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Non-Prog CD Reviews

MonaLisa Twins

Play Beatles and More

Review by Gary Hill

I like MonaLisa Twins a lot. So, I was looking forward to this set of covers. I wasn’t disappointed. Some of this stuff works better than others, but it’s all pretty good. I think it might all be recorded live, but there are a few tunes that don’t have crowd noise, so I’m not sure. I kind of wish they’d more changes from the source material, but this is strong either way.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Revolution

This rocking rendition manages to clean it up while still maintaining a bit of the raw nature of the tune. I like it. The vocals are very good and this grooves nicely. There is some inspired guitar soloing on this thing.

Friday on My Mind
I’m not as familiar with this tune. Nor am I as impressed by it. That’s more about the song itself than it is the performance, though. This is another strong showing.
Johnny B. Goode
I think this might be the best version of this Chuck Berry classic I’ve ever heard. I love the overall sound and the vocal performances are great. The guitar soloing is just about perfect. This is one of the best cuts here, no question about it.
This Boy
Again, the source material doesn’t do that much for me here. They really put in a pretty authentic retro rendition, though. They do everything right. This just isn’t my kind of music.
In My Life
A gentler piece, they do a great version of this. It’s also a song that works better in terms of source material to my ears.
Blackbird
This intricate and folky piece gets a great telling here. It’s another stands tall amongst the set as far as I’m concerned.
For What It's Worth
I’ve always loved this song in every configuration. They play this one rocking, but with acoustic guitars. It’s got energy and works really. This is another highlight of the set.
Drive My Car
Pretty faithful to the source material, this is just a fun cover. It’s one of the best of the set. I like this one a lot.
Can't Buy Me Love
This version is faithful and solid. It’s just not one of my favorites here.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
First off, I love the original version of this. The thing is, I would have fallen in love with this one even if I didn’t. Here they do what I’ve been wanting to hear from them this whole time; they make this piece their own. There’s almost a jazz feeling to some of this. There are also folk elements at play. Yet, they lose none of the magic. In fact, they might even enhance it. This is arguably the strongest cut here. I love it. It’s worth the price of admission all by itself.
God Only Knows
I really love the vocal arrangement on this. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the original of this, but this is a great tune. The whole thing works really well.
People Are Strange
They get points for making some changes to this Doors song. The early parts just don’t work all that well for me. When it gets more energy and sound added to it, though, it is much more effective. Of particular interest, they turn this out into a real jazzy kind of jam for an extended instrumental section later. That section starts with a rhythm section work out and after a while the bass drops away for a drum solo.  When they bring it back into the song proper it seems to have gained some energy and passion, making the end especially strong.
Day Tripper
This rocker works quite well in this live rendition.
The Last Time
This cut gets a pretty effective and rather faithful cover.
Mercedes Benz
Janis Joplin gets covered here. I love the acapella vocal at the start of this. After that we get an acoustic guitar accompanied section. It runs through like that before they turn it out to a more full arrangement. This is really quite a strong cover. I like it a lot. The harmonica is a nice touch.
 
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