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Night in New York City
Artist: Yellow Matter Custard
Label: Radiant Records
Length: 2 CDs/34 Tracks/104 Minutes
What if the Beatles had stayed together as a band, stayed friends, and had a blast going out and playing live every now and then? What if someone recorded one of these shows and preserved on CD? Well then you might get _One Night in New York City_-- a new and fresh interpretation of the Beatles legacy. The project features Yellow Matter Custard, a super-group of sorts featuring Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard & Transatlantic), Paul Gilbert (ex-Mr. Big) on vox & guitars, Matt Bissonette (ELO & Mustard Seeds) on vox & bass, the irrepressible Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums & vox, along with some expert off-stage assistance by Bert Baldwin (Neal Morse Orchestra). Mike Portnoy's life long dream was to be in a Beatles cover band-and this lovingly compiled project co-produced by Portnoy and Morse was a realization of that dream recorded at BB King's Blues Club on May 17, 2003 and preserved on two CDs featuring 34 songs.
I popped this CD in hoping for some mild amusement and after several songs I was amazed at the wonderful song selection and tender loving care applied to these classics! Well-loved Beatles hits like "Come Together," "I Am the Walrus," and "Revolution" are included along with a choice selection of deeper cuts like "Rain," "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey," and "Dear Prudence.” This all-star band has a blast as they tear through each great song with zest and flair. Original Beatles sample peppered throughout the production by keyboard whiz Bert Baldwin top the production off and add authenticity.
The CD production is bright, clean, and far better than a bootleg. Memorable moments abound on the CDs-small lyrical flubs are heard, band members are heard calling out song cues to each other, several laugh out loud moment of dialogue are present, Portnoy insists that the bridge to "No Reply" is replayed at the end of the song because the Beatles "dropped the ball by not repeating it" and during "The Night Before" Neal is heard singing "Ahhhhh, my name is George,” Moments like these provide little nuggets of enjoyable listening treasure that make this essential to your Beatles collection.
Standout cuts include "A Day in the Life" (with a stunning reverb-drenched vocal by Neal), "Dear Prudence", "Magical Mystery Tour" (with authentic samples by Bert), "Dig a Pony" (far better than the original-sacrilege I know, but true), "I Am the Walrus" with Neal's lyrical comment-"what's that mean?", Morse's not-to-be-missed vocal on "Oh Darling," and a stunning version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with an extended guitar solo by Paul Gilbert that will have you saying "Eric who...?,” The vocals are handled expertly by the group, Morse sounds amazingly like McCartney and Lennon in spots, Gilbert's guitar work is stellar, Bissonette is solid on bass and Portnoy shows that his chops are more than capable of handling and embellishing Ringo's legacy. The packaging is nice, bright and appropriately Beatleesque.
If you have to choose one Beatles related release this month, make it Yellow Matter Custard. I purchased the Beatles own inelegantly titled Let It Be-Naked, and I can tell you with no reservation _One Night in New York City- is the vastly superior disc!
The CD is available at <http://www.radiantrecords.com.
Barry Nothstine 11/22/2003