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Beatles Reunited – Photographs (1974)

February 22nd, 2018 7 comments

It’s two years after the alternate history Smile Away album of 1972; and here is the 1974 double album. The title of the last album was drawn from a Paul track; this one uses the plural of a Starr-Harrison song.

Another Ringo song comes very close to a being Beatles record in the post-split period: I’m The Greatest it features three Beatles in Ringo, John (who wrote it) and George. The third Ringo number made the cut only by squeezing shut an eye: All By Myself was written by Ringo with Vini Poncia (who in 1964 wrote a song titled Ringo I Love You for Bonnie Jo Mason, who soon after that became known as Cher). Let’s imagine Ringo passed it off as his own track until the album credits had to be written.

For George the period 1973-74 was pretty shallow; he gave three tracks (and his half of Photograph) to this album. I suppose his Sue Me, Sue You Blues might have needed a tweak in lyrics since the band hasn’t broken up and sued one another.

Paul and John obviously dominate here. John gets one song more than Paul, which I’m sure would have caused friction. But Paul could have given The Beatles the superb Live And Let Die, but he had to release it as a solo single (of course he would have)!

Obviously one can argue all night about my choices for this double LP, and even about its title (a quite ferocious critic last time around was quite certain that The Beatles would never have called an album Smile Away. I suspect that his mindreading skills are superior to mine, but, well, in my alternate history they damn well did). Alternate histories aren’t science; the fun is in discussing whether one’s idea of might have been coincide with that of another. But one ought to be civil about it.

These “Beatles Reunited” mixes are in a way inspired by Peter Lee’s commendable alternative-history novel The Life And Death of Mal Evans which is available in print or eBook from avonypublishing.com or from Amazon or Kobo. Also check out Peter’s blog of the book.

The set fits on a standard CD-R and includes very literal covers. PW in comments.

Side 1
1. What You Got (John)
2. Jet (Paul)
3. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) (George)
4. Photograph (Ringo)
5. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (John)

Side 2
6. Band On The Run (Paul)
7. Nobody Loves You When You’re Down (John)
8. Sue Me, Sue You Blues (George)
9. Bring On The Lucie (Freda Peeple) (John)

Side 3
10. Junior’s Farm (Paul)
11. I’m The Greatest (Ringo)
12. Let Me Roll It (Paul)
13. My Love (Paul)
14. # 9 Dream (John)

Side 4
15. All By Myself (Ringo)
16. Mind Games (John)
17. Helen Wheels (Paul)
18. Dark Horse (George)
19. Steel And Glass (John)

GET IT!

Previous Beatles Reunited albums:
Everest (1971)
Live ’72 (1972)
Smile Away (1972)

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

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Beatles Recovered: Magical Mystery Tour

November 23rd, 2017 7 comments

The Magical Mystery Tour LP, released 50 years ago on November 27 in the US (and in the UK on December 8 as a double EP) is something of a stepchild in the Beatles canon. The British EP comprised the original tracks from the British TV movie of the same name. On the album, those tracks make up side 1 of the LP. Side 2 of the LP are songs that appeared on single that year.

The British EP was lavishly packaged. The gatefold cover included a 28-page, full colour booklet of photos from the critically panned TV film and song lyrics. When I bought a Japanese pressing of the LP 14 years later, it came in a gatefold sleeve with the booklet, now in LP-size.

The Magical Mystery Tour LP was a success in the US, even earning Grammy nominations. And there are some stone-cold classics on that LP. Obviously the singles on Side 2 — All You Need Is Love, Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane and Hello Goodbye — plus the title track, Fool On The Hill and I Am The Walrus on Side 1. Then there is the glorious Baby You’re A Rich Man, which was the b-side of All You Need Is Love but could just as well have been a hit in its own right.

Which leaves us with the quite forgettable instrumental Flying (the only Beatles song credited to all four members); Harrison’s Blue Jay Way, another one of his Indian-flavoured tracks which are unloved by most Beatles fans; and Your Mother Should Know, one of those McCartney flapper-tinged nostalgia trips.

So, a strike rate of 9/12 is pretty good going. Even if one allows that half the LP is a singles collection, it is nevertheless remarkable that they were all recorded during or just after the Sgt Pepper’s sessions that culminated in the release of that watershed in rock history, only five months before Magical Mystery Tour came out. It’s The Beatles in 1967 that needed to put out a double album, not those of 1968. Sgt Pepper’s Recovered is still up.

The cover of the German release of the Magical Mystery Tour LP, under the imprint of TV magazine HörZu.

So, here are a bunch of covers of the tracks on The Magical Mystery Tour. Oddly, it was easier finding covers for Blue Jay Way that it was for Hello Goodbye. And I fear that there will be some resistance to the cover of that song included here. This can be explained by the shortage of alternatives, but it should be put on the record that Glee produced some very good cover versions. Hello Goodbye is not the best example of that, but it is not by any means objectionable. It’s, in fact, pretty joyful. Still, when Richie Havens follows on with his version of Strawberry Fields Forever we are on firmer ground.

Elvis Costello might have featured here with his version of All You Need Is Love from Live Aid, when the crowds filled in the horn section part. It’s on the Live Aid mix which is still available. Instead, Costello is representing Penny Lane here, performed live in 2010 at the Gershwin Prize for Paul McCartney.

All You Need Is Love is done here beautifully by the wonderful Brandi Carlile. And Bud Shank turns the unremarkable Flying into an engaging jazz number.

1. Cheap Trick – Magical Mystery Tour (1991)
2. Stone The Crows – Fool On The Hill (1970)
3. Bud Shank – Flying (1968)
4. Siouxsie and The Banshees – Blue Jay Way (2003)
5. Damita Jo – Your Mother Should Know (1969)
6. Oingo Boingo – I Am The Walrus (1994)
7. Glee Cast – Hello, Goodbye (2010)
8. Richie Havens – Strawberry Fields Forever (1969)
9. Elvis Costello – Penny Lane (2010)
10. Martin Newell – Baby You’re A Rich Man (1996)
11. Brandi Carlile – All You Need Is Love (2012)

GET IT!

More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s

June 15th, 2017 10 comments

The release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50 years ago rewrote the rulebook of pop music. It’s not that it was the first concept album (in as far as it was even that in the sense we’ve come to understand the idea now), nor the first to dabble innovative studio tricks (The Beatles themselves had done so on Revolver, and Brian Wilson was perhaps even more innovative at the time). But for contemporaries, the album changed everything.

Perhaps it was also the cover that had such an impact. It was not usual to create artworks for LP covers — the Beach Boys were still goofing about with animals on snapshots for the sleeve for Pet Sounds. One could study Peter Blake’s collage for the duration of Side 1 and while away the inferior second side studying it some more,, and return to it over and over again. Even today, it is a significant piece of 20th-century art.

But the thing is, Sgt Pepper’s is greater in its context than it is within the canon of Beatles albums. Of course, there are mighty tracks on it. A Day In The Life is a masterpiece, but I know few Beatles fans whose life would be poorer for the absence of Lovely Rita, or, indeed, Within You Without You (cleverly sequenced to start Side 2, for easy skipability). It doesn’t require clever revisionism by deliberate iconoclasts to regard Sgt Pepper’s as not the greatest album the Beatles made. But it does require the revisionism of fools to call it overrated. Sgt Pepper’s is a great album, especially the first side, and its historical impact cannot be overstated.

And if the later rule of already-released singles finding a place on albums had been in force, imagine how much better Sgt Pepper’s might have been with Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane. In the event, EMI insisted on releasing the songs, which were recorded as part of the Sgt Pepper’s sessions, as a double a-sided single.

A poster of The Beatles in Sgt Pepper’s uniforms in the German youth magazine Bravo in July 1967. (see www.bravoposters.wordpress.com for daily vintage Bravo posters)

Just a couple of weeks after Sgt Pepper’s was released, The Beatles recorded All You Need Is Love. The boys — Ringo was just turning 27; John was 26, Paul was about to turn 25, George was 24 — were on a hot streak.

Of course, Paul McCartney will turn 75 this month. But 50 years ago he was already dead, and long-standing research shows that Sgt Pepper’s provided the proof we’d have confirmed by the Abbey Road cover, by way of very clear clues. To start with, there’s a new band with one Billy Shears as the singer (well, Ringo is Billy Shears, but let’s not have Failing Fake News disturb us). In A Day In The Life John sings: “He blew his mind out in a car”, indicating the method of Paul’s death. And if you play the song backwards, you apparently can hear the phrase, “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him”. At the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, John says, “I buried Paul”. Lennon claimed he mumbled “cranberry sauce”, but why would he say “cranberry sauce” when Paul is dead and he buried him? Wake up, sheeple!

And then there’s the cover. In the foreground is clearly a grave — Paul’s grave! Look at the wax figure Young Beatles: Ringo is sad, very sad, as he looks at Paul’s grave. John is putting a comforting hand on Ringo’s shoulder (George seems glad though. Was he involved in the plot to kill Paul?). On the back cover, “Paul” turns his back; even Fake Paul is trying to give us a clue, apparently trying to escape the conspiracy. And here’s the smoking gun: Place the cover in front of a mirror, and the words “Lonely Hearts” on the drum read, “1 ONE 1 X HE DIE 1 ONE 1”, as you can see very clearly below. It’s so obvious, folks.

So happy birthday to you, Sir Paul McCartney, whoever you are!

Which brings us to this selection of cover versions of songs from Sgt Pepper’s, in the proper sequence. The selection is eclectic, yet it all flows. You’d expect otherwise from a sequence that goes from psychedelic rock of Jimi Hendrix (recorded in concert in Stockholm) to bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs to soul singer Natalie Cole to rockers Status Quo to old comedian George Burns to folkie Richie Havens and so on. And still, it all fits together well. It helps that Scruggs isn’t banjoing the hell out of With A Little Help From My Friends, and that Natalie Cole rocks harder than the Quo, who sound more like Burns. On the LP, the closing song is the crowning glory. The same might be said here of War’s epic take on A Day In The Life.

I have added covers of Strawberry Fields and Penny Land to the mix. The best cover of the former is that by Richie Havens, but he already features with She’s Leaving Home. In any case, Havens’ version has featured before on one of the many mixes of Beatles covers.

Coming in at under an hour, the mix fits on a standard CD-R. Covers are included. PW in the comments section (the purpose of which is not really to declare passwords but for readers to say something).

1. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1968)
2. Earl Scruggs – With A Little Help From My Friends (1971)
3. Natalie Cole – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (1978)
4. Status Quo – Getting Better (1976)
5. George Burns – Fixing A Hole (1978)
6. Richie Havens – She’s Leaving Home (1968)
7. Eddie Izzard – Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (2007)
8. Sonic Youth – Within You Without You (1989)
9. Claudine Longet – When I’m Sixty-Four (1967)
10. Fats Domino – Lovely Rita (1968)
11. Micky Dolenz – Good Morning Good Morning (2012)
12. Stereophonics – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (2007)
13. War feat. Eric Burdon – A Day In The Life (1976)
14. Peter Gabriel – Strawberry Fields Forever (1976)
15. Amen Corner – Penny Lane (1969)

GET IT!

More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Revolver

July 28th, 2016 11 comments

Revolver Recovered

August 5 will see the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ seminal Revolver album. If Rubber Soul was the moment when the besuited moptops handed over the Beatle baton to the more experimental stoners, Revolver was the moment the stoners became adults, doing things on their own terms.

George Harrison’s I Want To Tell you is perhaps most emblematic of that progression. The melody could have been on Rubber Soul, or even Help!, but the arrangement and especially the lyrics absolutely couldn’t.

The first song which the Beatles recorded for the album was one that set the scene for what innovation was to come. Tomorrow Never Knows, which was born almost exactly four months before Revolver’s release (on April 6), was a radical departure from the pure, relatively uncomplicated pop and rock & roll which the band had produced just a year earlier on Help (which was released on August 6, 1965, almost exactly one year before Revolver. Let that timeline sink in!). The song was subject to such experimentations as tape loops and running the vocals through a speaker normally used for the Hammond organ, plus Ringo using a novel drum-pattern.

The cover of that song here is a sparse affair from 1970 by the blues/R&B singer Junior Parker, recorded a year before his death at the age of 39 during surgery for a brain tumor.

Harrison had already experimented gingerly with Indian music on Rubber Soul. Here, on Love You To, he went full Indian — I guess it must have been even more startling to Revolver’s first listeners than Tomorrow Never Knows. It is covered here by the Don Randi Trio, who recorded the whole of Revolver in their jazz interpretation, within weeks of the album’s release. Their version respects the original’s Indian core.

Revolver had several moments of genius. Eleanor Rigby in particular is a masterpiece, lyrically and musically (I’ll leave it to you whether Ray Charles’ interpretation trumps the original). McCartney’s other two ballads on the album — For No One and Here, There And Everywhere — are remarkable as well. Emmylou Harris features here with her gorgeous take on the often neglected For No One, from 1975’s Pieces Of The Sky LP. She might also have been included for her version of Here, There And Everywhere, recorded the same year for the Elite Hotel album. That song is covered to equally lovely effect by that other country woman of crossover appeal, Bobbie Gentry.

Lennon was more hit-and-miss on Revolver than Paul. Tomorrow Never Knows and I’m Only Sleeping tower above the serviceable but usually not unduly overlooked Dr Robert, And Your Bird Can Sing and She Said She Said, decent tracks though they are. Dr Robert was the most difficult song to find a cover for. Here it is done by an Italian band called Slow Feet (an allusion to Eric Clapton’s nickname Slow Hand), which specialises in covering classic rock songs.

In don’t know why Paul’s excellent Good Day Sunshine doesn’t receive more love. Roy Redmond’s southern soul cover reveals a depth to a song which in The Beatles’ version is “just another” Beatles pop song.

Critics don’t love Yellow Submarine, written by Paul specifically for Ringo and deliberately as a children’s song. It ought to have been only a b-side (as it also was, to Eleanor Rigby), not an album track. But while the purists hate it, the public loved it, as would be the case two long, long years later with the much maligned yet ferociously popular Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

The Pickin’ On Picks recording was the only feasible version of Yellow Submarine that I could include here (though I include the 1976 Sesame Street version — three monsters harmonising in monstrous ways — as a bonus). The Pickin’ On Picks was a 1990s project whereby session musicians would render the catalogue of a particular artist in the bluegrass genre. Cross-genre appropriation sometimes works well, and sometimes does so only in small doses. This is such a case: one or two songs at a time are great; more than that is quite enough.

The obvious choice for a cover of Got To Get You Into My Life might have been that of Earth, Wind & Fire, or perhaps that by Thelma Houston, which surely inspired the EWF arrangement. That itself might have borrowed from the one used here, by Blood, Sweat & Tears. The EWF version previously featured on Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66; the Thelma Houston version you can get on the Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2.

Naturally the mix fits on a CD-R, and includes home-renovated covers. PW in comments.

1. The Loose Ends – Tax Man (1966)
2. Ray Charles – Eleanor Rigby (1968)
3. Lobo – I’m Only Sleeping (1974)
4. Don Randi Trio – Love You To (1966)
5. Bobbie Gentry – Here, There And Everywhere (1968)
6. The Pickin’ On Picks – Yellow Submarine (1995)
7. Hedge & Donna – She Said She Said (1971)
8. Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine (1967)
9. Spanky & Our Gang – And Your Bird Can Sing (1967)
10. Emmylou Harris – For No One (1975)
11. Slowfeet – Doctor Robert (2006)
12. Chris Stainton & Glen Turner – I Want To Tell You (1976)
13. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Got To Get You Into My Life (1975)
14. Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows (1970)

GET IT!

More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Reunited – Smile Away (1972)

January 28th, 2016 15 comments

The Beatles - Smile Away

What if The Beatles hadn’t broken up in 1970? In Any Major Alternative Universe the Fab Four stayed together, releasing solo records as they pleased but also keeping on producing Beatles albums.

We’ve already had the double-album follow-up to Let It Be, titled Everest, from 1971, and a live album from 1972. This new effort is also from 1972, including a few hold-overs from Harrison’s and Lennon’s fertile period in 1971. In 1972 Lennon was busy producing his weak Some Time In New York solo album with Yoko anyway, so that was just as well.

Ringo was on a roll and had two songs of his own composition included on the album (both in real life featuring George Harrison, who also played on John’s Gimme Some Truth). Back Off Boogaloo, written by Ringo, was so good that Paul couldn’t object to its inclusion, even though the song addresses him.

In his commendable alternative-history novel The Life And Death of Mal Evans, Peter Lee “produced” his own idea of post-1970 Beatles albums. I followed his lead in calling the 1971 effort Everest. His follow-up album was set in 1974, as will be my next collection. I’ll then use the title Peter used for that 1974 album.

Arriving at a title for this putative 1972 LP was a bit of a challenge. What would The Beatles call an album in 1972? What was the vibe? I went for an easy option, and decided to riff on one of the song titles on this collection. But which one? I was torn between some theme relating to Gimme Some Truth, or maybe It Don’t Come Easy. But I think Smile Away is enigmatic and sounds like it fits to 1972. So that’s the one.

This is a single album, so it’ll easily fit on a CD-R. Covers included; PW in comments.

Side 1
Power To The People (John)
It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo)
Hi Hi Hi (Paul)
Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) (George)
Another Day (Paul)
Imagine (John)

Side 2
If Not For You (George)
Smile Away (Paul)
Gimme Some Truth (John)
Back Off Bugaloo (Ringo)
Behind That Locked Door (George)
Wild Life (Paul)

GET IT!

The Death & Life of Mal Evans by Peter Lee is available in print or eBook from avonypublishing.com or from Amazon or Kobo. Also check out Peter’s blog of the book.

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

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Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul

December 10th, 2015 8 comments

Rubber Soul Recovered - front

The progression of The Beatles from mop tops making uncomplicated pop music to the innovators who blew the minds of their peers was at its most dramatic in the 14-month period during which they proceeded from the fine pop of You’re Going To Lose That Girl on Help (recorded on 19 February 1965) to the psychedelic workout that was Tomorrow Never Knows on Revolver (recorded on 6 April 1966).

The link between those two very different albums, whose releases were separated by exactly a year, was Rubber Soul, which was released 50 years ago on December 3. Rubber Soul recalls Help in tracks like Wait (which had been recorded for Help) or You Won’t See Me or Michelle, and it presages the future with songs like In My Life, Nowhere Man, Drive My Car or Norwegian Wood. And then there is George’s If You Needed Someone, which seamlessly incorporates the old sound and the new.

Remarkably, The Beatles wrote and recorded Rubber Soul under immense time pressure, still writing some of the songs as they were recording. In an age when thoroughly unoriginal bands take two or three years to bring out an album, it seems impossible to grasp that The Beatles began recording Rubber Soul on 12 October, less than two months before the scheduled release date. The first track recorded that day was Run For Your Life. The Rubber Soul recordings ended on 11 November with a highly pressured marathon session. The last full song to be recorded that day was Girl, which Lennon had hastily written.

On top of that, they were expected to write and record two non-album tracks for a single release. These songs turned out to be We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper. Lennon wrote the latter virtually off-the-cuff in the studio; he and Paul called it a “forced” composition. And in between all that, The Beatles were expected to create the annual Christmas record, for distribution on flexi-disc to fan club members.

The strength of Rubber Soul does not reside so much in the songs but in the album’s feel. Here our boys are high on pot, not freaked out by LSD, and it shows in the sound. It is also the most country of Beatles albums. What Goes On is the only country song on the set, but some of the covers here show just how well suited these tracks are for that genre.

Rubber Soul Recovered - back

The best cover here is Johnny Cash’s take on In My Life. Lennon sang the song when he had just turned 25; the song’s wistfulness is measured against the fact that the singer memories are still pretty young. Cash sung the song a year before his death. The ravages of age are reflected in his voice, and he sounds like the tired old man her is, looking back at a rich life where some places and some people have indeed gone and some have changed. I think the great video for Hurt would have been even more potent for this song, which appears on the same album.

The most radical reworking of Rubber Soul’s songs featured here comes right at the top, with the bluesy take on Drive My Car by Humble Pie. It appeared on a 1975 LP, Street Rats, with two other Beatles covers, We Can Work It Out and Rain, as well as a cover of a Beatles cover, Chuck Berry’s Rock & Roll Music.

Nancy Sinatra, appearing here with a Lennon song which the composer despised, also recorded more than one Beatles song. On the Boots LP of 1966, on which Run For Your Life appears (as well the hit song which gave the album its title), she also sang Day Tripper.

Naturally the mix fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments.

1. Humble Pie – Drive My Car (1975)
2. Tangerine Dream – Norwegian Wood (2010)
3. Anne Murray – You Won’t See Me (1974)
4. Randy Travis – Nowhere Man (1995)
5. François Fabrice – Les Garçons Sont Fous (Think For Yourself) (1966)
6. Mindy Smith – The Word (2005)
7. King Curtis – Michelle (1966)
8. Charles River Valley Boys – What Goes On (1966)
9. The Brothers Four – Girl (1966)
10. Steve Earle – I’m Looking Through You (1995)
11. Johnny Cash – In My Life (2002)
12. Connie Evingson – Wait (2003)
13. Roger McGuinn – If I Needed Someone (2007)
14. Nancy Sinatra – Run For Your Life (1966)
Bonus tracks:
Dionne Warwick – We Can Work It Out (1968)
Whitesnake – Day Tripper (1978)

GET IT!

More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Reunited – Everest (1971)

October 8th, 2015 13 comments

Beatles - Everest

On Friday John Lennon would have turned 75; a rather frightening thought, since John has stayed forever young, (no) thanks to Mark Chapman.

So this is a good occasion to begin the alternative history of Beatles album as they might have been had the band not split in 1970. I did something like that a few years ago, but not very well. In revisiting the idea I was inspired by Peter Lee’s marvelous alternative history The Death and Life of Mal Evans: A Novel, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, with a Beatles concert “from 1972”.

In his book, Lee recreates Beatles albums through the 1970s, employing rather stricter criteria than I do (his selection process alone is worth getting the book for). The title of this first imaginary Beatles album, set in 1971, is borrowed from Lee’s book. The Beatles actually considered the title Everest for the LP they’d call Abbey Road, on account of the brand of cigarettes smoked by sound engineer Geoff Emerick (whose 2006 book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles is a classic in the Beatles canon).

Such was the wealth of quality which the four produced between 1970 and 1972, that this set is a double LP. The “next album” will be released in “1972” (with hold-overs from George’s All Things Must Pass and John’s Imagine albums).

Some of these tracks might have been Beatles tracks. Jealous Guy was demoed under a different title during the White Album sessions; the version of All Things Must Pass featured here is, in fact, a Beatles demo; Apple Scruffs was another Beatles reject.

In Peter Lee’s book, the first imaginary Beatles album included Lennon’s scathing attack on McCartney, How Do You Sleep. To even things out, I’ll let John have that for his solo album but include Paul’s veiled stab at John, Too Many People.

Ringo released two albums in 1970, both comprising cover versions of standards and country songs respectively. The Beatles didn’t do covers after 1965, but we’ll indulge Ringo with one song, Stardust, which was arranged by McCartney. There was one other contender, the Ringo-penned Coochy Coochy. It didn’t make the cut on account of it not being very good.

I tried to keep Yoko and Linda out of these proceedings, which wasn’t entirely possible, since McCartney’s Ram album was credited to him and Linda (so her voice on, say, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, is unavoidable. But imagine all that with John’s harmonies!). But no Oh Yoko, and no Long Haired Lady. However, seeing I let Linda sing, I let John’s song to Yoko, Hold On, pass. It sounds like a Beatles song, and includes the most unexpected Sesame Street reference ever.

The whole thing fits on a standard CD-R. Covers included; PW in comments.

Side 1
1   Instant Karma (We All Shine On) (John)
2   What Is Life (George)
3   Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
4   Every Night (Paul)
5   Apple Scruffs (George)
Side 2
7   Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Paul)
8   Stardust (Ringo)
9   All Things Must Pass (George)
10  Isolation (John)
11  Ram On (Paul)
12  Jealous Guy (John)
Side 3
12  Mother (John)
13  Wah-Wah (George)
14  The Back Seat Of My Car (Paul)
15  Hold On (John)
16  Love (John)
Side 4
17  Too Many People (Paul)
18  Working Class Hero (John)
19  Isn’t It A Pity (George)
20  Junk (Paul)
21  How? (John)

GET IT!

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

 

 

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The Beatles: Reunited and live

September 10th, 2015 4 comments

cover.qxd

Did The Beatles break up just in time? My view is that the timing, though arbitrary, was pitch-perfect. The four split just after they released their best album and just as their audience was changing — from there on it was going to be diminishing returns.

Author Peter Lee, whom you may know from his Hooks & Harmony blog. seems to disagree. In his newly-published book The Death & Life of Mal Evans, Lee introduces us to an alternate universe in which The Beatles didn’t split in 1969/70, and charts their imagined story through the 1970s.

His narrative device is the revivified life of Beatles road manager/general assistant Mal Evans, who was shot dead by police in 1976. In Lee’s book, Evans restarts his life just before the point at which the Beatles break-up became inevitable, in September 1969. What follows is a series of events and incidents — real, invented and reinterpreted — which covers the career of John, Paul, George, Ringo and Mal.

3dbookThis includes, of course, the release of new Beatles albums. For this Lee had to construct tracklistings of existing songs. That kind of thing is always good fun — I did that in a well-received three-parter in 2008, which forms the basis for this new “updated” series of notional Beatles LPs.

Lee’s selections were subject to stringent criteria: the earlier songs had to have been written for actual Beatles albums, or at least at when The Beatles were still together, before they appeared on solo albums (such as Lennon’s Jealous Guy or Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and Apple Scruffs); or they had to feature more than one Beatle on the solo recording (such as Ringo’s I’m The Greatest); or they must sound like they could have been Beatles songs.

In Lee’s alternate universe, George improves Paul’s majestic Maybe I’m Amazed with a blistering guitar solo, and later John’s Women includes the harmonies of Paul. Listen to these songs again and you can imagine it (talking of which, in Lee’s story Imagine was originally an acoustic guitar track; the way Lennon recorded it live in 1972 at Madison Square Garden).

The narrative requires Lee to take some liberties with timelines; Beatles fans — the novel’s obvious target readership — will quickly spot them. So Paul’s Wings release a critically panned album titled London Town in 1975. The Wings album by that name, of course, came out in early 1978, though nothing in the texts suggests that it was the same collection of songs. And in an alternate-universe story, which by its nature asks us to suspend disbelief, it is quite permissible to play with timelines.

There are small quibbles: the way Lennon’s nasty How Do You Sleep worms itself on to the first post non-breakup LP is not entirely convincing. But the narrative, which is exclusively from Mal Evan’s perspective, is loose enough to allow the reader to ascribe plot holes to the narrator’s subjective understanding of events.

Mal Evans reads the news today, oh boy. The gentle giant, who would have turned 80 in May, is seen here with Paul McCartney.

Mal Evans reads the news today, oh boy. The gentle giant, who would have turned 80 in May, is seen here with Paul McCartney.

The plot moves so fast that one is not held up by such details. The Death & Life of Mal Evans is a page-turner. We know how the Beatles story ended, how John died, and so on. We do not know how the story ends in Lee’s alternate reality. It is intriguing to anticipate the career path of the Beatles, as a group and individually, and especially to look forward to the new album releases. In that way Lee skillfully builds up a lot of suspense. (SPOILER ALERT: John does not get murdered by Mark Chapman!)

Lee gives a voice to one of the very few people in the Beatles environment whose experiences have not been widely disseminated. At the time of his death, Evans was preparing to write a memoir of his experiences with The Beatles, going back to the times of the Cavern Club. A bullet from a police pistol on January 5, 1976 put an end to that idea.

Lee gets into Mal Evans’ head and renders him as a believable character who lived for The Beatles, and who was rudderless when he was no longer needed by them. It is not only the imagined “history” of The Beatles that makes this novel so appealing, but also the story of redemption for one of the least understood and most likable characters in the Beatles story.

The Death & Life of Mal Evans by Peter Lee is available in print or eBook from avonypublishing.com or from Amazon or Kobo. Also check out Peter’s blog of the book.

Beatles Live '72_b

And soon I will revisit and rework my old three-part series of mixes that imagine that The Beatles never broke up. In the meantime, here’s The Beatles’ live double LP. (PW as usual, or look here)

1. Drive My Car
2. Dizzy Miss Lizzie
3. It Don’t Come Easy
4. Lady Madonna
5. Something
6. Maybe I’m Amazed
7. Come Together
8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
9. Blackbird
10. Yesterday
11. Here Comes The Sun
12. Hey Jude
13. Imagine
14. Bangla Desh
15. Wah-Wah
16. I’ve Just Seen A Face
17. Yer Blues
18. Instant Karma (We All Shine On)
19. Octopus’s Garden
20. Let It Be

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More Beatles stuff
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Categories: Beatles, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Help! Recovered

August 6th, 2015 6 comments

Help Recovered front

Today, exactly 50 years ago, The Beatles released their Help! album in Britain . In the US, a different version was issued a week later. It was a great time for music. A month earlier the Beach Boys released their Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) album; Bob Dylan issued his Highway 61 Revisited on August 30, and two weeks later Otis Redding’s Otis Blue came out.

A few years ago I conducted an experiment to discover which Beatles album was the best, song-by-song. That is obviously different to an album’s conceptual, cultural or historical value. By that token, I might instinctively go for Abbey Road, or Sgt Pepper’s, or Revolver, or Rubber Soul. But here I rated each song on an album out of ten and arrived at an average.

Help! won, just ahead of A Hard Day’s Night, followed by Abbey Road. Song for song, Help! is a most satisfying and likeable album. Even the least great songs (You Like Me Too Much, Tell Me What You See, Another Girl) are pretty good. Only Dizzy Miss Lizzy is a regrettable throwback to the first two albums. (Bottom of the table was With The Beatles).

Cover versions of most songs on Help! are relatively scarce. So I’m rather pleased with this lot. Tim Rose’s version of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away especially is quite wonderful, with its organ backing by Gary Wright and the insistent guitar and by rolling drumming by Wright’s fellow Spooky Tooth members Mick Jones and Bryson Graham.

Vanilla Fudge go all Summer-of-Love psychedelic on their version of Ticket To Ride, while The Sunshine Company, also in 1967, slow down Harrison’s jaunty I Need You (The Beatles’ original, incidentally, was released as a single in Italy).

You’re Going To Lose That Girl is represented in a French version by an act of which I’ve found out little. Their name, Les Mersey’s, does little to hide their influence. The Quebec foursome issued their first LP in 1964 and their last, of course, in 1970. It seems they frequently covered The Beatles, but they were no cover band.

Help Recovered back

And before the year is out, there’ll be a Recovered version of Rubber Soul to mark that album’s 50th anniversary. But for today, here’s Help! Recovered, with home-made covers, made the night before. PW in comments.

1. José Feliciano – Help (1966)
2. Herbie Mann – The Night Before (1966)
3. Tim Rose – You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (1972)
4. The Sunshine Company – I Need You (1967)
5. George Martin Orchestra – Another Girl (1965)
6. Les Mersey’s – Je lai perdue cette fille (You’re Going To Lose That Girl) (1966)
7. Vanilla Fudge – Ticket To Ride (1967)
8. Leon Russell – Act Naturally (1971)
9. Bryan Ferry – It’s Only Love (1976)
10. Hugo & Osvaldo Fattoruso – Me gustas demasiado (You Like Me Too Much) (1969)
11. Teenage Fanclub – Tell Me What You See (2001)
12. Johnny Rivers and his L. A. Boogie Band – I’ve Just Seen A Face (1973)
13. The Dillards – Yesterday (1970)
14. Flying Lizards – Dizzy Miss Lizzie (1984)

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More great Beatles stuff:
A Hard Day’s Night – Recovered
Beatles For Sale – Recovered

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Any Bizarre Beatles
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2

More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

The Ringo Starr Collection

July 7th, 2015 10 comments

Ringo

Today, July 7, is Ringo Starr’s 75th birthday, which gives me a good reason to put up an entirely unscheduled collection of non-Beatles tracks starring Ringo.

If you want to really annoy an expert on drumming, repeat the old John Lennon quip that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles, and pronounce it as some sort of fact. Those who know about such things will point out that Ringo was an innovative drummer in the Beatles with perfect timing, pointing to songs such as A Day In The Life, All You Need Is Love, Rain, Ticket To Ride and Here Comes The Sun (the time changes in the latter drive strumming guitarists to madness). If it all sounds ordinary now, it’s because other drummers followed Ringo’s lead.

Even the supposedly better drummer in The Beatles calls Ringo his favourite drummer. George Harrison recalled that Ringo was the final piece in the Beatles jigsaw puzzle — without him the Beatles couldn’t have been The Beatles. So what did John Lennon mean with his assumed put-down of Ringo? Presumably that Paul’s technique was better than Ringo’s. But when he recorded his first proper solo album, Lennon had Ringo backing him on every song.

Great drummers such as Jim Keltner, whose career I chronicled lately over two volumes and who became Lennon’s favoured drummer, point to the influence Ringo had on them. Keltner says that he learned from observing Ringo, whom he describes as his “idol”. This is not an apprentice admiring the elder master; Ringo is only two years older than Jim, whose recording career began around the time The Beatles fitst came yo the US. Max Weinberg, the E-Street Band’s drummer, said in 1984 that Ringo’s “influence in rock drumming was as important and wide spread as Gene Krupa’s had been in jazz”.

Ringo Starr in 1962

Ringo Starr in 1962

Ringo is credited with changing the way drummers hold their sticks. He didn’t invent the matched grip (in which both hands hold the stick the same way, as opposed to the traditional grip, where the left hands holds the stick as you would hold a chopstick), but as the first rock drummer to appear prominently on US television, usually on as raised platform, his preferred method caught on and became the default technique in rock.

What Ringo lacks in technique he makes up in application, perfect timing and innovation, much as in soccer most of the great goalscorers don’t necessarily have the technique of keepy-uppy champions (that analogy, I suppose, makes Gene Krupa Pelé and Hal Blaine Lionel Messi).

As a person, Ringo has had a reputation of being the easy-going, fun guy we knew from The Beatles. Occasionally he has shown a petulant side, but few people seem to have bad things to say about the man. As a driving force behind the anti-apartheid Sun City record, as a co-initiator and musically — drumming with his son Zac on the record — his political heart must be in the right place.

Ringo clearly is also not an egomaniac. Many times he is happy to drum alongside another drummer, often Jim Keltner (who in turn doesn’t really like co-drumming). On this mix, he plays alongside Keltner on the tracks by Manhattan Transfer and Keith Moon (on which Ringo also raps). On B.B. King’s Ghetto Woman, Ringo drums with Jim Gordon, subject of two collections in this series (see Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Also worth noting is Harry Nilsson’s Daydream, on which Ringo’s drumming is supplemented by the work of George Harrison — on cowbells. Harrison also plays alongside Ringo on Leon Russell’s Delta Lady, and wrote the track by Ringo that opens this collection.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a CD-R and includes home-backbeat covers.

1. Ringo Starr – Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond) (1973)
2. Peter Frampton – Alright (1972)
3. Attitudes – Good News (1977)
4. Leon Russell – Delta Lady (1970)
5. B.B. King – Ghetto Woman (1971)
6. John Lennon – Well Well Well (1970)
7. The Band – I Shall Be Released (1978)
8. Carly Simon – More & More (1975)
9. Bobby Hatfield – Oo Wee Baby, I Love You (1972)
10. T. Rex & Elton John – Children Of The Revolution (1972)
11. Keith Moon – Together (1975)
12. Harry Nilsson – Daybreak (1972)
13. George Harrison – When We Was Fab (1987)
14. Paul McCartney – Not Such A Bad Boy (1984)
15. Manhattan Transfer – Zindy Lou (1976)
16. Ian McLagan – Hold On (1979)
17. Tom Petty – Hard To Find A Friend (1993)
18. Guthrie Thomas – Captain Jack (1990)
19. The Alpha Band – Born In Captivity (1977)
20. Artists United Against Apartheid – Sun City (1985)

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Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Louis Johnson Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2

 

Categories: Beatles, Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags: