It takes a lot of effort to make a cover work, the essential must remain and the new constituents must at least equal what existed before. Taking on a Beatles number then must be a frightening prospect, how to improve on songs that are as popular now as when they were recorded 40 years ago? Thankfully the ‘I Am Sam’ soundtrack, which has 17 Fab Four covers, threw up some notable victories that more than matched the originals. Sarah McLachlan’s version of ‘Blackbird’ is certainly one as is Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Across The Universe’. The key track, however, is Aimee Mann and Michael Penn’s (who he?) precious take on the ‘Two Of Us’. Blindingly acoustic, it springboards from the duo’s voices which gel seamlessly in a gloriously ratatat way. Mann sounds especially wistful as if she’d saved her voice for weeks on end to turn in the performance of a lifetime. This is common ground for all the family so save it for Christmas to enjoy a squabble free day. KD
Aimee Mann & Michael Penn – Two Of Us
Album: I Am Sam OST
Buy: I Am Sam – Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture
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Michael Penn is Aimee Mann’s husband, Sean Penn’s brother, and quite a good solo artist in his own right. You may have also seen him as the unfortunate studio engineer in “Boogie Nights” who has to sit through Dirk Diggler’s awful songs.