September 24, 2010
Off the Beatle Track
Roseta Productions (884501189064)
Off the Beatle Track showcases authentic and affectionate Merseybeat re-creations of 14 tracks that John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned during the Beatles' early years that were handed off to other British artists or never officially released by the Fab Four during the '60s. (There's also one George Harrison-written tune here that was demoed in 1964 but which remained unreleased until 1995's Anthology 1.)
Apple Jam is a Seattle, Washington-based quintet who have the early Beatles sound down to a tee and who used '60s-era equipment to fashion this reverent collection. From the Buddy Holly-ish reading of "I'll Be On My Way" (released in 1963 by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas) and the "And I Love Her"-styled take of "A World Without Love" (made famous by Peter and Gordon) to lesser-known numbers such as "Tip of My Tongue" and "One and One is Two," the disc is further proof of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting magic. As a bonus, the Harrison cut, "You Know What to Do," sounds fantastic, all tricked out in the twangy, Carl Perkins guitar stylings that George used so successfully from '63-'65.
Apple Jam's stellar performances of these songs and other long-lost gems (such as "From a Window," "I'll Keep You Satisfied" and "Nobody I Know") that the Beatles gave away make Off the Beatle Track sound like a long-lost Fab Four album, circa 1965. And while other acts from such far-flung locales as Spain (Sgt. Pepper's Band), the UK (Revolver) and Australia (The Beatnix) have attempted a similar sort of album with many of the same songs, Apple Jam's renditions are fresher and more stylistically varied, making Off the Beatle Track a cool little record indeed. Beatle freaks will definitely need to check this one out. (Available at www.offthebeatletrack.com)
- John M. Borack