Beatles archaeology: Fab Faux to reprise `Abbey Road' at Mahaiwe

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GREAT BARRINGTON — The Beatles have been imitated in so many ways by retrospective groups, but perhaps no act on stage today works harder at the exact reproduction of the Beatles' sound as the New York-based Fab Faux.

The five-member band is bringing its exacting brand of musical accuracy to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Friday with a performance of the original Fab Four's final recorded album, "Abby Road." The concert will also include a set of other favorites, all accompanied by the Hogshead Horns and the Cr me Tangerine Strings.

Now in their 20th year performing together, The Fab Faux is made up of longtime music professionals who have had long careers in their own right. The band consists of bassist Will Lee, guitarist Jimmy Vivino, lead-singing drummer/producer Rich Pagano, guitarist Frank Agnello and multi-instrumentalist Jack Petruzzelli.

The concert is a 50th anniversary celebration of the album's 1969 recording and release, according to Petruzzelli, who explained that people often mistake the order of Beatles albums.

"Because `Let It Be' was released in 1970, after `Abbey Road,' people think it was the Beatles' last time together," Petruzzelli said. "But the last time the band got together to record an album was for 'Abbey Road.' That was 50 years ago."

Speaking to the band's unique approach over two decades, and reputation in performance accuracy and the intricacies of the Beatles' production methods, Petruzzelli said there is nothing wrong with seeing a Beatles tribute band that "dresses up like them and does those sorts of things, but that's not something we wanted to do."

He added that given The Fab Faux members' careers as session players and touring musicians, and having a love for the music, they "wanted to treat the Beatles' songs as if it were classical music."

"So, if you see a chamber orchestra or string quartet play Beethoven, Bach, Handel or Haydn, they are not taking liberties with the music," Petruzzelli said. "Yes, certain conductors can bring something different and there is leeway, but it's not improvisation. Given the Beatles' history not just as songwriters, but as musicians, and also the ground breaking sonics of the recordings they were making, it's a whole package."

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The Fab Faux, Petruzzelli continued, want to replicate that whole package. This means capturing "not just the joy of the Beatles' music, but also the fine details of the instrumentation, of the right harmonies, and the right arrangements."

His fellow Fab Faux member, Rich Pagano, agreed with Petruzzelli, saying the Beatles were akin to the great classical masters and that such a level of accomplishment should be emulated to the last letter.

Both musicians said that such detail involved things like knowing exactly where a given recording microphone was placed in a studio in 1969, and doing it the same way today to best capture the Beatles sound.

In this way, Pagano went on to compare the original Fab Four to master painters.

"The only way to understand the great masters is to replicate them exactly, every color, every shade, every stroke, finish it, and throw it away," Pagano said. "And then go again and you'll get to see your personality injected into the music. In my opinion, after 20 years we are the only band that has done archaeology on this level."

In doing so, Pagano claims that his group has "painstakingly pulled every note, every amp, and every microphone apart to make this work."

"We have chased down every detail and rehearse exactly the way it should be rehearsed to produce a sound like what's on the album," Pagano said. "I hope people feel like they've been to an incredible Beatles event that transcends most concerts they will go to this year."

For his part, Petruzzelli closed in saying that the audience was in for a sound that is as true and faithful to the original as the Fab Faux can achieve.

"I want people who come to our shows to walk away happy," Petruzzelli said. "To feel fulfilled in that they got to hear some of their favorite music, and hear it in a satisfying way."


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