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Tribute to the Other Beatle
Tribute To (ATO Records)
By Kevin Gibson
George Harrison, in recent years, has emerged as the Beatle of choice for more and more people, it seems. Maybe it's the root-for-the-underdog concept. Perhaps it's that John Lennon's memory has faded a bit and because Paul McCartney remains so very public and in our faces that George's talent as a songwriter is finally emerging in a greater way.
My Morning Jacket's Jim James (in this instance billed as Yim Yames) clearly is a George guy, as this side project release, Tribute To, comprises six Harrison compositions in a guy-and-his-guitar setting. And it works well enough insomuch as it succeeds in being what it wants to be.
What James er, sorry, Yames does here is simply present the songs in a stripped-down form to reveal their inherent warmth and goodness. The final product is something that will make a nice curiosity for Beatles fanatics and George fans in particular, and a cool must-have nugget for MMJ lovers.
There are, of course, subtle arrangement alterations necessary, such as on "Love You To" the original, of course was infused with sitar and the song built to a furious pace. In this context, however, Yames chooses a gentle banjo accent to replace the sitar, and the whole proceeding covers the ground at a slightly less frenzied clip (although it finishes with strength).
"My Sweet Lord" is airy and restrained, with soaring backing vocals that sound blissful when consumed through headphones. He gets past the lead guitar hook with more backing vocals and, while it obviously isn't as successful as the original, it works.
"All Things Must Pass" closes the six-song EP, with that familiar melody oozing forth from Yames' guitar, complete with fret noise. He does an admirable job with this classic, and strangely almost sounds a bit like Lennon might have sounded if he sat down to record this at the Dakota on a lonely Sunday afternoon.
"Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)" and "Behind That Locked Door" succeed quite well in this context, while "Long Long Long," the lead-off track, droops a bit. The vocals on all tracks drip with reverb; this might be distracting to some, although it works well enough at providing an ethereal quality that gives the proceedings an added layer over a standard delivery. At times, it sounds like Yames is singing at the end of a tunnel. While standing in water.
All in all, there are worse ways to spend 10 bucks. You heard it here.
Find out more at yimyames.com.