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The Upbeat Beatles
(UK) CD-R (?)
12 tracks / 35:03 / 4-page booklet

This look-alike tribute band regularly performs before an enthusiastic audience and have now released this CD with a total of 13 songs, all but Hey Jude from the early Beatlemania years. The first two songs appear as one track, and are performed in a live setting with screaming fans, whereas the other songs are more peaceful studio recordings. They’ve recorded the songs in authentic Beatles way and copied nearly all the musical features of these original songs, using the same instruments and amplification the Beatles used. Although the singing isn’t always sound-alike, it is pretty enjoyable, from the rough voice in I’m Down, hoarse vocals in Yesterday and the famous unisono sound in others. Still, when you listen more closely to their performances, you’ll pick a few little additions in the songs - an extra tambourine, an unexpected guitar riff or an added country-flavour (She’s A Woman). Let’s just hope they don’t stick to the early songs, for I guess they’re ready for a second volume, with repertoire from the Beatles later years. A medley of their songs is available for download on their website. (B.U. 183)

Unknown - Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Beatles Set One
(UK) Adam & Eve Records Set 1 / Set Two (2005)
18 tracks / 45:53 / 4-page booklet

Only a few tracks from the first set (‘Sgt Pepper & Friends’ medley, ‘Getting Better’ and ‘When I’m 64’) are Sgt. Pepper songs, although the album titles and CD booklets of these two karaoke sets suggest otherwise. The CD booklets don’t feature the lyrics nor do they mention details on the performers. We were told that these recordings have been remastered and edited from mastertapes, believed to be recorded somewhere in 80’s USA, with Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm as one of the vocalists and possibly numerous other studio musicians. On the right you’ll hear the not necessarily sound-alike vocals - of varying quality - which set the pace for you through the songs. The backing tracks (including vocal harmonies) mainly come from the left side and besides obvious acoustic guitar versions (‘You’ve Got To Hide’, ‘Blackbird’), half an album of straight copies of the first Beatles’ hits as well as those familiar sound effects (applause and laughter in ‘Sgt. Pepper & Friends’) and hand-clapping rhythms (‘Saw Her Standing’, ‘Eight Days A Week’), differ from the original instrumentation. The mentioned examples also show that some song titles have (deliberately?) been shortened to the elementary words. (B.U. 189)
E-mail: adamandeverecords-at-tiscali.co.uk

Unknown - Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Beatles Set Two
(UK) Adam & Eve Records Set 1 / Set Two (2005)
18 tracks / 50:04 / 4-page booklet



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Greg Valentine - Solo & Unplugged #2 Beatles
(USA) Sevag Guitar Productions (?)
9 tracks / 25:55 / 2-sided sheet

Greg Valentine’s acoustic solo guitar tribute to the Beatles starts with While My Guitar Gently Weeps and follows with his versions of the usual series of Beatles ballads, all played in fingerpicking style, alternating between note for note playing and chords plucking. He generally follows the melody lines of the originals accurately, with occasional bits of improvisation and ends most of the songs earlier than you’d expect. Unfortunately, his performance is sometimes so fragile that you can also hear squeaking strings being touched when he switches from one position or chord to another. But I also heard people trying to sing along with his instrumentals, when I played the album, which is a positive element too. (B.U. 202)

Christine Vaskas - Limited Edition CD
2 tracks / 7:32 / no booklet

From the same company [as Compilation - A Tribute To George Harrison - Edit] arrived Christine Vaskas’ debut single, Dare, which includes a non-album cover version of Ticket To Ride. Christine is one of the promising younger artists from the company’s stable, and has written her own material for the first album. The cover version on this limited edition CD features instruments that mainly follow the original example and her vocal performances tend to give the song some country-flavour and being a woman, she gender-changed the lyrics. (B.U. 181)

Sonny Vincent - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
(GER) Empty Records MT-525 (2003)
14 tracks / 38:33 / 8-page fold-out booklet

Named after a famous western movie, this disc is obviously included here for its sleeve design, which parodies the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album. As opposed to similar revamped packages, with a track listing of cover versions of Beatles songs as well, the music here has no relation to the Beatles whatsoever (in one of the songs you can even hear: ‘Yesterday is gone!). The powerful guitar sound in these hard rocking songs is energetic; Sonny Vincent plays it at high speed. The sleeve notes show an impressive list of special guests, the result of a three year long musical odyssey along some of his music friends from well-known bands like Sonic Youth, Stooges, Offspring, MC5, Damned, Generation X, Television (a.o.). Reading these names, it shouldn’t be too hard to categorize the music style. (B.U. 173)

Vinyl Kings - Time Machine
(USA) VK 6402-2 (2004)
11 tracks / 41:11 / 6-page fold-out booklet

As opposed to the above disc [Eddie Angel - Meets The Beatles - Edit] and contrary to the Hard Day’s Night parody sleeve, the Vinyl Kings’ second album is, like their debut (discussed in BU 166), more influenced by the 1967-1970 Beatles era. The songs are all original songs, composed by the band members and now sound like the enjoyable ultimate mix of Beach Boys harmonies, the Beatles later years’ output and performers that fit in the same Beach Boys / Beatles - inspired category, including High Llamas, Klaatu, German band [Münchener] Freiheit (of “Keeping The Dream Alive”) and Gerry Rafferty. And obviously, a song like ’67 [Home]’ takes us back to the summer of love and, with a Baby You’re A Rich Man feel, also includes fragments of Beatles melodies and lyrics. After the last track, you’re treated to a mishmash of 1-2-3-4 intros and other recording sessions fragments. The song lyrics are available on their website. Clearly, they’re the keepers of the flame and not just Beatles-influenced: the Vinyl Kings band is the only Beatles-phoenix arisen from its ashes. (B.U. 183)



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Roger Webb - John, Paul And All That Jazz
(UK) Rollercoaster Records RCCD 3047 (2002)
19 tracks / 65:58 / fold-out cardboard sleeve with 20-page booklet

The first twelve tracks on this release date from 1964, when the above album was initially released, whereas the remaining bonus tracks were recorded in 2002. Save for a few, Webb generally plays a set of relaxed, laid-back interpretations of the earliest Beatles hits, with three give-aways (including a vaguely recognizable version of I’ll Keep You Satisfied). Short new intros to each track build up to the original melodies, while on others, the trio goes straight into the melody. Halfway each song, there are improvisations, with fragments of the song melody passing by. Sometimes, the melody only serves as a starting point for a long improvisation. In all approaches, piano and (electric) guitar or bass take turns in playing lead, and during the song, the others gradually take over. In the end, the instruments join each other for the final original melody and a short new outro. The newer additions (including Fool On The Hill and With A Little Help From My Friends) tend to be more swinging along the original melody, mostly after a minute of peaceful new melody, played on piano. With the ballads, the performance is somewhat too relaxed here and there (Yesterday), and some swing would have been welcome there, as well. Thanks to the intermezzos and new melodies used for the intro and finale of almost each song, this album won’t be written off as uninspired muzak. (B.U. 174)

Weima & Van De Werf - Wake Up!
(NL) John Kraanvogel 051073070175 (2001)
17 tracks / 49:37 / 4-page booklet

Two Beatles songs are included on their first album with cover versions of blues, soul and rock and roll standards as well as original material: We Can Work It Out and Things We Said Today. All their performances have harmonious singing with acoustic (and sometimes electric) guitar accompaniment and sparse drums backing. Their voices fit perfectly well as proven by the unisono versions of some of the songs. The decent acoustic and harmoniously sung  rendition of We Can Work It Out differs from their more solid sound of Things We Said Today, which also features a beautiful electric guitar intermission. (B.U. 201)

Stacey Wheal - Bluebird
(CAN) SW001 (2000)
11 tracks / 31:28 / 4-page booklet

At first glance Stacey Wheal’s  tribute is a rewarding effort, for its wide diversity of songs. It bounces from McCartney’s Bluebird, Lennon’s Oh My Love and Real Love, Long, Long, Long and Good Night, to a few Beatles ballads, including Here There and Everywhere, which was voted for inclusion on Bulleye’s It Was 40 Years Today compilation. She was sixteen when she recorded the album and sings with tender high pitched vocals. Without much improvisations, the singing remains close to the way the Beatles did - in another key, of course. At first you might prefer some vocal harmonies to uplift it all somewhat. But then again, these bare demo-like renditions keep intriguing every time you play the album and really do justice to an intimate song like Oh My Love. On the whole, the gentle, modest instrumental backing (mainly on piano and occasional acoustic guitar) hardly dominates and is set in new arrangements, without any extreme musical excursions, except perhaps for some solo interludes (the swinging start of I Will), guitar fills (Real Love) or light percussion (I Will). (B.U. 181)

David Widelock - The Trouble With Fribbles
(USA) no label (2004)
18 tracks / 1:10:49 / 2-page sleeve

A disc chockfull of acoustic guitar versions of songs by Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk, Peter Gabriel, the Beatles and a few of his own. His no less than five Beatles interpretations include Eleanor Rigby, P.S. I Love You, I’m Only Sleeping, It’s Only Love and Ticket To Ride. In nearly all of his renditions you won’t recognize the original melody at first, since they often start with a newly composed intro. The intro is followed by more familiar elements of the Beatles composition and soon after the Beatles tune goes hand in hand with subtle melodies of his own, which although unrelated, don’t harm the original tunes and give them a very personal tinge. As such, his crystal clear and upbeat performances - using various guitar playing techniques, where chords strumming takes turns with note for note picking- create just the right Sunday morning atmosphere. (B.U. 189)
E-mail: widelock-at-earthlink.net

Diana Williamson - Love
(USA) Limited Special Edition Single (2005)
1 track / 2:54 / CDsingle

Like another CDsingle (her version of J.J. Cale’s After Midnight), this Lennon song was released to coincide with her latest album, Deer In The Headlights. With a voice that is on the edge of a rawness like Marianne Faithfull’s vocals, she is joined on acoustic guitar and light strings performance and ditto harmonies. This way she shows exactly how to create just the right atmosphere for an intimate composition like this. (B.U. 183)



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Yomano - Flying With The Beatles
(GER) Arche Noah / Magic Trees Music MTM 101004 (2004)
12 tracks / 1:00:39 / 4-page booklet

In a world full of stressful excitement and pressure, Yomano offers the latest Beatles tribute in the genre of instrumental music for relaxation, dreaming and meditating. All instruments, sounds, programming and arrangements were done by Yomano, who took the admirable courage to select mostly post-Pepper songs for this collection, from With A Little Help From My Friends, Flying (of course), right up until Goodnight, the perfect final track of this album. His keyboard performance, which follows the original melodies and the additional sounds from that instrument (Gregorian vocals vaguely heard in Yesterday) all add up to often spun-out 5 minutes versions, mainly done by slowing down the original tempo - you can imagine what happens when an original slow song is performed even more laid-back? Although this all serves the purpose of ‘relaxed flying with the Beatles’, I can’t help pulling out something completely different, after hearing some of these renditions - which also says something about me, I guess. (B.U. 183)
www.yomano.com / www.verlag-arche-noah.de

Tata Young - Temperature Rising
(THAI) Sony BMG (2006)
CD1: 12 tracks / 41:10 / 20-page booklet
CD2: 4 tracks / 43:32 / video CD

On this album we found another version of PaulMcCartney’s Silly Love Songs-sampled Come Rain Come Shine (with lyrics by Frank Lamboy and Andrew Wedeen, who also produced the  earlier version by Jenn Cuneta, reviewed in BU 186). This version comes from Thailand’s pop icon, Tata Young. It’s her second English album and her version of Come Rain Come Shine, also produced by the composer duo, is very identical to Cuneta’s version, with the same portions from the original Wings tune coupled with a swinging, driving beat. The song fits perfectly well in between the other songs, which all show why she’s a Madonna fan and that she’s been viewed by many as Thailand’s Britney Spears. The second disc includes a ‘making of’ and a music video of No. 1 hit song El Nin-YO!’, an interview and a photo gallery. (with special thanks to Jun Hirao) (B.U. 193)
www.tatayoung.com / www.sonybmg.co.th



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The Zombeatles - Meat TheZombeatles
(USA) Beeftone Music BT-665 (2009)
8 tracks / 23:15 / 4-page booklet

Every now and then you’ll find a Top 10 with transformed song titles. This band has made a short album of such quibbles; with no Beatles song title (as well as most of the lyrics) remained intact. The original melodies are still recognizable, despite the rough Fozzy Bear vocals and solid rocking punk backing, with a cacophonic disorder at the end of some of the songs (Dead Prudence, Hey Food). Various body parts are flying around and mentioned to bet eaten: brains, eyes, skin, and heart, as seen in titles like Ate Brains A Week, I Wanna Eat Your Hand and such. This assault is clearly intended to have fun with the Beatles songs than to aim for musical quality to enjoy during a diner by candlelight. (B.U. 203)
www.beeftone.com/zombeatles.html / www.allyouneedisbrains.blogspot.com

The Zombeatles - All You Need Is Brains (DVD)
(USA) MacAbre Pictures (2009)
3-part menu / 23:19 / 2-page sleeve

The All You Need Is Brains DVD is a ‘mockumentary’, which follows the career of the Pool of Liver’s Fab Gore, from the Cadavern to the final rooftop concert, with much ‘concert’ footage (with songs from the CD) and interviews, all with a firm tongue (or better: teeth) in cheek - an over-the-top Rutles movie. (B.U. 203)
www.beeftone.com/zombeatles.html / www.allyouneedisbrains.blogspot.com

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