Masterminded by the reverend of Australian music journalism, Glenn A. Baker, Then & Now Australia Salutes The Beatles is founded on a pretty straightforward premise: lots of people like The Beatles, lots of Australian artists have covered The Beatles, let’s make an album that catalogues these covers over the past 50-odd years.
There’s some guilty hints that a few of the tracks are indulgent picks from the aging rock journo, but that can be forgiven. After all, an album of nationalistic Beatles fandom beats the traditional compilation archetype of a lazy, opportunistic cash grab and there are some true gems in the rough here, including Wendy Saddington’s eight-minute flower power jam of Tomorrow Never Knows and Hoodoo Guru’s rockin’ cover of A Hard Day’s Night.
At its core, Then & Now is the March Of Progress of Australian music, from Barry Gibb’s nasal, adolescent vocals in the Bee Gees’s 1964 cover, From Me To You (this was before the heady days of cocaine and three-piece disco suits), to Katie Noonan’s famous jazz cover of Blackbird and The Voice winner, Harrison Craig’s rendition of Til There Was You (okay, so they’re not all great picks). It shows Australian music as it was, as it is, the influences we take and the sounds we create, the good moments and the regrettable ones, but mostly, it shows just how often we, as a nation, seem to cover (and adore) The Beatles.