Beatles Lives and Planet Mod – review

Fast-forward a half-century to find that 60s New Orleans funk pioneer Leo Nocentelli is all but forgotten in the US, and he’s an unknown quantity in the UK. There have been a number of Nocentelli tribute albums over the years – most recently a Michael Franks and James Andrews version in 2009, presented with an accordion introduction and featuring vocals from Wanda Jackson – but most people tend to remember him from his appearances on TV, movies, TV shows and advertisements.

Beatles Lives and Planet Mod brings Nocentelli’s distinctive vocal style, started in the early 60s, to the fore, as the producer Burt Young takes over from the original avant-garde jazz drummer and turned the band into modern disco funk with the title track.

This version of the group includes Nocentelli’s a-ha-ish trumpet solos, occasional drum solos and synth bits from Hudson Smith – Tchad Blake’s nephew – and Curtis Primus on keyboards. The 12-bit cartoon style never really takes off, but once the music does, this album is explosively and stylishly danced to, with Big Boi popping up to lock up the output on the falsetto climax of Sweetheart.

This piece was originally published in the Guardian on 10 November 2000

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