Thursday, 19 January 2012

Re-imagining The Beatles #3 - Lone Star

It is rare that a cover version of a song takes the original, turns it inside out and creates an entirely different beast from its constituent parts. It is even rarer that the resulting piece of music improves on the, itself wonderful, original. Lone Star's take on the Beatles' She Said She Said owes so little to the original that handing over royalties to Lennon & McCartney must surely have rankled.

Mention She Said She Said to anyone but the most devoted Beatles fanatic and they are likely to have to flick through their Fab Four LPs just to remind themselves on which album it appears (Revolver, incidentally.) Conversely, if you ever stumble across a Lone Star fan, ask him about that band's Frankenstein's Monster reworking of the same track and watch him go misty eyed before waxing lyrical about its brilliance! Perhaps, in the rehearsal studio, it started life as a straight forward cover version of the Beatles' mildly lysergic, Byrdsian tune, but in the recording studio it clearly took on a life of its own, becoming a soaring, spacey, progressive, hard rock monster, stretching out the original tune from a blink-and-miss-it 155 seconds into an eight and a half minute epic. This is what I had in mind when I chose the "Re-imagining The Beatles" heading for these blog entries: artists who take a Beatles song as a starting point, dismantle it, rip out its innards, pack it full of their own heart and soul, stitch it back together, give it a swift  kick up the arse with a like-their-lives-depend-on-it performance and strut off into the sunset as high as kites in the knowledge of a job well done. I would love to know whether Lennon or McCartney ever heard Lone Star's version of their track and, if so, what they thought of it. I imagine that Paul McCartney is too busy being an utter god to read my blog, so I suppose we'll never find out.

Unlike many artists who use cover versions to pad out otherwise lacklustre albums, Lone Star's debut is filled to bursting with inspired songwriting, stunning musicianship and Paul Rodgers-esque vocal performances. And, to prove it was no flook, their follow-up album, Firing On All Six, is similarly endowed, albeit with a Robert Plant disciple installed on vocals this time around. It is baffling that this band failed to conquer the planet and take their deserved seats alongside the Led Zeppelins and Deep Purples of this world. Guitarist, Paul Chapman, subsequently found himself the target of much undue criticism when he replaced Michael Schenker in UFO, whilst John Sloman (lead vocalist on Firing On All Six) fleetingly became a member of Uriah Heep, staying just long enough to record their most contentious LP, Conquest.

The Firing On All Six Line-Up

 In addition to their overhaul of She Said She Said, take a listen here to the standout track from their second LP, namely The Bells Of Berlin. Both LPs were recently reissued on CD by Rock Candy Records and are regularly offered for sale on ebay in their original vinyl incarnations should you want to listen to them the way the music gods intended. Whichever format you choose, do yourselves a favour and enrich your collection with these two Classic Rock masterpieces.

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