The Prellies - Afternoon Tea With The Prellies
Reviewed By Nick Quantrill
As a general rule, tribute acts are a waste of time and should be left for the
less discerning music fan. The Prellies are the exception to this rule.
The Beatles' musical cannon has been pored over and analysed to the point that
there is little left to say. However, that would be wrong as The Prellies
explore a hidden corner of The Beatles' musical legacy.
The Beatles, along with many others, fused rock 'n' roll with rhythm and
blues to create a hard rocking 'beat' sound.
Crafting this in the clubs of
Liverpool and Hamburg, John Lennon remarked that this period saw the Beatles
finest work, as they were first and foremost performers, not the freakshow that
their live performances ultimately saw them become.
Named after the amphetamines that got The Beatles through their punishing
eight-hour shifts in Hamburg, it is The Beatles' legacy as rock 'n' rollers that
inspires The Prellies.
Afternoon Tea With The Prellies offers an insight into how wild the Merseybeat scene
was as well as being an exciting rock 'n' roll record within its own right.
Taking its cue from what can be seen as the first ever punk rock record,
The Beatles: Live In Hamburg and choosing from a large pool of material, the
eleven tracks that make up this record are split between tracks subsequently
recorded by The Beatles and lesser-known beat classics.
The CD kicks off with an enthusiastic reading of the obscure, yet genre
defining Shimmy Like Kate. With an exuberant beat laid down by the rhythm
section, throat-tearing harmonies and jagged guitar riffs, it's the perfect
whistle-stop introduction to the Merseybeat sound.
Although the live recordings that exist are evidence that The Beatles were
undoubtedly a fantastic rock 'n' roll band in this formative period, their
subsequent recordings of such material was not flawless.
It is here that The Prellies show their mettle as they go someway to addressing this.
Roll Over Beethoven crackles with energy and impressively improves on
the more recognised, though much more sedate, Beatles recording.
It's not all wise choices though as The Prellies also suffer from
erratic choice of material.
While it must be tempting to tackle the raucous Twist and Shout, it
proves to be a low point as there is no way that they can come even
remotely close to matching, never mind bettering, the definitive
reading that is the Beatles version.
It's also a mistake, as the ethos of the band seems to be to draw attention
to the 'beat' scene as a whole.
On Twist and Shout they sound little more than a regular, albeit faster
version of any number of Beatles tribute acts.
Afternoon Tea With The Prellies is breathing new life into possibly the only
neglected area of The Beatles story.
They do this in some style through this record and their high-energy live shows.
Although they are tackling material that is almost 50 years old, it has being
dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a new freshness and vitality.
This CD rocks harder than most contemporary material, and if you want a fix of
rock 'n' roll, then look no further than this record.
Music - The Beatles - Live In Hamburg (Although now deleted, a CD of these live recordings
from 1962 can be obtained easily through Ebay).
The Big Three - Live At The Cavern EP (The hardest rocking band in Liverpool. Undoubtedly the finest Merseybeat recordings readily available.)
Books - Twist and Shout by Spencer Leigh (The most comprehensive and detailed account of the Merseybeat scene available).
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