Acoustic Sounds

Laurence Juber

A Day in My Life



Label: HoloGram Recordings

Produced By: Hope Juber

Engineered By: Paul Pritchard

Mastered By: Peter Doell

By: Evan Toth

February 28th, 2024


Folk Acoustic



Laurence Juber Continues His Celebration of the Beatles on "A Day in My Life"

At Abbey Road, the Former Wings Guitarist Channels The Fab Four on His Six String

When someone has worked with a Beatle, they've no doubt reached a certain career pinnacle. It may be in film, audio, art, or elsewhere, it doesn’t matter what field, Beatles don’t work with folks who are second best. When it comes to music, however, this is Mt. Everest. To be given the opportunity to create music with a Beatle is what rock and roll dreams are made of. As an added bonus, you can be sure that the contributions you’ve made to the recording will be available for a very long time.

Guitarist Laurence Juber has played with not just one but two Beatles during his career. As a member of Wings, he held down the guitar spot on the recording of Back to the Egg and was a band member on the tour that followed. He also played on Ringo’s Stop and Smell the Roses album in 1981. But his career hasn’t only been oriented with the Beatles. Chart-topping work with other musicians like Belinda Carlisle, Eric Carmen, Harry Styles has also come his way; he even played guitar on many of the original songs on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

Laurence Juber and Paul McCartney, Scotland, July 1978. Credit: Juber Family Archive

Since 2000, Juber has released several Beatles-themed albums beginning with LJ Plays the Beatles, followed by Vol. II of that album, LJ Can’t Stop Playing the Beatles (2017), and The Fab 4th (2020). 2024 finds Juber releasing the fifth volume in his canon of Beatles albums, A Day in My Life on HoloGram Records which is available on 180-gram black vinyl and high resolution digital streaming. The album revists a dozen tracks from the Fab Four that Juber has already released, “My playing is different from 25 years ago, when I first started seriously recording Beatles tunes. I’m channeling different emotions.” The major addition here is the fact that this newest release was recorded in Studio 2 at Abbey Road. A Day in My Life was produced by Hope Juber and recorded at Abbey Road by Richard Pritchard and mastered by Peter Doell.

Juber - already an in-demand session player prior to his time in Wings - had performed in Studio 2 before and shared some of his thoughts about his relationship to the sacred recording space, “It became a second home for me during the Back to the Egg sessions,” he says. “I haven’t been back there since, so this was something of a homecoming. It’s a very vibey room, and there was magic in reimagining the songs where they were originally recorded. Plus, the microphone locker is heavenly.” This concept sets the new album apart from his other Beatles-centric catalog: it’s not that this is Juber’s first stab at the songs that he’s chosen, but there’s something of an environmental element to the recording that’s unique: this is Juber’s take on these songs in a historical space at a particular time in his life. It’s a snapshot of a fleeting moment that finds Juber sitting in the middle of many of his life’s experiences. With that spirit in mind, it is interesting to note that the album was recorded on a single summer day in August 2023.

Abbey Road microphone locker (as of 2013)

How does one improve upon an acoustic guitar part like “Blackbird”? Juber pays great respect to Paul’s original parts while adding more melody during the verse sections and including stylistic flourishes. Explaining how he joined the guitar part that listeners are familiar with to the song’s signature melody Juber says, “I play ‘Blackbird' in a different guitar tuning and key to the way that Paul does it...because I’m incorporating the melody into the accompaniment, which is not practical for that song in standard guitar tuning.”

It’s not only acoustic flavored Beatles fare that Juber showcases. One can also expect electric hits from the Fab Four as well, “Day Tripper” is approached with agility and lightness, with an exciting interlude section. Juber’s speed and dexterity on these tracks are both exciting and refreshing. However, his approach on “Your Bird Can Sing” (one of my favorite Beatles deep cuts) feels rushed; just a hair too fast. The same can be said for the tempo of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (mislabeled on the disc as “While My Guitar Gently Weeks”); listeners probably want to hear Juber stretch out so that they might savor each drop of his fingerstyle gifts.

The breathing room fortunately returns on Juber’s reading of “Let It Be” which transfers the piano heavy original to six-strings. In doing so, the song takes on on a wistful and folksy character that recalls something of a traditional Irish or Scottish standard; in fact, stylistically, it reminds this listener of Paul’s 1997 song from Flaming Pie, “Calico Skies,” I can almost hear the campfire crackling.

As the album only features Juber’s solo guitar, there’s just one thing to get right, or wrong. Fortunately, his acoustic guitar sounds natural and - with eyes closed - can approximate the experience of having the guitarist sitting in your living room with his Beatles songbook in front of him. Studio 2 at Abbey Road finds Juber capturing a roomier sound rather than the closely mic’d approach of some of his previous albums. Listeners who purchase the album can see photos of the mic setup that was used in Studio 2.

Juber’s arrangements don’t merely highlight a fabulous Beatles melody, they approximate the Beatles' arrangements and instruments used in the original recordings. This is very obvious in his take on “Strawberry Fields Forever” where Mr. Juber makes space not only for the melody, but also sitars, horns and the myriad other instruments that conjure the psychedelic soundstage of the famed recording. This is also true in his treatment of “I Am the Walrus” which includes all of the Beatle parts you’d expect; you won’t feel as though you’re missing anything. On this tune, in particular, Juber makes use of his plucking fingers and demonstrates the dynamics he’s capable of providing simply by the force with which he hits the strings, pay close attention to the “whooo” part in IATW.

“A Day in the Life'' taunts listeners to lean back in their listening chairs and say, “okay, Laurence, how the heck are you going to do this?” Of course, Juber is so confident in his approach that he even paid homage to the song’s name in the title of his album. LJ indeed builds the orchestral tension with controlled brevity and deftly enters Paul’s bouncy bridge section with grace. Again, Juber pays homage not only to the songs of the Beatles, but to the intricate arrangements that made them what they are.

Another cause for applause on A Day in My Life will come from guitar players. Those of us who play the instrument, particularly the acoustic guitarists, know that temperature and humidity fluctuations, minor string bends and spirited playing can push a guitar out of tune with some regularity. Of course, the takes on this record have no overdubs, so the final chord - in perfect tune - at the end of “A Day in the Life” is of particular excitement. Juber’s playing is excellent, but the instrument that he uses on these sessions is also up to the tasks of its master. In this case, Juber is so proud of the guitar he uses, he provides the instrument’s make and signature model on the back cover: a Martin OMC21LJ strung with LJ Signature Martin Retro Strings.

The record is very flat, centered and - as you may have already wondered given the nature of the performance - extremely quiet, which is so important: it’s only you and LJ’s guitar, there is no extraneous noise hidden in the grooves, no unwelcome distractions.

Credit: Andrew Orth

This is particularly fortunate on one of Juber’s standouts on the album: his take on “Rain” which embraces the song’s droning nature and maintains a foreboding dirge reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. The chorus section jumps from the speakers and provides the necessary dynamic bolt that the song demands. Remember, again, it’s only Juber and his fingers here to replicate the sonic wonderland that all four Beatles painstakingly created in the studio on the original recordings. Another treat in “Rain” is Juber’s “Rainstorm” interlude that creates a welcome break in the song's droning momentum. It also offers him an opportunity to show off some acoustic finger-tapping skills. Juber explains his take on the song, “It was the first one that Hope and I worked on as a kind of a tone poem, a 'rain dance.’” He adds that, “we incorporated an original section of two-handed tapping on the fingerboard to emulate a ‘rainstorm’ effect.”

More elbow room is also found on “In My Life” which concludes the record. Lennon’s nostalgic ballad finds a thoroughly relaxed Juber reading through the song with delicate virtuosity, particularly on the song’s instrumental section which displays the baroque nuances and complexities that the original recording hoped to possess.

A Day in My Life is not a complete reimagination or reinvention of the Beatles songs you know and love so well. In fact, in many ways, that’s the album’s strength. Juber knows to leave well enough alone; if it ain’t broke, he’s not going to fix it. Perhaps it's wise to view this recording almost as though it were a live performance which - in many ways - it seems to have been (live in studio, at least). Here, you’ve got a front row seat to witness a guitarist inhabiting songs that he’s known intimately for many years in a space that has profound personal and historical significance, but - in this case - it’s not just for the audience, it’s also for the player.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: HLR1615

Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Single LP


  • 2024-02-28 01:59:39 PM

    tim davis wrote:

    Great stuff! I'm going to have to check this out. I'm also very fond of a collaboration release with Laurence & Al Stewart called Between the Wars. It focuses on sound & events circa 1918-1939. As far as I know it is only available on the compact disc medium circa 1982- ????.

    • 2024-03-03 12:22:59 PM

      Jim wrote:

      The CDC was released by MESA records in 1995. Juber also did the arrangements and production work.

      Juber also did some fine work on The Empty Pockets(who have been touring with and backing Al Stewart) release Outside Spectrum.

  • 2024-02-29 02:22:26 PM

    Al in New York wrote:

    I find Juber's playing to be a little too clinical. Nevertheless, I still prefer Juber's Beatles to Al Di Meola's.

  • 2024-03-01 03:39:26 AM

    Jennnifer Martin wrote:

    Thanks for this. LJ is a master player, arranger, and composer, and a wonderful person. Disclaimer: he is my friend and teacher. Small correction: LJ worked with THREE of the Beatles, not two. In addition to Paul and Ringo, he also worked with George Harrison. I urge everyone to check out this record. One of his many other recording is also available on LP, Under an Indio Sky (Cry Me a River, Autumn Leaves, As Time Goes By, etc.). Also highly recommended.

  • 2024-03-01 01:40:49 PM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    Chicago guitar wizard Joel Paterson has released two CDs of wonderful Beatles covers. Let It Be Guitar (CD, LP and download) has bass, drums and some keyboards, while Let It Be Acoustic Guitar (CD and download only) is just Joel. Both, like all his solo and band work, are absolutely terrific. Physical media aren't easy to find but the digital versions are at