The Topsiders decided to take popular hits of the day and rearrange them with a folk sound reminiscent of groups like the Weavers or the Kingston Trio. But theyâ€™re not just simply changing the style, they also change the chord progressions to make the songs sound more like folk songs. Itâ€™s an interesting experiment. Whether or not you think the experiment works depends on how much leeway you want to give these re-imagined versions.
We (and the album itself) will start with the classic song â€œLet the Good Times Roll.â€ Other than the style change and the rhythm, this isnâ€™t too far off from the original. I guess thatâ€™s to ease us into the songs that deviate more from what we’re more familiar with.
Next we have Fats Dominoâ€™s (or Pat Booneâ€™s if you couldnâ€™t handle the real stuff) â€œAinâ€™t That a Shame.â€ We start to notice a little more difference in the verses, although the chorus is pretty close.
Hereâ€™s Elvis Presleyâ€™s â€œHeartbreak Hotel,â€ although here I think (in my opinion at least) the style change almost overwhelms the song so much that, without the words, it would be nearly unrecognizable.
Finally weâ€™ll throw in â€œUnchained Melody.â€ Iâ€™m not sure when this album came out, but I think this was before the Righteous Brothers got their shot at the song in 1965. This one steers much closer to the original, so it works better for me. I actually kind of like this version. Truth be told, as blasphemous as it may sound, I never really liked the Righteous Brothersâ€™ version of this song because it went so freaking slow. This version picks up the pace some, which is probably why I prefer it. (Side note: If you want to hear a good speedy version of the song, find the version by Vito & the Salutations. Once you hear it, you may feel the same way I do!)
Anyway, as I said, it was an intriguingly different way to approach these songs, and for that, I applaud these guys. If youâ€™d like to hear the rest of the album, youâ€™ll find it here.