When I first heard the name, I felt it was a minus to any talent that this band might possess. Thankfully, the name is spelled The Weeklings instead of The Weaklings. The name doesn’t make any sense to me, but nonetheless the band is extremely talented. The band tells us that the name comes from a vision that they had.
Their informative descriptive continues with, “Once upon a time there were two little boys: Lefty and Zeek by name. They decided to get together because there was no reason not to. Together they grew guitars 4, 6 and 12 and strangled a noise. Funnily enough, these sounds they made became written songs, as it were. Lefty had a prehysteria with a Beatlemania, which somehow extracted him to a Beatles feast for Beatles fools, where he met a 3rd even littler boy called Rocky running about. Together Zeke and Lefty to Rocky said, quote, ‘Rocky get a Gretsch-O-Caster, and you will be all right,’ and he did, but he wasn’t just alright cuz he could sing just as gooder. Still there was no beating! ‘We hath no drums!’ So a truncheon of bongos came and went and came until they bumbled out a drummer of a green, rambling brook as a cousin of a Leahey and his trouble was Ramblin’ Dave. So the boy’s uncovered amplifiers and they got some.”
As the CD liner notes continue to tell us, “A man with a beard cut off appeared on a flaming pizza and said unto them, ‘From this day you are The Weeklings with an ‘E’. Thank you Guvnor, they said, thanking him. Promptly they marched themselves to record in a lake house with all concerned. Zoooom ran Lefty (of Razzimple Park), Zeke (of Erie Pennsylvania’s Eatintowns, Rocky (of the greener point of no sleep till Brooklyn) and Ramblin’ Dave zoom zoom. And all of them going to conquer your very ears.”
I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan until Sammy Boyd and Judi Yaccarino had me see them at a recent Monmouth College show. I’ve known most of them in different lineups of other music, but this was something totally different for me. The Beatles were a great band, and I’ve always appreciated their music, but I’ve never known many to reproduce that sound in an agreeable way until now.
Monophonic is a mix of original tunes and obscure Beatles covers done with some pretty exact reproductive powers. The band searched for songs that The Beatles never released or were songs given to other artists, and that acts as an interesting springboard for their own original compositions. My main focus here is the original sides of things, but my overall goal is to paint a full picture of this captivating group of musicians. So with that being said, let’s take a look at what they’ve come up with.
First off the platter is “Little Tease.” Written by Bob Burger and Glen Burtnik, “Little Tease” follows the early pathway established by Lennon and McCartney back in the first couple of albums. Graduated 1950s rock and roll sounds that feature clean, jangly guitars, pumping bass and drums and pristine lead and backing vocals. Lefty, Zeek, and Rocky harmonize with immaculate style and clarity on this lively tune. Lead work is pure Harrison-inspired breaks of glass smooth tone. Hand claps and percussive elements take this wild number straight down 1964 avenue.
“Leave Me With My Pride” is up next and sails into the player with a breezy, Lennon-esque edge. Sang with that early ’60s pop swagger, “Leave Me With My Pride” has all the makings of a bona fide hit. Guitars are toned, tube-burning brilliance as bass and drums keep the 4/4 meter strong and on track. Once again, the subject matter doesn’t get too deep here and focuses on relationship subject matter known through the ages. The middle-eight guitar work is understated and subtle. “Leave Me With My Pride” is the perfect song for anyone that’s a fan of the days when real music ruled the airwaves.
“Mona Lisa” is another Burger/Burtnik composition that brings you straight back to the days of the early ’60s. Featuring skronky, clean guitars over the top of the simple bass and drum work, Lefty and Zeek pitch stark, melodic fastballs straight down the middle of this upbeat little number. Like most of the songs on the disc, the subject matter centers around girls, love and everything that goes with those subjects. The sounds on this disc are engineered by Erik “Norman” Romero and match his proven track record for getting the very best out of an artist and song.
“Breathing Underwater” is another interesting look at the history of music from the 1960s. With a believable mixture of The Beatles and Paul Revere And The Raiders, “Breathing Underwater” utilizes a bubbly mix of acoustic and electric guitars all humming along over the top of anchored bass and drums. The main theme of this record is the combining of mostly unknown Beatles covers that mix with their specific style of originals dredged from their combined knowledge of the period, and it’s a pretty cool blend. This is a memorable and well-written tune.
“If I Was In Love” fans into the player like something we might hear from The Smithereens. While this is basically a British-veined piece, the song retains that flair of modern sound quality as well. 12-string guitars bring back Harrison and Roger McGuinn styles of the day but also mix in Plimsouls and The Knack as well. The Huey Lewis-vibed harmonica solo in the middle-eight is a nice tie-in and draws the band back into their ultra fine verse work. The chorus is memorable for days and crafted as well as any from the greats.
“Oh! Darla” is another well-constructed original tune from the band. Sounding like something straight off of Please Please Me. “Oh! Darla” is a beautifully written piece that combines acoustic and electric sounds, simple and effective rhythm work and great harmonies. I love the tremolo-driven lead work in the bridge. Once again, the choruses are pristine examples of catchy pop songwriting at its best.
There are several Beatles songs on the disc as well, and if I had to pick and choose one to describe, I would choose “I’m In Love.” A single by English Merseybeat band Fourmost around November of 1963, “I’m In Love” reached number 17 in the United Kingdom and was an early composition that never saw much light with The Beatles. The Weeklings bring it to life here. This is a fine example of the great songwriting castoffs that came from Lennon-McCartney in their early and formative years.
Produced by The Weeklings, Monophonic was done at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, NJ. The Weeklings are also a great live band, and their recent Monmouth College show at The Pollack was amazing to watch. They were joined by many special guests including the Barefoot Strings, the Maxximum Horns, and Max Weinberg of The E Street Band on drums.
If you dig the sounds of the early ’60s and the memories they bring to all of us, you’re going to love The Weeklings. The Weeklings are: Lefty – Glen Burtnik; Zeek – Bob Burger; Rocky – John Merjave; and Ramblin’ Dave – Dave Anthony. Check them out and pick up the disc. It’s available over at weeklings.com.