May the Fab Fourth be with you

Five years in the making, this is an astonishing achievement.

After five years of labouring, a couple of musicians, singer/guitarist Dan Amrich and digital drummer and keyboard player Jude Kelley – collectively known as Palette-Swap Ninja, have finally published a product which celebrates both the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, as well as Sgt. Pepper’s 50th. The project was to tell the entire story plot from the first Star Wars film (in latter times called “A New Hope”) in the context of lyrics to “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. The result, a freely downloadable album, “Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans” in lossless Flac or lossy but high quality mp3s, as well as a series of videos on YouTube was released May 1. It has gone viral, and rightfully so. This is both hilarious and brilliantly made. And if you’re a Star Wars buff in addition to being a Beatles fan, it’s a must see – and hear.

“We’ve released song parodies before, but nothing this ambitious,” says Dan Amrich. “Once we settled on merging A New Hope with Sgt. Pepper’s, we completely committed ourselves to turning these two sacred cows into the ultimate double cheeseburger.”

“We were surprised to find just how well it all synched up,” says Jude Kelley. “The title song sets everything up with the pursuit of Princess Leia on the Tantive IV. ‘She’s Leaving Home’ hits just as Luke decides to follow Ben to Alderaan, and the circus atmosphere of ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’ is the perfect parallel for Mos Eisley.” Similarly, Ben teaches Luke about The Force to the mystical strains of “Within You Without You,” and both of the original works end in thunderous explosions – the Death Star’s destruction and the final chord of “A Day in the Life.” The resulting album presents two classics that superfans know by heart in a way they’ve never imagined.

Jude and Dan first met as members of a Bay Area ’80s cover band in 2003, and hatched the idea for a geek-culture parody project while sharing long car rides home from rehearsal. When Jude relocated to Boston a few years later, Palette-Swap Ninja simply collaborated cross-country, ultimately releasing an album’s worth of material online to a loyal fanbase. A fan-created YouTube video for “Halo ((All I Play-Oh))” – their spoof of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Halo series of videogames – has received half a million plays to date.

Both musicians possess serious geek cred. Jude is a research scientist and ex-chemistry professor who restores classic arcade machines in his spare time. Dan has spent 20 years in and around the videogame industry; his editorial cartoon character “Dan Elektro” at GamePro magazine was so popular, it was made into an action figure.

The timing of the parody project couldn’t be more perfect: Star Wars celebrates its 40th anniversary on May 25, 2017, while Sgt. Pepper’s marks 50 years just a week later on June 1. “We both grew up obsessed with Star Wars and surrounded by Beatles music,” notes Jude.  “This whole project comes from a place of deep love and respect, so we had to take the time to do it justice. The final album needed to be high quality, accurate, and entertaining on repeat listenings.” Authentic touches included recording the same model of vintage organ the Beatles used on “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and weaving in musical motifs from A New Hope where fans might least expect them.

“Recording all our music from scratch has always been part of the Palette-Swap Ninja process; it wouldn’t feel right to just use karaoke tracks,” says Dan. “And we hand-craft our lyrics, down to each syllable. Making sure the words hit the right rhythmic cadence and told a coherent story – and would make fans smile – took more than a year.”

“We think we’ve created something worthy of the source material that fans will really enjoy,” adds Jude. “We like to think that the Force was with us.”


7 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    They actually wasted time and money to actually do this?!

    Love the original 1977 film and also love Pepper. But this is a joke…
    Real and decent bands (even a potentially new Beatles?) will get overlooked why people lap up this poppycock…

    Anyway, where are the 50th anniversary celebrations for Sgt Rutter?

    • Unknown says:

      Well, it's a more rewarding way to spend time then whining on the internet

    • Unknown says:

      quote – But this is a joke… /quote

      yep that's the point – welcome to having fun with things you love. (PS you don't need to listen to it all if you don't want to although I assume you haven't listened to any of it and are just moaning for the sake of moaning) – Welcome to the Internet

  2. leoconsole says:

    Impressive, most impressive. Maybe they could follow it up with a White Album/Empire Strikes Back mashup?

  3. BWSmythe says:

    Yeah, and if you listen to Dark Side of the Moon while watching Wizard of Oz, blah blah blah… 😉

  4. David Brailsford says:

    Yes, what is with the sudden negativity? If you are not interested, don't watch, listen or read. I find it nice that someone went to all that trouble. When no one cares about the Beatles, then it is time to complain.

  5. Terence Daniel Collier says:

    loved it – very funny and very clever

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