Randy Bachman reimagines George Harrison tunes, goes too far
Randy Bachman, “By George — By Bachman” (UMe)
Randy Bachman, founder of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, let’s his imagination run away with 11 George Harrison songs on “By George — By Bachman,” which mostly succeeds when respecting the Quiet Beatle’s melodies, but sometimes fails to capture the grace and elegance of the originals.
“If I Needed Someone” has a jazzy feel, with a George Benson-like solo while there’s a flamenco-ish rhythm on “You Like Me Too Much.” ″I Need You” gets a power-pop rebuild and “Don’t Bother Me” rocks out even further, like something from the Smithereens’ catalog. On these and a few others, the original tunes are more or less intact and they’re sturdy enough to support the makeovers.
“Something,” however, is a supple love song meant to be about “the way she moves,” not the way she plods, and even some hot guitar solos can’t change that. On “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the instrument and the song seem way past the soft cries and closer to a complete nervous breakdown. Oh well.
The album opens and closes with Bachman’s “Between Two Mountains,” a tribute where Lennon and McCartney are the peaks overshadowing Harrison, whose patience pays off and his time to shine finally comes. All true, as Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” from 1970 shines as brightly as any Beatle solo album.
But “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” were great songs of his already from his time in The Fab Four and, as he later famously sang with The Traveling Wilburys, they should be handled with care.