Dr. Lonnie Smith: Come Together
Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ)
Rise Up! (Palmetto Records PM 2138)
Matt Balitsaris (guitar), Herlin Riley (drums), James Shipp (percussion).
Composed by Lennon/McCartney.
Recorded: date unknown; released in 2009
Rating: 89/100 (learn more)
In 1969, Dr. Lonnie Smith covered The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." Forty years later, he is tackling a Beatles tune that was introduced the same year he covered "Rigby," the Abbey Road hit "Come Together." There's no boogaloo beat this time, but rather a stomping rock strut. And there're even some vocals … sort of. The first couple of verses are rendered by Smith in an indecipherable snarl so lowdown & dirty, it could be mistaken for the Cookie Monster with a head cold.
The backing band is James Brown funky and airtight, but once the guttural growling is done, Smith opens up on the organ with swells and trills that wring all the possible emotions out of a B-3. Donald Harrison enters late with an inspired Cannonball-styled testimonial that ends way too soon.
The song is so substantially redone from the original that just about the only thing carried over is the cocky, hip disposition. That's all Dr. Smith needed to take from "Come Together," because he knows what to do with it from there.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron