Archive

Archive for the ‘Beatles’ Category

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 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

Categories: Beatles Tags:

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 Tags:

Beatles Reunited – Everest (1971)

October 8th, 2015 12 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

 

 

Categories: Beatles Tags:

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

GET IT!

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

 

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)

GET IT!

 

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 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)

GET IT!

 

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:

Beatles For Sale – Recovered

November 27th, 2014 5 comments

BFS Recovered - front

On 4 December 1964 The Beatles released their second LP of the year, just in time for the Christmas. Sandwiched between the masterpieces A Hard Day’s Night (released just six months earlier) and Help!, and released just a year before the game-changer Rubber Soul,  the album — titled perhaps not unironically Beatles For Sale — looks like the runt of the litter.

The cover image is emblemic. The guys look tired and irritated. It was a busy year. In 1964 they had recorded A Hard Day’s Night, for which Paul and John had written all the songs, filmed the movie of that name, promoted both, and toured extensively in Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, and the USA, where they had broken big with their appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show (which is recalled HERE, with a great jazz mix of Beatles covers).

Beatles For Sale was recorded over seven days between August and October. For the last time on a Beatles LP, it included covers of songs by the band’s rock ‘n’ roll heroes: Chuck Berry (Rock and Roll Music), Buddy Holly (Words Of Love), Carl Perkins (Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby), Little Richard (Hey Hey Hey Hey), Wilbert Harrison (Kansas City, also recorded by Little Richard), and Dr. Feelgood and the Interns (the much-maligned Mr Moonlight).

The covers were obvious fillers, but it would be wrong to dismiss Beatles For Sale on their account. There are several underrated gems among the Lennon/McCartney compositions. The opening trio is as good as almost any on Beatles album: No Reply, I’m A Loser and Baby’s In Black. Eight Days A Week, I’ll Follow the Sun and Every Little Thing are stone-cold Beatles classics. The latter is a rare thing: John singing lead on a McCartney song.

The compilation of cover songs of tracks from the album, presented here in the original order, is great fun. I don’t know if I really like the version of Every Little Thing by Yes, but if I approve of Isaac Hayes totally reworking a sing in psychedelic style, then I should at least express my admiration for this 1969 version, recording of which might have involved the use of drugs.

1. Les Lionceaux – Ne Ris Pas (No Reply) (1965)
2. Eels – I’m A Loser (2003)
3. John Doe – Baby’s In Black (2004)
4. Humble Pie – Rock And Roll Music (1975)
5. The Brothers Four – I’ll Follow The Sun (1966)
6. The Hollies – Mr. Moonlight (1964)
7. Little Richard – Kansas City Hey Hey Hey (1959)
8. Alma Cogan – Eight Days A Week (1965)
9. Jeff Lynne – Words Of Love (2011)
10. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band – Honey Don’t (1990)
11. Yes – Every Little Thing (1969)
12. The Savoys – I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party (1970)
13. The Fantastic Dee Jays – What You’re Doing (1965)
14. Johnny Cash feat. Carl Perkins – Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby (2003)

GET IT

More great Beatles stuff:
A Hard Day’s Night – 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, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

A Hard Day’s Night – Recovered

July 10th, 2014 14 comments

A Hard Day's Night Recovered- front

Today, July 10, it is 50 years since The Beatles released their A Hard Day’s Night LP in the UK (the US version, with a different tracklisting, followed two weeks later). It was a landmark event for pop music, not because the music was especially innovative, but because here a pop group released an album including only own compositions. In 1964, this was very unusual indeed.

And this even more remarkable when one considers just how busy the group was at the time, with all the touring and US television appearances (as documented here), filming the movie and recording even more music that didn’t make it on to the album. In their writing, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were so prolific that they could give away pretty good songs to other artists, such a Peter & Gordon, Cilla Black and Billy J Kramer. The creative pressure showed on the follow-up, Beatles For Sale, which was released later in 1964 and included several covers (and also a few stone-cold Beatles classics).

A Hard Day’s Night was very much Lennon’s work. He wrote the title track, I Should Have Known Better, Tell Me Why, Any Time At All, I’ll Cry Instead, When I Get Home and You Can’t Do That, most of If I Fell and I’ll Be Back, and contributed to McCartney’s I’m Happy Just To Dance With You. But Paul’s three other contributions are probably the strongest: And I Love Her, Things We Said Today and Can’t Buy Me Love.

A Hard Day's Night Recovered- back

A Hard Day’s Night was also the first Beatles album to rely on the Beatles’ unique sound. Where the previous two LPs included several covers of rock & roul and R&B songs, and many songs recalled the various influences from which the group drew, this was the first album on which The Beatles totally owned their sound. Nobody sounded like them.

And yet, this is not down to the compositions themselves, but the arrangements they benefited from. Listen to this set of covers, sequenced in the original chronology of the album, to hear just how flexible these songs are. Some of them sound nothing like a Beatles song. I believe that if a song can be covered well in any genre in ways that do not sound like a cover (never mind a pastiche), then it’s a great song. So Ella Fitzgerald can turn Can’t Buy Me Love into a big band number without it sounding like a novelty number, and John Mayall can turn A Hard Day’s Night into a true blues song, no matter how familiar we are with these Beatles standards.

My favourite here, however, is the Holmes Brothers’ bluesy version of And I Love Her. Vanilla Fudge’s psychedelic rock take on You Can’t Do That from 1968 is a trip, too.

The covers featured in this post are included in higher resolution. PW in comments.

1. John Mayall – A Hard Day’s Night (1975)
2. Beach Boys – I Should Have Known Better (1965)
3. Keely Smith – If I Fell (1965)
4. Anne Murray – I’m Happy Just To Dance With You (1980)
5. The Holmes Brothers – And I Love Her (1997)
6. April Wine – Tell Me Why (1982)
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Can’t Buy Me Love (1964)
8. Nils Lofgren – Anytime At All (1981)
9. Johnny Rivers – I’ll Cry Instead (1965)
10. Bobby Fuller Four – Things We Said Today (1960s)
11. Yellow Matter Custard – When I Get Home (2003)
12. Vanilla Fudge – You Can’t Do That (1968)
13. Elliott Smith – I’ll Be Back (released 2011)

GET IT!

 

More Beatles stuff:
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, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals

February 13th, 2014 10 comments

wordless

Fifty years ago this month, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and thereby changed the trajectory of pop music. The first of their three consecutive weekly performances, on February 9, was seen by an estimated 73 million viewers, setting a new record (read Echoes in the Wind’s fine post on watching that show).

Also on that show were impressionist Frank Gorshin (doing a routine about movie stars as politicians), acrobats Wells & the Four Fays, comedians McCall & Brill, and Broadway star Georgia Brown, joined by the cast of Oliver!, including a pre-Monkees Davy Jones singing “I’d Do Anything”.

Beatles on Sullivan

They all were, it is safe to say, thoroughly overshadowed by the Beatles, who played “All My Loving”, “Till There Was You” (presumably for all the Moms), “She Loves You”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.

The following Sunday’s show, on February 16, was broadcast from Miami Beach and tied to the first heavyweight title bout between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay — another decade-defining event. Only the champion was present. Also in the audience was boxing legend Joe Louis.

Brought to you by Lipton Tea, which was punted poolside by TV announcer George Fenneman, the line-up also included singing actress Mitzi Gaynor (performing a rousing version of “Too Darn Hot” and a medley of blues songs), comedians Marty Allen & Steve Rossi (riffing only mildly amusingly, at least by modern standards, on the theme of boxing), the affable comedian Myron Cohen, Swiss way-pole acrobats The Nerveless Nocks, and unicyclist act The Volantes. Allen, now 91, Rossi, 81, and Gaynor, 82, are still alive.

The Feb. 16 show: Title card from Miami Beach; George Fenneman and random woman punt Lipton Tea; Ed Sullivan and his shadow; The Beatles in full song (note John's wide-apart legs); Beatles fan controls her hysteria; today she probably tells her grandchildren about seeing the Beatles.

The Feb. 16 show: Title card from Miami Beach; George Fenneman and random woman punt Lipton Tea; Ed Sullivan and his shadow; The Beatles in full song (note John’s wide-apart legs); Beatles fan controls her hysteria; today she probably tells her grandchildren about seeing the Beatles. (Right-click and open in new window/tab for larger version of the pics)

 

The Beatles played “She Loves You”, “This Boy”, “All My Loving”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “From Me to You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” (“a song,” according to Paul, “that was recorded by one of our favourite American groups, Sophie Tucker”).

The performance which was broadcast on February 23 was pre-recorded. In fact, it was really the first Beatles performance for Sullivan since it was recorded  before the first show. By then Beatlemania was in full swing in America. The Beatles played “Twist and Shout”, “Please Please Me” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Also on the show were jazz singer Cab Calloway (singing “St James Infirmary” and “Old Man River”), English clarinettist Acker Bilk, English comedy duo Morecambe & Wise, comedians Dave Barry and Morty Gunty, comedy duo Gordon & Sheila MacRae, singer Gloria Bleezarde (no, me neither), and marionettes Pinky & Perky.

The Beatles returned to The Ed Sullivan Show on September 12, 1965. A week later, the show began broadcasting in colour.

On the Feb 16 show: Heavyweight champ Sonny Liston is introduced; comics Steve Rossi & Marty Allen; Mitzi Gaynor and pals; comedian Myron Cohen; Ed Sullivan greets the Fab Four.

On the Feb 16 show: Heavyweight champ Sonny Liston is introduced; comics Steve Rossi & Marty Allen; Mitzi Gaynor and pals; comedian Myron Cohen; Ed Sullivan greets the Fab Four.

 

We’ve been through a lot of Beatles covers in the past (and the links are live again). To mark the 50th anniversary of the pivotal Sullivan shows, here is something a little different: a mix of jazz and soul (and early fusion) instrumental covers.

There might be jazz, but there’s very little jazzy noodling going on. Arif Mardin might go a bit psychedelic during “Glass Onions”, as does Steve Marcus on “Rain”, Mongo Santamaria might go on a trip halfway through his song, and Jim Caravan might take some serious liberties with “A Day In The Life” after a faithful start, but Jonah Jones de-cheeses “Michelle”, and Shirley Scott’s version of “Get Back” has enough energy to light up New York City during one of its famous powercuts. It’s all great stuff.

As always, the whole thing is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-fabbed covers. PW in comments.

1. Steve Cropper – With A Little Help From My Friends (1969)
2. Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes – Get Back (1969)
3. Cal Tjader – Lady Madonna (1969)
4. Jimmy Ponder – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1974)
5. Arif Mardin – Glass Onion (1969)
6. Buddy Rich Big Band – Norwegian Wood (1967)
7. Count Basie – Come Together (1969)
8. Harvey Averne Dozen – The Word (1968)
9. Jimmy Caravan – A Day In the Life (1968)
10. Jonah Jones – Michelle (1968)
11. Booker T. & The MG’s – Eleanor Rigby (1968)
12. Gabor Szabo – In My Life (1969)
13. Wade Marcus – Something (1971)
14. The Mar-Keys – Let It Be (1971)
15. Mongo Santamaria – Day Tripper (1970)
16. Steve Marcus – Rain (1968)
17. Bobby Bryant – Happiness Is A Warm Gun (1969)
18. Freddy McCoy – I Am A Walrus (1968)
19. Ramsey Lewis – Julia (1968)
20. Bud Shank – Yesterday (1966)
21. The Soulful Strings – Within You Without You (1967)
22. Don Randi Trio – Tomorrow Never Knows (1966)

GET IT!

Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70

 

 

 

Categories: Beatles, Mix CD-Rs Tags: