Penny Lane (2:42)
Six Pence and You (2:38)
She Loves You (2:08)
All You Need Is Love (2:18)
I Want to Hold Your Hand (2:33)
Blues for the Guru (4:22)
Eleanor Rigby (2:20)
Tropic of Chelsea (2:28)
While we await the announcement that Apple Corps. and Apple Computer have decided to make The Beatles songbook “officially” available for your downloading pleasure, let’s take an easy listen to some interpretations, courtesy of 101 Strings.
I shouldn’t need to go into much detail about the orchestra or the series of Alshire records released in the 1960s. 101 Strings sold a ton of records, and they turn up at almost any yard sale or thrift-store bin. Essentially it’s MUZAK for the masses, or at least versions of the “now” sounds of the 60s that wouldn’t frighten Mom and Dad. Each album was based around a theme or composer and typically included an original track or two from the session arranger.
Although most of their albums are considered common, a handful do command a premium, including ASTRO SOUNDS FROM BEYOND THE YEAR 2000 (which is currently retailing for $25 at a Harvard Square record store) and this album, the original 101 Strings take on The Beatles, which is sought after by Beatles collectors.
This is not the TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES album that 101 Strings released in 1981 and which has subsequently been ported to CD. “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” and “Penny Lane” appear on both albums, and as I’ve not played them back to back, I’m not sure if they’re the same versions. Given the tendency of 101 Strings to recycle tracks from one album to another, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were.
Martin Kelly handles the arrangements on this album, and the Strings are backed by a prominent brass section and a rock and roll quartet, taking this out of the easy listening arena and moving it close to genuine rock and roll, especially on “Blues for the Guru,” a track penned by Kelly, who also contributed “Tropic of Chelsea” and “Six Pence and You” under the pen name of I. Disenhaus.