Classic Albums Live replicating the music note-for-note
By Tricia Despres For Sun-Times Media April 3, 2014 12:32PM
Classic Albums live will perform the Beatles' 'Abbey Road" album in its entirety this weekend in Glen Ellyn. | Courtesy of Classic Albums Live
Classic Albums Live performs The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road,’ 8 p.m. April 5, McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. $45. (630) 942-4000; atthemac.org
The last thing Toronto-based musician/vocalist Marty Morin wants to be called is “an old fuddy-duddy.”
But away he goes.
“I sound so old when I go off on tangents like these,” begins Morin, home from a recent tour stop in Quebec. “But no one sits down and listens to a whole record anymore. My 19-year-old son can barely listen to a whole song. There is great music out there, yes. But will it be heard 30 years from now? Did the Internet kill the next Beatles or the next Led Zeppelin? I would hate being an artist playing original music these days. Music is impossible to monetize right now. It’s all about the live show.”
Indeed, it is the live show that Morin has been making a living on for more than 10 years as an active member of Classic Albums Live productions. Throughout the years, Morin has played a slew of classic albums — by everyone from Van Halen to Supertramp to the Beatles — live on stage.
“The toughest thing about replicating any Beatles album is the vocals,” says Morin, who serves as drummer and vocalist in the “Abbey Road” production, coming to McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn on April 5. “Take a song like ‘Because’ on the ‘Abbey Road’ album. Six people sing three parts on that song. It took us a long time to get the texture right. Luckily, we have done it dozens and dozens and dozens of times since then. We are no longer learning it. We are just enjoying it now.”
And so are his audiences.
“When the musicians get up there on stage and perfectly execute ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and conclude the song with the exact fadeout as the album has, the collective jaws of the audience drop,” explains Classic Albums Live founder Craig Martin, who came up with the idea while listening to a Rolling Stones album during the course of a ride from Montreal to Toronto. “I immediately cashed in my inheritance and 401Ks in order to throw myself entirely into this project. I knew I wanted to do the no-brainers — the albums the most people grew up with. The Beatles, the Eagles, groups like that. I mean, Lou Reed might have been a critically acclaimed artist, but I’m not sure people would show up to a show like that.”
But with classic hits such as “Come Together,” “Oh Darling” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” the Beatles’ final studio album “Abbey Road” was indeed a no-brainer. “Our show is note-for-note and cut-by-cut,” recalls Martin, who brought a Classic Albums Live production of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” to Ravinia last summer. “It’s basically a recital of the album using the very best musicians out there. People constantly ask if ‘they jump around or if there is a light show or if they talk to the audience.’.No, no and no. They stand there and play the album. That’s all people want. Musical purity. We are historians and curators when it comes to taking care of this music.”
So if you are looking to see a tribute band, this ain’t it.
“This is the music that is mutated into our collective DNA, so I truly care about it,” says Martin. “So when I see this music so poorly replicated live by these so-called tribute bands who seem to be spending more time on feathers and wings rather than spending time getting their sound right, it drives me absolutely crazy. We have no creative license here. We learn the record and we play the record.”