Pangaea “Come Together”

Pangaea’s music pulls off a neat trick. It invites a bevy of comparisons without ever sounding guilty of imitation.

Their cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” aims to clear a high bar. Refurbishing the work of arguably the single most influential rock band in history without inviting mockery is a tall order. Being skilled musicians is far from enough. It’s essential to have a genuine vision to do something different with the material that both honors what came before, makes an individual statement, and shows the enduring elasticity of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team.

They carry out their mission.

Echoing multiple genres without producing a mishmash or carbon copy of their predecessors is another tall order. However, this six-member band hailing from Georgia checks that box. Their seamless blending of Latin jazz and rock recalls legendary units such as Santana, but the comparison is superficial. Pangaea paints on a broader canvas and is arguably more immediately accessible.

Opening with the three-headed rhythm attack of percussionist Frankie Quiñones, drummer Terry Dillard, and conga player Chris Nettuno begins the song in fine fashion. It sets an immediate tone that exerts a strong hold over the song. Guitarist Julio Miranda finds his place in the mix early on, and his playing is essential for the song’s success. He employs a smattering of effects that helps invoke a classic rock and roll bite for “Come Together”.

Joe Reda’s bass playing is equally essential. He brings added ballast to the song’s legendary groove without ever outright imitating McCartney’s inimitable bass line. The brass contributors, trumpet player Justin Powell and saxophonist Brian Lopes put distinctive touches on the climactic chorus. Their exclamative horns help the refrain soar to previously unexplored heights.

Vocals aren’t an afterthought with this instrumental unit. Pangaea employs a dollop of post-production effects to enhance the atmospheric qualities of the singing, but they are unnecessary. The singing would be just as convincing if it were unadorned. The vocals do an excellent job of conveying the song’s swagger without ever directly aping John Lennon’s iconic original.

It cannot be overemphasized how much of a risk covering this posed. However, Pangaea dives in heedless of potential disaster because they possess the necessary confidence to bring it off in a distinctive way. It’s confidence born of experience and creativity certainty. Pangaea’s “Come Together” grooves from the outset and never put a foot wrong.

It’s a small sample of the band’s gifts. As risky as covering The Beatles is, Pangaea’s new single is relatively safe compared to their more challenging fare. It makes for an excellent introduction to their work. I feel certain writing that newcomers to the Georgia band will feel emboldened to seek out their other material if they find favor with this new release. Pangaea will reward them for their faith.

We can expect that a band this good will continue to be a force over the coming years. Talent is here, but it’s never enough. They have the needed discipline and, perhaps most importantly, imagination to stretch their musical vision as far as the eye can see and the ear can follow. Pangaea is the real deal.

Mark Druery