By Dave Depper
Everyone has that obscure favourite album they believe is true art, a masterpiece only worthy of listening to in full. Primal Scream are touring 'Screamadelica', Suede have been performing an album a night residency of gigs, and remastered special editions of albums are pouring out the woodwork. But where can things go from here? Dave Depper has a unique way to pay homage to one of his favourite records: The Ram Project. After playing in a plethora of bands in Portland, Oregon including Norfolk & Western, Loch Lomond and Musée Mécanique, Depper wanted to do something on his own that could challenge his interest in the technical side of music. The Ram Project is an attempt of an exact recreation of Paul McCartney's 'Ram' album using as close to the original techniques as possible within the constraints of a DIY ethos. In fact Depper does everything on the record except some additional vocals provided by Joan Hiller to do the bits Linda McCartney did on the original.
So down to the important question, is it a good as the original? Well actually it is an unfair question, as the original will always be considered the best to some. I must admit to not hearing the original of 'Ram' so I'm not clouded with an opinion either way. But one thing is for sure, this recreation has made me curious to hear the original. Depper's version is full of attention to McCartney detail with little McCartney-isms; rich harmonies, accenting the quirky lyrics and interesting, ever morphing rhythms with all important use of the voice as a crazy instrument. As a fan of McCartney's Wings era this sure is a treat to have a musician willing to make the pain staking effort to recreate what I'm sure is to become one of my favourite McCartney records. Maybe this recreation is as useful as a good remake of a classic film, hard to come by but a great root into a record by releasing it in a modern context.
Another side to this record, is the proof that Dave Depper is a highly talented musician with an ear for what technicalities work. Not just anyone can recreate the intricacies of a McCartney album, and Depper is certainly well skilled and placed. This is a labour of love. I look forward to a Depper original record which I'm sure will be as entertaining and musical.
Could The Ram Project show how 'Ram' bears relevance in modern music? Maybe it is a stark reminder of the roots of all the pop and rock music around today, that perhaps we forget. Could this project spark a new trend: if it does, be warned bands, this isn't easy as I'm sure Dave will testify!