From the depths of the pandemic comes … a live album?
Yes, and it’s really good.
The Weeklings’ new In Their Own Write was recorded primarily at the Strand Center for the Arts in Lakewood in June 2020. The band presented a private show there, highlights from which were streamed online the next month. Thirteen of the album’s 15 tracks come from that show; two others — including the gritty “April’s Fool,” which is not on any of the band’s previous albums — come from a later appearance at Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y.
Fans of the band know that they are dependably great in a live setting, and won’t be surprised at the sharp, spirited playing throughout the album. There’s an added bit of urgency that comes through on the best live albums, though, and that is certainly the case here.
In Their Own Write — the title plays on the title of the John Lennon book “In His Own Write,” somehow published by him at the height of U.S. Beatlemania in March 1964 — also functions as a kind of greatest hits album, as it includes live versions of most of the best songs from the band’s three albums, with an emphasis on self-written material.
Eleven of the songs were co-written by band members Lefty Weekling (Glen Burtnik) and Zeek Weekling (Bob Burger), and one is by Zeek and Rocky Weekling (John Merjave). The other three are The Beatles’ “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and “The Word,” and the late Adam Schlesinger’s “That Thing You Do!” (see video below).
Given The Weeklings’ history, you wouldn’t expect these to be straightforward covers. And they’re not. The band adds a new, churning rhythm to “The Word,” for instance, and reinvigorates “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” with a heavier guitar attack plus a howling harmonica.
Conversely, there are echoes of Beatles lyrics, riffs and rhythms in many Weeklings originals.
Though The Weeklings will always, probably, be associated with The Beatles — they have recorded many Beatles songs and regularly play them in concert — with each album, they provide more evidence that they should be considered a great power-pop band … yes, in their own right.
The Weeklings will perform with a 10-piece string and horns orchestra at the Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College in Toms River, Nov. 5.
For more on the group, visit weeklings.com.
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