“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!



“It Don’t Come Easy” (Ringo Starr Cover)

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome back to another brand-new Laptop Session! Jim and I have been laughing this week about how funny it is that Ringo has used his classic phrase “it don’t come easy” in at least one song for his past three albums. This is, of course, a reference to his early hit “It Don’t Come Easy,” one of the first solo Beatles singles. I figured, why not go right to the source? So, here I am singing this great Ringo tune!

I just bought his new album, Liverpool 8, last week, and I have really been enjoying it. I was hesitant to buy it, since I had heard that he severed his working relationship with Mark Hudson. However, I was excited to see that Ringo, Hudson, and the Roundheads (Ringo’s studio band) co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album. And it had a lot to live up to — after all, Ringo Rama and Choose Love are great, if underrated, albums. In the end, I have to recommend it, whether you’re a fan of Ringo and/or rock ‘n roll. I’ll certainly be recording a Laptop Session for “If It’s Love That You Want” — track 10 — if not others in the future. And I’m not going to say much more than that about the album, but look for an article from me about Ringo’s and George Harrison’s solo careers in the coming weeks!

As always, thanks so much for listening (and reading)… I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget to come back to LaptopSessions.com tomorrow for an all-new session from Jeff!

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?…

CD Review: Songwriter (and Former Beatle) Ringo Starr’s New Music on “Liverpool 8”

RATING:  3.5 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

When I read that Ringo and his longtime musical partner Mark Hudson had severed their working relationship, I was concerned for what Liverpool 8 might end up sounding like. Would it follow in the solid, enjoyable footsteps of 2003’s Ringo Rama and 2005’s Choose Love, or would it embrace a new sound altogether? How would Dave Stewart’s influence as producer manifest itself in the music? As much as I’d like to believe I’m open-minded about artistic development, I have also grown fond of Ringo’s recent sound.

A couple nights after the album’s release, I sat in my car outside the CD store, hurriedly tearing the shrink wrap off of Liverpool 8. As the title track began, I was simultaneously hesitant and intrigued – it was a new sound, but certainly not a negative one – hearing Ringo tumble words-first into the autobiographical, “I was a sailor first…” Some may say (and, in fact, some reviewers have already said) that this song is a campy rehashing of his past exploits as a Beatle. I, however, have to scoff at those sentiments.

It strikes me as far too easy to write off or make fun of an “I remember when” song by an ex-Beatle. Have we forgotten the great ex-Beatle autobiographical songs? (George Harrison’s “All Those Years Ago” and “When We Was Fab,” just to name a couple.) Listen to the track for yourself; I hope you’ll find it as interesting, informative, and fun as I did. My favorite line has to be (referring to the leader of the band he was in when Lennon and McCartney saw him play and asked him to join the Beatles), “Played Butlin’s camp/with my friend Rory/It was good for him/it was great for me.” In a recent live version, I’m certain I saw him grinning on that last part, as if to say, “Of course it was ‘great’ for me!”

Initially, I did find the album to be somewhat darker than his recent work, but that is by no means to suggest that his basic advocacy of the “Peace and Love” lifestyle has lessened; if anything, it is just as strong as it has ever been. Songs like “For Love” and (my personal favorite) the solid rocker “If It’s Love That You Want” may not have the most original lyrics, but they have all the heart that we have grown to expect out of Ringo. Even the more serious songs, such as “Now That She’s Gone Away” and “Gone Are the Days,” shine through with lively guitar solos and, of course, reminders that “it don’t come easy” (Any fan of Ringo’s recent, excellent albums who has checked their Billboard ratings would agree!).

At the end of the day, I cannot say that I like this album more than Choose Love or especially Ringo Rama, but I can say that it is a solid, enjoyable album that proves Ringo cannot be written off as the least talented ex-Beatle. He has been smart enough to surround himself with talented young musician/songwriters who compliment his excellent drumming. He has created and maintained an exciting new sound in his recent work. He possesses a larger-than-life personality that drives even his lesser songs forward. And, if nothing else, he still knows how to rock n’roll!