Perhaps the freshest take ever on the fab four...Greg Hawkes, the keyboard wizard from The CARS, creates wonderfully amazing and magical interpretations of Beatles classics...on ukelele!
Review on MINOR 7th
Greg Hawkes, "The Beatles Uke," Solid Air Records, 2008
The first word that comes to mind concerning this eccentric release is "charming." The Beatles Uke is a charming
collection of Beatles tunes performed on ukeleles in Hawkes' self-styled "Ukesymphonic" style. The term ukesymphonic
is actually a bit of a misnomer; the sound is more that of a small chamber ensemble. Greg Hawkes is best known as
the keyboardist for early 80s It band, The Cars. You might think he's crazy, but Hawkes brings faithful arrangements,
delightful musicianship and ukesymphonic studio skills to this labor of love. And you might think I'm kidding, but
I'm not when I say that Hawkes puts the much-maligned ukulele on the boards as an instrument worthy of serious
consideration, especially as a melody instrument. The opener, "Penny Lane," sports the nimble uke effortlessly
capturing the counterpoint melodies associated with the brass section. The parts almost seem to have been written
for the diminutive instrument. Big-time uke proponent George Harrison would have been thrilled with these tracks.
The delicate tonalities on the signature intro lick to "And I Love Her" suit the song perfectly. And on "Here Comes
the Sun,"-Ringtones! Throughout the work, adapted vocal melodies unfold in delicate beauty on this pipsqueak of the
guitar family. Sly studio effects are appropriately applied to "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" that all add
up to... too much fun. "She's Leaving Home" features the baritone ukulele to register a real depth of emotion on
the string section parts. "Honey Pie," of course, must have originally been written on the uke. Hawkes uses a
range of ukuleles, from the mighty baritone to the tinkly sopranino to an effect that can only be called
ukesymphonic. So when is someone going to invent the double bass uke? One might quibble with the song selection
("Something" isn't here) and some songs adapt better than others, but I've already named a good number of winners.
The outing is a novelty in the true sense of the word -- new -- in that the approach prompts you to hear these songs anew.
And forty years down the road, that is no mean feat.
LOS ANGELES EXAMINER.COM
In his latest CD, Greg Hawkes adds a touch of aloha to our favorite Beatles hits. “The Beatles Uke” (released in 2008 on Solid Air Records) features 15 instrumental Beatle covers played in multi-track style on Hawaii’s beloved instrument – the ukulele.
When a friend first told me about “The Beatles Uke,” my initial reaction was “Why the Beatles?” and “Why the ukulele?” True, the late George Harrison
enjoyed Hawaii in general and loved the uke in particular. But a CD of
Beatle’s tunes played by an orchestra of ukes seemed more like a
beer-soaked hallucination after a late night on the Waikiki club scene.
After listening to a few tracks, however, I was hooked both on the
concept and the brilliant execution by famed The Cars keyboardist Greg
Greg Hawkes is best known as keyboardist & co-founder of The Cars.
In the 1980’s, Hawkes and the band topped the charts with hits that
include “Let’s Go,” “Just What I Needed,” “Shake It Up,” and “Heartbeat
City.” In 2001, Hawkes was given an ukulele as a gift and he has been
hooked on the instrument ever since. On his website, he explains, “It
made playing music fun again.”
“The Beatles Uke” is filled with both fun and innovation. Many
Waikiki performers cover Beatles tunes with vocals and ukulele
strumming. Hawkes, however, has taken what he calls a “UKEsymphonic”
approach to the project. Using multi-track recording techniques, he
re-invents the individual parts from the original recordings and
essentially creates a virtual ukulele orchestra.
The overall effect is simply dazzling. For example, the album’s
version of Eleanor Rigby – with driving rhythms and soaring lines –
truly captures the signature string arrangement developed by George
HONOLULU MUSIC EXAMINER ...Daniel Padilla
from the artist...
"What's that, you say? A collection of Beatles songs played entirely on ukuleles? Are you crazy? Well, that may be, but here it is, an album of Beatle songs played in Ukesymphonic style, using multitracked ukeleles to create a ukulele orchestra.
Perhaps it's not such a far-fetched idea after all, George Harrison as a well known ukulele enthusiast, and could be considered teh spiritual leader of the current wave of interest in the instrument. I saw Paul McCartney play a very touching tribute to George on his most recent tour (using a ukelele that had been given to him by George). I've seen pictures of all four Beatles holding ukes. I was part of an entire generation that grew up with The Beatles. My first concert was seeing the Beatles in 1964. They changed my life. Indeed , they changed the world." ...Greg Hawkes
All you need is Ukes!
1. Penny Lane
2. And I Love her
3. Strawberry Fields Forever
4. Here Comes The Sun
5. Eleanor Rigby
6. Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite
7. Fool on The Hill
8. Yellow Submaring
10. She's Leaving Home
11. Honey Pie
12. For You Blue
14. Blue Jay Way