[24 February 2010]
REASON TO WATCH: The third-season kickoff salutes The Beatles’ 1969 album, “Abbey Road.”
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: As always, this episode originates from London’s Abbey Road Studios, and features commentary — all fascinating — by the Fifth Beatle himself, the group’s producer, George Martin. In between Martin’s reminiscences, various artists cover many of the classics from the 1969 album, which was produced when the lads were barely speaking to each other. Didn’t matter. The album was, and always will be, one of the greatest of all time.
WHO THE ARTISTS ARE: Seal (“Something”); Counting Crows (“Golden Slumbers”/ “Carry That Weight”/“The End”); Sugarland (“Come Together”); Matchbox Twenty (“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”); Imelda May (“Oh! Darling”); Melody Gardot (“Because”); Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons (“Here Comes the Sun”); Paloma Faith (“You Never Give Me Your Money”).
MY SAY: I guess I could be a mean Mr. Mustard here and say that — for crying out loud — the Met doesn’t do favorite selections from “Gotterdammerung,” and no respected TV show like this one should do mere “selections” from “Abbey Road.” But I’m over my high dudgeon; this is a mostly wonderful hour, with some fine performances by world-class musicians, although my particular tastes diverged sharply from Sugarland’s clean but twangy “Come Together” and May’s too-full-throated “Oh! Darling.” (You won’t even recognize Hegarty’s “Sun.”)
Standouts? Adam Duritz (and the Crows) and especially Matchbox, though why — why! — couldn’t they have folded in “Mustard” and “Polythene Pam?” The nicest surprises were Philly jazz specialist Gardot and Faith, a British musician I’d never heard of.
BOTTOM LINE: Some very serious omissions — “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” to name just two — but otherwise, a joy.
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