Tag Archives: reggae

timeless cover: Within You Without You by the Beatles

13 Feb

One of the timeless songs that make a perfect cover is George Harrison’s Within You Without You. A perfect taste of the late 1960s – heavily influenced by classical music from India it still is deeply rooted in the contemporary trends in rock. Harrison actually was a master of incorporating Hindu musical themes into the pieces he wrote for the Beatles. And this is definitely one of his master tracks. Funny, being the least “starish” of the Beatles and the least wanted (girls usually scream either for John, Paul or Ringo), he was probably the most qualified and perfectionist of them all, not only as a musician but also as a composer.

Within You Without You was covered by various artists of different musical genres. From Patti Smith to Thievery Corporation, in this song anyone could find something close to their heart. I decided to pick four of them just for some comparison of how different it may sound.

Unfortunately, I am not including a cover by Adrian Belew – the cover itself is amazing and Belew is one of my favorite musicians of all time. However, as far as I know he never released this song on any of his albums. And the youtube videos of Belew performing Within You Without You are of really poor quality.

First of all, the original. Completely perfect. Harrison performed it together with musicians from India. It is, actually, his solo track. Except him none of the Beatles are featured on this track. It was issued in 1967 on the famous the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Patti Smith. A legend in itself. This is where Great Britain/India meet the American spirit. She’s touching as ever.

Sonic Youth, the legend of the late 1980s and 1990s. Of course, as a noise band they do perform it in a noise style. What makes an amazing experience is that they go very much in the direction of the Velvet Underground. Actually, that was my first thought. If Velvet would have ever covered Within You Without You, this is how they would sound.

Easy Star’s All-Stars cover featuring Matisyahu. The dub version which was included in the album Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band. It could actually be interesting for both, fans of the Beatles and dub fans since the whole album is a dub reggae tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s.

And finally the band that I’ve never been a fan of, however, gotta admit they’re professional. Oasis – who perform the song in a manner very close to the original.

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Gypsy punk frenzy! (continuously)

14 Jun

Honestly? I am amazed by how Gogol Bordello is consequent with their music and their career. For years now (yes! Hard to believe but it’s been 11 years!) they continue to amaze us with their great, energetic, crazy records full of Gypsy, punk, Eastern European influences and – basically – whatever else you want. Just type it in. You’ll find Balkan motifs here, Latin American motifs, lots of Gypsy violin, intense chords and rhythms and, most of all, the amazing Eugene Hütz, whose voice does the whole thing – it’s rough, it’s punk, it’s melodic, it has got this amazing, crazy taste of a Slavonic accent. Well, Gogol Bordello are one of a kind and they’re very hard to get confused with anything else.

And yes, this album is not different from the other albums of Gogol Bordello. You get amazing violin, accordion (mostly in minor-key), sometimes it reminds you of old Eastern European revolutionary songs. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say that Gogol Bordello is inspired by Gypsy music in a way that Ashkenazi Jewish Music influences Psoy Korolenko and Daniel Kahn on their album Unternationale. If I had to make any grand metaphors to explain what kind of music is it, I’d have to say… damn, this is one of the few bands I’d like to have playing on my wedding 😀 And, yes, I’m not kidding – and it’s not only because of their famous hit American Wedding.

What I absolutely love about Trans-Continental Hustle is that it’s consequent, crazy, emotional and it’s not tiring. It is a powerful and intense record. Only sometimes it gets lyrical – the lovely Sun Is on My Side is a perfect example, with a Russian-influenced chorus supported by sentimental parts of accordion. Basically it’s a huge, huuuuuge (I mean it) Gypsy punk frenzy! So? That’s something Gogol Bordello has always done and they still remain fresh and true to their route. Something that can never be underestimated.

To understand more, what you’re dealing with, you should probably have a look at the current lineup of the band. Let’s see. The frontman is Ukrainian/Gypsy. Also, we’ve got two Russians, two Americans, one Israeli, one guy from Ecuador, one Ethiopian and a girl from Scotland. Former band members included mostly Romanians and Israelis. Speaking of former Israeli band members – a hint of what is is going on here may give you the fact that Ori Kaplan who used to play the saxophone in Gogol Bordello is now a co-leader of the Balkan Beat Box… Well, simply speaking, Gogol Bordello is basically similar when it comes to the genre (or genres) of music, however they’re not into hip-hop and whereas Balkan Beat Box tends to base their music on Middle Eastern/Jewish/hip-hop/Balkan foundations, Gogol Bordello switches “Middle Eastern/Jewish/hip-hop” to “Eastern European/Gypsy/punk”…

A few highlights:

When Universes Collide – very intense piece, strongly rooted in Eastern European music, with a powerful string section (especially violin)

Sometimes you get amazing Latin American/Spanish influences – Uma Menina, My Companjera, In the Meantime in Pernambuco

Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher) – fusion of Eastern European music, Gypsy melodies, Latin American influences and anarchist/punk/revolutionary lyrics. Moreover, it starts with a reggae-like feeling, becomes strongly punk and you get highly flamenco-fueled guitar. Totally crazy! Tastes delicious! Definitely one of my favorites.

Raise the Knowledge – a mix of flamenco, African songs and, of course gypsy punk. And remember… “Revolution is internal/Evolution is not over (…) so rise the knowledge, rise!” 😉

Београд-תל אביב

22 May

The newest album of Balkan Beat Box was recorded in Belgrade, Serbia and Tel Aviv, Israel – and this says enough about the music that you can expect. Blue Eyed Black Boy is a typical example of the band’s style – a mix of genres and different musical influences, from, most importantly, Balkan music (not only in the meaning of former Yugoslavian countries, but also a bit of Greece) and Middle Eastern music (Israeli and Arabian), through dub, reggae, even a little bit of hip-hop up until Latin American dances with the amazing Marcha De La Vida as a key example.

I don’t want to spoil the fun with saying too much about this release. You have to check out for yourselves. All I want to say is – the more you listen to it, the more you will love it, and if you listen to the whole album over and over again, you will find some amazing things during each listening. This record is like a rare, precious, although very powerful and strong object – there are always some new sounds to discover, sounds you didn’t hear when listening to it for the first time. The rythmic section and the brass section – are, as always, genius! And yes, you can say that it’s nothing that you haven’t heard from BBB but one thing is for sure – these guys know how to rock and, most of all, they’re extremely consequent with their musical choices, their genre (or, I should rather say: mixed-genres) of music and – what is most important – with the extremely high level of performing it.

Grab it, listen to it, love it! In fact, I am sure you will love it. And even if you’re not into this nerdy idea of listening to something and trying to solve the riddle hidden inside, you will enjoy it cause this album is just pure fun and amazing pleasure! As a teaser, my favorite song of the album: War Again.