Yim Yames (aka Jim James) recorded 'Tribute To' for the late George Harrison.
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: December 8, 2010
Yim Yames – Tribute To (ATO Records) 2009
George Harrison’s classic 1970 album All Things Must Pass made a powerful impression on My Morning Jacket’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Jim James, so much so that right after Harrison’s death in late 2001, James, recording under the name “Yim Yames” (credit to the Swedish Chef of The Muppet Show, perhaps?) made a recording of six of Harrison’s songs.
These tunes - from his Beatle years and his solo years – were recorded and eventually wound up on a simple, spare EP titled Tribute To.
And being a Southern rocker, it is interesting that tenor-voiced James chose George Harrison’s music. But then again, as he writes in the liner notes, All Things Must Pass was an “example of the healing power of music.”
Considered one of Harrison’s most underrated Beatles songs, “Long, Long, Long” from “The White Album,” starts things off and James embraces each word as he lightly strums an acoustic guitar in a reverb-heavy studio.
“Behind That Locked Door,” with it’s Dylan/Band vibe, is a particular highlight, with its languid autoharp soun. But even if James’s vocals don’t quite hit the heights that Harrison’s did all those years ago, it’s still a heartfelt cover.
One of my favorite George Harrison songs, his 1966 Revolver track “Love You To,” is reinterpreted with a banjo, rather than the Indian-flavored sitar used on the original. James turns the song into an almost mournful mountain ballad at times, save for the “I’ll make love to you, if you want me to” part.
James slows things down on his cover of “My Sweet Lord,” a song that makes for a bold choice, considering its meaning and history. Still, James handles it carefully, almost too carefully. The “hallelujah” and “hare krishna” refrains are done here as well. I give James credit for doing this song.
Another All Things Must Pass track, “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” features some piano and acoustic guitar and a vocal from James that is fairly engaged and inspired.
James opts not to cover any Harrison tunes after 1970 and that’s fine. It’s only an EP after all. Appropriately, James closes it out with “All Things Must Pass.” It’s hard not to hear the bittersweet tinge in James’s voice. It’s a powerful rendition of a beautiful song.
A portion of the proceeds from Yim Yames’s Tribute To goes to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I’m sure George Harrison, wherever he may be and knowing this, is smiling.
Grade – A-
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