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Ukeleles'R'Us
August 22, 2009 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Regular mefites will know that The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are renowned for having their wicked way with any piece of music that takes their fancy: from Smells Like Teen Spirit to the theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly nothing is sacred. On 18 August they played the 45th Prom of 2009 at the Royal Albert Hall: 6000 people were in the audience, of whom 1000 brought their own ukuleles — lessons provided by the BBC online for novice players — for a massed rendition of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

A review from one participant is here.

UK residents can listen to the performance on Listen Again, the rest of you will have to wait for the DVD or search for a download sadly.
posted by pharm (17 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
the rest of you will have to wait for the DVD or search for a download sadly.

Actually, that radio broadcast on is available through BBC's iPlayer outside the UK as well; as are most radio programs.

It's the video they do not want to cross any borders.
posted by ijsbrand at 2:51 PM on August 22, 2009


Very cool, thanks for the links.
posted by kylej at 2:53 PM on August 22, 2009


DVD? My god.

Their version of the Dambusters was just about bearable, but they sure know how to murder some good tunes. Life on Mars is particularly painful.
posted by the cuban at 2:57 PM on August 22, 2009


but they sure know how to murder some good tunes. Life on Mars is particularly painful.

de gustibus non est disputandum. Their renditions aren't meant to replace the originals; they're riffs, done to share the joy of ripping something out of a uke that it doesn't really want to do, and the recognition of the familiar in a completely new and clearly effortfully coerced version adds to the fun. And I liked their Life on Mars. (The vocalist on that one had an oddly fortuitous resemblance to John Simm, too.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:18 PM on August 22, 2009


They were on Space Pirates today.
posted by gene_machine at 3:28 PM on August 22, 2009


I get sick and tired of people mangling the Ode to Joy tune for ironic value, but the idea of a mass audience participation performance of it on ukuleles just seems... right, somehow.
posted by fearthehat at 4:07 PM on August 22, 2009


No way, man - this group's cover of Wuthering Heights is fan-fucking-tastic.

Great post.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:32 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is one bad ass motha - shut yo mouth - what? I'm just talkin' bout shaft!

Can ya dig it?
posted by phrontist at 4:32 PM on August 22, 2009


For a slightly lower-brow ukulele experience, there's also the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra. One of their greats is Heartache, but I also recommend Hey Ya.

Disclaimer - My sister is a founding member. We played my Dad out with Heartache at his funeral, and now I can barely listen to it.
posted by pivotal at 4:44 PM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]



de gustibus non est disputandum.


More a case of caveat emptor, i think. The singing is rank, mate.

The Georges Formby and Harrison - now there's some good uke playing. And that guy on youtube doing While My Guitar Gently Weeps - he's good too.
posted by the cuban at 4:54 PM on August 22, 2009


I love covers that do a completely different take on the original. It generally makes me think about or listen for what is it that really makes this song? The artist? Lyrics? Instrumentation? Transplanting the instrument into another genre of music or challenging the preconceptions an audience has of what it 'should' sound like is what music is all about.

And I loved Life on Mars. The voices were off-key at times, obviously the instrumentation was completely different; but are those two things what really define that song in the first place? I think the lyrics, tempo changes, and harmonies are far more important. Obviously I really liked the links.
posted by variella at 5:44 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greg Hawkes plays Eleanor Rigby on Ukelele
posted by swell at 10:02 PM on August 22, 2009


Hey, I liked it. Teenage Dirtbag still holds up well in that form.

And there's a good heckle at about an hour in, although I wish they'd been quick enough to do the "play fucking loud!" retort.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:08 PM on August 22, 2009


They make Wuthering Heights tolerable for the first time ever.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:54 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the 'Elvis does Wuthering Heights' one is great.

I didn't know the radio stuff was available outside the UK: I'd have put the link on the front page if I'd known.
posted by pharm at 1:14 AM on August 23, 2009


I absolutely loved Life on Mars up to 1:44, when they made the godawful decision to mix Paul Anka with Bowie, which was surpassed only by the equally foolish decision to bring in even more crap songs, including Born fucking Free. This isn't gilding the lily: it's applying a thin layer of shit to the lily.

Yes, I've ranted about this before. It had such promise, but they ruined it.
posted by maudlin at 10:47 AM on August 23, 2009


godawful decision to mix Paul Anka with Bowie

There's a reason for that.
posted by John Shaft at 7:37 PM on August 23, 2009


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