BIG BEN BANJO BAND Happy Banjos Play The Beatles (1967)

Happy Banjos Play The Beatles (1967)
Actually… It’s Not Even Really Banjo Music

A pal turned me on to this oddity from the 60s by The Big Ben Banjo Band, a long-running studio outfit fronted by prolific UK producer/arranger Norrie Paramor, known for his work with Cliff Richard & The Shadows. Since the 50s, Paramor has trafficked in everything from Dixieland to rock ‘n roll to the lush & showy style of the Happy Banjos series – of which there are many, though, nearly all are long-extinct. But, don’t think for a second that this is bluegrass banjo music… as it’s not even close. In fact, if not for the title, you might miss the banjos entirely, as Paramor’s arrangements are full of brass and string-driven abandon, skittering from one melody to the next – in sets of three, covering 30 Beatles songs – creating a weird, alternate universe. The liner notes colorfully suggest that Happy Banjos Play The Beatles is “a roguishly-paced mood that blends tempos with the witty abandon of a Carnaby Street tailor mixing paisleys, plaids and prints.” “I’ll Be Back,” for instance, sounds straight out of the UK TV show, The Prisoner. The group also tackles “World Without Love,” which Lennon & (actually) McCartney wrote, but never recorded. Big-time thanks go out to our pal Mr. B @ Moondog Audio Restoration for this share (and the great cover scans). Not for everyone… except those with a taste for the bizarre.

All My Loving/She’s A Woman/You Can’t Do That (3:58)
World Without Love/Anytime At All/And I Love Her (3:36)
Ticket To Ride/Happy Just To Dance With You/Things We Said (3:25)
I Should Have Known Better/I’m A Loser/It Won’t Be Long (2:40)
A Hard Day’s Night/I Feel Fine/Can’t Buy Me Love (3:16)
Paperback Writer/Eight Days A Week/I’ll Get You (3:14)
Michelle/This Boy/Yesterday (4:04)
Norwegian Wood/Rain/Nowhere Man (3:03)
Don’t Bother Me/No Reply/Little Child (3:31)
Tell Me Why/The Word/I’ll Be Back (2:34)



  • Capt. Willard
    November 2, 2010 - 19:12 | Permalink

    Get it HERE.

  • Iggy
    October 31, 2012 - 15:57 | Permalink

    Thanks for this one, Captain. I’m a big fan of the “Beatles Country” album this really is bluegrass banjos, but there’s plenty of room for this rollick too. All the best,


  • Ian
    February 3, 2015 - 23:06 | Permalink

    Awesome album. We had the version released in the UK growing up, and it’s well worn. The UK version released by EMI has the title “Banjos Go Beatles” by the Big Ben Banjo Band. The artwork on the UK album cover is better — a cartoon of four banjos made to look like the Fab Four.

    • Willard
      February 4, 2015 - 00:35 | Permalink

      Well… I had to go look it up then. It is a better cover.

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