Sunday, February 21, 2016
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: MILOS - BLACKBIRD: THE BEATLES ALBUM
The Beatles are probably the most covered band in history, so it's surprising that are very few full Beatles covers albums that bear repeated listening. You have the Booker T and the MG's homage to Abbey Road, McLemore Avenue (the home of Stax Studios, get it), and there was the excellent soundtrack to the movie I Am Sam, all Beatles takes featuring Aimee Mann, Paul Westerberg, Nick Cave and others. I'm probably forgetting some worthy ones, fill in your own, but they aren't that common all things considered.
Milos is a classical guitar player originally from Montenegro, one of these young turks who builds an audience outside the usual classical crowd by dipping into pop. Plus, he's a handsome devil, so he's working that. But you can't argue the talent, and some ideas of how to approach these classics of a different kind. You can't veer too far away from the famous melodies without bugging the fans, but you have to offer up something novel to make somebody want to put this one over the originals.
Most of the songs are instrumental, aside from a couple of guest vocals, Tori Amos has a haunting presence on She's Leaving Home, while Gregory Porter puts some guts into Let It Be, a good idea for this tired anthem. On the rest of the tracks, Milos' guitar is joined by a number of different instruments to offer up lots of variety. Cellist Steven Isserlis provides a winding counterpoint in Michelle, while bassist Chris Hill is featured on several tracks. A string ensemble is used joyously on Here Comes The Sun, and several other tracks. The best guest spot goes to Ravi Shankar's daughter, Anoushka, and the two of manage to make Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds sound like a George Harrison-Indian music composition.
While some of the obvious pieces are used (Here, There and Everywhere, Something, Yesterday), the best results come from some surprising cuts. The early, pop number All My Loving reveals melodic charms, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps takes on a whole new meaning in this arrangement. The biggest surprise is hearing Come Together, about as rock as can be, in a whole new light. The album is a very pleasant surprise.