Beach musicians Martin Gladstone and Frank Caruso, have just released their latest CD, Beatle Ballads, a tribute to the British quartet that revolutionized pop music when they burst onto the scene in the 1960s. Joining the duo on this recording is cellist Brenton Chan whose playing adds a world of authenticity to the arrangements.
So many musicians have paid tribute to The Beatles – I mean their song Yesterday is, if not the most covered song of all time, then certainly among the top three – that one might approach such a recording with trepidation. But when you consider that Gladstone was the lead singer of the 1980s band The Grottybeats, you can expect that the arrangements will be pretty close to the original. And so they are. Gladstone’s voice neatly shifts between the sweet pop sounds of Paul McCartney (Yesterday), the nasal vocalizing of George Harrison (Here Comes the Sun), to the piercing sharpness and double tracking of John Lennon (Julia).
As far as the arrangements themselves go, they stick pretty close to the original as well. Lacking bass and drums (keep in mind these are the ballads) Gladstone’s guitar work is technically right on. Caruso’s piano as well, especially on In My Life where he is almost note perfect to the original George Martin harpsichord solo. Caruso does stretch it out some with introductions to songs like Girl or The Long and Winding Road. As mentioned above, the addition of cellist Chan brings authenticity to the recordings, especially on tunes like Eleanor Rigby and Yesterday. It was George Martin’s introduction of string arrangements to The Beatles’ music that elevated them from pop band to musicians to be taken seriously. Listen, though, to his solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
There are some unexpected gems on this recording that you should take note of. Strawberry Fields is not one of the oft-covered Beatles’ tunes, people figuring that the original version was definitive, and besides, it’s not what you would call a ‘coverable’ song like say, Something. But Gladstone, Caruso and Chan do an amazing job of it. Another is Day in the Life, complete with its dream-like centre piece, chaotic string section, and of course that big – final – piano chord.
For Beatle fans – and I rank myself among them – this is a great collection. There are 17 tracks covering that peak period of the group’s output: Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, the White Album and Abbey Road, after they had quit touring and spent less time on writing rock and roll hits.
While the trio are looking for a store in the area to carry the CD, you can pick up a copy of Beatle Ballads online at cdbaby.com. Gladstone wants readers to know that a portion of all CD sales will be donated to The Friends of Glen Davis Ravine to help offset costs from the OMB fight to save the ravine from condo development. For more information visit martinandfrank.com.