Various Artists – Listen to What the Man Said: Popular Artists Pay Tribute to the Music of

Various Artists
Listen to What the Man Said: Popular Artists Pay Tribute to the Music of

A tribute CD to Paul McCartney. Modern artists taking on the classics of one of the best songwriters in the history of rock. Seeing those statements is enough to get any record reviewer excited. At the same time, one has to be sure this is not some silly pop fluff marketed to capitalize on the reemergence of The Beatles in the public’s eye. After taking a look at the liner notes and listening to the CD just once, any doubts fade. This is truly a compilation done in the name of love for Paul McCartney and his legacy.

This tribute has been organized for a good cause. Some of the proceeds from the sales of the record will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in the memory of Paul’s wife, Linda. With such a respectable artist featured in the tribute, one can be assured that many top-of-the-line groups tried to get on the compilation. That said, it seems that a lot of care was taken in the choosing of what groups appeared here. The project’s producers chose the groups and cuts that were closest to the marrow of McCartney’s classics. No posers allowed. All the groups that appear on this disc are true McCartney fans.

There is a great variety of songs from throughout McCartney’s solo career featured on the CD. Surprisingly, almost every track on the disc is solid. If nothing else, the songs are fun second-hand versions of the originals. None of the tunes are too drastically different from McCartney’s, but there are some standout tracks that truly shine through. Owsley brings the CD to a lightning-fast start with a splendid version of one of McCartney’s best known solo works, “Band On The Run.” The guitars are a bit more distorted and aggressive sounding at times than on the original recording, but it feels right in the mix. SR-71 does a ripping version of “My Brave Face” that adds some punk rock to McCartney’s version. The vocals are a bit snottier, and overall the tone is crunchier and more powerful. A couple members of the Barenaked Ladies and Lilac Time come together to deliver an ethereal version of “Junk.” The mood they create feels like a some sort of sad carnival. Truly a nice track. Semisonic’s rendition of “Jet” sounds surprisingly very close to the original aside from the vocals. “No More Lonely Nights” is given heartfelt treatment by The Merrymakers. They are more than up to the challenge of the classic original and bring an abundance of emotion to their version. Matthew Sweet delivers a head-nodding version of “Every Night” that should instantly put a smile on the face of any McCartney or Sweet fan.

Overall, the CD is a great compilation of a wide variety of artists paying tribute to one of their heroes. One could ask the question whether or not these songs can be duplicated. Many of McCartney’s masterpieces are untouchable in the eyes of his fans. Although his solo output is not as universally loved as his work with the Beatles, McCartney still has a huge fan base and rightly so. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest song writers in the history of rock. His legacy speaks for itself. Nothing can match up to McCartney’s splendid originals, but that is not the point of this disc.

Breast cancer is a disease that has devastated many. Seeing all of these artists coming together for this cause is very heartwarming. That alone makes the CD worth a listen. Of course, the palette of songs that these artists have to choose from doesn’t exactly hurt the eardrums either. Give it a listen and support the cause.