy Joel, Beatles and Dutch band Blöf plus a few British traditionals. The fully a cappella album starts and closes with a Beatles song (Michelle, And I Love Her), both with a new intro and fragile singing. In between, there’s a slightly more up-tempo (as compared with other tracks) version of With A Little Help Of My Friends, prominent singing in higher regions (Blackbird, If I Fell) and Hey Jude, which thankfully stops right before the na-na finale. Besides some whistling in Blackbird and bass-line in With A Little Help, on most of the performances on this album, they’ve refrained from made-up instrumentation. Therefore, a few tracks tend to be somewhat too polished, which doesn’t comply with their initial intention of performing ‘flexible’ interpretations - notwithstanding that a cappella recordings superbly fit the SACD quality format! (B.U. 190)

Get Back - A Tribute To The Beatles Part 1
(Fra) (2003)
18 tracks / 42:04 / digipack

Get Back is the tribute band behind the French Back To The Legend video musical event on the Beatles career. Besides the usual 4-piece Beatles line-up, a keyboard player joins them and even takes care of the lead vocals as well. This first album is a studio representation of their repertoire, which focuses on the first part of the Beatles career, with short versions of the songs (varying in time from 1:14 to 3:07 min). A pretty standard set of cover versions, with the emphasis on up-tempo tunes, including all but one (Twist And Shout) Lennon-McCartney songs such as Drive My Car, Run For Your Life and No Reply. Their performance faithfully remains on the original Beatles path, an obvious choise, being part of such a musical event. Their instrumental side and effects like hand clapping, are Xerox to the original, whereas the singing follows the vocal line but is not relay sound-alike in all the songs, jumping from a pinched voice to a rougher sound. Still, despite some French accent here and there, it all remains quite enjoyable, due to occasional little excursions in the drumming and guitar playing. Coupled with the colourful video show, as promised in the show’s brochure, it may guarantee a splendid time for every visitor of this light and sound event. (B.U. 176)

Get Back - A Tribute To The Beatles Part 2
(Fra) (2003)
23 tracks / 56:41 / digipack

Half a year later, the band revisited the studio to record and mix another best of set of Beatles tracks. Except for a few earlier songs, this time songs were selected from the later Beatles period, including two Harrison songs and six tracks clocking in over 3 minutes. Ballads are now included in the tracklisting; Yellow Submarine suddenly skips to Magical Mystery Tour and it all ends with Sgt Pepper and the Abbey Road medley. The special (sound) effects are still there (Yellow Submarine, Back In The USSR), but the singing is less enjoyable now, the pronunciation of parts of the lyrics is sloppy in some of the songs (Penny Lane). So, despite some minor imperfections, the first album was promising, but I’m sorry to say that this follow-up somehow can’t seem to convince enough, such as the above mentioned finale, which isn’t that energetic or sparkling like we’re used to. It spoils the enjoyment of listening to some of the better performings on this disc. But once again, it all may work out better in a video musical setting, with an audience that doesn’t mind that much. (B.U. 176)

Get Back - Acoustic Memories
(FRA) (2005)
23 tracks / 55:01 / digipack

This French band can’t be blamed for lack of production, for their two tribute albums (reviewed in BU 176) have now been followed by an acoustic album with 23 songs which almost all clock in under 3 minutes and didn’t appear on the previous albums. For this occasion, the quintet performed on keyboards, acoustic guitars, fretless bass, drums/percussion and some added features like harmonica (I Should Have Known Better). All but Act Naturally and Till There Was You they mainly picked Lennon-McCartney compositions from the 1964-1966 years and a few ballads from the White Album. These selections flow on in a gentle and friendly way, like these unplugged versions generally do. But then again, their accent and occasional mispronunciation of the lyrics (as was also apparent on their first albums) can be viewed as charming (do they sing ‘Blackbell’ or ‘Blackbird’, do we hear ‘arise’ or ‘arrive’ and the way they pronounce ‘moment’, in Blackbird). But on the other hand, when songs are performed in this gentle and relaxed way, this can also annoy and spoil most of the fun. The lead vocals alternate, with mixed results (their harmonies in Because is on the edge) but despite the acoustic approach the overall sound is pretty full, thanks to the keyboard, which is set in for some of the sound effects (strings in Eleanor Rigby). So why not make it all the more personal next time by making French versions of these songs? (B.U. 186)

Susan Getz - Jazz Boxx
(USA) Litsis Records LTS 35791 (2004)
12 tracks / 51:16 / 2-page sleeve

On her first CD, jazz singer Susan Getz has put four of her own compositions side by side to Cry Me A River, I Need Your Love So Bad, (brother-in-law) Robert Palmer’s Honeymoon and two Beatles songs, The Long And Winding Road and Come Together. The first is a piano-accompanied piece, with light percussion in the back. The pianist plays an entirely different melody right up to a 1- minute instrumental piece at the end, whereas the singer sticks close to the original vocals, though in a different phrasing. Come Together has a driving beat, set by the backing band and near the end, the drummer gets his way. As an instrumental this version would hardly be recognized as a Beatles tune, but with her rich diction, Getz is the perfect link between these jazz accompaniments and the Beatles song. She further proves this versatility on a wonderful version of an early Fleetwood Mac blues hit, I Need Your Love So Bad. (B.U. 183)

Lawrence Gilmour - …. A Face I Can’t Forget
(UK) CD-R (2002)
27 / 71:43 / 4-page booklet

After his first TV appearance in ‘Stars In Their Eyes’, McCartney sound-alike Gilmour (‘from Scotland, not from Liverpool’) joined Lennon impersonator Gary Gibson on a successful ‘Anthology of the Beatles’ tour. This album captures Gilmour’s career so far, as a tribute to ‘the great man’, and includes live performances and a home-made acoustic demo session on the first half of the album, followed by TV and radio interview clips. The live tracks comprise of both often-covered Beatles songs (including a 5-song medley) and ‘recent’ McCartney solo material (Little Willow, No Other Baby, Lonesome Town). The sleeve already shows Gilmour as a McCartney look-alike, but the tracks all prove that he’s a true McCartney sound-alike too, with Little Richard / Prince-like screams, singing the main vocal range as well as the higher notes (Little Willow) and taking liberties in the lyrics, with occasional words tossed in (‘o yeah’, ‘yes I do’, ‘I say’, in I Saw Her Standing There) - very McCartney-ish, when you’ve seen the real McCartney in concert. The interviews include Paul McCartney’s comments on seeing Gilmour in Stars In Their Eyes and about Gilmour working with McCartney on the No Other Baby video. Something one may object to is the constant audience participation (sing / clap along or fill in singing a part of the song) or when during the unplugged session, the guitar strings squeak. Although the disc was not intended for public release, interest in it outgrows his family and friends circle and is a fine showcase of Gilmour’s entertaining performances. (B.U. 173)

Sigmund Groven - Here, There And Everywhere
(NOR) Grappa GRCD4197 (2004)
15 tracks / 62:00 / 12-page booklet

The 2006 Taiwan Wind Records distributed ‘Harmonica Beatles’ lead us to this initial release, with four more tracks, wrapped up in an Abbey Road parody digipack. Harmonica virtuoso Sigmund Groven’s tribute includes some of Groven’s own compositions and Lennon-McCartney music: Here, There And Everywhere, a medley of ‘two Beatle girls: Eleanor and Michelle’, Yesterday and Norwegian Wood, the first two arranged by George Martin, who also contributed four of his own harmonica and strings compositions. In general, the harmonica plays the lead vocals line in the Beatles songs, with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra accompanying or taking over from time to time. The medley starts with the orchestra (part of Michelle), then quickly changes into the Eleanor Rigby melody, and the harmonica takes over and halfway, it easily flows into Michelle, where the orchestra takes over again and the harmonica fills in nicely. It always flows gently from the lead vocals line into accompanying melodies, either familiar improvisations or fragile subtleties. I think their most improvised version here is Norwegian Wood, which has a new intro followed by fully new percussion rhythms, then the harmonica alters with the orchestra with a jolly, multi-coloured palette of alternate melodies and rhythms (swinging jazz, waltz). The other instrumentals listen like movie soundtracks (Lord Of The Rings, Once Upon A Time In The West) or TV tunes and tell you joyful, entertaining melodic stories, right up until the final note. (B.U. 194)
www.grappa.no / www.sigmundgroven.com




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Eric Hansen - Across The Universe - A Beatles Journey
(USA) Neurodisc Records NRO 32063 (2005)
12 tracks / 39 :18 / digi-pack

’12 timeless melodies’, all but one (Eleanor Rigby, arranged by Dr. Troy Gifford) arranged by Hansen include the usual Beatles ballads, Michelle and Girl, as well as I Feel Fine, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever and the title track. In his performances, Hansen plays a melody line which accurately follows the vocal line from start to scratch in virtuous finger picking style (Penny Lane) - with an occasional new intro (Here There And Everywhere). This line is accompanied by a newly arranged melody or sometimes improvisations which echo the original melody. The improvisations switch from chords strumming to perfectly matching guitar lines. The musical atmosphere varies from Latin flavour (If I Fell), mandolin-Greek style (Girl, She’s Leaving Home) and a worthwhile album closer in Eleanor Rigby, with its complex guitar performances, full of various guitar playing techniques and improvisations. (B.U. 188)
Internet :

Joel Harrison
(USA)High  Note HCD 7147 (2005)
11 tracks / 71:20 / 4-page booklet

A jazz tribute album to George Harrison, by an unrelated Harrison, who plays guitar and sings, in the company of notorious jazz musicians. Half of the songs here are from Harrison’s Beatles period (including Within You Without You and Love You To) and the other part includes songs derived from All Things Must Pass. This alone makes this a worthwhile effort in the ongoing stream of mainly Lennon-McCartney-focussed tributes. The lengthy renditions comprise of versions that are immediately recognized, when either vocals are included (as in All Things Must Pass, with guest vocalist Jen Chapin) or when the song starts with the familiar melody lines. Other interpretations do the opposite, when new melodies set the tone, and only fragments of the original tune occasionally pass by. There are some nice new elements (such as an introduction on flute, in Within You Without You, steel guitar in My Sweet Lord), but despite the musicians’ excellent performances, I prefer it when the improvisations don’t get lost too much and return to the original melody more frequently.  (B.U. 192)
www.joelharrison.com / www.jazzdepot.com

Hearnshaw / Barrett Duo - Jazz Bach & Beatles
(UK) Shelly Studios SSCD 08 CD-R (2002)
13 tracks / 1:07:15 / 4-page booklet

Another disc which combines the compositions of Bach and Beatles, with the latter being far more in the majority (three against ten tunes). The Chamber Jazz Duo, performing on guitar and clarinet and the rare basset clarinet, made a remarkable choice of some oft-covered songs, Sgt Pepper tunes and the give-away World Without Love. The clarinet and solo guitar playing and improvisations take turns in playing the leading role to lengthy, inspiring renditions (up until a 6:45 min. version of I’m So Tired). When the clear, playful sound of clarinet leads, the guitar accompanies with chords playing or guitar picking. New melodies introduce the original melody and there’s often enough room left for either of the instruments to take a musical trip that leaves the original melody line far behind, which may disturb purists - but that’s what jazz is all about... The album is only available through their website. (B.U. 183)
www.projetbrassens.eclipse.co.uk / http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/hbjazz

Brian Hebert & Friends - Any Time At All
(USA) BhTunes (2008)
26 tracks / 65:29 / 4-page booklet

A broad collection of instrumental versions of songs from every corner of the Beatles career, all on one disc, including the rarely covered Don’t Bother Me, Not A Second Time and I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party. Sometimes it takes a while before you hear the familiar notes and at times, solo improvisations take turns with accompanying performances. One warning: your feet may hurt after a full hour’s worth of highly danceable arrangements, played in various musical styles: (slip) jigs, marches, polkas, horn pipes, reels and waltzes. (B.U. 203)

Hit Crew Kids - Kids Sing The Beatles
(USA) Turn Up The Music TUTM 1846-2 (2004)
10 tracks / 27:08 / 2-sided CDsleeve

Quite a few children / kids interpretations of Beatles songs have passed this Cover Corner and here we have another one from the company that specializes in Kids’ versions of popular hits and TV favourites. The choice of the ten songs here isn’t that spectacular but were indeed taken from various stages of the Beatles era. Most of the songs have an adult singing lead vocals, while the Hit Crew Kids join in for the harmonies or sing along to strengthen the lead vocals (Octopus’s Garden). In others, the kids choir sings the lead vocals on their own (Yesterday) or a soloist sings lead (Let It Be). All neatly done in the way of the originals without too much improvisations. Various musical features and sound effects (Yellow Submarine) we’re familiar with, are faithfully taken in. Of course, we should embrace kids who’ve discovered the beauty of 40-years old Beatles repertoire instead of a lot of today’s hit songs. But you’ll have to be open for the way kids are singing.

The Hit Crew - Rock-A-Bye: Classic Rock
(USA) Turn Up The Music TUTM 2123-2 (2005)
10 tracks / 30:14 / 2-sided CDsleeve

The Rock-A-Bye disc comes from the same company and includes, besides Nights In White Satin, Our House and others, Let It Be and Imagine, all performed in the same music box style. The sugar-sweet acoustic music box-like playing follows the lead vocal line and gets light orchestral and percussion back-up. Don’t be surprised to fall in sleep before the final note’s played! (B.U. 183)

Mary Hopkin - Live At The Royal Festival Hall 1972
(UK) Mary Hopkin  Music MHM001 (2005)
14 tracks / 49:45 / 4-page booklet

This 33 year-old concert recording includes a bouquet of traditionals, well-known ballads and folk classics (Streets Of London, Morning Has Broken, Both Sides Now). A major part originates from her folky Earth Song Ocean Song album and besides her hit song Those Were The Days there’s a surprising Lennon-McCartney entree: If I Fell, a duet (“which we didn’t rehearse”) with husband Tony Visconti. Her well-known cristal-clear performance remains faithfully close to the originals and is accompanied only on acoustic guitars and double bass or by the Pop Arts String Quartet, in front of a quiet audience. A very ‘Unplugged avant la lettre’ concert, which, being her farewell concert, should have ended with Goodbye, of course. And there’ll be more unique collections coming up on her own music label, compiled from ‘dusty boxes in her attic’. I can hardly wait! (B.U. 192)
www.morganhopkin.co.uk / www.maryhopkin.com

Mary Hopkin - Snowed Under
(UK) Mary Hopkin  Music Promo (2006)
1 track / 3:41 / 4-page booklet

But first, Mary recorded her own Christmas single, Snowed Under, in 2006, exclusively available as an mp3 download from www.disaudio.com/Mary-Hopkin. The song is a new composition of her own, and whereas the lyrics are cynical, her voice makes every snow flake melt before it hits the ground.  (B.U. 192)

Steve Hulse - Jazzed For The Beatles
(USA) Steve Hulse Music SHM1006 (2001)
10 tracks / 1:10:16 / 2-page sleeve

When the Beatles’ Drive My Car came along, jazz musician / composer Steve Hulse became more addicted to Beatles music, which eventually led to this jazz Beatles tribute - his best selling CD so far. That song is not included, the choice of songs sticks to the oft-covered songs Yesterday, Michelle and such, with Harrison’s Something and Here Comes The Sun following each other halfway on the disc. No matter how exciting or creative, improvisations may suffer from distracting you from the original Beatles tunes. Almost all renditions here start with a new melody, which makes you think you’ve put on a different CD and it varies from track to track before the familiar Beatles tune comes along instantly or takes a while to appear. However, before the improvisations get too distant from the original melody, Hulse throws in a recognisable fragment just in time. This way his self-arranged jazz interpretations are spun out versions - right up to a 9:28 min. version of Blackbird, often without leaning towards muzak. Besides the innovative intros, his performance features both light, quick tinkling piano playing to more modest pieces, with an occasional (too) laid-back playing and creating just the right atmosphere for a Sunday morning with your favourite Beatles compositions. One objection to this CD may be the selection of songs, but he’s considering a second Beatles album - wonder if he will tackle songs like Strawberry Fields Forever and I Am The Walrus. (B.U. 181)



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The Jamestown Sheiks - Lennon & McCartney Reggae Style
(UK) Chapter One Records CMS 1001 (2006)
12 tracks / 33:32 / 4-page booklet

A re-release on CD of a 1970 collection of reggae versions by then said to be the first recording of cover versions of Beatles songs in this music style. In the meantime, we’ve seen the release of numerous reggae releases of Beatles songs, especially from the Trojan portfolio. The reggae approach usually makes a song differ from its original, so if you like to hear something different from a sound-alike version, then you’re at the right address here. Songs ranging from Michelle and Yesterday to Let It be and Get Back get the reggae treatment, either speeded up a bit or contrastingly more laid-back. With just over half an hour’s worth of music you won’t get bored with this music style. (B.U. 197)

Laurence Juber - One Wing
(USA) Solid Air Records SACD 2051 (2005)
13 tracks / 48 :02 / 8-page fold-out sleeve

One of Paul McCartney’s former Wings members again produced a solo acoustic guitar tribute to his songs (his other, fully Beatles tribute (LJ Plays The Beatles) was reviewed in BU 154). ‘What about Wings?’, Paul McCartney asked Laurence Juber when the latter showed him the Beatles tribute CD. Juber didn’t necessarily take songs from the Wings period but included some of McCartney’s first solo hits, too. Juber’s solo performances on guitar are a treat, especially audible in complex and musically varied compositions like Band On The Run. The disc listens like a Wings greatest hits album, with ballads and uptempo tunes taking turns. He uses varies guitar playing techniques, since finger picking alters with a sturdy chords strumming (like in Jet and the Live And Let Die finale), gliding over strings (intro of My Love) and Juber again shows his craftsmanship by playing both the melody and back-up of a song. The well-known squeaking of the strings with chords-changing may annoy a listener, but on the other hand Juber still remains pretty close to the integral melody (right up to the Live And Let Die ‘fireworks’). All in all, this is another album of technically perfect cover versions of Paul McCartney’s songbook. (B.U. 186)
www.SolidAirRecords.com / www.laurencejuber.com

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