Diggin’ the Weeds: The Flaming Lips do Sgt. Pepper’s

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Putting out a version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has not often proved to be a good undertaking by those bands brash enough to think they can improve upon, or imbue with their style at least, the B.C./A.D. moment in rock n’ roll. We all know how that Bee Gee-Frampton-Alice Cooper bit of nonsense plopped onto the scene back in the 70s and some of us know the live Cheap Trick version and so forth.  It is usually like choosing to paint a guy with a blue guitar or an Italian woman with an enigmatic smile—it’s been done better before. So what the heck are The Flaming Lips up to with the release of With a Little Help from My Fwends? Great fun, first of all, with collaborators such as Dr. Dog, Moby, and...Miley Cyrus.  That’s right, Miley Cyrus sings “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life.”

It’s Not 1978, Thankfully

With a Little Help from My Fwends isn’t a replication at all, though neither was that 1978 fiasco. The Flaming Lips, however, have somehow made this release a reengagement for listeners who may have forgotten how to listen to this album.  This is the first release of any Beatle cover over the last many years that has encouraged me to revisit the Beatle classics with a new perspective.  With a Little Help from My Fwends is a re-examination and this 2014 release works beautifully.

I remember Danny Finkleman—CBC’s encyclopedic protector of all things rock n’ roll—denigrating the studio-Beatles for ruining rock and roll.  He placed The Hollies above The Beatles during some commentaries and had some convincing arguments.  This Flaming Lips version of this studio-bound monolithic masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s, would not change his mind.  This is not a Sun Records version of Sgt. Pepper’s, but it is an ironic masterpiece featuring a disparate collective of very talented individuals repainting a smile and blue guitar well.







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