Django Bates: Saluting Sgt Pepper (Edition)

 |   |  1 min read

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Django Bates: Saluting Sgt Pepper (Edition)

Although you couldn't fault the timing of this album by British keyboard player/conductor/arranger Bates and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, the result is somewhat less engaging.

The 50th anniversary of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper album invited many such opportunistic tributes but too often this, by remaining extremely faithful to the original right down to the replication of animal noises and the run-out groove, feels like opportunities lost.

The musical arrangements aside, a key element against it is in the lead vocal by Martin Ullits Dahl.

The original album had the gift of diverse voices adding even more texture: McCartney's cheerleader/ringmaster MC opening the show, Ringo's sad sack style on With A Little Help From My Friends, Lennon's disembodied psychedelic style on Lucy, McCartney in ballad mode on She's Leaving Home, Lennon's taut frustration on Getting Better, Harrison's monochrome style on Within You Without You . . .

Four very different vocalists (two of them with other voices in their armoury) cannot be even approached by Dahl.

And musically, with a few interesting exceptions, this plays a very straight bat to the original.

The more tripped-out Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite is a high point in the arrangements behind the verses but pulled back by a failure of nerve in the psychedelic cut-up section in the middle.

So as the album plays out towards the classic Day in the Life there is a sense that this can be ticked off as a job well executed but adding very little to our knowledge of the original album . . . or what a well-drilled big band might have made of this if the reins had been loosened much more.

But, against the odds and in a comparison it is impossible to win, Dahl brings a suitably suburban melancholy to the Lennon part on that final piece.

Available from Edition Records, see their excellent website here for this and other British and European jazz artists in their catalogue.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Gomez: Five Men in a Hut (EMI)

Gomez: Five Men in a Hut (EMI)

No one reviewed this double disc when it came out late last year which is not surprising: although this British band picked up the coveted Mercury Award for their 1998 debut Bring It On they seem... > Read more

The Weather: Aroha Ave (Powertools)

The Weather: Aroha Ave (Powertools)

The singer and songwriter behind the Weather is Matthew Bannister, formerly of Sneaky Feelings who drew their inspiration and aspiration from the pantheon of classic pop (Beatles, Beach Boys) and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BOB MARLEY FOR BEGINNERS (2012): Bob's business is big business

BOB MARLEY FOR BEGINNERS (2012): Bob's business is big business

With the DVD release of the doco Marley by Kevin MacDonald, interest is again ignited in this musical, political and religious figure who is often lazily billed as "the first Third World... > Read more

The Beatles: It's All Too Much (1969)

The Beatles: It's All Too Much (1969)

Recorded at the tail-end of the Sgt Pepper sessions in 1967 but not released until early in '69, this George Harrison-penned song has often been dismissed, perhaps largely because it appeared on... > Read more