Thursday, 9 January 2003

Album Review: I Am Sam

Covering any record is a dangerous business, but covering some of the most popular records ever made is normally suicidal. However any remaining doubts I had washed away after one listen. There is not a bad track on this album.

There is a clear division within the album which becomes apparent. On one hand are the artists who play it straight, recording versions that are very similar to the originals (Rufus Wainwright, The Black Crowes and Ben Harper). On the other are the artists who have taken a few more liberties with classic Lennon & McCartney numbers; Nick Cave, Grandaddy and Eddie Vedder fall into this category. Each group work equally well. Beatles songs are so good that generally they don't need to be changed much, but equally it's good to hear a new spin on a old record (the version of Revolution by Grandaddy's sounds a 1000 years away from the original).

The album fulfills reminds us all how good the Beatles were, and how timeless many of their songs are. It also proves on many counts the range of artists who owe a debt of inspiration to them. It's not often you find Nick Cave on the same CD as the Stereophonics. Finally and perhaps most importantly it highlights the talents of many of the artists on the soundtrack. Nick Cave proves to his doubters that he is more than a funereal mumbler with a stellar rendition of Let It Be. Eddie Vedder sings a John Lennon song every bit as well as Lennon on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away. Even the normally mundane Stereophonics up their game with a terrific version of Don't Let Me Down.

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