Sonny Curtis

Beatle Hits Flamenco Style Guitar

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On the face of it, the idea of having Sonny Curtis record an instrumental album of early Beatles covers in the "flamenco guitar style" sounds daft, and a possible insult to the talents of both the Beatles and Curtis. Surprisingly enough, however, Beatle Hits Flamenco Style Guitar is, as the 2006 CD reissue on El/Cherry Red claims on the back cover, "arguably the most refined of all original Beatles exploitation albums and certainly one of the most unusual." Some might interpret that as damning with faint praise, but while you wouldn't put these in the top tier of Beatles interpretations, they're surprisingly tasteful and reasonably enjoyable. For one thing, Curtis -- though best known for his stint in the Crickets, and for writing "I Fought the Law" and the Everly Brothers' "Walk Right Back" -- really does play flamenco guitar well. For another, the arrangements aren't silly novelty spins on the original songs, as you might fear, but fairly low-key, smooth, and pleasing, backing Curtis with light (sometimes Latin-flavored) percussion (including bongos) and instrumentation. Also, in addition to very popular early Lennon-McCartney songs like "She Loves You," "Please Please Me," "A Hard Day's Night," "All My Loving," and "And I Love Her," this has some tunes that were relatively seldom covered, including "P.S. I Love You," "Little Child," and "Things We Said Today." (The disc does include one non-Beatles tune, the Tex-Mex-flavored (and not especially Beatlesque) "Ballad for a Beatle," co-written by Curtis.) Even those approaching the whole concept with cynicism and low expectations might find themselves enjoying this record, albeit modestly, and not as a guilty or kitschy pleasure.

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