Picks and Pans Review: Let It Be; Sympathy for the Devil

updated 02/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Laibach

Most people haven't scheduled their lives around it. But if anyone has been waiting for a remake of the Beatles' Let It Be album, he or she will thrill to the second U.S. release by Laibach. As if it weren't enough of a surprise that Yugoslavians care about the Beatles and know how to play rock music, Laibach goes a step further and reinterprets the original songs with an inventiveness and humor that make most of the U.S. avant-garde seem tame. These remakes switch from pounding rock to a Wagnerian style that employs a full orchestra. "Get Back" becomes an infernal incantation; "Across the Universe" gets an ecclesiastical edge as a boys choir sings sweetly to harpsichord accompaniment; "I've Got a Feeling" becomes a chilling Teutonic battle march complete with chanting crowds. Just to be as iconoclastic as those Westerners, no doubt, the band omits the title song. Laibach also takes a skewed approach on the band's EP Sympathy for the Devil, offering six different interpretations of the Rolling Stones song. One matches a monstrous growling vocalist with percussive crashes and a chanting chorus that sounds like some hell-bound chain gang; another version gives the song a girl-group disco twist. The four core members of Laibach, who lead the political New Slovenian Art movement at home, may want to rile Beatles and Stones fans who see classic rock songs as sacred music. With such musical experiments, Laibach also attempts to bring freshness back to overly familiar songs. The savvy Slavs succeed to some extent. If only because of the novelty, it's interesting to hear these albums at least once or twice. Then it's time to get out the original Stones and Beatles albums and thank Laibach for a reminder of how good those old guys were. (Mute/Enigma: Let It Be; Mute/Restless: Sympathy for the Devil)

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