Godfrey Daniel

Take a Sad Song...

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A delight. The concept is that the anonymous group Godfrey Daniel (reportedly members of the Amboy Dukes) perform late-'60s/early-'70s rock & roll in styles from earlier eras of popular music, primarily the '50s. This is the foundation on which Big Daddy has built a career. That the material -- from '60s mainstays such as Sly & the Family Stone, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles -- sounds so fresh here is a tribute to the band's anachronistic arrangements and facility with early rock & roll styles. The take on "Proud Mary," for instance, pays tribute to both the original and the Ike & Tina cover, while sounding like something from an Alan Freed extravaganza. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" is cast as a sax/organ instrumental. Doo wop is one of the group's greatest strengths, and they use it effectively on tracks like "Whole Lotta Love" and "Honky Tonk Women"; the vaudeville-influenced "Groovin'" and Rudy Vallée-styled "Them Changes" are relative weak points. Versions of "Hey Jude" bookend the album, and the closing take is a stirring, Righteous Brothers-like epic, a production gem that salutes masters Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and George Martin. Stunning and dramatic, it may be the finest Beatles cover version on record. If not the best concept album of the '70s, Take a Sad Song... is certainly the most fun.

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