Wednesday, January 30, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 82



Beatles songs get worthy makeover

By Jason C. Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

When artists attempt to cover anything from the classic Beatles catalogue, they almost always try to find ways to make those
songs their own. As a result, these renditions usually fail to be something worth listening to, and what was supposed to be a
tribute becomes almost blasphemous.

The soundtrack for New Line Cinema's I Am Sam features contemporary artists covering 17 Beatles classics. However,
what's different about this compilation is that most of the artists stay true to the Beatles' original arrangement.

Jessie Nelson, director of I Am Sam, filmed the movie using the original Beatles songs as her mental soundtrack. Therefore,
when it was time to bring in the artists to cover the songs, she requested that they keep the same tempos and melodies as the
original versions.

The result is wonderful. This soundtrack is possibly the best compilation of Beatles music ever assembled, rival only to
George Martin's (the Beatles' studio producer) 1998 tribute.

One of the best songs on the album is Eddie Vedder's rendition of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away." Complete with a
12-string guitar and percussion limited to a tambourine, the only change Vedder made to the beautiful John Lennon ballad
was replacing the flute solo at the end with a harmonica solo.

Rufus Wainwright contributes with a sweet version of "Across The Universe," another Lennon composition. Wainwright
performed his rendition with Sean Lennon at the John Lennon Tribute in October of last year. Again, the accompaniment is
almost an exact replica of the original, keeping the serenity of the song.

Sarah McLachlan sings Paul McCartney's White Album ballad "Blackbird." The Canadian-born Lilith Fair diva does justice to
the sweet tune, adding only her signature vocals to the guitar and foot-tap accompaniment.

Also included are The Wallflowers' giddy rendition of "I'm Looking Through You," Ben Folds' solemn McCartney tribute
"Golden Slumbers" and The Black Crowes' rocking version of "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds."

Michael Penn and Aimee Mann duet in "Two of Us," while Chocolate Genius transforms the ballad "Julia" into a funky jam.

However, it is a lesser-known group that contributes the best song on the album. Stereophonics' unplugged rendition of
"Don't Let Me Down" is, well, immaculate. Two-part harmonies, an acoustic guitar and an electric piano make up most of the
covered Lennon ode to his wife Yoko Ono.

The Stereophonics version is, dare I say, almost better than the original. (It's really not, but it's so good that I'm almost forced
to say that.)

The album doesn't go without some forgettable tracks. Ben Harper's "Strawberry Fields Forever" is played beautifully, but
sung terribly. Heather Nova does her best Lisa Loeb impression while singing "We Can Work It Out" and miserably fails.

And the worst recording, unfortunately, is Nick Cave's attempt at the McCartney epic "Let It Be." A beautiful light piano
introduction precedes a horrible, Lou Reed-like vocal offering. That's too bad because it's such a beautiful song.

Various artists

I Am Sam Soundtrack

**** (out of five stars)

V2 Records

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