Rock elite and kindred spirits try to put a new spin on perennial classics – with much gusto and mixed results.
Covering The Fabs used to be a blessing an a curse. For musicians who started out in the ’60s-’70s the Liverpudlians’ songs were part of their staple and growing-up routine, yet putting their own stamp on those has always been a challenge. Not that it stopped anybody from trying, as suggested by a plethora of tribute albums by both individual performers and various artists. There’s nothing new on this one, belonging to the latter category and comprised of the cuts which previously appeared on "Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles" and other compilations, but there’s still an occasional personalized standout to savor and relish.
Of course, it’s nigh on impossible to see what Steve Morse brought to the Richard Page-voiced “Here Comes The Sun” in the absence of guitar solo, and it’s hard to assess anew “Norwegian Wood” which Andrew Gold tried to lift off the ground – because these two pieces are among those that stay too close to the originals. As a result, in a few cases it’s down to distinctive, instantly recognizable vocals rendering lifelong favorites, reproduced in fairly familiar arrangements, rather special – only Jack Bruce would drench “Eleanor Rigby” in drama and only John Wetton could turn “Penny Lane” into a magical mystery tour, thus fully justifying this disc’s title.
However, a pair of psychedelia-peddling performers in display push the definition of “legends” – despite the fact that SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN ELECTRIC MOON made every effort to take, respectively, “Rain” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” beyond the pale. Best of all in the remolding of the classics to their own template succeeded self-contained entities such as AIR SUPPLY who filled “The Long And Winding Road” with enhanced ethereality and MOLLY HATCHET who infused “Back In The USSR” with groovy heaviness. Still, adding freshness to regular balladry fare, Glenn Hughes and Geoff Downes moved “Let It Be” from gospel to soul, and Judy Collins instilled “Yesterday” with the sort of emotionality which requires decades of existential experience.
So yes, there is a blessing to the curse.