Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Come Together" - Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney" (2011)

Music crosses all barriers of race and culture. It's primal. When you hear something that you like, it pleases you. It doesn't matter if you're a stone cold racist; Little Richard is just plain good. During the 1950's America was deluged with what were called "race" records at the time. That is; they were black artists singing gospel infused blues music, which quickly came together with the blues to form a new genre in music; rock and roll. That's one direction on the two way street of music.
But just as the American artists of the 1950's influenced the British artists of the time, the British Invasion which came of that music, came to inspire the same artists back in America. By 1969 Aretha Franklin was singing "Let It Be” even before the Beatles released their version. And Wilson Pickett was doing "Hey Jude", with Duane Allman on guitar, to tremendous success.
Good music is like that, it crosses; or passes through; anything in its way. When Howlin' Wolf howled; and Little Richard shrieked; white America and all of England took note. So, it was really great to see that some of these same American artists were equally enthralled with the sounds that were coming back at America.
This 2011 release pays homage to the 4 guys who led the British Invasion, and had been influenced by Chuck Berry, Mary Wells, Fats Domino, Little Richard and a host of others. All of the artists I have mentioned; with the exception of Chuck Berry; appear on this album singing songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Some of the selections were a real surprise to me. Long familiar with the Wilson Pickett version of "Hey Jude"; with Duane Allman's searing guitar;  and Aretha Franklin's version of "Let It Be"; which was actually a present to her from Mr. McCartney; I was more surprised at the scope of songs, as well as the artists, who are included in this unusual collection.
Billy Preston doing "Blackbird" was almost expected, as he had been working with the Beatles at the time McCartney wrote the song. But Chubby Checker doing "Back in the USSR" came as a surprise, even though it is basically the twist, for which Mr. Checker is widely known.
Fats Domino rocks out on Lennon's "Me and My Monkey", and I was shocked that Chairmen of the Board, known mostly for their beach music, would even tackle something as political as the title song "Come Together".  Below is a list of the 24 tracks on this album, which is unique in its concept of having African-American interpretations of British "pop" music. Check out the unusual, and different, renditions of some of your favorite Beatles tunes done by some of the premier African-American artists of our time. And, when you do, you will understand that there are no boundaries when it comes to music.

1. Back in the USSR - Chubby Checker
2. We Can Work It Out - Maxine Brown
3. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey - Fats Domino
4. Ticket to Ride - Wee Willie Walker
5. Good Day Sunshine - Roy Redmond
6. Please Please Me - Mary Wells
7. Eleanor Rigby - Gene Chandler
8. And I Love Her - The Vibrations
9. Come Together - Chairmen Of The Board
10. Blackbird - Billy Preston
11. Paperback Writer - R.B. Greaves
12. Rocky Racoon - The Moments
13. Drive My Car - Black Heat
14. Lady Madonna - Junior Parker
15. Help - David Porter
16. Yesterday - Linda Jones
17. Day Tripper (previously unissued alternate take 4) - Otis Redding
18. Why Don't We Do It in the Road - Lowell Fulson
19. I Saw Her Standing There - Little Richard
20. Don't Let Me Down - Donald Height
21. Get Back - The Main Ingredient
22. The Long and Winding Road - The New Birth
23. I Want to Hold Your Hand - Al Green
24. Let It Be - Aretha Franklin

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