There are four songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on The Weeklings’ second album, Studio 2. But they are so obscure — and The Weeklings are so good at Beatlesque rock ‘n’ roll — that unless you rank among the world’s most ardent Beatles bootleg collectors, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick them out.
Bandmates Lefty Weekling (singer-bassist Glen Burtnik), Zeek Weekling (singer-guitarist Bob Burger), Rocky Weekling (singer-guitarist John Merjave) and Smokestack Weekling (drummer Joe Bellia) have found a unique way to channel their obsessive Beatles fandom, recording little-known Beatles compositions as well as their own own Beatles-influenced originals. (Live, they also perform hits from throughout The Beatles’ history, but always in a raw, direct way that stays true to the spirit of The Beatles’ early work). They have developed a large following in their home state and will present a record release show, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. at House of Independents in Asbury Park; Richard Barone will open and Remember Jones, Emily Grove, Reagan Richards and Jillian Rhys McCoy will make guest appearances. (Visit houseofindependents.com.).
On Studio 2, which is being released by the Jem label, they went to extraordinary lengths to assure authenticity, traveling to England to record at the same London studio where the Beatles made most of their albums. They consulted with Beatles recording engineers Ken Scott and Alan Parsons, used ’60s recording equipment and even, in some cases, the same instruments The Beatles themselves used.
Occasionally, the influence jumps out at you, as when the harmonica riff from “I Should Have Known Better” pops up in “Morning, Noon and Night.” But usually the band is a bit more subtle about it, evoking the infectious spirit of those early Beatles songs — as well as their tight arrangements and rich vocal harmonies — without borrowing specific musical parts.
Of the four Lennon & McCartney songs recorded for Studio 2, “Love of the Loved” is the best known, having been recorded by Cilla Black in 1963. But The Beatles never released their own version of it. Nor did they leave behind more than rudimentary versions of their other three songs here: “You Must Write,” “Because I Know You Love Me So” and “Some Days,” which all date back to their early years. The Weeklings polished them up, though, just as you’d imagine The Beatles themselves would; it’s an amazing accomplishment.
It’s been said that The Beatles came to America at the perfect time, offering something fresh and exciting and, in a certain way, innocent, after the trauma of President Kennedy’s assassination. I’m not claiming it’s a perfect analogy, but after the dispiriting events of this week, I found it was a refreshing experience to immerse myself in this album for a little while.