For a number of years, the diligent record shop browser could find a succession of prairie tributes to various groups. They were dubbed the Pickin' On… series, headed by David West and, like this CD, also featured a bunch of sessioneers, as well as a name or two (Richard Greene, etc.). The releases leaned heavily, happily, on bluegrass and were more often than not great tributes full of excellent playing. I have a number of them (God only knows how many were actually issued) and find 'em irresistable. I mean, just one listen to Knockin' on Heaven's Door on the Pickin' on Dylan release, and you're heads over heels sold.
So, it was with a good deal of anticipation that I looked forward to this release, a Celtic / folk tribute to Lennon & McCartney done in jig, polka, reel, and somewhat straight modes. Like David West, Brian Hebert is a multi-instrumentalist (banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, bodhran) with a very refined touch, and he dominates the CD, though there are three other players (the bagpiper a sometime presence). His gifts run to arrangement as well, and that's the key here. Many tribute CDs become dry and tedious, but this one is invested with a great deal of attention to the possibilities each song offers, pulling up some of the Beatles' own roots and returning them to the source.
The catalogue chosen is early to mid, from Lennon & McCartney's debut up to the Sgt. Pepper period, leaving aside the later work. What's fascinating is how well Hebert remade the songs. I Wanna be Your Man is a baroque take with a great percussive middle eight transforming the rave-up into a considered air of Eire wrought with improv. I am not, as I've made clear, a fan of Celtic music but this crosses over into many other modes with a good deal of intelligence and care. I can't help but think the original writers would be impressed with it all in view of the artistry lavished and original thought bequeathed.
While listening to the disc, a buddy dropped by, started to talk about something that was on his mind, stopped, and said "Whoa, this is good stuff! Who is it?" I asked if he knew what song he was listening to. "No" was the reply. "She Loves You", I said. He stopped a moment, listened and answered "My God, it is! Who is that?" I showed him the CD. He took it home with him to play for his wife. Which means I'll have to be more careful in the future not to let friends in on the action until I'm already well done with my own attentions. On the other hand, now three people dig Any Time at All instead of one. Things work out.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles