i've purchased only a few albums this year; cheap trick's "sgt. pepper live" is the fourth one of 2009. it was released tuesday, and i'm listening to it now, for the 3rd time, as i write up this brief review. cheap trick performed the entire album in 2007 (at the los angeles bowl), to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the beatles' release of "sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band," in 1967.
in an extraordinary coup (or, maybe, a neat trick - ha), cheap trick enlisted geoff emerick, the producer and engineer (together w/george martin) of the beatles' release, to supervise the sound for "sgt. pepper live." the cheap trick release includes the backing of the new york philharmonic orchestra, the indian sitar band, and various guest artists on select tracks (notable is joan osborne on "lovely rita").
the cd and dvd were recorded at a special benefit performance here in new york city (it's not the 2007 los angeles performance). next month, cheap trick will again recreate the "sgt. pepper live" performance in las vegas. the group is no stranger to beatles' covers - the last cut on their "greatest hits" album is "magical mystery tour." and as a "live" band, they hardly need introduction (w/"cheap trick at budokan" one of the greatest live albums of rock).
the cheap trick "sgt. pepper" performance is intense. it's definitely an edgier, harder driving version than the beatles. but the beatles soul permeates each song covered by cheap trick. the band definitely captured (reproduced) the beatles' sound without skipping a beat. it's all the more impressive since lennon himself is reported to have said the beatles were recording an album that could never be played live (because of all the effects).
while lennon made that remark after the beatles had stopped touring (and their last public appearance would be a 15 minute concert on top of the apple studios building), modern technology and the desire to get that incredible sound on a stage drove the production. listening to this album reminded me of the movie, "across the universe," the george martin released "love" and the cirque du soleil show of the same name - each brought the beatles back with a fresh and contemporary twist.