DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -
“They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile”
are the third and fourth lines of the opening lyrics to The Beatles landmark recording “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” released on June 1st, 1967. In the resulting forty-four-plus years, The Beatles have gone in and out of style numerous times. However, they are starting to become as timeless as the music of Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, or Bach and Beethoven. The previous musicians changed music. But The Beatles changed the world.
Local musician and guitarist Andy Timmons’ (Andy Timmons Band, Olivia Newton John, Danger Danger) latest release tackles the challenge of covering the music of Sgt Pepper’s from beginning to end. It’s important to note that The Beatles never played any of the songs of this landmark recording live. Only Cheap Trick has ever attempted to play the music of Sgt. Pepper’s from beginning to end live, and they used close to 25 extra people to make it happen.
Timmons went in a completely different direction. He has arranged the entire album for one guitar, one bass, and drums. Considering that The Beatles used a 41-piece orchestra and multiple sonic effects, to many Timmons’ reduction would seem heresy. However, this reviewer feels that Timmons knew long before he rolled up his sleeves to tackle these tunes that he already had some of the greatest melodies ever written in any style of music as a foundation. His job was to actually find a way to bring out those melodies with such stark instrumentation.
It is this lack of clutter on “Andy Timmons Band plays Sgt. Pepper” that opens up the melodies contained within these tunes. Many guitar heroes would get in the way of these tunes. Timmons didn’t. In fact, he shows remarkable restraint, especially on songs that really need that type of commitment such as “She’s Leaving Home,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” and “Getting Better.”
There is nothing wrong with just playing the melody of a song without all the extra embellishment; if the melody is great, that is all you need to hear. Andy interprets these melodies tastefully and only adds what is needed. With Beatles melodies it is the space between the notes that counts most and those spaces do not need to be filled with sonic cacaphony.
Timmons includes a version of “Strawberry Fields Forever” on this disc which, as we all know, was on “Magical Mystery Tour,” but musical history actually reveals that this tune was the first tune ever recorded for Sgt.Pepper’s and never made the album. Perhaps only The Beatles ever had such a luxury as having more good tunes than they could find a place to put them.
This is a very enjoyable listen and would make a worthy addition to your music collection. For Timmons, “Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper” shows that he is not only a good guitarist. More importantly, he is a good musician. And that is a highly desired and rare trait in today’s musical environment.
This music is on sale now at andytimmons.com.