Various Artists – This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute To The Beatles’ Rubber Soul

When I put my hand up to review this compilation, my thought process failed to bring into account several realities; firstly I am an insane Beatles fan, secondly this review material is made solely of Beatles covers, and thirdly I would most certainly be dissapointed with any of the several failed attempts at capturing The Beatles compositions on this disc. These realities seemingly point toward me producing a biased review, slagging off any artist who dreams of touching Beatles material, so, apologies if my own Beatlemania crosses paths with general unbiased logic at all during this short piece.

Before my fingers start translating an opinion onto this keyboard, thus onto this page, a little knowledge as to the format of this compilation is probably well overdue. The concept for this release is to mark the 40th anniversary of The Beatles Rubber Soul, by producing a covers album that mirrors the tracklisting and sequence of the original album itself. Background knowledge obtained. And while I would happily spend the next few paragraphs wallowing in the glory that is The Beatles, I’m sure none would pass who hadn’t already experienced it. Therefore, straight to my opinions on This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute To The Beatles’ Rubber Soul.

Track one is Drive My Car, which is covered incredibly well by The Donnas. While they don’t stray far, if at all, from the original, they do show how easily The Beatles music can transcend across generations… and genders as well if you like? And after all, why stray from a melody written by two of the greatest songwriters of all time? My one criticism of the track, is that the drum intro isn’t quite up to the standard of the original, but then again, I am rather pedantic.

The Fiery Furnaces discard any remnant of Norwegian Woods once sitar-laden acoustic melody in favour of warped noise. No good. Dare I say more? Low’s cover of Nowhere Man also leaves much to be desired. While the vocal melody was enticing for the first couple of bars, I soon began to feel restless, awaiting a non-existentent instrumental outbreak. As that German tourist on that Cake video once said, “I miss the rising action.” Ben Harper has already dipped his toes in Beatles material before for the I Am Sam soundtrack, an effort I didn’t approve of. Once again Mr Harper fails to do The Beatles justice, with an unusual reggae take on the Grammy award winning Michelle. Shudder.

While I don’t usually break convention and praise a radically different take on a Beatles track (see above comments concerning Ben Harper and Fiery Furnaces for examples), Sufjan Stevens has provided me with ample room to do so on track What Goes On. Good work Mr Stevens, three gold stars for you. Australias very own now-commercial darling Ben Lee trys his luck with In My Life. I am still undecided on this one. I’m not sure whether the smothering nature of his accent is to blame for my indecision, but regardless, I’ll remain on the fence for this one.

Now comes another point in the album in which I can hand out gold stars and congratulatory handshakes. The point being where Ben Kweller and Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes perform a remarkable cover of Wait. Listen to it. Need I say more? The tracks in between range from tolerable karaoke (Think For YourselfGirl) to pitiful remakes (If I Needed Someone, Run For Your Life) providing a mixed bag thats pallatable in part. If you really want to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Rubber Soul, buy the original album, and try scam a listen to some of the worthy covers on this release. Case rested.