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Broken Bells cover Beatles on Letterman

THE REMAINS OF ROCK & ROLL: James Mercer and Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton are a couple of cerebral dudes, and After the Disco (Columbia), their just-released second go-round as Broken Bells, is being praised by reviewers in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Esquire and elsewhere for its stylistic and thematic headiness as well as its musical seductiveness. Monday night on Letterman, the two collaborators overtly dramatized these virtues when they covered The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” over Ringo Starr’s drum track from “I Am the Walrus,” with ancient video footage of Ringo bashing away on a vintage TV serving to underscore the wicked-clever move. They were celebrating the impending 50th anniversary of the Fabs’ monumental first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in the very theater where it went down, but this intriguing musical collage also subtly referenced Danger Mouse’s Gray Album, the homemade mash-up of The Beatles and Jay Z that kick-started his career 10 years ago. That’s a lot of meta to pack into a three-and-a-half-minute performance on late-night TV, but the whole thing comes off with a silky naturalness, as you’ll see. These guys are good. (2/6a)       

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