BY BARRY ST. VITUS
It used to be fairly common to inquire of a friend or colleague, who their all-time favorite bands were. Some might have to give serious pause to it, while others might readily spit them out with great confidence, be it a Top 3 or Top 10 list. I have mine, which, for the Top 3 at least, have remained rock solid through the decades. Beatles were never part of either list, because, come on…. they’re a GIVEN! To me, the best band ever, so, no need to demean their greatness by putting them on some list. They almost single-handedly changed music forever, at least for the youth of my generation. Their influence carries through today and they will remain popular for future generations to come.
That’s why I was curious about this compilation, and the audacity of some young artists to reinterpret their music, once again. But, giving them the benefit of a doubt, one would assume that they would give it their best shot, and it would be a loving tribute to the four loveable lads from Liverpool. As far as the ‘psych out’ theme goes, there were several songs covered that I had my doubts about being relevant fodder for a psychedelic re-do of, i.e., “And I Love Her,” “Martha My Dear,” ‘Julia,” and “Cry Baby Cry.” More obvious ones, ripe for heavy psych reinterpretation and embellishment might have included “It’s All Too Much,” “Within You, Without You,” “She Said, She Said,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” ”Blue Jay Way,” or “Glass Onion.” I see a lot of juice to be squeezed from those. But, woulda-coulda-shoulda, you work with what you’ve got and go from there.
Electric Moon scored big, landing “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which every cover of that I’ve heard, from Monsoon to 801, is a sure-fire psych monster. This one doesn’t disappoint, either. Sugar Candy Mountain’s “Rain,” comes out sunny, shiny, paisley pop, ala the Rain Parade or the 3 O’Clock. John Lennon’s ”Julia,” is nicely re-imagined by the Vacant Lots, with a sound-mix mashup of “TNK” blended with “Gloria,” minus the spelling. The Blank Tapes roll out “The Word,” and deliver a smooth, fresh, take on the tune, but never quite cross the line into psychedelia with it, but, it is likeable. “Martha My Dear,” with the Ruby Suns, embraces the pure McCartney soul of the song, doses it with a lysergic production, and accomplishes transforming this near lullaby into a trippy number.
“Taxman,” as rendered by the KVB, was a surprise, totally transforming it into a dreamy, pop excursion, far from the original version. Likewise, the transformation of “Come Together” by The Underground Youth, is now a lush, electronica number. Fantasmes succeed with their pseudo-sitar-ish cover of “Love To You,” up to a point, but it’s nigh impossible to catch up to, let along surpass the original for its acidic high. Quilt’s version of “Cry Baby Cry” is pleasant enough, but doesn’t stray far from the original. So little, in fact, that it could almost be an alternative or lost out-take from the White Album sessions. The Lucid Dream, saddled with freaking out “And I Love Her,” mostly end up with a standard cover of it, but with lots of echo- chamber vocals layered in. Kikagaku Moyo offers up a rather creative, discombobulated “Helter Skelter,” the brown acid trip in this collection. But, considering the song’s unfortunate Manson Family connection, it’s a fair send-up of the darker side of the song.
“Sun King,” which wraps up the collection, is a very spacey makeover that you didn’t see coming. The Stranger Family Band do a rather hallucinatory rendition, complete with weird effects and over-dubs, and helium-high, mixed with slowed-down vocals, making for a strange trip, indeed.
Overall, the tribute is mostly a keeper, enjoyable and listenable. It succeeded in being a fun compilation, and while The Beatles don’t have much to worry about, competition wise, fans can dig a younger generation’s interpretation of these classics, for better of worse.
DOWNLOAD: “Taxman,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Rain,“ and “Julia.”