Friday, May 06, 2011

Blast from the Past: BackBeat [Original Soundtrack]

Title:  BackBeat [Original Soundtrack] (Amazon, CD Universe, IMDB, AllMusic, Wikipedia)
Artist:  BackBeat Band (

I have never been a fan of The Beatles.  In fact there were times that I could have honestly said that I hated The Beatles, which is of course ironic considering the number of bands that I love that were obviously influenced by the Fab Four (hell at times Guided By Voices sound just like The Beatles).  You see I’ve always been more of a Rolling Stones / The Who kind of guy, but lately I’ve become more ambivalent to The Beatles – I don’t immediately change the station if one of their songs comes on the radio for example.  With that having been said, I have loved the soundtrack to the 1994 movie BackBeat (IMDB, Wikipedia) since it was released. 

The film itself was about the early days of The Beatles when Stuart Sutcliffe was still in the band and they were playing Chuck Berry and Little Richard covers around Europe.  I know that I’ve seen it at least once but it wasn’t a very memorable movie, despite it staring Stephen Dorff who is normally very good.  The soundtrack however is stunning.  Produced by Don Was, the album included new recordings of 12 of the songs that The Beatles played during their early years.  What made these recordings great through was the band that Mr. Was put together for the project – Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs (singing the John Lennon), Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum (singing the Paul McCartney), Mike Mills of R.E.M. (on bass), Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth (on guitar), Don Fleming of Gumball (on guitar), and Dave Grohl of Nirvana and later Foo Fighters (on drums).  The music was recorded very quickly to maintain the raw sound and energy that The Beatles were known for at that time.  The BackBeat Band only performed once live, at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.  It was a blistering performance and can be seen here.

What’s great about this album is that it is so incredibly fun.  These are some classic rock ‘n’ roll songs played by a ridiculously talented band that sounds like they are having the time of their lives.  And you don’t have to like The Beatles to like this record (I didn’t) you just need to like great rock ‘n’ roll music in its simplest and purest form. 

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