Purple Pyramid 2015
Popular Internet meme’s translation into (mostly) unplugged readings of the Fab Four’s fodder.
In no deficit of tributes to Liverpool’s finest it takes some guts for another one to stand out, but aren’t guts what acoustic strings are made of? Still, that’s performances, rather than the sound, that draw attention to this collection recorded under the guidance of YES associate Billy Sherwood who delivers “Something” himself while assigning other obvious choices to artists of major renown. Granted the material most of them grew up with, there might be too much reverence involved, like on Helen Reddy’s copy of “All You Need Is Love,” so only a few vocalists manage to make the selections their own.
The album’s dim highlights are provided by Jack Bruce reaching dramatic depth on the cello-downed “Eleanor Rigby,” his last-ever recording, and Andrew Gold, in the next world since 2011, softening the sarcasm of “Norwegian Wood.” Strange, given their personalities, that David Clayton-Thomas smoothes the edges of “Yesterday” and Leo Sayer doesn’t take “Hey Jude” beyond the blues – as opposed to THE MOTELS’ Martha Davis bringing out the best of the unplugged “Nowhere Man.” As far as simple sincerity goes, Judy Collins shines on the countrified “I’ll Follow The Sun” with its lap steel, whereas HEART’s Ann Wilson pours sultriness into the “Across The Universe” FX-spiced mantra.
Yet when it comes to expressing the Britishness of the Lennon-McCartney creations, John Wetton delves into his own childhood memories before Todd Rundgren sharpens the alienation behind “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” and Felix Cavaliere ups the parting pain for “Ticket To Ride.” These covers uncover the real secret to interpreting The Fabs’ songs, which is: not to keep calm especially when honoring your heroes. That’s the blind spot of the record that’s otherwise holds some magic.