Category Archives: music

Song Review: “Look to the One” by The Vals

Look to the One - The Vals

I love this band.

Wait…that wasn’t strong enough…


Okay…that was much better.

Phew…now on with the review.

The Vals are from Belfast, Ireland and appeared in my inbox about 2 years ago when they told me what huge Beatles fans they were and how influenced their music has been by the Fab Four.  At first, I thought they were just another band looking for attention, but I went to their site and gave their single “Yesterday Today” a listen.  The song will give you chills!   They soon released their first album “Sticks and Stones” in October 2009 which I had fully intended on reviewing but for some reason, I never found the time.  The album is amazing for a debut album…there is no doubt it is on my list of favorite albums along with my Beatles collection.  There is no mistaking that these guys too are Beatles freaks!

Now this band has released a new single, “Look to the One” and I’m not going to miss this opportunity to let the world know exactly how talented this group of musicians is.  An upbeat song, with a sound reminiscent of John Lennon.  I’ve embedded the video to this new song into this review, but I highly recommend taking a listen without the visual imagery if you want to truly get into this song.  These are the types of songs you pop into your car stereo and all your friends ask, “Who’s this?!”

Did I say I love this band?  I LOVE THE VALS!  I just wish I could give them more support and bring them to the U.S..  The people at SXSW Festival in Austin, TX, actually turned The Vals down last year to appear at the festival.  I think this was a huge mistake on their part and a big loss for the fans that attend the festival.  Hey…SXSW!  Get on the ball and bring The Vals to the U.S.A.!

You can become a fan of The Vals on Facebook.

I rate this song, this band and all their music: 4 out of 4 Beetles


Filed under Beatles influence, Beatles-freak, music, reviews, Uncategorized

Music Review: ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by Shannon her B.A.M.F.s

Shannon MacDonald
Shannon MacDonald

There aren’t too many people in this world that would have the nerve to cover a song by John Lennon.  I’ve watched as contestants on various singing competition shows try it…and it can easily end any attempt at fame.

And so that brings me to the latest attempt – Shannon MacDonald’s Tomorrow Never Knows.  Most people know Shannon as ‘The World’s Greatest Beatles Artist’, a title given to her by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool.  So one has to wonder, why would her first attempt to make her mark in the music industry be covering a Beatles’ song?

The first thing I noticed when I set out to hear this song for the first time is that it’s 7 mins 38 sec in length.  The original version of the song was just 2 mins 57 sec.   But that initial feeling of ‘I’m going to fall asleep before I hear the end…” quickly went away as I found that the song has the magical ability of wrapping around you like a comfortable blanket and taking you to your happy place.  There is an absolutely peace about this cover that gives you that inner reconciliation like meditating on a high mountain top in the warmth of the sun and a gentle breeze gliding across your cheek.

Absolutely, everyone should take a chance and give this song a listen…and come back here to let me know the feeling that it inspired in you.  I think it will truly be a grand experience for anyone.

Shannon‘s cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ is currently doing a rapid climb up the charts on ReverbNation and is being noticed by many Beatles’ experts and DJ’s across the U.S..

For those inquiring minds – BAMFs = Bad A** Mother F***ers.

The song is available for download on iTunes and Amazon.

The Lennon Examiner – Shelley Germeaux recently interviewed Shannon about her music and this song.  The article is here.

The history behind the writing of the original Beatles version, can be found here.

I rate this song: 4 out of 4 Beetles

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CD Review: In This One Cold Blink of Time by Such As Us

In This One Cold Blink of Time
In This One Cold Blink of Time by Such As Us

Just as a refresher on who Such As Us is:  I reviewed this band’s Priming The Pride EP  this past June.  They’re managed by Maureen Shames, who is also the publicist for Sid Bernstein – the man that brought the Beatles to America.

I really like this band and I would love to see them perform live!  I’m hoping they start doing summer music festivals.  This album inspires images of spreading out a blanket at a folk festival and just chilling to the music.  Filled with songs with real meaning, it gives you something to think about…or you can just tap your toes and bob your head.

The four songs that were on their EP seem to have been fined tuned and join eleven other songs with beautiful harmonies (“Tall Town”) and some wonderful violin and flute solos.

Two new members have been added to the line-up, both of them percussionist and one providing back-up vocals.  Michael and Joni seem to have provided more depth to Such As Us.

For more information on how to get this album and Such As Us’ upcoming shows, go to their Facebook page or find them on ReverbNation.

Such As Us will be having a CD Release Party this week and I truly wish I could be there to have the LIVE experience.  If you’re in the NJ/NY area, here’s the info on the party:

 Thursday, August 18, 2011
7:30 pm
Patsy’s Pizzeria
2287-91 First Ave. (near 118th St.)
New York, NY

I rate this album: 3.5 out of 4 Beetles

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Book Review: A Date With A Beatle by Judith Kristen

A Date with a Beatle

A Date With A Beatle by Judith Kristen

This was my second attempt at reading A Date With A Beatle.  I had bought the book at the Fest for Beatles Fans in NJ in 2010.  The first time through, I managed to get to page 61 of this 171 page book about a young girl’s attempt to meet George Harrison.  I’ll give my first impression report and in the end…I’ll give my overall impression after actually finishing this book.

I picked up this book after meetin Judith Kristen and her husband at The Fest.  Knowing that the first editions of Jude Southerland Kessler‘s self-published novel on John Lennon now sell for up to $1000, I figured I’d pick up a 1st edition copy of ‘A Date With A Beatle‘ as an investment.  After reading the first 19 very short chapters of this book, I just cringed.  Something just didn’t sit right with me about how a woman could remember such detail after 45 years.  It was then I saw in the front of the book, “This book is partially fictionalized”.  Then it made sense to me that I wasn’t quite sure how much was made up and I felt duped!  I put the book down for over a year.

Last week, I decided to pick this book up again and finally review it, knowing full well that this could turn out really bad for any future dealings with Ms. Kristen or her husband since we’ve been known to be seen in the came circles.

Once again…I struggled.  After only 1o chapters, I felt like this was work, but I championed on…determined to finish and review it.  I tried to anaylize why I was struggling with the way the story was being presented and then it hit me that Judith Kristen is also a children’s book author and I believe that in her own way…she dumbed down this book a bit much.  Or maybe it’s the attempt to write it in her voice as it was when she was 16.  Or maybe it was the over-the-top conversations between her and her friends and police officers.   Finally, I can say I finished it.

I can honestly say that by the her last attempt to meet George Harrison in the story in this book, she had me hooked.  The ending is whitty and will make you smile.  I am glad I read it…and the latest edition has a beautiful new cover from Beatles artist Eric Cash.  I’ve also read that Ms. Kristen has been invited to Beatles Week in Liverpool later this month and then will start a book tour of German where her book has now been published in German.  Best of luck to her!

You can buy her book on Amazon.

I can believe I’m about to say this….but…

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles


Filed under Beatles books, Beatles-freak, George Harrison, music, reviews

Book Review: Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career by John Cherry

Unfortunately, I can’t remember when I was offered the opportunity to review this book…it was either late last year or early this year.  Anyway, my apologies to the author and publisher for the delay.

Getting straight to the point, I believe the author of this book set the tone for me of the entire book in the book’s Foreword when he proceeds to spend too much time criticising the critics of his first book and then refers to McCartney’s movie “Give My Regards to Broad Street” as shallow and self-centered.  I personally loved the movie.

John Cherry (the author) seems incredibly shallow and self-centered in his presentation of the facts of McCartney’s solo career.  I’m not sure exactly what I was reading.  This book is not a guide…since there is no indexing of songs.  I guess it could be a biography, but there is so much missing…including song titles!

Several times throughout the book, the author spends entire paragraphs detailing a song…but fails to mention the song title.  “Mull of Kintyre” was a standout example.

The reader is also introduced to much of Mr. Cherry’s private life as he continually mentions his personal life events and how they related to McCartney’s music.  Sorry…but I considered this TMI!

I could go on, but what’s the point?  Exactly!  What’s the point to this book?  Either too much info or not enough info…and the straw that broke the camels back and made me lose faith is this writing was the typo “Paula”.  Seriously?  Someone didn’t catch that?!

For more information or to order this book, go to

I rate this book:  1 out of 4 Beetles


Filed under Beatles books, music, Paul McCartney, reviews

EP Review: ‘Priming the Pride’ by Such As Us

Such As UsEarly last month, I got an interesting email in my inbox from Maureen Shames, Sid Bernstein’s former publicist (Sid Bernstein is the promoter that brought the Beatles to America).  She emailed me a promotion package on a new band, Such As Us, that she’s representing along with Sid.  This neo-folk-rock band made my spidey-senses tingle so I offered to review their new EP if she’d send me a copy.

Priming the Pride” is a four song EP that took me back to the folk songs of the 60’s…seriously!  This band conjured up images of Woodstock and folk festivals old and new.  This is the music that makes you want to spread out a blanket on the lawn and mellow out.  And to stay true to the form of the 60’s folk era, these songs come along with a messages.

The only thing I believe is lacking, is that these songs could probably use a little more producing…but would it really be a folk album if all the edges were smoothed over?

I gotta say…I honestly look forward to hearing this band’s upcoming CD release – to be release Summer 2011.  Their music relaxes me…in the way that Peter, Paul and Mary’s Puff the Magic Dragon did when I was a child.

For anyone in the NYC area, you’ll have the opportunity to see this band live tonight  (June 1, 2011) at Patsy’s Restaurant (see image to the left).

For more information on Such As US or to listen to their EP, go to

I rate this EP: 3 out of 4 Beetles

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CD Review – Beatlesque Three by Alan Bernhoft

Beatlesque Three Beatlesque Three is the third CD by musician/actor Alan Bernhoft.  Alan also works part time as a John Lennon impersonator.

Before breaking into my review of this most recent release, I’ll touch upon my opinions of Alan’s first two attempts at recreating the sound of The Beatles.


Beatlesque OneBeatlesque One (which for some reason is missing from my CD collection) was/is an amazing collection of songs that if you’re not paying close enough attention, will make you look up and wonder if you’re listening to some previously unreleased songs from the early days of the Fab Four.  Alan recreates the sound so well, that six of his songs were featured in the mock-umentary “Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney”.  The movie’s director/producer, Marc Cushman remarked about his choice of songwriters, “We couldn’t afford The Beatles’ music, so we got the next best thing- Alan Bernhoft”

Beatlesque TooBeatlesque Two was a bit of a disappointment.  The album starts out great, but soon becomes tedious and monotone.  The lyrics are predictable and one song seems to blend right into the next with no diversity within the album.  It almost seems as if Mr. Bernhoft rushed to make this one.

This brings us back to Beatleseque Three. Alan Bernhoft seems to have gotten his groove back with this album.  It’s a fun album with a great opening song “Sunny Sky”.  Other standout songs are “Bored” and “Chun Li”.  This entire collection of songs once again highlights Alan’s ability to write a full/complete album of great tunes that brings its listener back to a bygone era of fun, peace and love.  And the production is superb!  My fingers are crossed that he will be able to keep up the good work from this and his first album to write Beatlesque Four.

I rate this CD: 3 out of 4 Beetles


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Concert Review: Liverpool Beat plays Downingtown, PA

Last night, our small town’s Concert in the Park series came to an end with a concert by Beatles tribute band – Liverpool Beat.

These monthly concerts in our little town are a free event throughout the summer, which is a good thing because so far, I’ve never had to pay to see a Beatles tribute band.  It’s just not in my blood to cough up cold hard cash to see someone impersonating the best band the world has ever known.  To put this into perspective, the reader may want to know that the three other tribute bands I’ve seen were: Yesterday, Beatlemania Now and She Loves You (I believe this one is a show title though it was performed like a concert).

I can honestly say that I did like this band.  You can tell that these guys really enjoy doing what they’re doing.  Their playlist included: Twist and Shout, A Hard Day’s Night, Help, She Loves You, Daytripper, She Loves You and many more to fill the hour and a half show they put on. I was surprised I had never heard of this band before since they’ve been playing in the Philadelphia area since 2001.

What can you say about a band that even took the time out to stroll across one of the zebra stripes in town just so people could catch a picture of it?  I’d say it’s a band that loves what they do and put their hearts into keeping alive the memory of the greatest band the world has ever known.  And if you by chance find them performing in your area, don’t hesitate to go out, see them and have a great time!

On that note, I will add that the organizers of Downingtown’s Concert in the Park are discussing the possibility of having a Beatles Festival in our town in the future.  For more info on Concert in the Park, go to:

You can see  a video of Liverpool Beat performing “She’s a Woman” on YouTube.

For more information or to book Liverpool Beat, please go to their website.

I rate this band: 3 out of 4 beetles

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Review: STAX Does the Beatles

STAX Does the Beatles

STAX Does the Beatles

Let’s start out by saying I’m not a jazz or R&B fan. I found this CD a year ago while I working at a local music store and thought I’d give it a spin.

This album is made up of 15 covers of what appears to be the most popular of the Beatles songs. Some of the songs include the vocal and some are just instrumental interpretations.  Some of the names covering these songs are: Otis Redding, Booker T., Carla Thomas, Issac Hayes and John Gary Williams.

Though not my type of ‘sound’, I feel that there can be a place for many of these songs, whether in a restaurant, elevator or at a live performance.  All in all, most of these won’t leave the listener either cringing or with their ears bleeding.  The only song I found truly offensive was Reggie Milner’s version of “And I Love Her”….the song was rendered unrecognizable!

All the albums and books that I review, I will try to list on my Beatles-Freak Amazon store (see links in right-hand column) page for my readers to investigate further.  This particular album you can buy used at Amazon for $1.45!
Rated – 2 out of 4 Beetles

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Kidz Bop Sings The Beatles

Kidz Bop Sings The Beatles

I’m almost embarrassed to make this my first review, but this CD has been sitting on my to-do pile since I ordered it last month and with it snowing outside, I decided to pop it into my computer and give it a listen while I surf and work.

My first thought is – the instrumental part is very true to the Beatles music. My second thought is – Why?! Why would they put these voices over the music? This album is a mix of what sounds like children’s and women’s voices singing: Can’t buy me love, Here comes the sun, All you need is love, etc. I’ve heard cover bands do better versions of these songs. And when you look at the play list, you realize that there are no songs with questionable lyrics that might be too much young ears and vocabularies.

So all in all…I give this album 1 out of 4 beetles. Go out and buy your children the real thing. Please don’t poison their impression of the Beatles with this worthless collection of covers.

And now…I can get it off my desk!
Rated: 1 out of 4 Beetles Score: 1 out of 4 Beetles

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