September 14, 1992 12:00 PM

Big Daddy

On its first three albums this group of L.A. retro-rockers merely puttered around rock’s foothills, sending up Vanilla (remember him?) Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and scaling the Matterhorn with a crooning rendition of Madonna‘s “Like a Virgin.” But with their cut-for-cut ’50s make-over of the most hosannaed of all Beatles albums, the guys are assaulting Everest.

Do they reach the summit? Well, Big Daddy often sounds like what you’d get on a Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies tape. Still, much of the record is a hoot. “With a Little Help from My Friends” glides along like a Johnny Mathis tune. “Fixin’ a Hole” is a ringer for Dion’s “The Wanderer.” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” mirrors Freddy Cannon’s wonderfully cheesy “Palisades Park.” Best is “Within You Without You,” recited as beat poetry to flute, bass and bongos. All that’s missing are the clove cigarettes.

The gag works because the music is so familiar you’re aching to hear it done differently. When the novelty fades, the tunes stand on their own blue suede shoes as music to boogie to, even when you’re 64. (Rhino)

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