Various Artists

He Was Fab: A Loving Tribute to George Harrison

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Tribute albums often provide quite a mismatch between the artist being honored and the bands doing the honors. On paper, He Was Fab looks like a good match, with modern power pop revivalists tackling the songs of the late George Harrison. The reality is that they don't really do Harrison too many favors. So much of Harrison's appeal was in his idiosyncratic and individual delivery, and many of these bands steamroll over the subtlety that Harrison brought to his music. The first song is one of the worst offenders: the Drowners turn Harrison's lovely "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" into a distorted, neo-glam rocker that wouldn't sound too out of place on a Poison album, only not as good as that. Others who seem to miss the point are Ed James, whose new wave-sounding "If I Needed Someone" sounds like it was performed by the band the nerds formed for the talent show in Revenge of the Nerds; Wendy IP, who turns in a clunky, rinky-dink version of "When We Was Fab"; Jason Byrd, who pretty much massacres "Something" with ham-handed guitar playing; and the Brambles, who add some unfortunate synthesizers to their uninspired take of "What Is Life." These few bad apples almost spoil the whole bunch, which is too bad, because most of the bands here do a respectable job of translating Harrison's work. Some of the best are Chris Richards' chiming take on "You Like Me Too Much"; the Lolas' lo-fi strum through "I Need You"; Champale's low-key, near-epic version of one of Harrison's best songs, "I'd Have You Anytime"; and Blue Cartoon's version of "I Want to Tell You" that has Lennon-esque vocals and a hint of Harrison's trademark slide-guitar sound. There are the beginnings of a very good tribute to Harrison here. His devoted fans will no doubt enjoy this; for others who are drawn in by the promise of good modern pop versions of Harrison's songs, there may be some disappointment.

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