Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 2 Transforms the Familiar
What makes a cover album worth owning? It’s not having imitators trying to provide a faithful facsimile of the original; that’s not memorable (unless the artists fail, and then it can be hilarious). Taking familiar songs and remaking them by bringing something new to the interpretation, genre-bending, taking power rock acoustic, funkifying, or turning folk into metal—those are the things that contribute to awesome cover albums. After all, if you want to hear a Beatles’ song performed exactly like the Beatles did it, you’d buy a Beatles’ album.
There is an audience for cover music, as proven by AOL Radio’s Rock Covers (where we first heard Me First and the Gimme Gimmes) channel. It’s not unusual to hear a song that originally left you cold (or totally miffed) redone in a style that suddenly makes it acceptable, or better yet, worth downloading. On the new Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 2, “I Am the Walrus” is a prime example. The band that performs it is Pert Near Sandstone, and they give it a rapid-fire bluegrass treatment that transforms it. If you loved the Beatles’ recording of “I Am the Walrus,” it may not be to your liking, but if you’re one of the many who think (prepare for heresy) it’s played out, you will welcome this new rendition.
So go the sixteen songs performed by sixteen different groups and artists on Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 2. The Project is a collaboration among the Minnesota music and arts communities “to provide music and art programs in Minnesota public schools.” 100% of the net proceeds from album sales go into a grant fund available to all public schools throughout Minnesota. What a cool way to keep the arts alive!
Mason Jennings’ acoustic rendition of “Child of Nature” is a standout, as is Total Babe’s bubble-gummy interpretation of “Revolution.” Other songs are more subtly changed, such as “Good Morning Good Morning” by Soul Asylum which sounds like the “American version” (you have to hear it). The Beatles’ recording of “Your Bird Can Sing” is, of course, iconic; instead of attempting to achieve an approximation of its unique sound, Rogue Valley has chosen an almost-folk sound that refreshes this old (1966) favorite, and is totally removed from The Jam’s cover. Other notable cuts are The New Standards breathing new life into “Michelle,” and Sounds of Blackness’ funky, soulful “Hey Jude.”Continued on the next page