Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Am Sam - Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture..with bonus tracks

Jessie Nelson's poignant tale of a mentally challenged man named Sam (Sean Penn) who recruits a lawyer to help him regain custody of his young daughter leans heavily on the lead character's obsession with Beatles songs, and his innocent trust in their wisdom and emotional truth. It's an artistic gambit that shrewdly lends itself to this mostly rewarding collection of Beatles covers by a wide range of contemporary artists, many of whom no doubt leapt at the chance to record a treasured song by their own musical heroes. The renditions are by and large faithful, and inform the elemental genius of the originals by the strength and variety of the artist's voices alone. The husband-wife team of Aimee Mann and Michael Penn (Sean's brother) can't help but find resonance in "Two of Us," just as Nick Cave's latter-day, heart-on-his-sleeve crooner infatuation makes "Let It Be" all his own. It's the reinterpretations that are riskier. While Paul Westerberg's stripped-down, nasal reading of "Nowhere Man" perceptively underscores Lennon's inherent Dylan fetish and Howie Day turns "Help!" from anxious plea to desperate dirge, Grandaddy smugly alt-rocks the energy right out of "Revolution." The Beatles hardly need anyone to burnish their reputation, but this album goes a long way toward underscoring their most undersung legacy as rock's most transcendent melting pot. -Jerry McCulley

1. Two of Us - Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
2. Blackbird - Sarah McLachlan
3. Across the Universe - Rufus Wainwright
4. I'm Looking Through You - The Wallflowers
5. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - Eddie Vedder
6. Strawberry Fields - Ben Harper
7. Mother Nature's Son - Sheryl Crow
8. Golden Slumbers - Ben Folds
9. I'm Only Sleeping - The Vines
10. Don't Let Me Down - Stereophonics
11. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - The Black Crowes
12. Julia - Chocolate Genius
13. We Can Work It Out - Heather Nova
14. Help - Howie Day
15. Nowhere Man - Paul Westerberg
16. Revolution - Grandaddy
17. Let It Be - Nick Cave
18. Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds - Aimee Mann*
19. Two of Us - Liam Finn & Neil Finn*

* bonus tracks


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