This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul

This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul

     
 

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Forty years after its release, the music on Rubber Soul -- generally considered to be the dividing line between the Beatles’ mop-top era and their emergence as rock groundbreakers -- still packs plenty of punch, not to mention influence. Both are evident on this disc, a track-by-track homage (though hardly a re-creation) of the original British version. ThisSee more details below

Overview

Forty years after its release, the music on Rubber Soul -- generally considered to be the dividing line between the Beatles’ mop-top era and their emergence as rock groundbreakers -- still packs plenty of punch, not to mention influence. Both are evident on this disc, a track-by-track homage (though hardly a re-creation) of the original British version. This Bird Has Flown starts off innocently enough, with the Donnas’ close-to-the-vest rendition of “Drive My Car” but quickly dives into choppier, more challenging waters, thanks to the Fiery Furnaces, who strafe “Norwegian Wood” with studio effects and rhythms that split the difference between vintage French film music and third-album Velvet Underground. The collection is relatively evenly divided between the two approaches, with the more adventurous ones -- notably Low’s hushed, nearly a cappella “Nowhere Man” and Sufjan Stevens’ oscillating “What Goes On” -- taking on lives of their own. That’s not to say that the folks opting to take the more conventional cover route -- like Dar Williams, who turns in a spry “You Won’t See Me” -- fall flat. It is easier, however, to suspend images of the original versions of lesser-heard tunes (“Run for Your Life,” rendered with appropriate malice by the Cowboy Junkies) than the ones that have turned out to be radio staples. Still, This Bird Has Flown offers new vistas at just about every turn, making it an intriguing and entertaining listen.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
There have been countless tribute albums, but relatively few have been an album-length salute to a proper album. Most notably there was NME's 1988 Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, which had a nice sense of humor and adventure, featuring such excellent pairings as Sonic Youth and "Within You, Without You," Billy Bragg and "She's Leaving Home," and the Fall taking on "A Day In the Life." Seventeen years later, there's Razor & Tie's This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul, which rounds up 14 adult-alternative and indie rock artists to do a track by track cover of another classic Beatles album. While there are no superstars here, the lineup is rather impressive: adult-alternative mainstays like Ben Harper and Cowboy Junkies are balanced by up-and-comers like Mindy Smith and Nellie McKay, plus indie cult favorites the Fiery Furnaces, Low, Ted Leo and 2005's golden boy Sufjan Stevens. As good as this lineup is, This Bird Has Flown suffers slightly from a sense of predictability, since every artist interprets their chosen selection in exactly the way you'd imagine it, so even if these covers aren't strictly faithful to the Beatles's originals, they do sound familiar. For instance, the Donnas do a straight-ahead, cleanly rocking version of "Drive My Car," Ben Harper reinterprets "Michelle" as an insipid reggae number, Dar Williams does a nice songwriter-y version of "You Won't See Me," Low's "Nowhere Man" is endearingly quiet, Ben Lee takes "In My Life" in a lazily introspective direction, the Yonder Mountain String Band does a neon-old timey version of "Think for Yourself" that's spiked with a fuzz bass while Mindy Smith does a bright, earnest take on "The Word" and the Cowboy Junkies turns "Run for Your Life" into a sultry, late-night groove that's undercut somewhat by silly call-and-response vocals and a creeping resemblance to the work of Alannah Myles. The most memorable cuts here are the ones that take the songs in a slightly different direction than expected -- at least according to what's expected of the song, since these interpretations fit right into the artists' other work. Nellie McKay turns George Harrison's "If I Needed Someone" into swinging lounge-jazz that's just a shade too ironic, but Ted Leo's tightly-wound, ska revival arrangement of "I'm Looking Through You" is certainly one of the highlights here, as is the Fiery Furnaces's "Norwegian Wood." The brother-sister duo reinterpret "Norwegian Wood" as the missing piece from their intricate Blueberry Boat, cutting out the signature acoustic guitar riff and twisting the melody, turning the song into a thick, swirling, organ-heavy, double-tracked ominous collage, complete with a creepy, tape-warped tapestry of piano coda reminiscent of "I Am The Walrus." It's the most imaginative thing here and has an opposite in Sufjan Stevens's similar radical rewrite of "What Goes On," which throws out everything but the lyrics of the original. Where the Fiery Furnaces's reinterpretation sounds lively and imaginative, Stevens sounds contemptuous of his source material, so he decides to recast a nifty country-rock tune into a microcosm of his drama-school art-pop LPs, compressing all of his precious little quirks -- banjos, flutes playing a medieval theme, shifting tempos and disjointed sections -- into a simpering, insufferable mini-suite that grinds this record to a halt. Despite this, the Sufjan track is the only severe misstep in an album filled with good, generally pleasant covers that in no way replace the original Beatles versions but do offer as a nice reminder of what great songwriters Lennon, McCartney and Harrison were.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/2005
Label:
Razor & Tie
UPC:
0793018294829
catalogNumber:
82948
Rank:
131220

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Paul Davis   Background Vocals
Duke Levine   Bass,Electric Guitar,Harmonium,Mandola,Omnichord
Dar Williams   Vocals
Alan Anton   Bass
Kevin Barry   Acoustic Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Paul Bryan   Bass,Vocal Harmony
Ben Harper   Guitar,Vocals
David Hopkins   Percussion,Drums
Leon Mobley   Percussion
Tom Ralls   Trombone
Margo Timmins   Vocals
Michael Timmins   Guitar
Peter Timmins   Drums
Michael Ward   Guitar
Jason Yates   Keyboards
Jay Bellerose   Percussion,Drums
Ted Leo   Bass,Guitar,Drums,Vocals
Ben Lee   Vocals
Rhett Miller   Vocals
Juan Nelson   Bass
Alan Sparhawk   Guitar
Tracy Wannomae   Flute,Baritone Clarinet
Mimi Parker   Vocals
Chris Holt   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Jeff Austin   Mandolin,Vocals
Sufjan Stevens   Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Flute,Glockenspiel,Electric Guitar,Oboe,Recorder,Triangle,Vocals,Shaker,sleigh bells,Wurlitzer,Casio
Albert Hammond   Guitar
Ben Kweller   Musician
Adam Aijala   Guitar,Vocals
James McAlister   Drums,Tambourine
Oliver Charles   Drums
Ben Kaufmann   Bass,Vocals
Eleanor Friedberger   Vocals
Nellie McKay   Vocals,Musician
Salim Nourallah   Bass
Torry Castellano   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals
Maya Ford   Bass,Background Vocals
Allison Robertson   Guitar,Background Vocals
Raymond Raposa   Background Vocals
Lara Meyerratken   Vocals
Brett McKean Anderson   Piano,Vocals
Clubhouse Quartet   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

George Harrison   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Duke Levine   Producer
Low   Producer,Engineer
Greg Calbi   Mastering
Roger Greenawalt   Producer,Engineer
Paul Q. Kolderie   Engineer
Gary Paczosa   Engineer
Michael Timmins   Producer,Engineer
Teddy   Producer
Ben Lee   Producer
Paul David Hager   Producer,Engineer
Jim Sampas   Producer,Executive Producer
Michael Solomon   Executive Producer
Danny Leo   Engineer
Adam Hawkins   Engineer
Sufjan Stevens   Arranger,Engineer
Walter Fishbacher   Engineer
Bill Skibbe   Engineer
Mindy Smith   Producer
Greg McRae   Engineer
Nellie McKay   Producer
Salim Nourallah   Engineer
Lara Meyerratken   Producer
Donnie Whitbeck   Engineer

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