A Little Help From Our Friends
A Tribute to Benefit the WMNF Building Fund
Tampa will probably be known as the Death Metal Capital of the ’90s, but it’s been able to make contributions just as significant in many other areas, though it often fails to either be heard or get a hometown credit. Part of the Tampa dynamo has been radio station WMNF which, despite the cyclical ups and downs of being a “community radio station,” has managed to provide an outlet for alternates to the mainstream; additionally, cornerstone acts like Clang and Home, while no longer active in Tampa for one reason or another, have spawned a legacy of sound that continues to ferment and sometimes intoxicate.
Which brings us to this disc, a comprehensive (if not straightforward) interpretation of The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band. Done as a fundraiser for WMNF’s New Building Fund, the album pulls together a fair variety of acts, from the Clang-descended (Corey Jane Holt and Paul Reller each contribute a track) to up-and-comers like The Boats. As a result, the styles on here range from the country-inflected twang of Ronnie Elliott and the Nationals’ “A Little Help From My Friends” (which benefits tremendously and surprisingly from a bit of lap steel) to Barely Pink’s chunked-and-punked “Good Morning, Good Morning.” Other interesting surprises are the creative vocal harmonies of “A Day in the Life” (by Handshake Squad) and Spacious International’s cranking up the psychedelia of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” a couple more notches, making it sound more than a little like the sadly-departed Bongwater, with its crazed production, occasional squeaky toy and fragmented vocals.
As with all benefit compilations, there are reasons beyond the music on here to get a copy; but A Little Help From Our Friends is of the rarer variety, the kind that’s worth hearing regardless of intent or purpose. Sure, Beatles purists will be offended at some of the liberties taken here and there, but at least we can all take heart that people are still listening and still consider Sgt. Pepper’s as relevant now as it was 35 years ago.