Last month, Dave Depper, a Beatles-loving sideman and multi-instrumentalist who's seriously hooked into the Portland, Oregon, music scene, released The Ram Project, his own version of Paul and Linda McCartney's celebrated 1971 album, Ram.
Although he plays all the instruments himself -- and sings everything (with some help from Joan Hiller, who sings Linda McCartney's parts) -- I initially didn't understand why I should be impressed or excited.
Couldn't I just go to a studio and record McCartney's Venus and Mars album by myself? Couldn't I self-record George Harrison's Somewhere In England album -- or Ringo Starr's Old Wave album -- and generate the same level of indie PR hubbub that has surrounded Depper and The Ram Project?
Because the more I learned about Depper's solo undertaking, the more impressed I got. He recorded the entire thing -- 12 songs -- alone -- in 30 days. Yes, 30 days. Sick, isn't it?
As a guitarist who has spent thousands of hours in recording studios, punching, ping-ponging and panning things until moths were flying out of my wallet, I think what Depper did is pretty cool.
"Using a couple of guitars, a keyboard, a Rickenbacker bass, a borrowed drum kit, one microphone and a laptop, Depper began obsessively hacking away at the record. He holed-up in his spare bedroom, often for 12 hours at a time, relentlessly pursing a task The Portland Mercury would equate to climbing Mt. Everest alone. He meticulously recorded each nuanced piece and, bit by bit, the record began to come together."
Thirty-one days after he started, The Ram Project was done. That's insane.
I mean, we're not talking about the stripped-down McCartney album here. Ram was and is a truly "produced" album featuring some great musicians (McCartney, of course -- plus future Wings drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarists Hugh McCracken and David Spinozza), plus challenging vocals, lots of piano and orchestration -- especially on "Back Seat of My Car," the finale.
Yet it all can be found on The Ram Project; Depper recreated it, pretty much note for note. If you're not familiar with it, be sure to check it out on iTunes or on Amazon, where it's also available as a download.
As for my plans to record the Venus and Mars album, um ... I've scratched the idea. It would probably take me five years to finish it anyway, and I'd need to learn how to play the drums and different types of horns and things.
Here's Depper with a full band performing the opening track, "Too Many People," live (This reminds me that I need to buy another Fender Jaguar; I sold mine for beer money a few years ago):
Surf/rockabilly/blues/rock guitarist Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World. He's in two bands that have performed around the country and in England, Mister Neutron and The Blue Meanies. He performs every year at the Fest for Beatles Fans and Abbey Road on the River, he's played on sessions and soundtracks in NYC and LA, and he's tired of eating apples. Seriously, how many apples are we expected to eat?