Five years ago, producers at Vega Studios had the idea to collect several Twin Cities artists and ask them to cover Beatles songs, then donate proceeds to music and arts education. In the ears of many listeners, it was a very good idea.
This year, Minnesotans have the pleasure of hearing 13 of the state’s finest musical talents take on songs by one of the most iconic rock groups of all time. Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 5 shows off several familiar songs, as well as some relatively obscure gems. Through December 8, it’s the Current’s CD of the week.
On the album, Carroll perform “She Said, She Said” (1966). “We felt like we wanted to get to the essence of the song while still giving it a ‘Carroll’ feeling,” said the group’s Brian Hurlow. “I imagine this is what most artists do when they cover a band as big as the Beatles. It’s impossible to sound exactly like them!”
“When recording the track, though,” Hurlow continues, “we did reference a few old recording techniques.” In addition to using vintage amplifiers, the band employed “lots of room-miked toms and big fills like Ringo would do. This felt natural to us, though, because we’re always trying to emulate those vintage sounds. In a way, recording ‘She Said, She Said’ felt a lot like recording our own music since we are so heavily influenced by the sonic treatment of that era.”
The Beatles’ sound has been pulled in every direction imaginable through the past four volumes, and this most recent edition is no exception. The album spans from the classic sounds of 50s rock on Gary Burger’s cover of “I Feel Fine” (1964) to the bass-heavy blues and stunning vocals of Zoo Animal’s take on “Dig a Pony” (1970) to the drum-riddled electronic rendition of “Blue Jay Way” (1967) by Dosh.
David Campbell of the Current asked Dosh what made him decide to cover George Harrison’s Magical Mystery Tour track. “I think that the tune ‘Flying,’ like every time I’ve heard that tune, it sounds like hip-hop to me,” said Dosh. “The instrumental thing, because the Ringo beat is just made for sampling, I mean I’m sure someone has sampled it…and that kind of segues into ‘Blue Jay Way.’”
The various approaches to the tracks on the album tell a story on their own, displaying the way the Beatles’ legacy has been preserved, and the styles in which the artists have chosen to contribute to that growing legacy.
Via e-mail, I asked Eric Pollard (Actual Wolf) how he approached covering “Your Mother Should Know,” another Magical Mystery Tour track. “I went to [engineer and collaborator] Jake Larson and said, ‘Well, buddy…you and I can pull this, off can’t we?’ He said yes, so we plugged in the keyboards and pressed record.”
Altogether, the artists have come together to release a fantastically unique listening experience.
Cody Lynch is a senior at Saint John’s University. He is majoring in communication with focuses in film and creative writing.