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Matt Whipkey’s “Gummi Soul: Another Rubber” Reviewed

Matt Whipkey is the definition of a local hero when not driving cabs, in an alternative reality he would be Bruce big: a final and crowning glory of rock and roll history, he should be crashing Ticketmaster on stadium tours. And in that alternative reality he releases his re-imagination of one of the greatest albums of all time: Rubber Soul.

Except: Matt has done that in this reality and here there is no god, he waits for traction in a world without any; with 50,000 songs being released every day, how do you improve the odds? The answer appears to be that, if you are Whipkey, you just do what you do as well as you can do it. If that is re-imagining the Beatles in 1965 on his new release, Gummi Soul: Another Rubber, let Matt take you down.

The name, Gummi Soul, is a wise reference to what is known as The Beatles smoke weed album, the aroma of marijuana wafts right through Rubber Soul and while Gummi Soul does not follow the classic UK version, that mostly means we get more songs and less order. According to the press release “Covering all US and UK “Rubber Soul” album tracks along with the singles , “Gummi Soul : Another Rubber” reveals the Shakespearean nature of The Beatles songcraft. Able to withstand at times radical reworkings with melodic integrity seemingly intact: The Beatles always shine through.” And I add The Beatles have entered the rarefied environment where only Shakespeare has been admitted: you can do anything you want to their catalog and they remain The Beatles and Matt does anything he wants to them.

Gummi changes “Norwegian Wood” to a rock pop track, “Day Tripper” to a hard rock riff monster, he adds singer Kristin Buell in a terrific “Girl” with a psychedelic guitar break and a country “It’s Only Love”, an instrumental “The Wordless”. Matt returns for a “What Goes On’ that improves on Ringo’s nasal original. “Drive My Car” as a bluesy workout? Listen and learn… Imagine the way Bob Dylan messes with his back catalog, that’s what Matt does it. Not because he can’t play it straight, as he reaches for the high note on the penultimate “In My Life” he proves how easily he can on a gorgeous take, but because he wants you to feel the surge of love and emotion; it has the freeflow of a dream world.

It isn’t that hard to cover The Beatles, but it is hard to add anything to the conversation. Matt adds to it, he takes the hood off the car and fiddles with the songs insides, refreshing them again after fifty-eight years. He soups it up and let’s you discover it again for the first time. This isn’t just Whipkey does the Beatles but an open air collaboration that is 100% Whipkey. At the start he fakes us out with the opening lick of “Drive My Car” before carousing into a seriously rethought “I Just Saw A Face” and you have been warned at the outset. At the conclusion he shakes “Run For Your Life” till it rattles in its electricity, and if I wish he had channeled Presley on that one (think: “Baby Let’s Play House” which Lennon somewhat appropriated) that is nitpicking for the hell of it.

Another Rubber is a terrific piece of work, one part rock criticism, one part Beatle fan, and three parts local hero becomes local legend. My advise? Have a Gummi, put Gummi on repeat, and enjoy. Beep, beep yeah.

Grade: A

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