“Honey Don’t” (Beatles and Carl Perkins Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, everyone, to another new edition of the Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!  I’m sorry the post is a bit later today- I was busy yesterday training for an upcoming 5k race with my Traveling Acai Berries member, Steve.  It’s tough motivating myself to run every other day, but I know it’s healthy for me to do so, and I’m using that as extra motivation.

The other day, I was searching online for Beatles covers and Beatles cover songs, but The Laptop Sessions page didn’t come up in my searches!  Well, that has to change.  I’m going to make it a personal goal of mine to get the Beatles category page up in the search engine rankings!

Tonight, I bring you a Beatles song that Ringo got to sing.  All the members of the Beatles (especially George and Ringo) were big Carl Perkins fans.  So, they took this song, “Honey Don’t”, and gave it the Beatles treatment.  I’m glad they let Ringo sing it, as his voice is perfectly suited for it.  Something about the chords on the verses gets me every time.  This song is pretty easy to play, but it’s got such a great tune.  And hearing Ringo sing it in a way only Ringo Starr can, it makes for a great combination.

Apparently, Carl Perkin’s brother even initially refused to play the song, citing its odd chord progression (for a blues song) in the verses.  I’m glad he finally came around!  The song has such a driving beat, too- I’d love to play this live with a band someday.  One of my favorite parts is the guitar solo.  I actually got to play it pretty spot-on even though it’s a solo acoustic version.  The guitar solo in the Beatles version is basically the E and C chords played as barre chords higher on the neck.  I never get to solo during these videos- it was fun!

I’ve wanted to play this song for the Laptop Sessions ever since I heard Ringo singing the song during his concert at the Mohegan Sun this past June.  He sounds exactly the same and they do such a good job of reproducing the energy and the sound of the recording live.  Actually, if I had my way about it, this would be “The Ringo Sessions with Jim Fusco”- I can’t exactly explain it, but I LOVE Ringo’s music.  I especially like his solo albums starting with 1992’s “Time Takes Time”, but there’s something about Ringo’s songs in general that really resonate with me.  Heck, he even makes “Honey Don’t”, a sad song when you think about it, into a jolly good time. 🙂

I hope you enjoy tonight’s video and stay-tuned next week for a very, very special Jim Fusco announcement!  I think you’re going to love it, but you’ll have to keep checking back to see what it is.  See you then!



Music Review: The Beatles’ “Let It Be… Naked” (2003 Remix)

By Chris Moore:

The chart-topping success of Let It Be is truly a testament to both the heights of Beatlemania and also to the abilities of the four Beatles to consistently top themselves in their songwriting and musicianship.  Even by 1970, amid tensions that caused all four to at least threaten to quit the band, they managed to come together (no pun intended) to finish the principal tracks for a new album.

This was made easier, of course, by the fact that this new album was based primarily on material that had been written and recorded before their previous record, Abbey Road, was released.

The true complication in this process arose when Phil Spector was somehow given the “okay” to add his signature studio treatment to the tracks.  Perhaps with the disagreements between the Fab Four obscuring their collective vision, Spector was allowed to turn these songs — many of them little gems — into overblown, overproduced testaments to the capabilities of a mixing board.  Orchestras aside, the original concept of this album (at least, when it was begun in January 1969) was that there would be no overdubs of any kind.  How the leap was taken from “no overdubs” to “here’s Phil Spector” is a subject of some debate.  The result?  An album that made many fans and sources close to the band wonder what it would have been like without all the accessorizing.

Let It Be… Naked puts an end to that inquiry.

The cover of the 2003 remix of "Let It Be"

The cover of the 2003 remix of “Let It Be”

As the title implies, Naked is a stripped-down, bare bones version of Let It Be that highlights the instruments and original vocals of the four Beatles which, not surprisingly, is more than enough to excite and entertain.  Ringo once pointed out that, despite all their issues and arguments, when the count began and a song was performed live, they transformed back into those four boys from Liverpool who just loved to play music together.  For anyone who thought that may have been an overstatement, this new take on their final album is the proof of its veracity.

Throughout Let It Be… Naked, the Beatles’ harmonies are tight and their instrumentation is simple yet impressive.  The drums and bass are particularly fun to focus on, perhaps imagining Ringo and Paul falling perfectly into the rhythm and putting all their combined experience, personal talent, and emotion into what would be these final released tracks.  Of course, John and George are just as much fun to listen to.  George’s guitar work, for instance, clearly never needed to be and never should have been buried beneath layers of production and overdubs.

Even the track listing is rearranged on this 2003 remix of the album, tossing out “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae,” as well as adding “Don’t Let Me Down,” a track that had made the cut on the earlier Glyn Johns mix of the album, before the project was shelved.  This is hardly a revelation — I don’t imagine many will miss the two deleted tracks and the album is certainly much better for the inclusion of the latter.

In every conceivable way, Let It Be… Naked is a success and finally presents the album as originally intended, making it a must-listen for any Beatles fan as well as any fan of rock music who is interested in hearing the real story of the final album of this legendary band.

COMING LATER THIS WEEK:  In addition to our regular Beatles cover songs, a review of the new Let It Be 2009 remaster.  How does it compare?…

“A Day in the Life” (Beatles Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Actually posting on Tuesday night for once!  Well, there’s only one word to describe tonight’s acoustic cover song music video: ambitious!

Tonight, myself and my fellow Traveling Acai Berries, Steve and Chris, bring you another Beatles cover song, “A Day in the Life”, the masterpiece final song off of the masterpiece album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.  This song is filled with great piano playing, wonderfully crafted lyrics, and a multi-part structure that rivaled the type of “three minute masterpieces” Brian Wilson was producing at the time.

But, we give you the song in its purest form- myself singing John and Paul’s lead vocals, Steve backing my (actually his) acoustic 6-string up with our colleague Noreen’s wonderful 1967 Gibson 12-string guitar, and Chris on his signature mandolin.  Steve and I couldn’t believe how great this sounded acoustically- we just know the songs so well that we remember the little nuances.  Steve plays some stuff on guitar that I always leave out because I think, “Eh, no one remembers that little thing”- and now we finally have those parts!  And, this is only the second time Chris ever took a look at the music to this song- incredible.

I was lucky enough to sing both sections of the song.  Isn’t it great how you get a typical “day in the life” of both John and Paul?  Very interesting how they looked at a typical day.  I prefer John’s method of telling the story, as he puts such an interesting humor on reading bad news in the paper, seeing a war movie, etc.  Paul, on the other hand, gives glimpses as to what songwriting subjects he would touch-upon after leaving the Beatles (doesn’t the middle section of “A Day in the Life” remind you of “Another Day”?).

Now, since Chris Moore beat us to the punch on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”, which we were preparing an AWESOME version of (complete with recorder solo at the end), we’ll have to save that potential video as a “bonus” video one of these days.  Why?  Because every day is another cover song you haven’t heard before on the Laptop Sessions blog!

Tonight is a very, very important night for the blog and one that I’ve personally longed for over these past two years.  Tonight, we FINALLY match the number of “Wallflowers” posts with Beatles posts!!!  Can you even believe that?  20 posts about the Wallflowers (that had two mild radio hits) and it took us this long (and basically a whole month’s worth of Beatles posts) to match it.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy our rendition of “A Day in the Life”.  Hopefully, we can get the band together this Friday for some recording again- Steve and I have perfected an America song (I’ll let you ponder which one) and we’ve been practicing some more Beatles tunes (like “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl”, which could really use another vocalist, DAD, hint, hint…) and other ones from the Eagles and Rod Stewart.

So, stay tuned to the blog- we’ve got some exciting times ahead.  One more month ’till move-in date for us, as long as everything goes smoothly!  Have a great week and make sure to stop-back for Jeff’s Thumpin’ Thursday in just a couple days!


“Do You Want To Know A Secret” (Beatles Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone- time for another episode of “The Laptop Sessions”. Boy, do I have a lot of these in the works for you. I have two more requests for Beach Boys cover songs, plus Chris and I still have to do our Moody Blues song and another Beatles cover song. Somewhere down the line I’d like to throw in one of my original songs, too.  Oh, you didn’t know that I was a songwriter? 🙂  Well, that’s one of the reasons I do the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog.  I’m hoping that the people who like the cover songs I play will take a chance and listen to my original music, as well!  So far, it’s been a great success.

Tonight’s cover song video is the Beatles song, “Do You Want To Know A Secret”, originally sung by the great George Harrison. This is a fun song to play and sing, especially because it’s got those minor 7th chords that make it sound a bit “old fashioned”.  People just don’t write songs like this anymore.  It’s one of the earliest Beatles songs released, so it was written during their period of relative innocence (you know, before the drugs).  John Lennon wrote this song and gave it to George to sing.  His heavy British accent really comes through on this track.  I sang, though, in my normal New England American accent, as I do with all my cover song videos.  My goal here at the music blog is not to imitate the artists I cover, but to reimagine my favorite songs in a stripped-down acoustic solo performance.

I chose to go with my nylon-stringed acoustic guitar for this song.  Why?  Well, for one, it’s much easier to sing over than a steel-stringed guitar.  For this cover video, I wanted to sing a bit softer and sweeter (just like George Harrison did!), so I thought this guitar was the right choice not to overpower my voice.  Also, and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments about this, the strumming pattern I used works so much better on this guitar than steel-string acoustic guitar.  Because I don’t have the solid drumming of Ringo Starr behind me, I had to come up with a way of playing that incorporated the unique beat of “Do You Want To Know a Secret” while playing by myself.  The “hops” that are in the chord progression really move the sog along well and I found it to be an easy way of switching chords, as well.  Plus, sliding down like that gave my version that cool retro sound I was talking about before.  It sounds like a song from the 40s when played that way!

Of course, requests are welcome for any other Beatles or George Harrison song you’d like to hear!  Everyone knows pretty much all of the Beatles songs, so my “to-do list” is pretty extensive at this point.  I hope you enjoy tonight’s cover song video and stay tuned for more Laptop Sessions music videos in the coming days!