Beatle Country was originally released as an attempt to match the enormous commercial success of a then-recent album called The Baroque Beatles Book, which featured baroque-style orchestral versions of Fab Four compostions. Beatle Country, however, is a surprisingly (considering its inherently contradictory nature) excellent album of Beatles songs performed in straight bluegrass style, recorded in Nashville, performed by a group of Cambridge, MA-based musicians, and produced by the legendary Paul Rothchild (of the Doors, Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt etc. fame). A bizarrely erroneous marketing strategy (Elektra executives in New York didn't know the difference between bluegrass and country music) assured the record few sales and instant cult status. The musicians involved, most notably mandolinist/vocalist Joe Val (who many consider the greatest New England bluegrass player ever), do a fine job of imbuing Lennon/McCartney's tunes with an authentic Kentucky mountain flavor and never resort to kitsch (with the exception, perhaps, of pronouncing "Yellow Submarine" as "Yeller Submarine"). Although interesting for its novelty value alone, Beatle Country stands tall as an excellent bluegrass album by any measure, regardless of the unusual source of its material.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Pemberton Roach