Pangaea’s “Come Together”

Several surprises are in store for listeners who persist with Pangaea’s “Come Together” through the end. Anyone expecting a by-the-numbers cover of The Beatles’ Abbey Road classic will be disappointed.

I’d be disappointed if they tried. You can’t replicate that lightning-in-a-bottle greatness.

Instead, Pangaea do what they’ve done for other covers. They recast the slinky slide of the original in a decidedly new light. Crossing rock and jazz influences together without demanding that one style provide the guiding impetus. It’s a successful merger.

Julio Miranda’s incendiary guitar is a big reason why it works. He expands on the comparatively minimalist playing George Harrison and John Lennon provided the original. Mixing a smattering of biting rock riffs with fluid and stinging lead lines is another key. He counterpoints quite nicely with Joe Reda’s omnipresent and sternum-rattling bass playing.

The three-pronged percussion thrust supplied by Terry Dillard’s drumming, percussionist Frankie Quiñones, and conga player Chris Nettuno is one of the single’s defining elements. It percolates with energy from the outset and gives “Come Together” a boundless wealth of kinetic physicality that never subsides. This trio steers the band through the changes with surefooted confidence, and the production captures their playing with sharp clarity.

There is a measure of post-production effects applied to the vocal to enhance its raw rough and ready rock edge. However, it’s a superb singing performance even sans this addition. It doesn’t capture the song’s classic lyrical content with the same elan that Lennon brought to the performance, but that doesn’t cast it in a lesser light. Pangaea is wise to not try producing a copy of the Beatles’ take on the song on any level, and this is perhaps their shrewdest move.

The horns of trumpeter Justin Powell and sax player Brian Lopes don’t immediately announce themselves. However, when they enter the musical frame, the effect is transformative. They are never ornamental. Their playing spikes the song’s energy level in a way no other instruments could duplicate, and they inventively riff throughout the remainder of the song.

It’s a fantastic choice for Pangaea. Picking such a beloved track likewise serves notice that there are few places, if any, where this six-piece unit is afraid to go. They are willing to challenge your preconceptions about what rock-jazz fusion can accomplish and defy listeners to label their experiments as inaccessible. Pangaea’s “Come Together” invites us to do just that.

It’s an easy performance to rally behind. Also, I expect that Pangaea’s “Come Together” will broaden their appeal in a big way and open the door further for the unit to explore their original compositions. They are a free-flowing and boundlessly creative unit with musical wherewithal that few other contemporary outfits can match. They never overextend themselves and their refurbishing of this rock classic comes across as a performance where they were sure of the sound they were chasing from the beginning. If you haven’t heard Pangaea before, “Come Together” invites you to hear more. It’s impossible to resist its aural magic.

Chadwick Easton

Music

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