"From a Window: Lost Songs of Lennon & McCartney"

(3/13/03) A press release:


Lost Songs of Lennon-McCartney Non-Beatles Songs Retooled by Pierson, Parker, Janovitz

April 8th marks the US release of
From a Window: Lost Songs of Lennon & McCartney (Gallery Six Records) a gathering of songs that John Lennon & Paul McCartney wrote and gave away to others to record. The CD features Graham Parker, Kate Pierson of the B-52's, and Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz and will be supported by a three-week US tour starting on May 16. Producer Jim Sampas, the creative force behind Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, came up with the idea of taking unknown Lennon & McCartney songs and creating new versions--retooled and reinvigorated--with one core band and a short list of singers.

Upon assembling these "lost" gems, many from old out of print sources, Sampas surprisingly found each song to be on par with the Beatles best and knew they needed proper treatment. Lost Songs is not a tribute album, where the personnel changes with every track, making a sense of unity impossible to achieve. In contrast, Sampas decided to bring Lost Songs together as one full length album by one "super group." Following in the tradition of grand vinyl creations by the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young he sought to construct an exciting live in the studio sound shaped by one consistent backing band. However, this couldn't come across as a tacky sound alike trip down Beatlemania Boulevard. As such, Pierson, Parker, Janovitz isn't an obvious Beatlesque union, though as the sessions proved, few artists would've been better suited to this task. One backing ensemble comprised of A-List session players Duke Levine (Mary Chapin Carpenter), Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann), and Dave Mattacks (Paul McCartney, George Harrison) has created a foundation in keeping with the overall concept, one band, one phenomenal album.

The sessions took place at the beautiful rural setting of Long View Farm, previously home to the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. "It was like rock & roll fantasy camp," says Janovitz. "We'd sleep in these big brass beds, roll down, have a high-cholesterol breakfast, go into the control room and do a track. Later in the day I'd find myself having a few beers and singing at the same microphone as Graham Parker. I kept saying to myself, 'I'm getting paid for this?'"

The task that Graham, Bill, Kate and their colleagues set themselves was to strip away layers of schlock and give the songs underneath a chance to breathe anew. If you still think of Parker as the angry young '70s pub-rocker of Howlin' Wind, you'll flip when you hear his tender take on the song John and Paul wrote for Billy J. Kramer: "From a Window," covered in Byrds-meet-Springsteen fashion (complete with plinking toy piano). Likewise, those familiar with Janovitz's noisy early work with Buffalo Tom will be surprised at the delicacy he brings to "Woman."

Pierson employed a technique much loved by Lennon and McCartney: double- and triple-tracking vocals. This massed out choir approach on "Step Inside Love" wouldn't sound out of place on the next Stereolab album. This being Lennon-McCartney, harmonies are important. Parker and Janovitz sound splendid together. For instance during "Tip of My Tongue", their voices blend in dulcet harmony on the line "I'm just waiting for a chance to prove my love to you." The songs on this album have been waiting for a chance too--a chance to prove their worth after decades of neglect. Thanks to sympathetic experts, they've gotten that chance, and they've made the most of it.

This news item copyright Abbeyrd's Beatles Page
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