Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Chains"

My Beatles criticism project continued:

The sound of an harmonica in the opening bars of this mid-tempo number is almost all the real interest that will be generated for the next 2:23. The song, written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, is presented in such a matter-of-fact manner that emotion seems strangely absent. This is all the more striking given the obvious bluesy roots of the song.

The verses feature group vocals by John, George & Paul, while George takes the bridge vocals solo. The vocals of the verses are nice, but so dry and clipped that lyrics such as "Whoa, these chains of love have a hold on me. Yeah." lack any punch, even with the two exclamations. When the bridge kicks in (George's "I want to tell you pretty baby...") the singing is smooth and assured, but it sounds so clinically clean and innocent that it seems to have nothing to do with the world weary lyrics.

The song is presented so straightforwardly that by the end it has become monotonous. Only as the song fades out do you hear George's voice start playing with the bluesy edges of the song. By that point its too late.

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