Various Artists

Das War Ein Harter Tag: Beatles Leider Auf Deutsch

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Sure, to people outside Germany the concept of this 30-song compilation might seem daft: 1960s recordings by German artists, singing in German, covering Beatles songs. For someone looking for wacky and interesting Beatles-related ephemera, though, it's actually quite a fun listen, if nothing you would place among the best Beatles covers ever (let alone anything close to the original versions). You haven't heard of any of these singers unless you were living in Germany then (and maybe even if you were living in Germany then). For some reason, Didi & Die ABC Boys are heavily represented, with no less than nine songs. You won't get any help from the liner notes, which are brief, do not contain details on the artists, and (if you don't speak the language) are in German. Anyway, the pleasure, such as it is, in listening to this is in the unexpected weird variations. Sometimes, for instance, the verse-chorus structure will be messed with a little, or a little bit of the song (usually the chorus) will be sung in English and the rest translated into German. And even for those English fragments, considerable liberties are taken: the title phrase of "Love Me Do" is changed by Didi & Die ABC Boys to "I love you," for instance, and Howard Carpendale sings "life is cra-zee" instead of "life goes on, bra" in the chorus to "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." In at least one case, speaking and singing German turns out to be a definite advantage: in Bill Ramsey's "Yellow Submarine," the German U-boat dialogue in the instrumental break sounds, perhaps unsurprisingly, really convincing. All kidding aside, it's a true testament to the strength of the Beatles' melodies that even when sung in German, and by rather second- and third-rate acts, the tracks are still usually just plain enjoyable (and better than Bear Family's sequel compilation that also adheres to this concept, Sie Liebt Dich Jeah Jeah Jeah: Weitere Beatles Songs Auf Deutsch). It's also a credit to this compilation that it contains versions of some Beatles songs that were rarely covered by anyone in any language, like "I'll Get You," "It Won't Be Long," "There's a Place" (some really screechy female singers on this one, backing Hermann Van Keeken), and "Two of Us." To no one's reasonable objection, the concept is stretched a little bit to include four songs that, strictly speaking, aren't Beatles covers: versions of "Twist and Shout" (modeled on the Beatles' own cover), Claudia Gordon's "Goodbye" (a Lennon-McCartney number that had been a hit for Mary Hopkin, but was never recorded by the Beatles), and two 1963 Beatles "tribute" records, auf Deutsch of course.

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