Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rocking In A Winter Wonderland

The Fab Four is just one of the numerous Beatles tribute bands performing these days. But vocalist-guitarist Ron McNeil, vocalist-bassist Ardy Sarraf, vocalist-guitarist Michael Amador, and vocalist-drummer Rolo Sandoval have pulled off something their competitors have never attempted. And it’s perfect for the holiday season.

On their 20-song Hark! CD, which combines two earlier releases, A Fab Four Christmas and Have Yourself A FAB-ulous Little Christmas, they reinvent Christmas carols by giving them a distinct Liverpool flavor. For example, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” uses the arrangement from “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “Silent Night” gets the “Norwegian Wood” treatment. These merry mash-ups usually work, thanks to The Fab Four’s ability to sing and play a lot like The Beatles. They incorporate the instruments from the original songs, like when McNeil plays a “Please Please Me” style harmonica on “Joy To The World.”

Some of The Fab Four’s creations are as imaginative as they are ambitious. Who else would think of serving up “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” ala “Within You Without You,” complete with sitars, or mixing the folksy “When I’m Sixty Four” with “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”? Traditionalists might be uncomfortable with the use of hymns in this context, like when the band sings, “The little Lord Jesus asleep in the - - - Hay!” while setting “Away In A Manger” to the arrangement of “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.” But the tunes are delivered in such good spirits, it’s hard to imagine that any disrespect was intended.

Hark! would be a great soundtrack to any holiday party. With The Fab Four rollicking through “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” in the guise of “Eight Days A Week,” it’s impossible not to feel jolly.


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