Mashing up bits of Beatles tunes into new sonic concoctions is nothing new, with George and Giles Martin’s celebrated Lovebeing the foremost example. But on Yesterday Never Knows [Hardwood], the Bartron Tyler Group crafted guitardriven instrumental arrangements that also mess with the fundamental song structures, such as setting “Eleanor Rigby” to a Latin-inflected 6/8 groove and arranging “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” for Duane and Dickey-like harmonized guitars. “Every song had to have some sort of angle to it,” explains John Bartron. “Setting a tune in a different groove or meter allowed us to make these versions our own.” For this album, Bartron deployed an arsenal of guitars that included a Lowden acoustic, a Godin Multiac through a Roland GR-33, and a Wechter Pathmaker, and conjured Beatle-esque effects from a Line 6 PODxt. Mike Tyler opted for a Parker Fly and an early-’70s Gibson Les Paul Deluxe through a Boss GT-3 and a Vox Valvetronix amp, but also played an Epiphone Riviera 12-string and an Oahu Diana lap-steel. “Most of the time we weren’t concerned with duplicating the tones on the albums because our arrangements were so different from the originals,” explains Tyler. “Instead, we would try to evoke sounds that have become associated with the Beatles, such as an electric 12-string or a guitar through a Leslie.” However they were arrived at, Yesterday Never Knows is chockablock with great tones and groovy guitar work, including gorgeous slide work by Tyler.
The album opens with “I’ll Follow the Sun,” the melody of which is played over the “Taxman” groove. “We tried several different settings, the only constant being Mike’s phrasing of the melody on slide,” recalls Bartron. “We tried a half-time groove with a Luau feel, Travis picking the chords to ‘Julia’—but nothing was clicking. Then, ‘Taxman’ came on the radio on the drive home, and when I hummed the melody along with it I knew we had it. We added the #9 punches, and for the beginning bassist Joey Fabian suggested a King Crimson-like variation, with Mike playing the intro riff in 6/8 on a 12-string while I played it in 5/8 on acoustic.” Tyler took the first solo playing slide on the Parker, Bartron added a warbling echo to his Leslie sound for the second solo, and for the third solo Tyler played slide on the Epi 12-string. “The fourth solo has three different guitars with reverse delay, and the second bridge morphs into the acoustic environment of ‘And I Love Her,’” says Bartron. “For the finale we return to the Crimson arpeggios played an octave higher, while drummer John Hasty pounds out the solo from ‘The End’—and the final chord just had to be a major 6th.”
The remaining arrangements are equally inventive, employing dropped-C tuning, bowed piano, solos tracked at half-speed to produce mandolinlike sounds, ambient recordings, and sampled Mellotron. “We were able to convey our obvious love and respect for the material while at the same time displaying a playfulness and spirit of experimentation that seemed appropriate for these tunes,” says Tyler. “To me, the Beatles’ willingness to explore any style of music that caught their fancy is one of the most enduring qualities of their legacy.” —Barry Cleveland