Beatles cover album an endearing treat

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 2 has a simple platform: become the umpteenth million Beatles cover album, featuring small-time bands and up-and-coming musical groups from around the state.

Despite the almost uninspiring premise (after all, the Beatles really can’t be replicated), the CD comes off sounding sweet and endearing in spite of itself.

What could have been a simple ‘“Hey, me too!’” musical cacaphony ends up being a nice, quirky, at times slightly awkward take on music people still remember, sing and swear by today. In short, it’s literally and figuratively the Minnesota ya-sure-you-betcha of Beatles music.

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The CD touts performances by bigger Minnesota bands like Soul Asylum and the Sounds of Blackness. It’s the smaller, lesser-well known artists like Communist Daughter, Lookbook and P.O.S. which really make the CD, however.

While it’s not a bad track, Soul Asylum’s cover of ‘“Good Morning, Good Morning’” doesn’t have much of a catchy edge to it. It’s got Soul Asylum’s flair to it, but it doesn’t translate well to a Beatles song. The same could be said of Sounds of Blackness’s take on ‘“Hey Jude,’” which provides a gospel tone to an already soft ballad. It’s a decent song, but it just doesn’t capture attention.

Covers like Communist Daughter’s ‘“Golden Slumbers,’” a haunting, almost ethereal version of the Beatle’s soft tune make the album, surprising listeners. ‘“Real Love’” by Lookbook has the same spirit, changing the tune just enough to be catchy to the alternative crowd while not trying to be overly stylish or true to the Beatles sound. Some covers go overboard in changing the arrangements (Read: Pert Near Sandstone’s ‘“I am the Walrus’”), but those are few and far between.

The real shocker of the album is how catchy Edison High School made ‘“I Want To Hold Your Hand,’” using their choir and a big brass section to infuse a bit of marching band magic into the song.

All in all, the album is worth buying or downloading for Beatles fans and Minnesota-philes. It’s not the best cover album, but it’s endearing.