I was about to give up on MOJO. The magazine always has always covered current musicians, but they usually kept them off the covers in favor of historical pieces on important albums and musicians of yore. And they never do a broad overview of said bands, they can make an interesting story on the recording of one song. This means there's rarely a year without at least one Beatles, Stones and Who cover story. (2005 is the only year without featuring John, Paul, George or Ringo.) But lately there's been a lot more New Artists getting the cover and we had three in a row: Kings of Leon, Fleet Foxes and Arctic Monkeys. (The KoL was the one that pissed me off.) So I was, for once, happy to see the Beatles — again — on the cover of the October issue of MOJO.
Now I know we're all kind of sick of the Beatles at this point. Well, I am, what with the remastered CDs, Beatles Rock Band, Pitchfork's all-Beatles reviews week (10.0 for Magical Mystery Tour? Maybe without "All You Need is Love") and every magazine doing stories on it all. Not to mention the Fab Four are the most overplayed, over-analyzed band in history. But MOJO does it better. Jon Savage goes to Abbey Road to get first-hand look at the remastering process, and there's an excellent story on the making of Abbey Road, including a new interview with Paul McCartney. Plus this issue comes with a CD, Abbey Road Now!, where they got 16 different band to re-record the album. Which means Jeffrey Lewis taking on "Octopus' Garden," Cornershop doing "Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam," Gomez tackle "Sun King" and Robyn Hitchcock doing a song I bet he likes a lot, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." As you might expect, many of the covers are on the wrote side, with the artists not daring to break out of the Beatles' arrangements. (I'm looking at you, Glenn Tillbrook.)
For instance, I was really hoping that The Low Anthem's version of "Her Majesty" would be, like, ten minutes long, but nope, it stays at 29 seconds. Mercury Prize losers The Invisible do a tripped-out dance take on "Come Together," Let's Wrestle do have some fun with what is one of the Beatles worst songs, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," Robyn Hitchcock (who clearly sees Lennon as an influence) adds his own weird charm (and a musical saw) to "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and The Leisure Society bring their tinkly vibe to Harrison's "Something." But I think Blue Roses' take on "Golden Slumbers" may be the best thing on the disc. Musically, it's pretty reverential, but Laura Groves does some mind-blowing harmonies here, not unlike Dirty Projectors, and I wanted it to go on much longer than it did.
The October MOJO is one of the best issues the magazine has produced in some time. We also get an article on Prefab Sprout's "new" album, Let's Change the World WIth Music, which was actually recorded in 1992 and never released till now; an article on the making of the new Cribs album with Johnny Marr; a look at Mike Oldfield's enduing '70s opus Tubular Bells; plus Bunny Wailer, some never before seen Who photos, a review of Richard Hawley's new CD and a brief visit with LCD Soundsystem in LA where they've rented a mansion, hired a private chef and are all wearing white (all to save money, claims Murphy).