Listen To What The Man Said: Popular Artists Pay Tribute To The Music Of Paul McCartney
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Listen To What The Man Said is the first major tribute to Paul McCartneys post-Beatles work since their break-up over 30 years ago.
This project represents a two year labor of love for the producers and for all of the artists and contributors involved. The artists that make up this tribute were chosen after conducting an anonymous poll of Beatles and McCartney fans who were asked to submit a list of their top 15 choices. Over 1,000 responses in just 2 days were received. All of the artists that participated in the project donated their services and 100% of their artists royalties will be given to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation in memory of Linda McCartney.
...artists give many of the songs more of a blatant energy than even McCartney first gave. -- Hybrid Magazine (cont'd)
After a listen, I was a true believer that "Listen To What The Man Said" is worthy of Paul's talents. -- Jody Denberg, KGSR Program Director, Austin, TX
One of the most satisfying things about this tribute is how the personality and style of each of the... -- Hybrid Magazine, October 2, 2001
That Judybats song is worth $15 alone. -- Night Times, September 19, 2001
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This cd has one, and only one, worthwhile remake. "Maybe I'm Amazed" will knock you back, make you hit the "repeat" button, and probably cause you to search the internet for who in the world the "Virgos" are/is. If you can be happy with being treated to just one awesome, notched-up, tastefully raging version of an otherwise classic McCartney song, then buy this cd.
Other than this one song, hey, call me a non-McCartney buff, but I only recognized Band On The Run, Jet and Coming Up. These were all yawner-remakes. I had hopes that someone would improve on McCartney's unmelodic "woohoowoohoo" in Jet, but nope!
Was there a budget crunch, or what's up with this track listing? Where is Let 'Em In, Junior's Farm, Uncle Albert, Another Day, Live And Let Die, Silly Little Love Songs, My Love, Hi Hi Hi, Helen Wheels...?????
If you can snatch this one for a low price, and you dream of what "Maybe I'm Amazed" would sound like in a stepped-up, fiery pace, with some screams that will make your salt & pepper hair stand up, buy it!
This tribute has been organized for a good cause. Some of the proceeds from the sales of the record will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in the memory of Paul's wife, Linda. With such a respectable artist featured in the tribute, one can be assured that many top-of-the-line groups tried to get on the compilation. That said, it seems that a lot of care was taken in the choosing of what groups appeared here. The project's producers chose the groups and cuts that were closest to the marrow of McCartney's classics. No posers allowed. All the groups that appear on this disc are true McCartney fans.
There is a great variety of songs from throughout McCartney's solo career featured on the CD. Surprisingly, almost every track on the disc is solid. If nothing else, the songs are fun second-hand versions of the originals. None of the tunes are too drastically different from McCartney's, but there are some standout tracks that truly shine through. Owsley brings the CD to a lightning-fast start with a splendid version of one of McCartney's best known solo works, "Band On The Run." The guitars are a bit more distorted and aggressive sounding at times than on the original recording, but it feels right in the mix. SR-71 does a ripping version of "My Brave Face" that adds some punk rock to McCartney's version. The vocals are a bit snottier, and overall the tone is crunchier and more powerful. A couple members of the Barenaked Ladies and Lilac Time come together to deliver an ethereal version of "Junk." The mood they create feels like a some sort of sad carnival. Truly a nice track. Semisonic's rendition of "Jet" sounds surprisingly very close to the original aside from the vocals. "No More Lonely Nights" is given heartfelt treatment by The Merrymakers. They are more than up to the challenge of the classic original and bring an abundance of emotion to their version. Matthew Sweet delivers a head-nodding version of "Every Night" that should instantly put a smile on the face of any McCartney or Sweet fan.
Overall, the CD is a great compilation of a wide variety of artists paying tribute to one of their heroes. One could ask the question whether or not these songs can be duplicated. Many of McCartney's masterpieces are untouchable in the eyes of his fans. Although his solo output is not as universally loved as his work with the Beatles, McCartney still has a huge fan base and rightly so. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest song writers in the history of rock. His legacy speaks for itself. Nothing can match up to McCartney's splendid originals, but that is not the point of this disc.
Breast cancer is a disease that has devastated many. Seeing all of these artists coming together for this cause is very heartwarming. That alone makes the CD worth a listen. Of course, the palette of songs that these artists have to choose from doesn't exactly hurt the eardrums either. Give it a listen and support the cause.
- from Delusions of Adequacy
Most of the performers on the disc have chosen to pay homage by sticking fairly closely to the original arrangements, perhaps adding a harder edge in the instrumentation. As Owsley, who opens the album with a straight rendition of "Band On the Run", says in the liner notes, "I initially wavered on the production between making it my own, or paying homage. I went with the latter. It's really hard to mess with perfection."
On the other hand, the Merrymakers said they were looking for a song "which we felt we could contribute something to...because if we weren't going to make it better, or at least different, than what's the point of doing a cover version?" And while their version of "No More Lonely Nights" doesn't stray that far from the original, adding a rockier feel and some nice harmonies, the bottom line on this compilation is that the most interesting (and in a sense, most successful) tracks are the ones where the artists depart noticeably from the McCartney version.
For example, The Minus Five (the sideline band of Pete Buck of REM, featuring Scott McCaughey on vocals) sticks to the basic original vocal line for "Dear Friend", but takes the backing in a completely different, very spacey direction. Likewise: Sloan's expanding "Waterfalls" from the sparse style of the original into a full band arrangement with harmonies; the John Faye Power Trip's riffing hard-rock guitar version of the originally funky "Coming Up"; Virgos' power-chord guitar version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" (with a very McCartneyesque lead vocal by Brett Hestla and keeping the original's distinctive guitar solo); Linus of Hollywood's gorgeous acapella rendition of "Warm and Beautiful" with layers of multitracked harmonies a la Brian Wilson; and They Might Be Giants' offbeat instrumental of "Ram On" featuring accordion and Casio keyboard trading the melody line.
The remainder of the tracks stick closer to the originals, but are still enjoyable: SR-71's raucous "My Brave Face"; Kevin Hearn and Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies and Stephen Duffy of the Lilac Time teaming up on "Junk" with a French feel; Semisonic blasting through "Jet"; Robyn Hitchcock lending a slightly more ominous feel to "Let Me Roll It"; the Finn Brothers of Crowded House fame rocking out on "Too Many People"; power popster Matthew Sweet's acoustic guitar-backed "Every Night"; World Party/Karl Wallinger's country-folk "Man We Was Lonely"; and Judybats' slightly harder "Love In Song".
The booklet, in which these acts rhapsodize about McCartney's music and how it influenced them, is in itself quite a tribute to the underrated place the post-Beatles Macca has in contemporary music history.
And on top of that, a portion of the proceeds from each disc sold goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
A definite must for McCartney fans.
- Al Becker (Beatlefan Magazine)
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