Booker T. & the MG's' LP dedicated to covers of much of the material on a specific Beatles album (1970's McLemore Avenue, which focused on songs from Abbey Road) was the first such project to get widespread critical attention.
It's sometimes forgotten, however, that it wasn't the first effort of its sort. About four years before, a bunch of top Los Angeles session musicians got together under the name the Music Company to knock off a jazz version, track for track, of the Beatles' Rubber Soul LP. Yes, it was undoubtedly an exploitative project; the group was a temporary studio-only concoction, and the album was done to capitalize on the Beatles' success while Rubber Soul was hot. As such exploitation projects go, however, this has got to be one of the better ones, and it is certainly leagues above the likes of the Hollyridge Strings albums. For one thing, the players, though most famous primarily for their work on Hollywood pop/rock sessions, are very good, including Hal Blaine on drums, Tommy Tedesco and James Burton on guitars, and Don Randi on piano. More importantly, these really are pretty good straight jazz arrangements with a bit of pop and some playful liveliness, as well as some Latin rhythmic influences here and there. It helps, of course, that the songs are so good, but as great as the Beatles' tunes were, it wasn't true that no one could ruin them; just listen to those Hollyridge Strings albums, for example. The Music Company, on the other hand, treat the material with respect, and at the same time aren't afraid to put their own stamp on the songs.
The bossa nova and flamenco-tinged arrangement of "In My Life" might be the highlight, but really, it's surprisingly enjoyable all the way through, even if it might be no substitute for the Beatles (and probably won't find immense favor with serious jazzheads, either). Note, incidentally, that this follows the track listing of the original 1965 U.S.
version of the Rubber Soul LP, not the U.K. version that became the standard edition of the album in the CD era.
|Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:05|
|I've Just Seen a Face / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:10|
|You Won't See Me / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||1:50|
|Think for Yourself / George Harrison||The Music Company||2:28|
|The Word / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:27|
|Michelle / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:43|
|It's Only Love / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||1:58|
|Girl / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:28|
|I"m Looking Through You / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||1:59|
|In My Life / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:35|
|Wait / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||1:51|
|Run for Your Life / John Lennon / Paul McCartney||The Music Company||2:00|