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Beatles Unlimited Various Artists Compilations Reviews


Compilation - 99.5 The Mountain Homegrown Vol. 4
(USA) The Mountain (2006)
12 tracks / 39:39 / digi-pack

Denver/Boulder area musicians are always welcome to perform on the 99.5 FM Mountain Homegrown Show (also home of Breakfast With The Beatles show). This collection assembles such local artists, who have a go at the Beatles repertoire, from You Won’t See Me to Octopus’s Garden and Dear Prudence. The variety of compositions and the artists’ personal touch to make the songs their own are immediate high scores. There’s hardly an attempt to do a Xerox sound-alike version, instead there’s difference in vocals (female singers, including an a capella Let It Be) and musical approach (country-ish In My Life, rockabilly Octopus’s Garden). You’ll find rhythm changes (Dear Prudence) and performances that come close to the sound of today’s mega stars (the final part of I Am The Walrus is like Oasis’ version of the song), Lenny Kravitz (You Won’t See Me). So all in all a collection by performers who show both inspiration and appreciation in fully new versions of the Beatles songs. (B.U. 188)

Compilation - A Day In The Life... At Abbey Road
(ITA) BDIA 002/2 (2005)
CD1: 13 tracks / 38:15 / 20 page booklet
CD2: 12 tracks / 44:00 / 20 page booklet

In two days time, 25 Italian bands (some with Beatles-related names like Back To The Beatles, Taxman, The Beat Brothers, Abbey Band and even The Quarrymen) recorded Beatles songs at the Abbey Road Studios, celebrating 40 years of Beatles in Italy. The songs (with a slight preference for the later period) are presented here in chronological order and include no. 1 hit songs as well as album favourites like Rain, Back In The USSR, Helter Skelter, Yer Blues, Oh Darling and Dig A Pony. Recording on the holy ground must have thrilled some of the bands that much that performances vary in quality, including some with sloppy vocals or indifferent pronunciation and ditto instrumental backing. Most of the bands generally offer Xerox copies and in between, a few remarkable versions - different from the originals - can be heard, too. This includes a jazzy Hammond organ version of Can’t Buy Me Love; The Naughty Girls’ tight version of Hard Day’s Night, featuring a nice piano intermezzo; an orchestral version of Rain, with elements of For the Benefit Of Mr Kite, beautiful instrumental backing (acoustic guitar and accordion) in Eleanor Rigby, up until a rocking (Status Quo-like) One After 909. Over the years, Beatle People Association’s Rolando Giambelli has produced various Beatles tribute albums in Italy and this effort was promising enough, but should perhaps have been limited to one CD. (B.U. 191)
www.beatlesiani.com / www.beatlesmuseum.it

Compilation - A Salute To The Beatles
(USA) Reader’s Digest Music SST C/05451 (2005)
10 tracks / 31:14 / 2-page sleeve

Inspired by Bob Spritz’ biography (which was excerpted in Reader’s Digest magazine), this compilation offers just over half an hour’s worth of Beatles cover versions. The selections drift from the well-known and instrumental/orchestral versions (by Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, Acker Bilk), laid-back easy-listening ballads (Vic Damone’s Michelle) and oft-appearing versions (from José Feliciano and The Tremeloes) to the first-ever US charted Beatles cover (Del Shannon’s From Me To You) and the gorgeous Let It Be by Judy Collins. It’s a pity there’s no additional info on the origin of these versions and what’s more, Reader’s Digest used to release LP box-sets loaded with music - so why this tip of the iceberg, which just gives a small idea of what this is all about. (B.U. 188)

Compilation - A Tribute To George Harrison
(USA) CD-R (?)
20 tracks / 1:15:37 / 4-page booklet

Here we have yet another George Harrison tribute sampler, with all but three tracks recorded at Pussycat Studios by Tom Cavanagh, whose name also pops up as musician on various tracks. The songs are a mix of the obligate Here Comes The Sun and If I Needed Someone and less obvious songs like Apple Scruffs, Love Comes To Everyone, The Art Of Dying and Bob Dylan’s If Not For You. Some of these versions are mentionable solo efforts (Awaiting On You All, Blue Jay Way, If Not For You and Love You To) while others were recorded with bands of two or more members, with a striking presence of female singers. Some of the vocals are very Harrison sound-alikes and their instrumental backings also match the original accompaniment. I can’t help missing Roy Orbison’s characteristic voice in Handle With Care and a few singers don’t succeed very well in their sound-alike approach, therefore it’s a relief when a female performance passes by. Check out Spoonwalk’s intimate, dark voiced version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the acoustic guitar accompanied Here Comes The Sun, the soulful, jazzy Don’t Bother Me or the harmonious folky If I Needed Someone. Two of the final tracks are sitar-based songs, of which Love You To - the longest track of them all (8:23) - features some of George Harrison’s comments on Indian music and leaps from the original composition to various new intervals. (B.U. 181)

Abbey Road On The River - The Fantasy Reunion Show
Live In Cleveland, August 8, 2003
Disc 1: 13 tracks / 45:22 / digipack
Disc 2: 12 tracks / 50:54 / digipack

Disclive releases limited edition albums of recorded concerts, available just minutes after the show you’ve attended. This set of no less than three double albums are recordings of the three-day, multi-stage Abbey Road On The River tribute shows, from 8 - 10 August 2003.
The first day promised a Fantasy Reunion Show, featuring Tim Piper, Lawrence Macca, Working Class Hero & Friends. It sounds like the artists have teamed up to make their own Beatles reunion show, with Lennon (Piper) and McCartney (Gilmour) backed by Working Class Hero. Later on, Harrison (Pete Santora) and Starr (Jim Martin) join in, too. The track listing is a hodge-podge of Beatles songs from various stages of their career, right up to Free As A Bird and a few solo songs in no chronological order. They start with Here Today and Imagine and then go back with Beatles songs, closing off with Twist And Shout. They are obviously trying to put down a real sound- and look- (?) alike show, a task they don’t succeed in all the time. Although the songs are generally accompanied in the same vein as the originals, with occasional liberations taken, the quality of the singing varies a lot. Here and there they can’t reach the right high notes and the harmonies in some of the songs isn’t up to standard. The casual Scouse talks in between the songs sounds swollen, too, which spoils the fun, after a while.(B.U. 175)
www.disclive.com / www.abbeyroadontheriver.com

Abbey Road On The River - The Best Of The Mania
Live In Cleveland, August 9, 2003
Disc 1: 15 tracks / 43:22 / digipack
Disc 2: 13 tracks / 44:47 / digipack

Disclive releases limited edition albums of recorded concerts, available just minutes after the show you’ve attended. This set of no less than three double albums are recordings of the three-day, multi-stage Abbey Road On The River tribute shows, from 8 - 10 August 2003.
The next two shows, on 9 and 10 August featured a dozen performers and bands, with some familiar names passing by that weekend: Lawrence Macca (Gilmour), American English and 1964 The Tribute (whose own cover albums have been reviewed in this column). Each performer is represented here with one to ten songs, sometimes spread over the two days. Some of the bands fortunately opted for unusual compositions (Hey Bulldog, I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party) and inclusion of a few Lennon and McCartney solo songs (Grow Old With Me, Little Willow -  but in a show called, ‘The Best Of 1962-1970?). A few songs were done twice, but by different bands, only Tim Piper is once again included with his version of Imagine. The bands seem to compete in sound-alike performances, with varying results. On the other hand, bands like All You Need Is Love and 1964 The Tribute have some beautiful harmonies and the sudden feminine touch on an acoustic Dear Prudence by Colette or in Anne DeChant’s version of Let It Be is refreshing amidst the sound-alike bands. But judging by the audience reactions, they don’t come to hear new arrangements or other music styles. Still, the Sunday event featured a few acoustic sets, of which Hal Bruce’s fascinating guitar-accompanied quartet of hardly covered songs is more than worth the listen and let’s not forget to mention the album’s beautiful final track, an acoustic While My Guitar Gently Weeps by American English. All in all this live output is a true showcase of what these tribute bands and performers are capable of. The CD’s are packed in pre-printed cases without any track listings, for which you’ll have to visit DiscLive’s website (but then again, this way you’re able to correct some of the incomplete titles or mis-titled tracks). (B.U. 175)
www.disclive.com / www.abbeyroadontheriver.com

Abbey Road On The River - The Best Of 1962 - 1970
Live In Cleveland, August 10, 2003
Disc 1: 14 tracks / 41:07 / digipack
Disc 2: 14 tracks / 40:19 / digipack

Compilation Across The Universe
(USA) Interscope B0009801-02 (2007)
16 tracks / 52:28 / 16-page fold-out (poster) bookle

Interscope Records has released three variations of soundtrack albums from the film: a standard edition with 16 tracks and two deluxe editions, on with 31 tracks (through Best Buy and iTunes) and a second version that however omits two tracks: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?". A remix of Because appeared on a 1-track promotional CDsingle. The Beatles songs formed the blueprint for the story of the movie musical and its characters: a simple love story about Liverpudlian Jude and Lucy from New York, set in the 60’s anti-war and counterculture movements. Besides the sublime performances by the two main characters, Jim Sturgess (Jude), Evan Rachel Woods (Lucy), there are numerous exciting and surprising renditions to be heard, each with something else that appeals, be it the gospel rendition of Let It Be,Joe Cocker’s umpteenth version of a Beatles song (Come Together), the psychedelic Flying and Blue Jay Way by (not cast members) The Secret Machines (who also accompany Bono on his version of I Am The Walrus), Eddie Izzard’s Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite (with some witty additions in the lyrics), Martin Luther McCoy’s voice taking over the guitar part in "While my Guitar Gently Weeps or the gritty Helter Skelter (Janis Joplin-sound-alike Dana Fuchs). Most songs are done by one of the characters, a few are duets or cast  performances. Obviously, some songs have somewhat lesser impact and the reason for inclusion of a few of the songs is more apparent when seen in its context in the movie (I Want You). You may also regret that this soundtrack is not a straight copy of the movie version, with vocal parts replaced or removed, that still should not keep you from trying to locate the right deluxe version of this soundtrack! (B.U. 200)

Compilation Across The Universe (Deluxe Edition)
(USA) Interscope B0009973-02 (2007)
CD1: 15 tracks / 46:16 / 24-page booklet
CD2: 16 tracks / 54:06 / 24-page booklet


Across The Universe: Because
(USA) Interscope INTR-12277-2 Promo (2007)
1 track / 2:35 / 2-side sleeve

A promotional CD single of one of the album tracks, in an ‘Adam 12’s Remix For Rachael’ by Adam “12 " Bravin., who adds some powerful beats to the original. (B.U. 200)

Compilation - Album Verde
(ARG)  Dadadistribución  (2005)
16 tracks / 61:25 / digi-pack

Insteadof the often re-released versions of the Trojan reggae repertoire, here’s a fully new set of reggae versions, recorded by artists and bands from Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil and Argentina. They’ve chosen songs like I Will, Don’t Let Me Down and the bonustrack I’m Only Sleeping; two songs even appear twice: Eleanor Rigby and Come Together (Togetha). There are straight reggae versions (From Me To You, Taxman or Here Comes The Sun) and others, in which reggae rhythms are interwoven with additional musical styles, varying from a jazzy Because to a scratch-synthi-pop version (with peculiar vocals) of Come Together and Lady Madonna which features a pronunciation that is of a touching innocence. The Long And Winding Road is an instrumental rendition as is the dub version of Eleanor Rigby. Almost all are very catching performances that stick in your mind for quite a few days. The album further includes an interactive track, which shows the various bands talking about the album. The package is rounded off with a beautifully illustrated CD booklet. (B.U.. 192)

Compilation - All You Need Is Lisboa
(Port) EMI 7243 5 93391 2 2 (2004)
17 tracks / 42:31 / 12-page booklet

In this column, cover versions albums have passed in German, Hungarian and Japanese languages and now there’s one more CD release (partly) in a foreign language to be added to your collection. This disc also appeared in the Ditz’ column in BU 175, due to the inclusion of Penina, the McCartney penned give-away to Portuguese band Jotta Here, as well as the later recording of the song by the international better known Carlos Mendes. For the rest, EMI has selected various popular 60’s artists, some of whom which became famous in later days. You can enjoy much more Beatles songs in either the original English or translated lyrics: Conjunto Universitario Hi-Fi’s I Call Your Name, which is obviously inspired by the version recorded by the Mamas and the Papas (the same song re-appears in a Portuguese version with an intrusive Hammond organ, by Os Cinco Bambinos), unusual entrees like I’ll Get You, I’ll Be Back and I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party and the band Quarteto III with “Ode To The Beatles”, a novelty song in the style of Barclay James Harvest’ similar hit song “Titles”, comprising of Beatles song titles. The English pronunciation shows a tough accent at times, thus giving it all a very innocent early 60’s flavour. One outstanding version should be mentioned: Carlos Bastos’ version of Hey Jude, which doesn’t simply follow the original line of the song like the others, but manages to create an authentic Portuguese atmosphere with its guitar playing (by fado guitarist Antonio Chainho) and singing. The CD-booklet is a real treasure for collectors, with pictures of all the original sleeves of the included cover versions. (B.U. 176)

Compilation - Back To The Beatles
(GER) private release (2003)
20 tracks / 55:56 / 4-page booklet

What do you get when you approach young musicians to record a Beatles tune with the sound of today? The majority of the twenty contributions on this sampler are speeded up instrumentally and rougher in vocals, as compared to our idols’ originals. There’s punk (Hard Day’s Night, Please Please Me), some ska-ish versions (Obladi, Oblada, From me To You) and roaring vocals (Yellow Submarine, With A Little Help, She Loves You) as well as unconvincing or uneven, nervous singing (Nowhere Man, Let It Be). Often, an acoustic or orchestral intro is quickly taken over by a heavier impulse, with hard rock guitar riffs and vocals that change from rough to distorted (Eleanor Rigby and  Norwegian Wood). And guess what, there are a few acoustic interludes in between all that bombast (Here Comes The Sun, A Day In The Life) and a ballroom-swinging Help. Octopus’s Garden is apparently a favourite, since there are two versions: one sung by a woman and coupled with Why Don’t We Do It In The Road and another with echoing backing vocals and a new keyboard tune in the middle. So if you’re in for some roughed-up versions and want to shout along (although at times it’s hard to decipher the lyrics), this is the disc to look for! (B.U. 174)

Compilation - Beatlemaniacs!!!
(UK) Ace CDCHD 1075  (2006)
24 tracks / 61:27 / 28-page booklet

AceRecords offers this collection of novelty records, recorded during the height of Beatlemania varying from the well-known ‘We Love You Beatles’ ode, tributes to an individual member (Like Ringo; Saint Paul), songs which reflect on a Beatles event (John, You Went Too Far This Time by Rainbo - the alias of then unknown Sissy Spacek - singing about the Two Virgins cover photo; The Ballad Of Paul, released after the rumours about Paul’s death), answer-songs (I’ll Let You Hold My Hand and Only Seventeen) or a lesser devotee like Stamp Out The Beatles - which still uses parts of Beatles melodies, just like some of the other tributes where you’ll hear Yeah Yeah Yeah or lines taken from Beatles songs. Besides these tributes, almost all from 1964 - the year that over 200 such Beatles-inspired cash-ins saw the light - there’s Harry Nilsson’s You Can’t Do That medley and the initially withdrawn Please Please Me version of Link Wray. When playing this CD, you’ll get a perfect impression of what went on during Beatlemania. And with a beautiful full-colour CD booklet, including lots of detailed information, pictures of Beatles memorabilia, newspaper clippings, record labels and more, this ‘best of’ collection may therefore be preferred over the broader assortment on Orange Records’ two Flabby Road albums (reviewed in BU 141), or the expanded (semi-legal) derivatives thereof: a 6-volume version on Yellow Fish or even a 15-volume ‘Flabby Road’ set!.  (B.U. 192)

Compilation - Beatles Go Electro
(USA) Electronic Dance Essentials BIG 4316 (2003)
12 tracks / 33:17 / 4-page booklet

Although electro pop versions of Beatles songs have seen the light before, it’s not a common feature in this column. Six artists and bands each transformed (‘reinvented’ according to the CD back sleeve) one to three Beatles songs ranging from She Loves You to I Am The Walrus into clear electro versions. The songs either have a new intro or start right away with the familiar lyrics and obviously, the sound differs drastically from the originals, with lots of synthesizer sounds added (Yellow Submarine). Besides, the vocals can’t be called sound-alike, but that’s hardly surprising. Most acts feature a female singer, whose recitative performance may recall Flying Lizards’ version of Money [That’s What I Want], other songs include voice distortion (I Want To Hold Your Hand) or a rap-beat-like start (Sgt. Pepper). This kind of performance and the futuristic instrumental sounds not unlike however give it all an overall shivery feeling, which you may like or not - at least they’re not the most average background cover versions. (B.U. 183)

Compilation - Beatles Museum Präsentiert 19
(GER) EMI 50999-699321-2-0 (2009)
19 tracks / 55:24 / 4-page booklet

The Beatles Museum in Halle, Germany, released this compilation in conjunction with EMI. Samplers like this generally have well-known tracks and there’s no need to review the chosen tracks: just to know which songs are included usually says enough to make you decide to buy the album. Behind this obvious Beatles ‘1’ parody design you’ll find the tracklisting which shows  a 1963 - 1991 collection of Beatles give-away songs (Bad To Me, Hello Little Girl, A World Without Love), cover versions (by The Young Idea, The Bedrocks, Shirley Bassey a.o.) as well as two songs each by Scaffold (with of course McCartney’s brother Mike McGear) and Julian Lennon, all ranked in chronological order. This collection is obviously meant to attract Beatlesfans and show that you can hear a disc full of Beatles-music without hearing any Beatle at all - well almost that is: on Cliff Bennett’s Got To Get You Into My Life and I’m The Urban Spaceman, McCartney’s ‘productional sound’ can be heard, as well as, respectively, his playing on piano and ukulele! (B.U. 201)

Compilation - Cape Cod Covers Vol. 2: The Beatles
(USA) Sedgewick Records SPCD893746001012 (2007)
21 tracks / 72:05 / 8-page fold-out booklet

From a series where ‘The best bands on Cape Cod salute the best in popular music’, this one focuses on the Beatles repertoire, starting with Carly Simon’s version of Blackbird. A lot of these offerings here approach the Beatles originals as close as possible - with only slight variations, such as when a woman sings lead. Some artists add their own personal touch to the songs: No Reply with a cha-cha-cha rhythm, a country / rockabilly-ish What Goes On, a swinging Drive My Car with different backing, a bluesy Get Back with different phrasing of the vocals; Don’t Pass Me By with brass elements, all closed off with the Cape Cod covers artists taking turns in singing the Q & A’s of With A Little Help From My Friends. Such alternate renditions and attractive song selection generally make compilations like these a worthwhile listening experience. Part of the proceeds from the sale of this album supports Angel Flight N.E. (B.U. 200)

Compilation - Easy Beatles
(GER) Bureau-B BB09 (2008)
58:45 / digipack, 16-page booklet

Over the years, dozens of easy listening cover versions of Beatles songs have been recorded: these laid-back, nothing to worry about versions, commonly referred to as ‘muzak’. They’re performed by orchestras, crooners and close harmony singers, with highly imaginative / inventive names (Harvey Avenue Dozen, Shirley Scott & Soul Saxes, Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers). This collection of ‘irresistible in-sound interpretations from the 60s and 70s’ seems a portfolio thereof, with artists like The Sandpipers, Earl Grant, Nancy Wilson, Helmut Zacharias, The Brothers Four and The Lettermen, featuring some rare choices and ditto song selections: The Word, Glass Onion and Savoy Truffle, the latter one of the least versions of this song, done by Ella Fitzgerald. As opposed to the CD title, some renditions can hardly be called ‘easy’ or are simply funny or mindboggling: I Want You by Assembled Multitude and Gershon Kingsley’s version of Paperback Writer. The melodies and lyrics are usually very recognizable, still all performances have a personal touch (including two with gender-change in lyrics), and although some may give you headache or the creeps, they still clearly show the impact the Beatles have had on any artist, in every music genre. The wonderful CD booklet gives a highly appreciated detailed info and pictures of all the cover versions. (B.U. 202)

Compilation - Fried Glass Onions - Memphis Meets The Beatles
(USA) Inside Sounds ISC-0522 (2005)
14 tracks / 50:03 / 8-page booklet

Soul and blues versions of Beatles songs have always been favourites in this field, and this collection of newly recorded interpretations by contemporary Memphis artists, is no exception to that. There’s a preference for Beatles songs from their later period, such as Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Two Of Us, but there’s also Old Brown Shoe, which hasn’t been covered that much. The styles range from a ‘Soul Man’-like version of Two Of Us, swamp blues with harmonica (Get Back), swinging soul (with female singer and lots of brass) Day Tripper, a musically varied Happiness Us A Warm Gun, a laid-back, intense and acoustic Blackbird, blue-eyed soul (You’re Gonna Loose That Girl), an instrumental surf-punk version of A Hard Day’s Night and the tear-jerking version of The Long And Winding Road. Besides obvious soul / blues inspirations from Stax and Atlantic stables, you may imagine one or another popular artist performs a song: Lenny Kravitz, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer and Robbie Williams, which isn’t the case, of course. But then again, this also shows the professional approach of the Memphis artists to interpret ‘the Beatles the way they might have sounded once upon a time’, as said on the CD booklet. (B.U. 183)

Compilation - Fried Glass Onions Memphis Meets The Beatles Vol.2
(USA) Inside Sounds ISC-0526 (2005)
12 tracks / 42:41 / 6-page fold-out booklet

The follow-up to the fascinating first issue (reviewed in BU 183), with again much emphasis on later Beatles albums, including  songs like Glass Onion, Back In The USSR and Lady Madonna. One can generally expect that compilations like this offer highly appreciated non-Xerox versions, as it seems that the starting point of each song is that ‘swing is the thing’. Within the soul/blues concept, there’s enough variety on this disc, where various performers also guest on each other’s tracks. There’s an instrumental, Honey Pie-like treatment of Martha My Dear and For You Blue is almost unrecognisable in Billy Gibson’s tight version with beautiful harmonies. Singers Dani and Z-Da both add, each in their own vocal range, gorgeous feminine touches to Oh Darling and Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, respectively. Amongst all blues outings, Charles Ponder’s laid-back crooner version of In My Life followed by the lengthy soulful version of Here, There And Everywhere is an oasis of  tranquillity. And finally, the all-star version of All You Need Is Love, topped off by a gospel reprise makes you beg for the third volume. (B.U. 189)

Compilation - Fried Glass Onions Memphis Rocks The Beatles Vol. 3
(USA) Inside Sounds ISC 0531 (2006)
12 tracks / 43:35 / 6-page fold-out booklet

Previous volumes (see BU 183 and 189) had the ‘MemphisMeets The Beatles’ subtitle, whereas this one says ‘Memphis‘Rocks’ The Beatles. The chosen tracks vary from the early Beatles hit Love Me Do to not much covered songs like The Word, When I Get Home and Revolution 9. The songs don’t only feature metal / hard rock guitar solos (Don’t Let Me Down and Eleanor Rigby!), there are more styles to enjoy: a rockabilly I’ll Cry Instead, a Melanie sound-alike in Eight Days A Week, hip-hop influences in Revolution (plus other Beatles snippets taken in) and blues (Love Me Do). So there’s something in it for everyone to enjoy, but that may as well pall upon a person when you’re not comfortable with certain musical styles. On the other hand, this volume is a clear showcase that contemporary Memphis artists really rock when it comes to having their say on Beatles interpretations - hence the change in the subtitle. (B.U. 197)

Compilation - Give’m A Chance
(GER) JEP Music BF05732 (2005)
13 tracks / 40:28 / digi-pack with 12-page booklet

Klaus Voormann’s artwork throughout the CD package already shows that much care has been taken to make this an interesting and beautiful release (fully financed by initiator Jörg Stempel), with versions of both Beatles and solo Lennon compositions, by young inspiring German bands. You’ll get an intriguing synthesizer line in Hey Bulldog; Grow Old With Me in a different back-up with Lennon soundalike vocals and ELO like ending, versions which remain generally close to the original outing, though with different elements added, other renditions that are roughened and toughened up and some more laid-back versions (I’m So Tired on piano and vocals, with spacey keyboard sound effects, a folky Working Class Hero on acoustic guitar plus strings). New music styles appear as well: Give Peace A Chance sounds somewhat like spoken rap and Strawberry Fields Forever receives a drum & bass treatment with added keyboard sound effects and good-old rockabilly appears in Instant Karma. This collection once again shows the impact the Beatles still have on today’s artists and that they know how to make them their own as well.  (B.U. 188)
E-mail: stempel-at-sechzehnzehn.de

Compilation - Harrisongs 2 - A Tribute To George Harrison
(SPA) GELMAR 167-CD (2003)
14 tracks / 46:58 / 8-page booklet

The Spanish Sgt Beatles Fan Club was possibly the first to fully acknowledge George Harrison’s repertoire, when they released their first ‘Harrisongs’ volume (see BU 151), long before other Harrison tribute albums flood the market. This second issue includes three re-appearing artists or bands and Monti Beton, who has released a cover versions album of their own (BU 160). Two songs, It’s All Too Much and Taxman have both been chosen again. For the rest, you’ll get more ‘unusual’ Beatles and solo songs, from the early Lennon-Harrison instrumental Cry For A Shadow to I Threw It All Away. Some of performers tend to xeroxed versions with Harrison’s trademark guitar sound, while on the other hand most of the tracks feature different arrangement and styles, with new guitar riffs, new backing vocals (Love You To), songs in different tempo (I Want To Tell You), swinging versions with psychedelic effects from sitar and backwards playing (Love You To, Blue Jay Way). Besides that, you’ll get Piggies in almost spoken vocals, a duet (Give Me Love), female singers (Savoy Truffle), a-cappella (Something), an occasional very sound alike singer (I Threw It All Away) as well as a small portion of mispronunciation (sorry guys!). Nevertheless, we’re once again treated with another highly appreciated list of songs that haven’t all been covered before: a feast for admirers of Harrison’s compositions. (B.U. 174)

Compilation - Hot Hits On 45..!
(UK) RPM 504 (2001)
CD1: 22 tracks / 71:33 / fold-out poster booklet
CD2: 23 tracks / 75:34 / fold-out poster booklet

The CD-booklet also graces slogans like ‘The hot hits party girls bring you…’ and ‘The hot hits girls invite you to their chartbustin’ 70s party!’ so there you have it: a compilation of tracks released on cover versions on 20 LP’s of Bill Wellings’ Hot Hits series (all neatly reproduced in their sporty style on the inside of the CD-booklet), which were put out almost simultaneous to the release of the covered hit songs, played by studio performers which later became famous in their own right (Larry Adler, Elton John, David Bowie, Tina Charles). LP’s which you often felt you’d been rooked once you played them on your record player: this is not the ‘real thing’! Included here are Penny Lane (supposedly done by David Bowie and therefore appearing on bootlegs of him, too), the Harrison classics My Sweet Lord and Give Me Love, McCartney’s C’ Moon and Live And Let Die as well as Ringo’s Back Off Boogaloo and It Don’t Come Easy (about which the booklet claims ‘there are those who may argue that the singer here does a better job on It Don’t Come Easy than the famous big-nosed drummer’- and they’re right in this: the singer here has a far more soulful voice!) and even versions of Apple artists Mary Hopkin (Think About our Children) and Badfinger’s Day By Day. On all versions, at first you’re misguided by the instrumental intros, which are really alike the originals, but once the vocals set in, they betray the difference with the original. Regarding the Beatles and related songs, the lead vocals still come very close and are professional and hardly annoying sound-alikes. Besides that, you’ll have to keep in mind that in those days, for younger record buyers, LP’s like these offered ‘twelve cover versions of the latest hits for the price of four singles’ and were a cheap substitution, wrapped in attractive sleeves. As such, this compilation on CD makes an important part of the soundtrack of the seventies. (B.U. 174)

Compilation - Imagine No John Lennon [A Tribute]
(BEL) Clone 02 (2005)
18 (+ 4 mp3) / 69:56 (+ 12:18) / 6-page fold-out booklet

An exclusive Lennon tribute compilation, that accompanied initial copies of Robert van Yper’s ‘Lennon’ book. The Stranglers’ J.J. Burnell (I Am The Walrus) and a church full of  buskers from Tenerife (Give Peace A Chance) join a wide range of both old-time and contemporary Belgian artists around originator Dr. Kloot Per W. Various music styles pass by and songs are taken from Lennon’s Beatles period as well as his solo repertoire, from a short but powerful Gimme Some Truth, an acoustic Working Class Hero, a shivering Instant Karma, interpretations with new musical accompaniments (Isolation) or interwoven with other songs (Rain, featuring Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror!) right up to those where only the lyrics remind you of the original (I’m Losing You). The predictable acoustic version of God is followed within a minute by an unmentioned, frisky version of Come Together. Other added bonuses are four mp3 tracks, to be played on PC only. Despite a few low points, the majority of highlights makes this a very interesting collection. (B.U. 191)

Compilation - It Was 40 Years Today: A Tribute To The Beatles
(USA) Bullseye Records BLR-CD-4060 (2004)
CD1: 25 tracks / 76:12 / CD2: 25 tracks / 77:13 / 16-page booklet
(Bonus) Promo CD3: 23 tracks / 67:13 / no booklet

As the makers of tributes to The Bay City Rollers, The Sweet and Klaatu (reviewed in BU 146), Bullseye finally released this long-awaited set of Beatles covers, performed by some pretty familiar names (Andrew Gold, Al Kooper, Klaatu members Terry Draper and Dee Long) as well as bands and artists from Canada (obviously) to Australia and Croatia. This is the kind of CD release which makes every collector’s mouth water: a double album brimful of cover versions and an extra bonus disc of ‘left-overs’ for quick buyers. Once again, the White Album concept is used for the sleeve of this 73 tracks compilation, which is a real treasure trove, without the obligate Yesterday, Michelle and And I Love Her. Instead, all three track listings show a broad selection from the Beatles career (including a fair amount of Harrison tunes) and are either taken from the performers’ own original albums or specifically recorded for this project. A couple of songs appear twice and a few artists were included more than once, too. The two discs are book-ended by two versions of Sie Liebt Dich, in the shape of a tiny prologue and a full, basic busker version. In between, there’s a broad spectrum of music styles, from ska-style (Fixing A Hole), cha cha cha rhythm (I’m Happy Just To Dance With You), country (I’ve Just Seen A Face), punk (Eight Days A Week), blues (Eleanor Rigby), synthi-pop (I Want To Tell You), drum-and-bass (Oh! Darling-disc 3), rock-a-billy (Little Child), Hawaiian atmosphere (in the only non-Beatles song Till There Was You) and surf sound (You’re Gonna Lose That Girl-disc 3). Some of the songs are really cast in a different mould, with a (much) heavier guitar playing, difference in vocals or a speeded-up tempo. The variety can either be found in little features or major adjustments. As such you will find new sound effects (other animal sounds in Good Morning), intriguing whistle sounds and acoustic guitar picking (Because), new guitar lines (Norwegian Wood), different pacing of vocals (I Feel Fine), new intro (phone-call in Don’t Bother Me, a cappella in You’re Gonna Lose That Girl-disc 2), different backing (reggae-ish rhythm, without losing the original psychedelic touch, in Blue Jay Way or alternative singing over just handclapping and guitar playing in I Saw Her Standing There), the 1-minute instrumental part of I Want You, an unannounced inclusion of other Beatles songs (Polythene Pam and She Loves You in The Fool On The Hill), singing over a wall of guitar sound (Oh! Darling-disc 2), handclapping, bouncing drums and twangy guitar (Good Night), a hidden track on disc 2 (Blackbird, with new lyrics about this tribute), live versions (I’m Down, She Loves You), female vocals (fragile young in Here, There And Everywhere or begging and screaming in Why Don’t We Do It In The Road), a duet (Julia), fragments of Everly Brothers music (Little Child) and some versions which simply remain as beautiful as the original (Long Long Long). It surely made my curiosity for the next performance grow with every song and I hardly skipped tracks. Need I say more? This disc set was absolutely worth the wait! The booklet of the 2-CD gives detailed info on the origin of the original Beatles songs and their charts data, though nothing about the performers. However, full liner notes of the project can be found on the company’s website. (B.U. 180)

Compilation - It Was 40 Years Ago Today
(USA) Art Monkey Records AM019 (2004)
21 tracks / 64:18 / 4-page booklet

New York artists and bands cover songs from the final years of the Beatles career, besides two non-Beatles tunes, Twist And Shout and Dizzy Miss Lizzie. The music styles presented here are as varied as you can imagine, from a punk version of Rain / Carry That Weight, a futuristic Across The Universe with accompanying sound effects and a vague sitar to a very basic acoustic Cry Baby Cry. No less than three songs appear twice, all in different versions. Female vocals in some of the songs are an attracting feature, as is the use of exotic instruments in a slowed down version of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Don’t Pass Me By with hoarse vocals and an intriguing new instrumental backing and a Tom Waits-like instrumental approach of Norwegian Wood. The bonus track Eleanor Rigby has some distorted vocals, in no way faithful to the original. And if that’s not enough, the added extra that all proceeds from the sales go to the Adopt-a-Minefield foundation should immediatley urge you to go and buy this set of contemporary bands showing the everlasting impact the Beatles songs still have. (B.U. 177)

Compilation - K-tel Presents The Magic Of Lennon & McCartney
(UK) K-tel ECD 3744 (2003)
14 tracks / 45:11 / 4-page booklet

Once more a budget release with a bunch of those ‘re-recordings by the original artist or one or more members of the original group’. Compilations like this are a blessing for collectors who otherwise have to buy numerous releases of all these artists, of whom one or two of such cover versions have been included. Of some of the artists, the tracks were taken from their own full cover versions album (Denny Laine, Gerry Marsden). Since there have been similar packages before, the only question one has to ask is: are there any new songs taken in or is it simply a re-shuffled track listing with a re-designed CD booklet? The parade of songs on this disc shows some of the familiar re-recordings by Billy J Kramer, the Fourmost and former Apple artists Badfinger and Mary Hopkin. This leaves perhaps one or two possible new founds in a set of Beatles songs, give-aways and solo material, played in various music styles. Still, details on recording dates of these songs would be more than welcome - so why not really include such info, like it’s promised on the disc as ‘see sleeve for full track details’? (B.U. 174)


Released over a period of one year, these five volumes present a major part of the French interpretations of Beatles compositions. Jean-Claude Hocquet and Eric Krasker’s 2005 book, La France Et Les Beatles was the starting point for this set, when Martial Martinay from French reissue label, Magic Records (see also BU 151 and 181), asked for their help in releasing a compilation of French covers. And when vinyl collectors Lauent Giacomelli, Daniel Campy and Yvon Marie were asked to join the team, there was access to some obscure, unique recordings (I Trovatori, Les Blue Notes, Szabo, André Vasseur, a.o.). Excluded were instrumentals (such as Haricots Rouges’ version of Your Mother Should Know)  and those published in Canada (some of which are available on the Disques XXI-21 Records release, Beatles 101). The artists include an international singer like Petula Clark and original French entertainers from Johnny Halliday and an ‘unknown female singer’ to Les Lionceaux (who already had their Beatlesrepertoire released on CD). The French versions are either straight translations or  have completely new lyrics (in some songs a few English lines or words from the original lyrics remained). Some of the translated songs have been recorded more than once and a few compositions have up until three different translations. All Beatles LP’s but the White Album are represented by at least one cover version (Back In The USSR, as Valérie Et Albert by Au Bonheur Des Dames was recorded in 1976 and therefore omitted). The repertoire further  includes some of the Lennon-McCartney give-away tunes and even some not much covered songs, such as Don’t Bother Me, Tell Me Why, When I Get Home, You Like Me Too Much and You Know My Name. Each volume has the songs in chronological order and therefore all albums end with songs by Gerard Saint-Paul, whose ‘10 Hits De Lennon & McCartney’ LP (1970) focussed on the Beatles’ later period ands early solo years. The CD booklets are all equally designed, mentioning the artist, the translated title plus the Beatles song title and all the original picture covers or album sleeves. Still, details about the origin of the cover versions would have been welcome, too. Despite this and an unfortunate sequel (two versions of She Loves You after each other) or the few errors on Volume 3 (justly rectified on volume 4), this set will simply stand as the most complete collection of French sung Beatles cover versions from the 1963-1970 period. Similar French compilations stuck to one disc (the bonus disc ‘Les Francais Chantent Les Beatles’ that came along with the French magazine Jukebox and which ‘can only serve as the tip of the iceberg’ - see BU 157) or were part of a broader series (volumes 12, 13 and 17 of the Les Chouchous Des Annees 60 set). A treasure that should attract all Beatles fans and serves as an  excellent example for any country with similar repertoire waiting for CD release. (with special thanks to Yvon Marie) (B.U. 193)

Vol. 1 : (FRA) Magic Records 3930591 (2006)
21 tracks / 53:25 / 4-page booklet

Vol. 2: (FRA) Magic Records 3930595 (2006)
21 tracks / 52:42 / 4-page booklet

Vol. 3: (FRA) Magic Records 3930618 (2006)
21 tracks / 49:03 / 4-page booklet

Compilation - Laulava Sydän: The Beatles
(FIN) EMI Parlophone 724353248628 (2001)
21 tracks / 52:44 / 8-page booklet

During holidays family and friends sometimes find interesting foreign cover versions for me and it was this year that my daughter found about this disc. It appeared to be the result of a TV special, in which twenty Finish singers (two appearing as a duo), accompanied by a backing band, each perform a Beatles song in their native language. The songs, put in chronological order, form a cross-section of the Beatles repertoire and have been translated by eighteen writers, of whom Juha Vainio took care of eleven lyrics, as opposed to others who’ve done one or two. Some of the translated songs still have the original title - mainly those with a name in it (although Bungalow Bill becomes Viidakko Jim), but the rest remains abracadabra to non-Finish readers. Our contact assured, that most of the lyrics are quite close to the original contents. Michelle also still has the French parts included and for All You Need Is Love a few original features remained: the ‘love, love love’ bit and the fragments of Yesterday and She Loves You in the finale. In Yellow Submarine, the sound effects were re-done with the instruments and voices. On all the songs, the instrumental backing is very much like the original, so the main difference can be found in the singing, because there’s a varied mix of male, female and an occasional duo. The singers sound professional, either very solemn or rough rocking. But it all remains neatly within the limits, there are no extremities in the vocal styles, although it’s usually a funny feature to hear your favourite songs in another, unintelligible language - well, here’s a double album full of it. So one more release in a country’s own language to add to your collection, following similar releases in Spain, Germany, France, Hungary, a.s.o. (B.U. 174)


Compilation - Lost Songs Of Lennon & McCartney: From A Window
(USA) RPH Productions RPH-10 (2003)
17 tracks / 48:55 / digi-pack with 10-page booklet

And there we have another set of songs the Beatles gave away to other artists or bands and initially didn’t include on their own albums. Later on, as we all know, it was the Anthology series that finally took in a few of the Beatles own recordings of these so-called give-away songs. The three performers on the above album are B52’s own Kate Pierson, Graham Parker and Bill Janovitz (of Buffalo Tom). The CD kicks off with Kate Pierson singing, "I'm In Love", with some heavier guitar and the way she sings do - ooooh is very B-52ish. It’s also the first example of some of the role changes on the disc: either the lyrics are slightly altered (as seen from a woman’s perspective: my kind of ‘boy’ instead of ‘girl’) or a male singer as opposed to the original version is performing a song. Like their originals, they all clock in around 3 minutes and generally follow the same vocal and instrumental backing lines, but the arrangements are sturdier and often feature rougher vocals. Janovitz’ versions remind you of early Elvis Costello (Hello Little Girl), whereas other renditions vary from slower, relaxed versions (It’s For You) to acoustic guitar and violin accompanied ballad (Woman) or reggae (Tip Of My Tongue). Nice new instruments can be heard (harmonica, in World Without Love) or handclapping (the album’s swinging final track, I’ll Be On My Way). Given their original sweetness, some of these ‘lost songs’ are bettered by the boost-up approaches on this set, but it still goes to show how truly brilliant the original recordings in essence are. (B.U. 173)
(Review partly co-written by Frank C. Branchini)

Frank C. Branchini on one of the live performances of Lost Songs of Lennon and McCartney, at Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD, on 20 May 2003: ‘I heard the news that Bill Janovitz would not be performing in Annapolis. Since he does lead vocals on six of the seventeen songs on the Lost Songs release, I wondered how they were going to cover his absence and if they would be able to pull this show off. The live performances have a substantially harder edge than the recordings. The band sometimes threatened to overpower the vocals, and the sound was sometimes rough. Marc Copley did a truly outstanding and remarkable job covering for Janovitz. He has an interesting voice and his vocal on Woman was simply stunning. Not only did he completely blow away the recorded version by Janovitz, he blew away the Peter and Gordon version. He performed the song with real feeling. He gave it heart and soul. He got lost during the instrumental break but quickly recovered. It was an exciting performance, the high point of the evening. He performed another stunning heartfelt vocal performance on World Without Love. Come And Get It drew the biggest response from the crowd during the evening. Graham Parker did I'll Keep You Satisfied, which Bill Janovitz performed on the CD. The band performance of Catswalk was truly outstanding. It gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their considerable talents as musicians. Nobody I Know had a particularly pretty and delicate instrumental arrangement. The guitar work on the performance was lovely. Graham Parker played a recording of the Tommy Quickly version of Tip Of My Tongue before playing the song. The reggae flavour of Parker's version worked better live than it does on the record. Love Of The Loved featured an extended vocal fadeout with Kate Pierson singing in a way that pleasantly reminded me of Love Shack. (B.U. 173)

The original tracklistings of the seven EP’s:

Compilation - Nothing Is Real
In 2001, I bumped into the yuccatree website, and saw details about a Beatles Tribute box set, titled ‘Nothing Is Real’. Housed in a wooden box, it comprised of seven vinyl EP’s and a CD and was released by Pink Lemon Records in a limited run of 200. A promising addition to my collection, I thought, but despite my enquiries, nothing tangible came towards me. Looking back, it turned out to be a test pressing only, which so far has not been made commercially available. But now we can offer you exclusive details of this project, complete with a review of the compilation CD!

When you look at the names mentioned in this project, there are a few familiar names who have appeared on these pages before: Yukio Yung, Matmosphere, Todd Dillingham and R. Stevie Moore, who’ve appeared on Jarmusic’s 1996 Without The Beatles compilation LP (BU 129), all but Dillingham with another cover. Moore was also present in BU 165, with his own Beatles tribute album, of which two instrumentals are included here as well as a new vocal version of I’m Only Sleeping. On the compilation CD, in between two Beatles-related songs, Beatles Requiem and The Blue Beetle (a collage of numerous Beatles song shreds), most artists are included with two songs. And like the Without The Beatles compilation, it is not the average collection of cover versions. First there’s the selection of songs: Cry For A Shadow, three White Album tracks, Free As A Bird, Working Class Hero, From A Window (as Past Your Window), Child Of Nature and mainly later period songs as well as the oft-covered Michelle, And I Love Her and Yesterday. Besides that, the disc includes a wide variety of surprising unconventional renditions. This includes an intriguing, threatening sound in Working Class Hero,  a mix of hard rock and experimental keyboard playing with narration, fully new lyrics and melody and recognizable parts at the beginning and end (Helter Skelter), a reggae-ish Fool On The Hill built around an intriguing organ sound, M.A.L.’s Langley Schools Music Project-like approach of Let It Be, party-versions by Ablaze, possibly recorded in one take, a dark Nick Cave sound-alike interpretation of Yesterday, Tomorrow Never Knows, performed in an advanced psychedelic way and a busker version of From A Window. These tracks alternate with instrumentals, such as R. Stevie Moore’s tracks, the loud and occasionally cacophonic Cry For A Shadow, highly relaxed acoustic guitar versions of And I Love Her and Michelle as well as the beautiful Child Of Nature guitar version. It all leads to only one conclusion: it’s a pity such a project didn’t get off the ground! (B.U. 183)
All pictures and cover design: © by red-garlic & Yucca Tree Records
et:www.yuccatree.org (no longer in use) / http://murff.ch/ytr/index.html

Beatles 1 (White EP):
Steve Andrews - Let It Be
Steve Andrews - Working Class Hero
The Conspiracy - Me And My Monkey
The Conspiracy - I’m So Tired

Beatles 2 (Orange EP):
Trespassers W - Dr. Robert
Estos No Son Pagagos - The Word
Doctor Divago - Glass Onion
Saskia & Ronnie - She’s Leaving Home
Bene Gesserit - Yellow Submarine
Bene Gesserit - Blackbird

Beatles 3 (Blue EP):
Yukio Yung - Octopus’s Garden
Yukio Yung - Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight
Yukio Yung - The End
Yukio Yung - Good Day Sunshine
Yukio Yung - Flying

Beatles 4 (Black EP):
Buddy & The Huddle - Drive My Car
Buddy & The Huddle - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Rapplczek - I Need You
Sonderfeld - We Can Work It Out

Beatles 5 (Red EP):
Alan Jenkins & The Creams - Tomorrow Never Knows
R. Stevie Moore - Eleanor Rigby
R. Stevie Moore - And Your Bird Can Sing
R. Stevie Moore - Big Small Tapes 2
Kramer - You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

Beatles 6 (Green EP):
Matmosphere - Tomorrow Never Knows
Mandra Gora Lightshow Society - Norwegian Wood
Kitchen Cynics - What’s The New Mary Jane
Louis Philippe - I’m Only Sleeping
Todd Dillingham - Helter Skelter

Beatles 7 (Mint EP):
Doc Wör Mirran - Tomorrow Never Knows
Harald “Sack” Ziegler - Rain
Harald “Sack” Ziegler - Oh Darling
Diledadafish - Day Tripper
Diledadafish - Revolution.

Compilation - Nothing Is Real
(FRA) Pink Lemon Records Pink010 (Not Released)
21 tracks / 1:16:58 / cardboard sleeve

Compilation - Rubber Folk
(UK) Gott Discs Gottcd035 (2005)
14 tracks / 43:17 / 8-page booklet

On 7 December 2005, BBC2’s Mike Harding celebratedthe 40th anniversary of the release of Rubber Soul in his show and gathered folk music’s crème de la crème to have a go at songs from that album. The magnificent result of this can be heard on this CD, which follows the original tracklisting, with artists including Waterson; Carthy, Paul Brady, Ralph McTell, June Tabor and Fairground Attraction’s Eddi Reader. The music style is an obvious choice for this album and within that concept there’s still much variety to be enjoyed, since almost all artists succeeded in making the song their own. It starts with a pumping piano accompanied Drive My Car by Jim Moray and the harmonious Waterson: Carthy with Norwegian Wood, via Ralph McTell, who sounds very much like a French singer in Michelle, a-cappella or (almost) unaccompanied versions of Think For Yourself, Girl and In My Life, a bluesy The Word and a brilliant, fragile Wait by Cara Dillon. It’s all rounded off by If I Needed Someone, with Eastern elements and Spiers & Boden’s version of Run For Your Life, in a nice traditional folk style. All in all a Beatles album tribute of which most renditions stick in your memory for a long time, right after the first listening session. (B.U. 193)

Compilation - Songs From The Material World - A Tribute To George Harrison
(USA) Koch Records 238 390-2 (2003)
12 tracks / 54:32 / 8-page fold-out booklet

This release has a mix of well-known performers and unfamiliar names performing nine Beatles-era and three solo Harrisongs. Todd Rundgren is already known for his perfect imitations of a few Beatles songs and the Beatles pastiche Deface The Music, now he does the same with While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Focussing on a Beatle’s solo material sometimes means not much covered songs are covered, which is the case here with songs like Devil's Radio (really strong rocking, but with sinister vocals) and Give Me Love (Dave Davies performing George Harrison is worth the price of this disc. Dave never sounded more like his brother Ray. The instrumental backing is kind of funky). On the other hand, a cover version of Savoy Truffle is a rarity, too (They Might Be Giants’s version here has uneven vocals backed by Greek dance style instrumental). Then there is John Entwistle’s Here Comes The Sun with Steve Luongo providing a good vocal. Big Head Toad reinvented Within You Without You by giving it an Eastern flavour, backed by tom-toms and bells. Old Brown Shoe’s done in a much rougher, dirtier style than the original, by former Mountain member Leslie West. And what about having one of the original Stones playing Taxman? Pity though that the vocals are so whining. The final track, Isn't It A Pity has vocal work, which is outstanding, particularly during the extended fade out with bells, guitars and Beach Boys-like harmonies. Only a few outers on this otherwise musically varied collection should not refrain you from buying this album and benefiting the Material World Charitable Foundation in one go. (B.U. 173)
(Review partly co-written by Frank C. Branchini)
www.universalmusic.nl / http://new.umusic.com /  www.kochentertainment.com

Compilation - Stax Does The Beatles
(USA) Concord Music Group 0888072303904
15 tracks / 68:21 / 12-page booklet

A lot of soul versions of Beatles songs have been released over the years and some of them were hit records, too. Compilations of Motown artists performing Beatles have seen the light for years already and now finally there’s a collection of selected artists and bands from the Stax soul label performing Beatles songs and Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. And I Love Her by Reggie Miller appears for the first time on CD and four other tracks are even previously unreleased (such as an alternate take of Otis Redding’s famous Day Tripper and a live version of Yesterday by Carla Thomas). Of course, the Booker T. & The MG’s McLemore Avenue mirrored Abbey Road album tracks and is well-known in this field. On this set, they are included with no less than four instrumental tracks taken from other albums (one more if you count band member Steve Cropper’s solo version of With A Little Help From My Friends, too). Another instrumental band, The Bar Kays, also comes with more than one album track and you’re treated to Isaac Hayes’ lengthy version (11:47) of Something. Two songs appears twice: With A Little Help From My Friends and Yesterday. Not withstanding that there are more instrumentals than vocal versions, this set proves that these soul artists really knew how to make these songs their own and with a collection like this there’s no need to buy separate albums - the informative booklet lets you know where to look otherwise. (B.U. 202)

Compilation - Step Inside Love
(GER) ESC Records ESC 03719-2 (2007)
CD1: 12 tracks / 62:26 / 24-page booklet
CD2: 13 tracks / 71:29 / 24-page booklet

From the jazz and fusion label comes this double album’s worth of renditions from various sources and covering Beatles songs taken from (applause!) every phase of their career (including the not so often covered The Word and Wait), a give-away tune (Step Inside Love), a solo song (Imagine) and a tribute song (Vinnie Zummo’s Fab Gear, which vaguely sounds like I Want You [She’s So Heavy]). This set offers a lot of instrumentals, lengthy jazz versions with improvisations unrelated to the familiar melodies: there’s an alternate, highly entertaining version of Dear Prudence and the songs Across The Universe, I Will and Hey Bulldog all start familiar but are altered halfway. What remains is an album full of easy-listening versions, instrumentals, surprising arrangements, laid-back vocal performances (mainly by female artists - some of which who have produced a full Beatles covers album on their own: Connie Evingson and Lisa Lauren and in between are ‘one off’ cover versions. Although every artist and every song appear just one time, there are two exceptions: Mike Miller has the honour of having two tracks on the first CD: instrumental versions of Julia and I Am The Walrus, neatly placed after another and there are two versions of Imagine, a piano accompanied version by Laurence Elder and a swinging, up-tempo jazzy one by Nefertiti. The booklet with details about each track and the artists only lacks info on the origin of each cover version. Anyway, it still leads to the conclusion that it’s an amazing collection of otherwise hard to find cover versions for your Sunday mornings (or any other time of the week!) (B.U. 202)

Compilation - Taste Of Christmas
(USA) Warcon Records WRCN03 (2005)
18 tracks / 1:01:08 / fold-out poster

The original version still has the impact it had for years now, but this compilation starts with a cover version that may be worth buying the disc for. Amongst versions of both new and well-known Christmas tunes, like Jingle Bells, The First Noel and Last Christmas in either heavy and speeded-up hardcore versions and neat melodious renditions, ready for the next Christmas sing-along, there's a truly amazing version of Happy Christmas (War Is Over), by experimental percussion band Street Drum Corps and sung by Bert McCracken (frontman of the band Used, who’s also present). The promotional video for the song shows the band banging on garbage cans and rattling with chains, whereas another clip has the same performance, but mingled with a video of boy thinking of his father going to war. (B.U. 188)

Compilation - The Beatles Discovered The Tribute CD
(USA) Belmo Publishing CD-R (2005)
24 tracks / 76:26 / cardboard sleeve

This is an album’s worth of Beatles cover versions compiled by a collector, and that shows: the music styles range from jazz (Norwegian Wood), bluegrass (the medley I’ve Just Seen Her Face / We Can Work It Out), surf (Help), rap (used in Why Don’t We Do It In The Road), acappella (I’ve Just Seen Her Face), soul (The Long And Winding Road), an instrumental version of She Said She Said, a thunderous hard rocking Tomorrow Never Knows and minimal music (Long Long Long). Unknown performers (‘his name is alive’), famous ones (Adrian Belew with two live covers) and names that have been in these columns before (Thurston Lava Tube) were selected from Belmo’s circle of musician friends to perform a wide variety of songs from the Beatles songbook. Some of the selections already appeared on the 1996 CD, “Belmo’s Beatleg News Presents: The Tribute CD [Not The Beatles]” and a few artists appear twice on this disc, such as Steph Paynes with Ted Greenwald, who are present with two tribute songs. The Beatles also pass by nearly at the end, talking about cover versions (a track which also appeared on Exotic Beatles Vol. 3). Different music styles and a few perfect soundalike versions (Because) go side by side with some hilarious stuff like a Strauss-like Viennese waltz version of an unrecognizable Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, a mix-up of Here Comes The Sun and Sgt Pepper, titled Here Comes The Sgt Pepper, Yesterday featuring a lazy harmonica and spoken lyrics, by Norton Buffalo and Lisa Flores, a weird version Strawberry Fields Forever by father and daughter Ridley, which wouldn’t misfit on samplers in the same tradition (Exotic Beatles and I Hate The Beatles) and last but not least a really beautiful acoustic rendition of I’m A Loser, by Michal Moon. All in all, a collection that is just what you might expect from a promotional disc of a cover versions book (reviewed in BU 181). (B.U. 183)

Compilation - The Beatles’ Hottest Hits Performed By Danish Sixties Garage-Rock Bands
(DEN)  Grufus Records Hot2 (2006)
23 tracks / 64:51 / fold-out sleeve

ThomasGjurup has compiled various albums of material from Danish sixties bands for his hobby label Grufus. This Beatles-focussed collection includes a set of mainly early sixties songs and a few later period ones, from I Saw Her Standing There to Don’t Pass Me By (credited to Lennon-McCartney!) and there’s even the not much covered Doctor Robert as well as two versions of My Bonnie. Nearly all are rough, primitive recordings (Things We Said Today and No Reply sound as if the microphone was in the room next door) and ditto performances with either unbalanced instrumental backing or uneven singing (in Misery the band seems to lose track of music style or rhythm). The bands generally try to do a sound-alike version or carefully toss in a new melody line or additional instrument (Penny Lane, Don’t Pass Me By) or copy another cover version (Danny & The Royal Strings’ version of Day Tripper copies Otis Redding’s interpretation). But in a way the attraction lies in this simplicity and it gives an idea of the impact the Beatles had in Denmark to ardent garage bands, who all often unsuccessfully tried to jump on the Beatlemania bandwagon. The use of the Beatles’ Hottest Hits LP sleeve (the rare Danish 1965 non-album tracks compilation) wraps it all up very nicely. Similar releases from this Hottest Hits cover versions series include albums of songs from Beatles, Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group and one of American Garage Rock Hits and one more Beatles  / Stones version is in the pipeline! (B.U. 192)
E-mail: beat-at-grufus.dk

Compilation - The Beatles - Un Regard Francais
(FRA) Saphyr 6006 (2005)
27 tracks / 66:40 / 300-page book

Thierry Liesenfeld’s ‘Les Beatles Et La France’ book was reviewed in BU 189, but the accompanying bonus disc should have its proper place in this column, of course. Besides mentioning some of the French cover versions throughout the book, one chapter of the book lists details of the numerous French cover versions / translations, as made in France and Canada. The compilation is a representative selection from that list and comprises of 14 covers as recorded during the Beatles era as well as 12 contemporary releases, by bands like Patchwork, Let Hit Be and Swedish band The Repeatles (whose albums have all been reviewed in these columns). This combination of French, Canadian and contemporary versions is the disc’s major attraction. The track listing of the first set shows a chronological order of French versions of various Beatles songs by different bands (there’s only a small amount of individual vocalists here). The songs vary from translated versions of Love Me Do and Devil In Her Heart to Harrison’s You Like Me Too Much, Strawberry Fields Forever, Your Mother Should Know up until The Ballad Of John And Yoko and Let It Be (both performed by Gerard Saint-Paul). As opposed to that first set, the second part includes cover versions with the original English lyrics, from Twist And Shout, I’m Down and I’m Only Sleeping to no less than three tracks by The Repeatles. There’s a mix of Xerox-versions as well as interpretations with newly arranged instrumentation (Tony Victor’s Plus La Même / You Can’t Do That) or an odd piano piece  (Lady Madonna) and although the English sung versions don’t all have a perfect pronunciation, the vocals and harmonies are usually pleasant. The book alone was an interesting and informative read and this free CD compilation is a fine extra treat, which shows the Beatles impact in Franceand Canada, from the Beatlemania days till now. (B.U. 193)

Compilation - The Loser’s Lounge Tribute To George Harrison
(USA) CD (2004)
22 tracks / 1:19:43 / DIY-booklet

And there we have another George Harrison tribute sampler, released by Loser’s Lounge in a series of live tributes to various artists or bands. Recorded at The Fez in New York City, the various acts, including a few duets, present a well-selected showcase of Harrison’s compositions: seven Beatles songs (including Long Long Long and Blue Jay Way), eleven solo compositions (including Wah Wah, Far East Man and Shanghai Surprise), the Traveling Wilbury’s hit Handle With Care and three give-away songs: Badge, Tandoori Chicken and Photograph. One of the most surprising aspects here is the high percentage of female vocalists, almost all with an Americana /  country-ish sound. Other songs are generally performed in the same mood as the originals with new instruments added (violin in Far East Man, flute in Dark Horse), though with somewhat stronger performances and only occasional sound-alike vocals. Photograph is one of the only fully re-interpreted versions and smaller new features include doo-wop-showaddy-waddy harmonies in All Those Years Ago, My Sweet Lord with a continuous Stars On 45-like rhythmic handclapping throughout the song, Blue Jay Way freed from its psychedelic sound and after a series of tougher songs, Long Long Long as an intimate break with intriguing pining vocals and culminating into a cacophonic finale. And only some applause at the end of a song makes you aware of the live aspect of the performances. (B.U. 183)

Compilation - The Music Of The Beatles (Box Set):
(CAN) BCI Music 60215-2 (1998)

Three tribute CD’s, subtitled ‘Symphonic Pop’ are available separately and as this boxed set, all illustrated with details of Van Gogh paintings. The first disc is the umpteenth (often budget) release of the same material: the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choral Society, recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, conducted by Louis Clark and including that well-known ‘Beatlephonic Medley’ and indeed songs like Sgt Pepper, She’s Leaving Home, I Am The Walrus, Blackbird and one solo hit, Mull Of Kintyre. The other two discs are performances by the London String Orchestra and London Studio Art Orchestra, although there’s no mention on which tracks they actually perform. It is said that the Studio Art Orchestra only recorded Strawberry Fields Forever on the second disc and I have another version of that third disc, fully attributed to the London String Orchestra. Anyway, the compositions originate from the whole Beatles era, from If I Fell to A Day In The Life, Julia and Because. On the Across The Universe album, the violin often takes lead and follows the original melody, while only the backing on harp, strings, brass / wind instruments and drums provides little newly arranged melodies. On a few other tracks, a synthesizer plays the main melody (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Strawberry Fields Forever), a full orchestral intro sets off a song (Here, There And Everywhere) or a harpsichord, followed by strings and violin take turns in the leading role (Because) and there’s a surprising synthi-pop version of Let It Be. Still, it’s not all too varied and as such uninspiring to fully enjoy, as opposed to the third album, A Day In The Life, which is far more playful. Its first track, Penny Lane, already sets the fashion, with a new cheerful intro on piano and ditto performance for the rest of the song, including added back-up melodies. Most other tracks also have a fully new melody as intro - often without any relation to the original melody - and flute, trumpet, clarinet or orchestra play the lead melody, either solo or by taking turns. Besides that, in All You Need Is Love a chorus sings the ‘Love, love, love’ line and Come Together has a really funny intro, which goes on while the original melody line is played on strings and electric piano. The CD is rounded off with a 5:20 version of the title track, a solo piano performance which grows stronger and louder by the minute. (B.U. 183)

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
- The Music Of The Beatles
BCI Music 60209-2 (1994)
12 tracks / 46:34 / 4-page booklet

London String Orchestra / London Studio Art Orchestra
- The Music Of The Beatles / Across The Universe
BCI Music 60211-2 (1997)
12 tracks / 37:15 / 4-page booklet

London String Orchestra / London Studio Art Orchestra
- The Music Of The Beatles / A Day In The Life
BCI Music 60214-2 (1998)
12 tracks / 43:26 / 4-page booklet

Compilation - This Bird Has Flown
(USA) Razor & Tie 7930182948-2 (2005)
14 tracks / 43 :12 / digi-pack

A various artists compilation, released as a 40th anniversary tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album, performed by (established) contemporary artists and produced by Jim Sampas with tracks that follow the original listing of that album. One immediate striking thing is the amount of female singers - the set already starts off with four female performers. Some of the cover versions remain close to the original, whereas others have a fascinatingly different approach: an almost spoken version of Norwegian Wood, a reggae version of Michelle, a Kinks-sound in What Goes On, a constant annoying guitar riff and some cacophony at the end of I’m Looking Through You and minimal orchestral accompaniment in In My Life, with occasional swell of the music. As such this proves an inspiring effort which shows that even for today’s artists, the Beatles repertoire is still challenging and going strong. A promotional CDsingle (7930180860-2) includes two bonus tracks to this homage, although unrelated to Rubber Soul: I’ve Just Seen Her Face and It’s Only Love - a precursor of a future Help! tribute? The first is a laid-back version with subtle backing whereas the other leans more towards the original. (B.U. 188)
www.thisbirdhasflown.com / www.razorandtie.com

Compilation - Un Dia En La Vida - En Vivo - Musica De The Beatles
(PERU) DEA Promotora (2005)
CD1: 19 tracks / 1:06:11 / CD2: 18 tracks / 1:02:26 / 4-page booklet

On 7 and 8 December 2004, the 15th edition of the yearly event Un Dia En La Vida (A Day In The Life) was organized in Lima, Peru. The concert is a tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison, performed by Peruvian musicians and orchestra - unfortunately the CD booklet doesn’t mention which band or artist performs on which song. This time, the show opened with a presentation on the Beatles history (with small clips of original songs), followed by Come Together, performed by children of the musicians. The rest of the concert jumps up and down through their career: Sexy Sadie, Martha My Dear, In My Lie, I’ll Be Back, Love Me Do and, naturally, A Day In The Life. Harrison homages include a trio of songs, sitar-laden renditions of Norwegian Wood, Within You Without You and Love You Too; tributes to Lennon are of course omnipresent and also include two solo songs, Cold Turkey and Imagine. There’s an occasional sound-alike vocal and most, but not all, are absent of accent and mispronunciation. Some of the announcements last nearly a minute, which annoys you when you’re not familiar with the language. The live performances all follow the originals in singing, instrumental backing and the well-known features, without improvisations, new arrangements or a different music style, but that’s probably exactly what the audience came for. Their participation in songs like Don’t Let Me Down, Imagine and the two finale songs, Hey Jude and Get Back proves their enthusiasm for such an admirable annual initiative. (B.U. 183)
Thanks to: Carlos Hironaka
www.beatlemaniaperu.com / www.beatlesclubperu.com

Compilation Un Dia En La Vida, En Vivo - Homenaje A John Lennon
(PERU) DEA Promotora (2006)
18 tracks / 1:12:23 / 4-page booklet

Peruvian musicians once again gathered for their annual Beatles tribute, titled Un Dia En La Vida (A Day In The Life), this time commemorating 25 years since John Lennon’s death. Like its 2-CD predecessor (see BU 183), this compilation includes Beatles songs and two of Lennon’s solo compositions (Woman and Imagine). There’s a lot of similarity between the two albums: nearly half of the songs on this disc also appeared on the previous double album, although on a Lennon tribute, one may question the inclusion of songs like All My Loving, And I Love Her, Yesterday, Golden Slumbers, Let It Be and Hey Jude. Again there’s a Harrison-tribute included, with My Sweet Lord and Something, interrupted by a rock and roll medley. This time there are no long announcements, which make the CD more pleasant to listen to. Like previous time, the track listing shows a lacklustre of Beatles songs, all performed in ‘as close as it gets’ and audience-appreciated Xerox style - with variable results in relation to pronunciation and sound-alike quality. Hey Jude is again one of the finale songs, with obvious audience participation. The CD booklet mentions the performers but doesn’t detail who’s playing which song. (B.U. 190)
www.beatlemaniaperu.com / www.beatlesclubperu.com

Compilation - Zona Pepper’s 103 Club Band
(Peru) TDV Media & Entertainment (2007)
14 tracks / 46:11 / digipack

Celebrating 40 years of Sgt Pepper, various artists and bands (both familiar and new names) from  Peru perform one song each of that Beatles album, either with the original English lyrics, a Spanish translation / interpretation or English fragments appearing in the Spanish versions. The Spanish performances generally convince more than their English counterparts. Some versions stay close to the original melody, whereas others include sound effects (Good Morning Good Morning) or fragments from other Beatles songs (I Am The Walrus in Lovely Rita). Most of the performances are stronger, heavier than the originals (a grunge-rocking Within You Without You, for instance, while With A Little Help From My Friends sounds very Zappa-like and then A Day In The Life: it starts very spacey, followed by acoustic guitar and drumming, and modest, almost whispered vocals, in a duet with the original Beatles, the familiar count-down: all in all a weird but exciting mix-up of original and Spanish interpretation, rounded off by a Spanish sounding cover version of the ‘inner groove’. (B.U. 201)

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