Let me check the calendar again… Oh! It’s October already! Only 70-some-odd shopping days left til Christmas, you know.

Which means our friends over at Apple Corps Ltd. must have a brand new boxful of recycled Merseybeat ready for us still-standing boomers who don’t mind buying all their old Beatle records all over again …and whose American Express cards still work.

The Beatles in Mono Vinyl Box Set
This Yuletime, it’s a batcha 180-gram vinyl mono albums with nice new/old covers, labels, inner sleeves, posters and cut-out moustaches where applicable, and a great big instant-fall-apart book full of vintage (albeit photoshop’d) full-colour Fabness direct from Amazon, scientifically packaged within a great big box which will no doubt be able to gather even more dust on your top shelf than The SMiLE Sessions or Neil Young’s latest Archives monstrosity.

Well! Don’t ever let it be said Gary the Pig isn’t lookin’ out for yez. Because this Christmas, I can save each and every one of you over $300 (Canadian) PER Beatlemaniac on your Xmashopping list by directing you instead towards one of my all-time fave rave Londoners, Jim Phelan, and his magnificent – and I don’t just mean musically, either – Exotic Beatles endeavor.

Exotic Beatles 1
Now, while the very concept of the “Tribute” album has over the years become quite a scary one, the Beatle Tribute can strike downright terror into the hearts of any who still value their sensibilities, let alone that hitherto-durable 214-song catalog. Yes, as far back as William Shatner’s 1968 stab at “Lucy In The Sky”, John, Paul, George and even Ringo have had their melodic legacies sliced, diced, half-baked, botched and certainly butchered by those both well-meaning and, well, just plain mean. Truth to tell, these days even I find it increasingly hard to sit through that Bee Gee/Frampton Sgt. Pepper movie, even with tongue deep in-cheek.

But then, there’s the Exotic Beatles. Its twenty-one-year (so far) mission? To, yes, boldly go where no audio Tribute of any sort has dared before. As in Maurice Chevalier, Mae West, Professor Stanley Unwin and Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell casting their Cavern-coated throats alongside those of various hillbilly squirrels, metropolitan police choirs, Balsara’s Singing Sitars and even Shang Shang Typhoon with their utterly Spector-silencing Let it Be.

“The sound of the world going mad!” cried Record Collector Magazine, while no less a moppin’ top authority than the Daily Mail On Sunday hailed Exotic Beatles no. 3 as, and I quote, “more exciting than the Beatles Anthology” (a sentiment which, by the way, I totally agree with).

Exotic Beatles Part 3

And now, a dozen years and one hard-drive theft later comes Mr. Phelan’s latest and possibly even greatest collection yet: Exotic Beatles 4 – Plastic Soul.


It is, do believe every word I say, the greatest Beatle (-related) stocking stuffer since Something New and possibly even All You Need Is Cash.

GQ 2-GQ-ES01.04After being introduced in their very own words, from their very own mouths, by none other than Tony Randall, Ed Sullivan, and the Japanese Beatles themselves, we’re immediately sent “Back In The USSR” via one Irishman, one Hungarian, and one exquisite collection of Russian throat singers, all together now as Baba Yaga with an a cappella blend perfectly suiting this number through its surf-rockin’ splendor. Why, I shall never hear the first two-minutes-forty-three of that White Album in exactly the same way again. And, hopefully, neither shall you.

Follow that with over an hour of additional Northern Songs out of Siberia (Bugotak‘s coldly Kraftwerkian “Kon Togethy”), Singapore (a 1964 “Can’t Buy Me Love” from folk star Shan Kuan Liu Yun) (who obviously plugged in a year before Dylan ever unpacked his Strat at Newport),

Germany (candlemaker Klaus Beyer, who could certainly teach Giles Martin a thing or three about Beatle mash-ups!) and a whole invasion of further tracks from Russia (special note given to the bands 7B and Boney Nem, who treat “And I Love Her” to both techno and death-thrash makeovers which would cause at least one half of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team to cackle in solidarity).

Let me just add that Exotic Beatles 4 also contains two – count ‘em! – “Hey Jude”s. One a Xhosa-language Bantu bossa-nova rendition; the other rendered by a severely alt.-mariachi Mexican marching band. Both versions, needless to say, I now prefer far, far more than the original Apple recording.


Garnish with a speed metal “Eleanor Rigby,” a Dixieland “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Day Tripper” as interpreted by barking dogs from New Zealand, and then a sub-waltz “Yellow Dylan BeatlesSubmarine” which flawlessly incorporates snatches of the Blue Danube, tie together with intricately inserted spoken-link segues courtesy of not only J,P,G & R but even Bob Dylan (reciting “Hello Goodbye”!) and Michael Mills (the Minister of Youth and Evangelism at the Family Altar – or is it Family Altered? – Chapel in Battle Creek, Michigan, warning us of the evils of Beatle backwards masking) and we have an album of wild, wicked wonder which so easily deserves a place right there between Magical Mystery Tour and Meet the Beatles.

Jim PhelanNeedless to say then, Jim Phelan is much, much more than just another Beatlebrainiac with a great big pile of CD-R’s strewn across the living room floor. This is obviously a man who not only DanceAndSingMotherGooseWithABeatleBeatcollects the music, but absconds with, absorbs, then totally abstracts and recasts it in ways that make every ear within shot simply boggle. And this being written here and now by a Pig who has yet to outgrow his Dance and Sing Mother Goose with a Beatle Beat LP, I’ll have you all know!

Hear for yourselves immediately then, not only on Plastic Soul, but each of its three excellent companion volumes as well. Or, to put it even more exotically, “The Beatles Are Dead! Long Live the Exotic Beatles!”

Or, failing all that …why not just get The MONKEES in Mono this Christmas ??


Gary appears here every 4th Monday

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DBAWIS_ButtonGary Pig Gold may have grown up in Port Credit, run away to Hamilton to join his first rock ‘n’ roll group, hung out with Joe Strummer on his first-ever night in the UK, returned to T.O. to publish Canada’s first-ever rock ‘n’ roll (fan)zine, run away again gary pig gpld facong leftto Surf City to (almost) tour Australia with Jan & Dean, come home again to tour O Canada with that country’s first-ever (authorized!) Beach Boys tribute band …but STILL, he had to travel all the way back to the USSR to secure his first-ever recording contract




  1. Yikes!!! 🙂

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