For quite a few years now the idea of recording an album with Beatles songs has been in our minds and hearts. Since our early beginnings more than 10 years ago with our albums '50 ways to leave your lover' and 'love again' on which we assembled pop and rock classics in our own chamber music versions it was only a question of time when we'd rebond with some the greatest pop and rock composers of our time. And now, 50 years after the formation of the Beatles, this opportunity arose. Tok Tok Tok has been re-acoustisized with double bass and fender rhodes and we are very happy to have won Ritchie Staringer, our first rhodes player for this project. To maintain the tautness and power of the Beatles songs, we have deliberately abstained from long solos in our interpretations.
In order to do justice to their enormously versatile oevre, we included songs from all the main creative periods of the Beatles on our album 'Revolution 69'.
And this is where the first problem came up: which songs would we choose?
On closer examination of their repertory, various sources of choice presented themselves.
In their early Beat years, the Beatles wrote many of their greatest hits. In the course of time they began to experiment and ultimately transformed pop music by breaking all its rules. They adapted country music, Indian sitar music, childrens' songs, but also incorporated Charlston as in 'When I'm 64' and film music as in 'Good Night'. Under the guidance of their ingenious producer George Martin they pioneered recording techniques and sound experiments, and they also let their drug experience slip in. The Beatles were the soundtrack to the 60s explosion. This era of awakening brought forth a band whose members actually had something to say. Paul McCartney and John Lennon, in particular, expressed their political beliefs, their lust for life as well as love and suffering with boundless poetic talent. In our time of globalisation many of their lyricsstill ring true.
In spite of their versatility and zest for experimentation, the Beatles always kept their identity and never lost touch with their audience. Becoming icons for an entire generation gave them the significance they have had for the music of the last century and to this day.
As an exclusive bonus track, we have included a Tok Tok Tok version of Michael Jackson's 'Workin' Day And Night', a song we already recorded in 2005 but never released until now. One of the reasons, surely, lies in Michael Jackon's sudden death in June 2009, which to many possibly came as much as a shock as the assassination of John Lennon on 8th December 1980. Another reason for adding Michael Jackson's 'Off The Wall' song to our Beatles versions was his co-operation with Paul McCartney (eg. 'The Girl is mine') and the fact that for many years he owned the publishing rights of the Beatles compositions.
Morten: 'I always loved Paul's voice especially in intimate songs as 'I Will', 'Blackbird' or, unmatched, 'Yesterday'.
Tokunbo: 'I was always more of a John Lennon fan and by the time I heard 'Julia' I was completely swept off my feet.'
Tokunbo Akinro - Vocals Morten Klein - Tenor & Soprano Sax, Drums, Mouth Drums Christian Flohr - Acoustic Bass Ritchie Staringer - Fender Rhodes on 2, 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15 Jens Gebel - Fender Rhodes on 1, 5, 8, 9, 14, 16 About the songs:
01 Come Together: For our version, as album opener, we were inspired by Peter Fox and incorporated splashes of Afro Reggae into the groove. 'Come Together', the song John Lennon once composed for a political campaign, describes the most difficult task of humanity, as up to date and unfulfilled as ever, to be as one. The perfect opener for our colourful album 'Revolution 69'.
02 We Can Work It Out: 'We Can Work It Out' may be seen as the mother of 'Yes We Can'. Once again this goes to show the timelessness of Beatles lyrics. Though written by Paul McCartney for his fiancé at that time, this song offers universal encouragement to all. We just had to play it.
03 Blackbird: It is said that McCartney dedicated this song to the African American struggle against racism in the 60s. Paul McCartney himself named this 'Blackbird' as an example of his favourite way of song writing, spontaneous, intuitive and from the depths of the subconscious. Such a brain wave led us to develop our very rudimentary and meditative version of the song.
04 Taxman: George Harrison's song 'Taxman' rebels against the high tax rate the Beatles saw themselves confronted with as their fame and success grew. Meet the taxman with Tok Tok Tok's placidly grooving chill version.
05 Get Back: Originally drafted as a political song, 'Get Back' soon became a satire full of irony. It was later misinterpreted as racist, when really the Beatles were standing up for the discriminated. Enjoy our reggae version of one of the no doubt most popular rock songs of all time.
06 Dear Prudence: One of the most beautiful Beatles songs was written by John Lennon for actress Mia Farrow’s sister, who seemed to overdo meditation. Listen to our very intimate and melancholic version.
07 I Will: Paul McCartney dedicated 'I Will' to his future wife Linda. In order to maintain the innocent lightness of the song we chose the simple trio formation with double bass, sax and voice for the recording.
08 Lady Madonna: We turned the Paul McCartney's Elvis-inspired version into an acoustic nu soul song, slow, pulsing, incandescent and heavy. Reduced to motherhood in the 60s, this song can be seen as a tribute to all parents in this day and age.
09 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite: 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' was inspired by an antique circus poster John Lennon came across. For our version we took the song out of its original surreal vaudeville atmosphere and put it into a laid back shuffle heavy down to earth bluesy setting as maybe Joss Stone with David Sandborn on 'Colour Me Free'.
10 She's Leaving Home: The estrangement between mothers and their adolescent daughters due to an inability to let them develop their own set of values lies behind 'She's Leaving Home'. This was a prevalent problem even more so in the 60s than today. We have approached the sense of loss of the fledged teen with a very frugal rendition.
11 Help!: John Lennon often referred to 'Help!' as one of his best compositions and his favourite Beatles song as it authentically expressed his anxiety at the time. He was very unhappy that for commercial reasons it was turned into a light pop song. What if he were to hear our slower, heavy, rocky interpretation?
12 Run For Your Life: This song is presumed to be the forerunner of Lennon's later composition 'Jealous Guy'. An all time favourite of Tokunbo's, we have enhanced our sixties soul version with vampire-like choirs ('see you dead') underlining the bloodthirsty jealousy of the betrayed.
13 Why Don't We Do It In The Road?: The growing anonymity of the big city is the theme of 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road'. If murders can take place in the open streets without protest, why not also sex?
14 Revolution1: 'Revolution1' echoes the longing of an entire generation for change within a society so full of rigidity and conservatism. In our era of climate change and globalisation, this longing is as topical as ever.
15 I'll Follow The Sun: As hardly any other does, this early Beatles love song shows the difference between John Lennon's and Paul McCartney's lyric writing style. Influenced by Buddy Holly, Paul McCartney wrote 'I'll Follow The Sun' as a light-footed farewell to a love, very much different from John Lennon's 'Run For Your Life'. We found the country touch of the song ideal to end our little Beatles journey.
16 Workin' Day And Night: A bonus track, our recording of Michael Jackson's 'Off The Wall' classic, is a treat for all our fans because it's the only song on the album featuring Morten's unique mouth drums. With this gem, we would like to pay tribute to the King of Pop.