I’m not entirely sure it’s worth reviewing something that’s officially out of print. The ukulele songbook for Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs album was available as a limited edition and was sold out before it was released (apart from a few copies sold on Flea Market Music).
It is still sort of gettable. If you’re willing to spend £300 on eBay. And there is a 48 page songbook with the vinyl version which, I believe, contains the uke charts. There has also been a PDF that was for sale (containing the pertinent uke stuff but not the photos) but I’m not clear on where or if this is still available.
What You Get
A 100 page hardback book.
A two page introduction to playing the ukulele.
Chord charts (no tab) for ukulele above standard notation of the melody for all the songs on the album. The book lists Jim Beloff as the, “songbook consultant and editor.” If you’ve seen any of his chord books before, you’ll be familiar with the layout. The only exception to the ‘no tab’ is Waving Palms – the short instrumental – which has tab for a single ukulele.
Lots of very nice pictures of Eddie and his ukuleles.
A copy of the album.
The Good Stuff
It’s gorgeous: It is by far the most lovely songbook I’ve ever had. Even if you didn’t play uke, this would make for a very nice coffee-table book.
It’s a dedicated ukulele book: And there aren’t many around for contemporary stuff. I had a lot of fun playing along with the album. It’s a big relief not to have to work stuff out myself or try to find something accurate on the internet.
It’s accurate: It all sounded pretty good to me. Only two things didn’t sit right with me. In Longing to Belong it shows F rather than Fadd9 – I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure there’s a G in there. The other is the tab for Waving Palms which I had trouble matching up with the song.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
There’s a lot missing: It is – apart from Waving Palms – just chords. That means a bunch of stuff gets missed out. There’s missing fingerpicking patterns in Broken Heart and Satellite. Missing filigree such as the solo in Longing to Belong.
There are some weird-ass chord names – which is mostly forgivable because Eddie uses some weird-ass chords. The strangest choice is the use of slash chords. Not really applicable at the best of times, but baffling to refer to 0010 as Fadd9/C (when C is in Fadd9 anyway) and 0220 as D/G (when G isn’t the lowest note).
It’s too nice to use: Being a hardback book, it doesn’t stay nicely flopped open on the selected page. If you want to get it to stay open, you’ll need to do some hefty palm-flattening. I couldn’t bring myself to do it and just used the PDF whenever I wanted to play stuff.
The book makes for a fantastic souvenir. I’m very glad I pre-ordered it. Not sure I would have been so willing to pay crazy eBay prices. But as a tool for learning it falls short.