Real Estate

Real Estate were breezy right from the start but have mellowed further with every record. The Main Thing, is the band’s fifth album, is their most settled yet. Also one of their most enjoyable. This is Real Estate’s second album with Julian Lynch as the group’s other guitarist, alongside frontman Martin Courtney, and everything feels comfortable if thankfully not quite predictable. Keyboardist Matthew Kallman’s presence is increased, with swirling synthesizers intertwining with the rippling guitar leads, and Jackson Pollis is credited not just with drums but drum programming. In that way, there’s an added emphasis on rhythm and groove, with Alex Bleeker’s basslines more fluid than they’ve ever been before. The album opens with “Friday,” a song whose oceanic synths and rolling basslines are closer to Air or Zero 7 than The Grateful Dead or The Feelies, and it’s not the only soft rock touch here. That leads directly into “Paper Cup” which, with sweeping strings, bongos and a fat keyboard lead dueling with the guitars, is just a Michael McDonald backup vocal away from being full-on yacht rock. No Doobie Brothers in earshot, but Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath does provide lovely background vocals.

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The rest of The Main Thing is in more familiar Real Estate territory, and quality remains high. “You” is an instant classic, and the title track is nearly as appealing with a soaring, compact guitar solo that actually leaves you wanting more. Courtney and Lynch stretch out and peel off some jammier leads on “Also A But” and a few other tracks, but for the most part keep things, tight, bright and just a little wistful. As for the album’s title, it was partially inspired by Roxy Music’s song of the same name and more specifically about how doing the thing you love is your true path. Which, in the case of this band, is writing super catchy guitar pop. To that end Real Estate are wildly succeeding.

Released February 28th, 2020

2020, Domino Recording Co Ltd

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor, text that says 'GEORGE HARRISON ALL THINGS MUST PASS'
George Harrison released the 3 LP set “All Things Must Pass” on November. 27th, 1970. “All Things Must Pass” was a triple album recorded and released in 1970. The album was Harrison’s first solo work since the break-up of the Beatles in April of that year, and his third solo album overall. It included the hit singles “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life.” The record introduced Harrison’s signature sound, the slide guitar, and the spiritual themes that would be present throughout his subsequent solo work.
Among the large cast of backing musicians were Eric Clapton and Delaney & Bonnie’s Friends band – three of whom formed Derek and the Dominos with Clapton during the recording – as well as Ringo Starr, Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, John Barham, Badfinger and Pete Drake. The sessions produced a double album’s worth of extra material, most of which remains unissued.
The record was critically and commercially successful on release, with long stays at number 1 on charts around the world. “All Things Must Pass” is “generally rated” as the best of all the former Beatles’ solo albums. George Harrison may have been “the quiet Beatle” but he was still one fourth of what was probably the most important band on the planet, whose contribution to the group, and popular music in general, cannot be underestimated. His use of the 12 string electric on the “A Hard Day’s Night” album, and subsequent movie had such a profound impact on Roger McGuinn, that he soon went out and bought himself a Rickenbacker. Harrison also changed the direction of pop music when he introduced the sitar on 1966’s Rubber Soul, thus creating a sound that would within a few months forever become synonymous with the psychedelic movement.

But it wasn’t until 1970, after the Beatles announced their breakup that Eric Clapton introduced him to Delaney Bramlett, where within a matter of weeks George developed the unique slide technique he is remembered for today, a style which owes itself less to the blues or rock and roll, and more to Harrison’s soul.

No doubt Lennon and McCartney’s domination in the song writing department must have proved to be a great frustration for Harrison, who was often forced to take a back seat. Thus Harrison found himself in the enviable position of having a rich cache of material to draw from, and so he set to work on his first solo album proper (with the exception of Wonderwall Music, which was really a soundtrack anyway), assembling a cast that included Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Dave Mason, Badfinger, and probably whoever else was hanging around the studio at the time.

“Beware of Darkness.” If you’re looking for a little spiritual uplift about now, look no further than this George Harrison heartfelt meditation on the perils of living in the material world. “Beware of Darkness,” irom Harrison’s triple album “All Things Must Pass.” Clearly, George had been filing away songs that never made it to Beatles‘ albums, so “All Things Must Pass,” opened the floodgates for him to explore his more inner-directed concerns with glorious results. The song features Eric Clapton and Dave Mason on guitars, Carl Radle on bass, Bobby Whitlock on piano, Gary Wright on organ, and old trusty, fellow Beatle, Ringo Starr on drums. It represented an extension of Harrison’s spiritual awakening in India in 1968 when he and the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh to meet up again with Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, whom they had met in 1967 in Wales. Harrison had included “Within You, Without You,” on Sgt. Pepper in 1967, and had incorporated the sitar even earlier on “Rubber Soul” in 1965, and “Revolver” in 1966, indicating a slowly shifting focus.

“Beware of Darkness,” possesses a sweetness, beauty and depth of feeling that only could have come from Harrison at that time. “All Things Must Pass,” including this song, are his answer to his fellow Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who for years limited Harrison to one song on most albums. Though a single album brimming with greatness might have been preferable, George felt the need to demonstrate his own writing prowess over three albums, with stellar results.

The resulting triple LP, “All Things Must Pass”, was and remains the finest musical statement made by a solo Beatle. It was also a global hit, thanks mainly to the single “My Sweet Lord”, a spiritual pop-rock paean to Harrison’s recent conversion to the teachings of Hare Krishna. That people went out and bought it in droves is a testament not only to the quality of the tunes contained within its grooves, but also the talent behind it.

“I’d Have You Anytime” gets things off to a low key and leisurely start, where he hear Clapton’s sweet and endearing guitar tones complement Harrison’s pleading and plaintive vocals. A lovely piece overall. Next is the big one, “My Sweet Lord”, perhaps the song Harrison is most identified with post Beatles, which is fair enough. Now whether he ‘subconsciously’ borrowed from the Chiffons 1963 hit “She’s So Fine” is a matter of conjecture. Because at the end of the day, who really gives a shit. It’s a great song, and that’s all that’s matters.

We then get the bigger than Hollywood, Phil Spector produced “Wah-Wah”, dominated by Clapton’s own wah-wah, and Harrison’s gorgeous slide guitar. It’s a monumental track and one where everyone seems to be flying by the seat of their pants. “Isn’t It a Pity” is a philosophical number, and finds Harrison reflecting on all that’s wrong with the world, in that epic “Hey Jude” kind of way, only with a bit more spirituality thrown in. “What Is Life” lifts the listener up then puts him (or her) down again in one glorious swoop. Imagine Bob Dylan meets The Ronettes. And speaking of Dylan, “If Not for You” first appeared on his 1970 album New Morning. But this is my favourite rendition. Hands down.

Now I’m not much of a fan of country, however “Behind that Locked Door” aches with a yearning which speaks to me every time I hear it. “Let It Down” starts off all big and bombast before falling into a relaxing groove. Billy Preston provides some soothing organ, while Harrison laments about his state of mind. “Run of the Mill” is another intellectually searching opus, albeit in less than three minutes. But putting aside the ‘what do our lives mean’ aspect, it’s a great song nonetheless. And one I never seem to tire of.

The second LP, and yes I do own the vinyl version, the best in my opinion, begins in depressing fashion with “Beware of Darkness”, hardly the sort of song you want to play to someone on a first date. Suffice to say I’m quite a fan of it nonetheless. The same goes with “Apple Scruffs”, which is not only a summation of everything Harrison had learned from the Beatles (just listen to the harmonies), but also a great play on words, at least in relation to the Apple label which his previous band had founded, and which wound up costing them huge sums of money in the process.

“Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” is one of the most haunting tunes of the record, but I can’t tell you why. Call it the mystery of music. “Awaiting On You All” is a short uplifting gospel number, although the listener finds himself on the psychiatrist’s couch again with the title track, a song that probably sums up Harrison’s career at that point, and one that forces the him to gaze out on the horizon, and reflect on his own life.

Harrison gets playful on “I Dig Love”, before we get all serious and musical with “The Art of Dying”, a tune which has some superb playing by Clapton and everyone else involved. We hear a reprise of “Isn’t It a Pity”, just in case you didn’t get the message the first time, before ending with a plea to the Almighty on “Hear Me Lord”, which is really a nice song, and I guess an expression of a man who has been though a lot and was at a point where he was truly grappling with some important issues.

The third LP is a bit of hit and miss, depending on your state of mind. “It’s Johnny Birthday” is basically a self indulgent write off, though “Plug Me In” is more like it, an effervescent guitar jam, where the amps must have been running red hot. We get all late night and jammy on “I Remember Jeep”, before some High Octane Chuck Berry kicks in on “Thanks for the Pepperoni”. The only issue I have at this point of the album, is that one either has to be pissed or on some kind of drug to enjoy it.

No matter which way you look at it, All Things Must Pass was a landmark release. Harrison had made it clear that from now on he would be doing things his way and that there could not be any turning back. The man poured his heart into this record, a quality which shines through some forty years later. Harrison might not have been the most perfect human being, but his quest for some kind of universal purity in the world was a noble one at best. And while an individual who was not always at peace with himself, he wanted nothing but peace for the world.

Happy 50th Birthday to “All Things Must Pass”

KATE DAVIS – ” Strange Boy “

Posted: November 27, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Kate Davis: Trophy: Exclusive Signed Vinyl

In collaboration with the Hi, How Are You Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing open conversations around mental health and well-being, Davis will release “Strange Boy”, a unique rendering that is named after the eighth song on Johnston’s original masterpiece. Johnston, who died on September 11th, 2019 at the age of 58, has long been a beacon to those making lo-fi bedroom pop. The crinkled quality he achieved by recording to tape made him a giant of the genre. His music, celebrated for its childlike tenderness and for the way he acutely described his own struggles with bipolar disorder, is part of his enduring legacy.

Having co-written Sharon Van Etten’s 2019 hit ‘Seventeen’, Kate Davis’s background as jazz darling (invited to join the likes of Herbie Hancock, Ben Folds, Alison Krauss and Jeff Goldblum) slowly started to fade. Her debut album is cathartic indie rock in the vein of Beach House, Elliot Smith and TV on the Radio.

Kate Davis picked up a violin at age five, a bass at age thirteen. She entered the Portland Youth Philharmonic before puberty, the Grammy Jazz Ensemble before adolescence. By the time she graduated high school, Kate won the Presidential Scholar in the Arts Award and a full ride to the Manhattan School of Music. By the time she graduated college, ASCAP’s Robert Allen Award and slots at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. As a young adult, the virtuoso claimed enthusiastic endorsements from NPR, MTV, PBS and BBC as well as coveted invitations to the stage from Herbie Hancock, Ben Folds, Alison Krauss, Jeff Goldblum and the like. Most recently, sheco-wrote Sharon Van Etten’s hit single ‘Seventeen’ and contributed to the soundtrack for blockbuster Five Feet Apart. Yet, Kate considers her debut indie rock album her hardest-earned accolade to date. Kate grew up as a jazz darling, but she grew into something significantly more dynamic. Days spent practicing and performing became nights spent writing—cathartic indie rock—music simultaneously informed by and rebutting of her training. Forbidden chord progressions emerged like diary entries, documents of an internal reaction to routine.

As a homage to that original song — which begins with a three-minute recording of a man telling a story about meeting Johnston for the first time — Davis placed recordings of her own friends sharing memories that they have of Johnston as interludes between each of the nine songs on her new album. Most of the voices have been sped up to give the impression of someone fast-forwarding through a cassette tape. It’s a neat touch that adds both color and humour to the work.

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Time intended for technique slipped into secret listening sessions of Beach House, Elliot Smith and TV on the Radio. In the same bright, arresting croon that ignited her youthful stardom, Davis created confessionals. Now 28 and audibly matured, Kate is prepared to properly share the artefacts from her late night craft, a full length reaction to ritual required of perfection, an outburst from the pedestal. Throughout twelve tumultuous tracks, she poetically reflects upon the intricacies of what it is to live, ruminating on topics too close to her heart – identity, self-worth, loss.

I have some great news for you that I’ve been excited to share with you for some time. I am able to re-release The Author on ALL streaming sites for you to finally be able to listen to. I’ve finally got it back! To celebrate this I would love to invite you all to The Author party on 18th Dec. The Author will come out again on 25th December 2020. I wanted this to be a Christmas gift to you all.

Originally from Blackpool, Singer Songwriter Karima Francis burst onto the scene over a decade ago with her acclaimed debut album, “The Author“. Since then Karima has gone on to release a further two albums, perform with the likes of Paul Simon and Amy Winehouse and work with acclaimed producer Flood. Some four years on since her last album, 2016’s Black, Karima has been inspired by a somewhat different coastal city, Los Angeles, where she worked with Tim Carr on a series of recording sessions. This week Karima has shared the latest offering from those sessions, in the shape of new single, “Carelessness Causes Fire”.

Like much of Karima’s latest material, the track seems to deal with the difficulties of pressure and expectation, as she explains, “when the pressure is too much an explosive eruption can happen, which can be dangerous and destructive“. The track seems to take aim at the industry that put so much expectation on her and offered so little support to go with it, “in the smoke of the industry, I’m building a home around all my dreams”. Musically, the track pairs Karima’s distinctive husky vocals, to a lush, wide-screen backing that wouldn’t sound out of place in the back catalogue of Horse Thief or The War On Drugs. This feels like something of a redemption for Karima, a songwriter who has seen both sides of life as a musician, and now is coming out the other side with her best material to date.

Show will be screening via Zoom as always! Link to the event 👉🏼https://bit.ly/3kQJtvJ

It’s been a long time coming and physical release will be available in 2021 also! Released on: 2020-11-24

Karima xx

Songlife 1967-72″ is a 6 LP deluxe boxset containing all 5 of Nirvana‘s pioneering studio albums, alongside the never before released 1972 recording “Secrets”. Limited to 1,000 copies worldwide, the set contains The Story Of Simon Simopath (1967), All Of Us (1968), Dedicated To Markos III (aka Black Flower) (1969), Local Anaesthetic (1971), Songs Of Love And Praise (1972), and Secrets (1972). – 

Nirvana were essentially the duo of Irishman Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek Alex Spyropoulos – who, following a chance meeting in London during the summer of 1966, took a long, strange trip together. Songlife represents the first time the band’s recorded output has ever been collated together on one release and is an engrossing body of work to explore.  These albums sit comfortably with some of the other great works of the time (the Zombies, The Kinks and the Pretty Things included). And whilst Nirvana are most famous for their British psychedelic classic “Rainbow Chaser”, as the music contained here displays, there was so much more to them than just that celebrated single, for they reached far and wide into the musical stratosphere with a technicolour vision.  

Four of the original albums have been remastered from their original ¼ inch tapes and the box itself comes with a 52-page booklet featuring liner notes from renowned author Peter Doggett, interviews with Patrick and Alex from Nirvana, full discography, rare newspaper clippings, previously unseen photos, posters and sleeves, and an exclusive Gered Mankowitz print signed individually by the band. Of key interest to fans will be the ‘Secrets’ album which was only recently unearthed in its entirety, its origins began as a musical score that Nirvana had planned on bringing to London’s Theatres and stages in the early Seventies.

Nirvana’s story remains a wonderful tale of artistic ambition and entwined within it lies a roll call of supporting cast heroes that includes The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Traffic, Chris Blackwell, Salvador Dali, Francoise Hardy, Tony Visconti, and many more.  The enduring beauty of Nirvana is, that over 5 decades since their paths crossed, Patrick and Alex remain good friends to this day with both of them residing in Greece. Says Patrick Campbell-Lyons, “Now, as young elderly men, I can say with pride and joy that our friendship is as strong as it was fifty years ago. We see each other often, here in Athens, and respect each other’s creative space. And once in a while we write and record a new song together. Those moments are special, like our friendship.” 

 Includes • All albums remastered for this release• 52 page 12” x 12” book with extensive liner notes, interviews, discography and ephemera• Stunning never before seen Gered Mankowitz photo session• Individually signed print by Alex Spyropoulos and Patrick Campbell-Lyons  ——–

Golden Ones are a high energy rock n’ roll band with driving guitars, powerful vocals, melodic bass lines and a glam sensibility. Weaving a plethora of influences into their sound, you can hear dashes of classic rock, 70’s glam, 80’s/90’s alternative and a bit of 2000’s emo in their debut album, “Nowhere Fast.” Recommended if you like: Pat Benatar, T-Rex, Palaye Royale, Cherry Glazerr, White Reaper, Meg Meyers, 

Golden Ones aren’t mainstays on those legendary stages yet, but don’t be surprised when they are.

Based out of Tulsa, OK, Golden Ones are a throwback to the days of sweat equity rock and roll. Oozing that 1970’s rock & roll vibe, Golden Ones are made up of three parts: glitter, glam and rock & roll. Think Heart from the days of “Barracuda.” this foursome harkens back to those days so much their even name comes from David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things”

Led by powerhouse vocalist Sarah Frick, the band will unleash their first full length album “Nowhere Fast” on November 27th. Crunchy guitars, infectious melodies and disgustingly delicious slithery grooves, it’s all there. Sliding into the release on the heels of their most recent single “Larger Than Life,” Frick chatted about the tune, the album and where the songs come from. There are too many to list, but I think the main influence for this song is T. Rex,” muses Frick. “We’re big fans of Marc Bolan and I wanted to write something that had a gritty 1970’s glam rock vibe. I really like the imagery in this song, I want the listener to be able to picture themselves in that Camaro, or in that 1970’s bedroom with a KISS poster on the wall, glitter on their fingers and platforms on.”

Recorded at Paradise Studio (Leon Russell’s old lake house studio) in Tia Juana, OK, 

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The Band:

Sarah Frick – vocals / rhythm guitar
Jesse Frick – bass
Sean Fisher – guitar
Jay Sullivan – drums

Released November 27th, 2020

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To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its release, Tame Impala present a deluxe, 4LP reissue of the debut album “InnerSpeaker” Recorded in 2009 in Western Australia, InnerSpeaker was Kevin Parker’s first full length missive and an explosive invitation into what would become his inimitable psych-tinged world.

This past May marked 10 years since the release of Tame Impala’s debut full-length Innerspeaker, and Kevin Parker has now shared plans to celebrate with a new expanded box set. Diehards will get excited at the inclusion of a previously unreleased ‘Wave House Live Jam’ – as in the studio property in WA where InnerSpeaker was made, and that Parker purchased recently.

Innerspeakerwill be reissued as a 4-LP box set in March 2021. The new package collects the original album alongside a newly unearthed side-long jam, instrumentals, song sketches, new “2020 mixes” of songs “Alter Ego” and “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds,” and a deluxe 40-page book.

This expanded deluxe edition of the album features the singles ‘Solitude Is Bliss’, ‘Lucidity’, ‘Expectation’ amongst the original album track list, plus:  collage of album sketches, An unearthed, side-long jam New mixes of tracks off the original album Instrumentals  deluxe 40-page booklet. The expanded deluxe edition of the album, will include new mixes of the tracks ‘Alter Ego’ and ‘Runway, Houses, City, Clouds’ as well as instrumentals, demos, and a previously unreleased side-long recording called ‘Wave House Live Jam’.

Parker also posted an alternative cover of the LP, and how it brought back “emotional” memories for him.

He said at the time: “My first album is 10 years old today. This version of the cover was 1 version out from the final, but i found it the other day for the first time since 2010 and it makes me very emotional to just look at because it reminds me of what I was going through about a week out from finishing and signing off on the whole album, which scared the shit out of me and at the time seemed like an insurmountable task.”

Peering into the telescoped treetops and dreamy skies on the album art for Tame Impala’s debut album Innerspeaker feels like slipping into a vortex of endless light, deviating perception and wonder, all before you’ve even heard a sound.

There’s a brief burst of static on opener ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’, which quickly leads to a coiling guitar and ruminating bass riff. It simulates that jolt of excitement (in a previous generation), when you found the right frequency to your favourite radio station, or clear reception to your favourite television channel.

It was like cracking a code and unlocking a hidden doorway to adventure and discovery. Innerspeaker is Kevin Parker‘s technicolour broadcast of the richness and complexity of his emotional landscapes, a place where words are secondary to the evocative nature of sound. In many cases, words themselves are an adjunct to the texture, rhythm, and solidity of the sounds. At other times, they fail our protagonist outright in his attempts at expressing his young heart’s desires.

InnerSpeaker won the 2010 J Award for Australian Album of the Year – we praised it as a “spiralling, trippy adventure” at the time. And just a few months back, the album came #3 in Double J’s list of the 50 Best Australian Debut Albums. hailed as a “timeless album that still hits like a mind-melting sonic adventure from another era.”

‘Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind?’, with its reverberant, panning guitars evoke intensely bashful pangs of lust. You can’t help but blush listening to it at the risk of being caught eavesdropping on such a tender experience.

But Parker wants to let us in. We’re invited to an existential quandary on ‘Desire Be, Desire Go’ and ‘Alter Ego’. The energetic thrust is insistent, and forwards focused, intent on propelling him out of his statis and self-doubt, contrasted by the drift of his airy and detached voice.

There’s a similar push and pull, of an internal tug of war in ‘Expectation’, and ‘Lucidity’ feels like a euphoric tumble between oscillating states of clarity and a beautiful daze.

If there’s one song that sums up thematically the core of this album and the operational foundations of Kevin Parker, it’s ‘Solitude is Bliss’. With words like ‘there’s a party in my head and no one is invited’, it’s clear he is very much at home in his own company. Yet he understands he is perhaps more a case of society’s exception rather than rule.

Solitude is Bliss’ video shows a distressed and unstable individual going against the flow of society, out of place, out of touch with himself in decaying and derelict surroundings. The impact of solitude and isolation have been on our minds a lot this year yet Innerspeaker reminds us of the fortifying and fulfilling possibilities that await within our inner realms.

From his private universe, Parker has laid out an intriguing internal roadmap. It’s one that we can follow, or maybe veer off on our own adventures of self discovery. Whatever the case may be, its testament that solitude can indeed be a beautifully rewarding and strangely unifying kind of bliss.

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No other songwriter in rock during the 1960s portrayed life in the British Isles as richly and as pointedly as The KinksRay Davies. In songs such as “A Well Respected Man,” “Autumn Almanac,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Dead End Street,” and on albums like Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur, Davies captured vividly the class-driven lifestyles and peculiarities of the English, both present-day and in times gone by. By the time the 1970s kicked in, though, Davies had begun reaching into a deeper well for inspiration. The albums Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970), which took aim at the inequities of the music industry, and the following year’s country music-influenced, nostalgic Muswell Hillbillies, found Davies and the Kinks extending their lyrical and musical range.

The Kinks’ tenth studio album, 1972’s double LP “Everybody’s in Showbiz”, is about to get the Legacy Edition treatment from Sony’s Legacy Recordings. The classic studio/live hybrid album will be reissued along with a full disc’s worth of previously unissued studio outtakes (recorded at London’s Morgan Studios) and concert material (recorded March 2nd-3rd, 1972 during The Kinks’ Carnegie Hall concert stand). or Everybody’s in Show-Biz, released on RCA Records in the summer of 1972, the Kinks went the double-live album route—one studio disc consisting of 10 brand new songs, and a live LP recorded at Carnegie Hall in March of that year. The latter consisted primarily of songs drawn from the recent studio albums, while Davies’ new material—the writing of which coincided with the Kinks’ trend toward more theatricality in their live performances—mixed the autobiographical (a few songs focused on the touring life—and the crappy food consumed along the way) and the observational.

While not quite fully a concept album—not in the way that the following Preservation Act 1, Preservation Act 2 and Soap Opera were, anyway—the studio half of Everybody’s in Show-Biz was the most unified statement the band had made since 1969’s Arthur. It was, as all of their output had been over the past several years, exceptional.

It was also a relative bomb. In the United States, where the Kinks’ popularity had ebbed and flowed—largely due to a legal snafu that kept them from touring in the States between 1966-69—the album only reached #70 in Billboard, 35 points lower than Lola had (but better than Muswell Hillbillies, which stalled at #100). Show-Biz also failed to produce a hit single, whereas the title track of Lola had given them their first U.S. top 10 in five years.

In retrospect, what’s most astounding, perhaps, is how American radio—and, consequentially, record buyers—utterly failed to initially recognize what was easily one of Davies’ finest compositions to date: “Celluloid Heroes.”

Incredibly, the song failed to chart. Today, it’s considered something of a Kinks Klassik—one of those songs that defines the band and is often cited as being among Davies’ finest creations. The ballad finds the singer looking wistfully at the heyday of Hollywood, that era when all it took was a dream, a modicum of talent and a bus ticket to Los Angeles for fame to turn from a dream to reality—or not.

In the opening stanza, Davies sings: “Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star/And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are/There are stars in every city, in every house and on every street/And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, their names are written in concrete.”

The latter reference, to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame, is Davies’ nod to the many who’d come and gone, “Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of/People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame/Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.”

He name-checks several: First there’s Greta Garbo, who “looks so weak and fragile, that’s why she tried to be so hard.” There’s Rudolph Valentino (who “looks up ladies dresses as they sadly pass him by”), Bela Lugosi, Bette Davis, George Sanders and Mickey Rooney. And, of course, “dearest Marilyn,” the most glaring example of the star system’s lures and failures: “She should have been made of iron or steel/But she was only made of flesh and blood.”

Recorded with the piano of recent recruit John Gosling taking a prominent role, “Celluloid Heroes” was tender and melancholy, both tribute and admonition. It’s not the stars themselves that our narrator identifies with; it’s who they play. He doesn’t want so much to be a Hollywood star himself; he wants his own life to disappear into those of the characters on the screen. “Celluloid heroes never feel any pain, and celluloid heroes never really die,” Ray Davies sings. It’s a gem of a song that was almost lost amidst the indifference to an underrated album. Fortunately, its own star rose and hasn’t faded since.

Often seen as a transitional album pointing the way towards producer-songwriter-frontman Ray Davies’ more theatrical style, Everybody’s in Showbiz took its inspiration from Davies’ life on the road.   The album’s songs were originally intended as the soundtrack to The Colossal Shirt, an unrealized film about The Kinks’ touring life.  The LP showcases the band lineup of Ray Davies, guitarist Dave Davies, bassist John Dalton, keyboardist John Gosling and drummer Mick Avory, joined by brass and woodwind players Mike Cotton, John Beecham and Alan Holmes (all of whom played on Muswell Hillbillies, recently reissued by Legacy.)

The Carnegie Hall tracks on the original LP include Kinks originals such as “Lola” and “Brainwashed” as well as an eclectic variety of cover versions including “Mr. Wonderful” (from the 1956 Sammy Davis Jr.-starring Broadway musical of the same name), the 1926 chart-topper “Baby Face” and “The Banana Boat Song” (best known in its rendition by Harry Belafonte).

The 17-track bonus disc of the new Legacy Edition premieres never-before-heard live versions of “Sunny Afternoon,” “Get Back in Line,” “Muswell Hillbilly,” “Complicated Life” and the rarely-played “Long Tall Shorty” as well as the outtake “History,” alternate mixes of “Supersonic Rocket Ship” and “Unreal Reality” and “Sophisticated Lady,” an embryonic rehearsal version of “Money Talks.”

The remastered Legacy Edition includes new liner notes by journalist David Fricke.  It’s due in stores on CD and vinyl from Legacy Recordings on June 3rd; the vinyl 3-LP edition contains the original album and a selection of nine bonus tracks (noted below).  Both versions can be pre-ordered at the links below!

The Kinks, Everybody’s in Showbiz: Legacy Edition (RCA VPS-6065, 1972 – reissued Legacy Recordings, 2016)

CD 1: The Original Album

  1. Here Comes Yet Another Day
  2. Maximum Consumption
  3. Unreal Reality
  4. Hot Potatoes
  5. Sitting In My Hotel
  6. Motorway
  7. You Don’t Know My Name
  8. Supersonic Rocket Ship
  9. Look A Little On The Sunny Side
  10. Celluloid Heroes
  11. Top Of The Pops (Live)
  12. Brainwashed (Live)
  13. Wonderful (Live)
  14. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues (Live)
  15. Holiday (Live)
  16. Muswell Hillbilly (Live)
  17. Alcohol (Live)
  18. Banana Boat Song (Live)
  19. Skin And Bone (Live)
  20. Baby Face (Live)
  21. Lola (Live)

Tracks 1-10 Recorded March-October 1972 at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London
Tracks 11-21 Recorded March 3, 1972 at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York

CD 2: Bonus Tracks

  1. ‘Til The End Of The Day (Live) (previously issued) (*)
  2. You’re Looking Fine (Live) (previously unreleased commercially) (*)
  3. Get Back In Line (Live) (*)
  4. Have A Cuppa Tea (Live) (*)
  5. Sunny Afternoon (Live) (*)
  6. Muswell Hillbilly (Live)
  7. Brainwashed (Live)
  8. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues (Live)
  9. Holiday (Live)
  10. Alcohol (Live)
  11. Complicated Life (Live) (*)
  12. She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina (Live) (previously issued)
  13. Long Tall Shorty (Live) (*)
  14. History (studio outtake) (*)
  15. Supersonic Rocket Ship (alternate mix) (*)
  16. Unreal Reality (alternate mix)
  17. Sophisticated Lady (early rehearsal version of “Money Talks”)

All tracks previously unreleased except where noted
(*) denotes bonus track included on vinyl edition

Tracks 1-13 Recorded March 2-3, 1972 at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York
Tracks 14-17 Recorded at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London

The Super Deluxe 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles, a.k.a. “The White Album”, is a deep behind-the-scenes look at how that 30-song, double-album masterpiece came to be. It’s been a trope since the album’s U.K. release, on November. 22nd 1968, that the White Album—so nicknamed because its cover was all-white, save for a stamped serial number on each LP produced in the early pressings—was the sound of The Beatles dissolving. That’s true to a great extent—many of its tracks are the work of a sole Beatle or partial-group performances.

The Beatles”, also known as “The White Album“, was the ninth studio album by the band, released on 22nd November 1968. It was a double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text other than the band’s name embossed, which was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band’s earlier Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although no singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, the songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” originated from the same recording sessions and were issued on a single in August 1968.

Paul when asked about the 50th anniversary package” of the 1968 double album and responded by saying it’s really good.” He went on to say that “The album itself is very cool and it sounds like you’re in the room; that’s the great thing about doing remasters. But we’ve also got some demos of the songs, so you get things stripped right back to just John’s voice and a guitar. You just think, how fucking good was John?! Amazing. We were just doing it; it was amazing. We were having a good time.”

All The other tracks, and much of what we can now hear on Super Deluxe commemorative edition, display a quartet that still enjoys making music together—and takes the group quite seriously (some songs required dozens of takes in the studio until the band was happy with one). At the same time they were maturing, they were preparing to leave behind the phenomenon that was the Beatles.

The history has been meticulously documented: the arrival of Yoko Ono into John Lennon’s world: the group’s time together at the Indian meditation compound of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where several of the White Album’s songs were written; Ringo Starr’s decision (short-lived) to walk out on the group. It’s all spelled out in vivid detail in the comprehensive, lavishly illustrated hardcover book that houses the CDs that comprise the Super Deluxe Edition.

Housed in its legendary plain white, subtly embossed sleeve,  came out in November 1968. It arrived at a time when both the group and the world had changed irrevocably: the former since their first forays into fame and fortune, the latter scarred by the ongoing war in Vietnam and the assassination of Martin Luther King, to touch upon the tip of the iceberg.

The music on the original White Album is, like all of the Beatles’ output, the product of a very specific time; the new anniversary releases (also available in abbreviated standard and deluxe editions) aim to put it into context. In addition to the music of the original album, newly mixed by producer Giles Martin (the son of original Beatles producer George Martin) and Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround sound, the Super Deluxe includes the 27 so-called “Esher Demos”: early, stripped-down working versions of songs that would appear on the album plus others that would find their way to other projects (including Abbey Road and solo albums). It also includes 50 session recordings of in-progress and outtakes galore. They are, to be sure, a revelation.

The Super Deluxe, like the similar treatment afforded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely hearts Club Band in 2017, is nothing less than fascinating; even fans who have owned the bootleg releases containing much of this music will savoir the enhanced audio and newly discovered tracks that populate the six discs. There are in-studio jams, rehearsals, instrumental backing tracks, drastically different and unfinished lyrics and so much more.

For all of the excitement and revelation generated by the expanded releases though, in the end there remains—to paraphrase from the landmark they released the previous year—the album we’ve known for all these years.

From the inside looking out, maybe everything wasn’t going to be alright, despite John Lennon’s assurances on the rousing “Revolution 1″, just one of many highlights on what is perhaps The Beatles’ most ambitious studio album.

After writing dozens of songs while meditating in India in the spring, the group returned to Abbey Road and Trident, in Soho – to record over 30 tracks of new material up until the summer. During these sessions, arguments broke out among the foursome over creative differences. Another divisive element was the constant presence of John Lennon’s new partner, Yoko Ono, whose attendance at the sessions broke with the Beatles‘ policy regarding wives and girlfriends. After a series of problems, including producer George Martin taking a sudden leave of absence and engineer Geoff Emerick quitting, Ringo Starr left the band briefly in August. The same tensions continued throughout the following year, leading to the eventual break-up of the band in April 1970.

When you think of how unrest had started to simmer within the group’s ranks – Yoko Ono arriving in the studio; Apple forming; Ringo leaving and then returning – and how broad the album’s palette of sounds (blue beat, heavy metal, folk and doo-wop, to name a few), The Beatles still manages to hang together like few other works.

The John Lennon and Paul McCartney stereotypes are at once reinforced, yet also dismissed – few would have thought Good Night was the product of Lennon’s pen, and likewise “Helter Skelter” didn’t immediately scream McCartney. Away from such showpieces, it’s the doodles that delight – George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle” is a fine counterweight to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey” balances the gravitas of “Revolution 1”.

Given that it also contains Lennon, Ono and Harrison’s nine-minute noise collage “Revolution No 9″ and McCartney’s genuinely pointless “Wild Honey Pie”, it’s little wonder that producer George Martin always opined that The Beatles could have made a splendid single album. That said, without such variety on offer, the compiling of one’s own version wouldn’t be the national pastime it is today.

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Side one

Back in the U.S.S.R.

One of many songs on the album written (this one by Paul) during the Beatles stay in Rishikesh, India, to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi, the Beach Boys tribute/parody was recorded without Ringo, who had temporarily left the group due to what he said was criticism of his drumming. The song includes a mention of the Hoagy Carmichael composition “Georgia on My Mind,” included by Paul because the nation of Georgia was part of the Soviet Union at the time. Minutiae: The airplane sound effects are different on the mono and stereo versions.

Paul McCartney wrote “Back in the U.S.S.R.” as a surreal parody of Chuck Berry’s song “Back in the U.S.A.” field recording of a jet aeroplane taking off and landing was used at the start of the track, and intermittently throughout it, while the backing vocals were sung by Lennon and Harrison in the style of the Beach Boys at the request of Mike Love, who had accompanied the group to India. The track became widely bootlegged in the Soviet Union and became an underground hit.

Dear Prudence

Prudence Farrow, sister of actress Mia Farrow, was one of the Westerners meditating in India with the Maharishi the same time the Beatles were there. She was being reclusive, and John wrote the song to try to convince her to “come out and play. “Dear Prudence” was one of the songs recorded at Trident. The style is typical of the acoustic songs written in Rishikesh, using guitar arpeggios. Lennon wrote the track about Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence Farrow, who rarely left her room during the stay in commitment to the meditation.

The song was recorded sans Ringo, who was into his brief departure from the band. Sean Lennon later covered the track, as did Jerry Garcia, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Leslie West, Alanis Morissette and others.

Glass Onion

John refers to five other Beatles tunes in his lyrics: “I Am the Walrus,” “The Fool on the Hill,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Fixing a Hole” and “Lady Madonna.” John later said that his line “The walrus was Paul” was a joke. Glass Onion was also a name suggested by Lennon for a new band originally called the Iveys that signed to the Beatles’ Apple label. They chose Badfinger instead.

“Glass Onion” was the first backing track recorded as a full band since Starr’s brief departure. MacDonald claimed Lennon deliberately wrote the lyrics to mock fans who claimed to find “hidden messages” in songs, and referenced other songs in the Beatles catalogue – “The Walrus was Paul” refers back to “I Am the Walrus” (which itself refers to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”). McCartney, in turn, overdubbed a recorder part after the line “I told you about the Fool on the Hill”, as a deliberate parody of the earlier song.A string section was added to the track in October.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

The title comes from an expression Paul heard spoken by Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor: “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah.” John reportedly hated the song and some fans must agree because it’s been named among the worst songs ever in several music polls. Nonetheless, the song, which took on a Jamaican ska-influenced rhythm after much studio experimentation with the tempo, was released as a single in some countries and topped the charts in Japan, Australia and a few others. That conga player, by the way, later tried to sue the Beatles for royalties—he did not prevail.

Lennon went straight to the piano and smashed the keys with an almighty amount of volume, twice the speed of how they’d done it before, and said “This is it! Come on!”
Recording engineer Richard Lush on the final take of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”.  Written by McCartney as a pastiche of ska music. The track took a surprising amount of time to complete, with McCartney demanding perfectionism that annoyed his colleagues. Jimmy Scott, a friend of McCartney, suggested the title and played bongos on the initial take. He demanded a cut of publishing when the song was released, but the song was credited to “Lennon-McCartney”. After working for three days on the backing track, the work was scrapped and replaced with a new recording. Lennon hated the song, calling it “granny music shit”,while engineer Richard Lush recalled that Starr disliked having to record the same backing track repetitively, and pinpoints this session as a key indication that the Beatles were going to break up McCartney attempted to remake the backing track for a third time, but this was abandoned after a few takes and the second version was used as the final mix. The group, save for McCartney, had lost interest in the track by the end of recording, and refused to release it as a single. British pop group Marmalade recorded a version that became a number one hit. In 2004, an online survey of 1,000 people in the UK by Mars ranked the song as the worst ever.

Wild Honey Pie

The recording lasts less than a minute and feels like something tossed off in the studio, which it basically was: Paul wrote it and is the only performer on the track, contributing all of the vocals and instruments. Most of what you hear in the background is a harpsichord.

McCartney recorded “Wild Honey Pie” on 20th August at the end of the session for “Mother Nature’s Son”. It is typical of the brief snippets of songs he recorded between takes during the album sessions.

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

Another Lennon composition stemming from the Rishikesh visit, this one was inspired by John’s scorn for Richard Cooke III, a wealthy American college student who was present at the Maharishi’s ashram and went out on a tiger-hunting caravan. The little flamenco guitar line heard at the song’s start was actually played on a Mellotron by studio engineer Chris Thomas.

“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” was written by Lennon after an American visitor to Rishikesh left for a few weeks to hunt tigers. It was recorded as an audio vérité exercise, featuring vocal performances from almost everyone who happened to be in the studio at the time. Ono sings one line and co-sings another, while Chris Thomas played the mellotron, including improvisations at the end of the track. The opening flamenco guitar flourish was a recording included in the Mellotron’s standard tape library.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

No big secret that the lead guitar, uncredited on the album, was played by George’s friend Eric Clapton. Harrison wrote the song after returning from India and recorded an acoustic demo. The other Beatles were not all that impressed with it at first, perhaps because the lyrics partially reflect the disharmony that was brewing with the group. Upon the album’s release, and ever since, the track—one of four by Harrison on the White Album—became one of the band’s most popular.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was written by Harrison during a visit he made to his parents’ home in Cheshire. He first recorded the song as a solo performance, on acoustic guitar, on 25th July – a version that remained unreleased until Anthology 3. He was unhappy with the group’s first attempt to record the track, and so invited his friend Eric Clapton to come and play on it. Clapton was unsure about guesting on a Beatles record, but Harrison said the decision was “nothing to do with them. It’s my song.” Clapton’s solo was treated with automatic double tracking to attain the desired effect; he gave Harrison the guitar he used, which Harrison later named “Lucy”.

Happiness is a Warm Gun

“Happiness Is a Warm Gun” evolved out of song fragments that Lennon wrote in Rishikesh. According to MacDonald, this working method was inspired by the Incredible String Band’s song writing. The basic backing track ran to 95 takes, due to the irregular time signatures and variations in style throughout the song. The final version consisted of the best half of two takes edited together. Lennon later described the song as one of his favourites, while the rest of the band found the recording rejuvenating, as it forced them to re-hone their skills as a group playing together to get it right. Apple’s press officer Derek Taylor made an uncredited contribution to the song’s lyrics.

Considering how we lost John, it’s chilling to think that he wrote this song after seeing the title on the cover of a gun magazine. (What might be even more stunning is that the gun magazine was playing off the Peanuts cartoon’s phrase, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”) The track is one of few on the album that features the traditional Beatles configuration of John and George on guitars, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums, without any additional instrumentation or outside help.

Side two

Martha My Dear

It was written by Paul for his Old English Sheepdog, Martha, although some accounts have McCartney’s ex-girlfriend Jane Asher being the real inspiration (the lyric “You have always been my inspiration” was said to be the giveaway). John and Ringo do not appear on the recording.

The entire track is played by him backed with session musicians, and features no other Beatles. Martin composed a brass band arrangement for the track.

I’m So Tired

John missed Yoko Ono terribly while he was in India for the meditation retreat, and wrote this ballad while unable to sleep. The nonsensical mumbling at the beginning of the track is actually John saying, “”Monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?” Some fans, however, misheard it as a masked reference to Paul being dead, fueling a rumor that McCartney had died and been replaced by a look-alike/sound-alike.

“I’m So Tired” was written in India when Lennon was having difficulty sleeping. It was recorded at the same session as “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”.The lyrics make reference to Walter Raleigh, calling him a “stupid git” for introducing tobacco to Europe, while the track ends with Lennon mumbling “Monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?”. This became part of the Paul is Dead conspiracy theory, when fans claimed that when the track was reversed, they could hear “Paul is dead man, miss him miss him”.

Blackbird

Paul wrote and recorded this solo after hearing a blackbird while in India. But he has long said that it actually refers to the Civil Rights movement in America at the time. The recording consists entirely of Paul’s acoustic guitar, double-tracked vocal and foot-tapping, as well as the sound of a blackbird singing. McCartney has performed the song during every tour he’s done since going solo. Among the many cover versions is a beautiful harmony-rich take by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

“Blackbird” features McCartney solo, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. According to Lewisohn, the ticking in the background is a metronome, although Emerick recalls capturing the sound via a microphone placed beside McCartney’s shoes. The birdsong on the track was taken from the Abbey Road sound effects collection, and was recorded on one of the first EMI portable tape recorders.

Piggies

One of the four George Harrison-penned numbers on the album, “Piggies” was meant as social commentary—the word pig, at the time, referred to both a police officer and any “Establishment” type who was deemed to be greedy or ultra-conservative. Many found the song somewhat humorous, but one person who did not was Charles Manson, the California-based cult leader who believed the Beatles were speaking directly to him. Manson interpreted the song’s lyrics as a call for him to start a race war. When his followers committed their notorious murders, they wrote the word pig in their victims’ blood on the walls.

Harrison wrote “Piggies” as an attack on greed and materialism in modern society. His mother and Lennon helped him complete the lyrics. Thomas played harpsichord on the track, while Lennon supplied a tape loop of pigs grunting. The harpsichord was left in one of the studios at EMI after a classical session and Harrison decided to incorporate it into his song.

Rocky Raccoon

Paul’s attempt to write a cowboy song about a near-fatal love triangle began at the Rishikesh ashram. The piano on the recording was played by producer George Martin. Donovan, also present at the ashram, is said to have had some part in writing the song but was not credited.

“Rocky Raccoon” evolved from a jam session with McCartney, Lennon and Donovan in Rishikesh. The song was taped in a single session, and was one of the tracks that Martin felt was “filler” and only put on because the album was a double.

Don’t Pass Me By

This was Ringo’s first solo composition for a Beatles album but it was not new when he cut it with the group in 1968. In fact, “Don’t Pass Me By” dates all the way back to 1962, to shortly after the time he joined the band. The lyrics certainly underwent some changes over the years though, and the bizarre line “I’m sorry that I doubted you, I was so unfair, you were in a car crash and you lost your hair” was later cited as another clue by the conspiracy theorists who spread the “Paul is Dead” rumour, as McCartney had supposedly died in a car crash. Ringo and Paul are the only Beatles on the track—the wild violin solo was contributed by Jack Fallon, a British jazz musician.

“Don’t Pass Me By” was Ringo Starr’s first solo composition for the band,  he had been toying with the idea of writing a self-reflective song for some time, possibly as far back as 1963. It went by the working titles of “Ringo’s Tune” and “This Is Some Friendly”. The basic track consisted of Starr drumming while McCartney played piano.  Martin composed an orchestral introduction to the song but it was rejected as being “too bizarre” and left off the album.

Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?

Less than two minutes long, it was written by Paul after he witnessed two monkeys having sex in the open in India. Other than Paul, Ringo is the only musician on the track. “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” was written by McCartney in India after he saw two monkeys copulating in the street and wondered why humans were too civilised to do the same. He played all the instruments except drums, which were contributed by Starr. The simple lyric was very much in Lennon’s style, and Lennon was annoyed about not being asked to play on it. McCartney suggested it was “tit for tat” as he had not contributed to “Revolution No 9”.

I Will

There is no bass on this tune—Paul (who wrote it) supplies “vocal bass” instead. There is also no George Harrison on this all-acoustic song: Paul plays nearly everything except for some percussion from Ringo and John. Despite its simplicity, the Beatles did 67 takes of the song. During take 19, Paul improvised a bit that’s come to be known as “Can You Take Me Back?,” half a minute of which was later excised and included on the album between “Cry Baby Cry” and “Revolution 9.” (You can hear the full tune now on the Super Deluxe White Album.) “I Will” has been covered by everyone from Diana Ross to Phish to Art Garfunkel.

“I Will” was written and sung by McCartney, with Lennon and Starr accompanying on percussion. In between numerous takes, the three Beatles broke off to busk some other songs. While recordings of Cilla Black’s hit “Step Inside Love” and a joke number, “Los Paranoias”, were released on Anthology 3.

Julia

John is the only person who appears on the song, which was written about his late mother while the Beatles were in India. John employs a finger-picking acoustic guitar style he learned from singer Donovan. The phrase “ocean child” in the lyrics was, however, a nod to Yoko Ono, whose Japanese last name translates to Ocean Child. The opening line is taken directly from the poem “Sand and Foam” by Kahlil Gibran, which reads (in the original version), “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you.”

“Julia” was the last track to be recorded for the album and features Lennon on solo acoustic guitar which he played in a style similar to McCartney’s on “Blackbird”. This is the only Beatles song on which Lennon performs alone and it was a tribute to his mother Julia Lennon, who was killed in 1958 in a road accident while Lennon was only seventeen, and the lyrics deal with the loss of his mother and his relationship with Ono, the “ocean child” referred to in the lyrics. Ono helped with the lyrics, but the song was still credited to Lennon-McCartney as expected.

Side three

Birthday

One of the rare instances of a song truly co-written by Lennon and McCartney (although mostly by Paul) in the latter Beatles years, “Birthday” was composed in Abbey Road Studios.

According to McCartney, the authorship of “Birthday” was “50–50 John and me, made up on the spot and recorded all on the same evening”. He and Lennon were inspired to write the song after seeing the first UK showing of the rock’n’roll film The Girl Can’t Help It on television, and sang the lead vocal in the style of the film’s musical star, Little Richard. After the Beatles had taped the track, Ono and Pattie Harrison added backing vocals.

Yer Blues

Another one from the India stay, it was written solely by John, who also sings the lead vocal. A basic blues progression, given a deliberate hard edge by John, it was recorded by the four Beatles in their original, basic guitar-bass-drums format sans additional instrumentation or personnel. John performed the song on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus concert with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell“Yer Blues” was originally written by Lennon in India. Despite meditating and the tranquil atmosphere, he still felt unhappy, which was reflected in the lyrics. The style was influenced by the British Blues Boom of 1968, which included groups such as Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack. The backing track was recorded in a small room next to the Studio 2 control room at Abbey Road. Unusually for a Beatles recording, the four-track source tape was edited directly, resulting in an abrupt cut-off at 3’17” into the start of another take (which ran into the fade out).

“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and “Sexy Sadie” were both written in reference to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Mother Nature’s Son

Paul is the only Beatle on this acoustic beauty, with a brass arrangement by George Martin. The bongos-like sound was achieved by Paul playing timpani and bass drum at the far end of the studio so that the microphone dulled the sound. Among the cover versions: Harry Nilsson, Sheryl Crow, John Denver and jazz artists Ramsey Lewis and Brad Mehldau (separately).  McCartney wrote “Mother Nature’s Son” in India, and worked on it in isolation from the other members of the band. He performed the track solo alongside a Martin-scored brass arrangement.

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

One of the more raucous songs on the album, John wrote it (as he did so many songs) about Yoko. Some have commented that the song was about heroin, which the couple admitted using, but Lennon denied that. “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” evolved from a jam session, and was originally untitled. The final mix was sped up by mixing the tape running at 43 hertz instead of the usual 50. Harrison claimed the title came from one of the Maharishi’s sayings (with “and my monkey” added later).

Sexy Sadie

John’s song was a thinly veiled critique of the Maharishi, with whom Lennon had become disillusioned. In fact, an original draft of John’s lyrics was filed with all sorts of obscenities directed at the guru. One of the surviving original lines, “What have you done?/You made a fool of everyone,” was inspired by a verse in a song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. “Sexy Sadie” was written as “Maharishi” by Lennon, shortly after he decided to leave Rishikesh. In a 1980 interview, Lennon acknowledged that the Maharishi was the inspiration for the song: “I just called him ‘Sexy Sadie’.

Helter Skelter

Probably the Beatles’ “heaviest” rock song, and often considered an influence on the developing metal genre, the fierce, raw McCartney-written rocker, has, unfortunately, become as closely associated with the Manson murders as with the Beatles—the murderous cult leader somehow interpreted the song to mean that he was to start a race war in the United States. A book on the Manson “family” took the title of the song as its own. McCartney has since re-embraced the song and includes it in his concerts to this day.  “Helter Skelter” was written by McCartney and was initially recorded in July as a blues number. The initial takes were performed by the band live and included long passages during which they jammed on their instruments. Because these takes were too long to practically fit on an LP, the song was shelved until September, when a new, shorter, version was made. By all accounts, the session was chaotic, but nobody dared suggest to any of the Beatles that they were out of control. Harrison reportedly ran around the studio while holding a flaming ashtray above his head, “doing an Arthur Brown” The stereo version of the LP includes almost an extra minute of music compared to the mono, which culminates in Starr infamously shouting “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” . Charles Manson was unaware that helter skelter is the British name for a spiral slide found on a playground or funfair, and assumed the track had something to do with hell. This was one of the key tracks that led Manson to believe the album had coded messages referring to apocalyptic war, and led to his movement of the same name.

Long, Long, Long

This folkish, placid, ethereal tune was penned by George in Rishikesh and, he said, was addressed at God, although it could also be interpreted as being directed toward a missed ex-lover. John sat this one out while Paul provided the Hammond organ as well as the bass, with engineer Chris Thomas playing piano and Ringo, of course, on the drums. It was the final song on side three is Harrison’s “Long, Long, Long”, part of the chord progression for which he took from Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”. MacDonald describes the song as Harrison’s “touching token of exhausted, relieved reconciliation with God” and considered it to be his “finest moment on The Beatles”. The recording session for the basic track was one of the longest the Beatles ever undertook, running from the afternoon of 7th October through the night until 7 am the next day. McCartney played Hammond organ on the track, and an “eerie rattling” effect at the end was created by a note causing a wine bottle on top of the organ’s Leslie speaker to resonate.

Side four

Revolution 1

The Beatles recorded three “Revolution” songs in 1968: “Revolution 9,” the avant-garde sound collage; the un-numbered, hard-rocking “Revolution,” released as a single; and “Revolution 1,” a bluesy, slowed-down, shuffling version. That’s the one that appears on the White Album and, like the single, it found John expressing empathy with the revolutionary fervour of the tense time while simultaneously cautioning against violence. While Nicky Hopkins added piano to the single version, he’s not on the album cut, which instead includes horn players and backing vocals.

“Revolution 1” was the first track recorded for the album, with sessions for the backing track starting on 30th May. The initial takes were recorded with the aim of it being a possible single, but as the session progressed, the arrangement became slower, with more of a laid-back groove. The group ended the chosen take with a six-minute improvisation that had further overdubs added, before being cut to the length heard on the album. The brass arrangement was added later.

Honey Pie

Paul, whose father led a jazz big band, always harboured an appreciation for the British music hall style, and “Honey Pie,” which he wrote, is a direct tribute to the form. At one point the staticky crackle of a 78 RPM record was added to give the song an old-time feel. Although the others weren’t quite as enamoured of the old music as Paul, they each played on the track, as do a team of horn men, including one George Martin on sax and clarinet. “Honey Pie” was written by McCartney as a pastiche of the flapper dance style from the 1920s. The opening section of the track had the sound of an old 78 RPM record overdubbed while Martin arranged a saxophone and clarinet part in the same style. Lennon played the guitar solo on the track, but later said he hated the song, calling it “beyond redemption”.

Savoy Truffle

What might have been a throwaway from anyone else—the soul-flavoured song was written by George and inspired by Eric Clapton’s love of sweets—becomes a compelling tune in the Beatles’ hands. John takes a break from this session, and in addition to Ringo and Paul, plus a six-piece horn section and Chris Thomas on keyboards boosts up the sound. Strangely enough, Ella Fitzgerald once covered the tune. “Savoy Truffle” was named after one of the types of chocolate found in a box of Mackintosh’s Good News, which Clapton enjoyed eating. The track featured a saxophone sextet arranged by Thomas, who also played keyboards. Harrison later said that Derek Taylor helped him finish the lyrics.

Cry Baby Cry

This somewhat haunting number was written by John, with playing input from the other three plus George Martin on the harmonium. On the album, it’s followed by the brief uncredited snippet by Paul, “Can You Take Me Back?,” which actually originated during a jam session that arose out of one of the takes for “I Will.”

Lennon began writing “Cry Baby Cry” in late 1967 and the lyrics were partly derived from a tagline for an old television commercial. George Martin played harmonium on the track.

Revolution 9

The most controversial “song” on the White Album, the experimental “Revolution 9” was John’s creation, influenced heavily by Yoko. Paul and Ringo are nowhere to be found, but George was involved, contributing some guitar, vocals and sound effects. Ono can also be heard on the track. Largely constructed around tape loops and other snippets of sound, the audio collage has been interpreted in many different ways. Lennon said at the time that it was about death, but he discounted that explanation later and said it was just a collection of unrelated sounds. The spoken word snippet at the beginning is Alistair Taylor (late manager Brian Epstein’s personal assistant) saying to George Martin, “I would’ve gotten claret for you but I’ve realized I’ve forgotten all about it, George, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

“Revolution No 9” evolved from the overdubs from the “Revolution 1” coda. Lennon, Harrison and Ono added further tape collages and spoken word extracts, in the style of Karlheinz Stockhausen. The track opens with an extract from a Royal Schools of Music examination tape, and ends with Ono’s infamous comment, “you become naked”. Ono was heavily involved in the production, and advised Lennon on what tape loops to use. McCartney did not contribute to the track, and was reportedly unhappy on it being included, though he had led similar tape experiments such as “Carnival of Light” in January 1967.The track has attracted both interest and disapproval from fans and music critics over the years.

Good Night

Ringo Starr, as the singer, is the only Beatle who appears on the track, which features a full orchestra arranged and conducted by George Martin. John wrote the lush ballad for his son Julian, who was five at the time. The final words on the White Album are, “Good night. Good night, everybody. Everybody, everywhere. Good night.” “Good Night” was a lullaby written by Lennon for his son Julian, and he specifically wanted Starr to sing it. The early takes featured just Lennon on acoustic guitar and Starr singing, Martin scored an orchestral and choral arrangement that replaced the guitar in the final mix, and also played the celesta.

Unreleased material

Some songs that the Beatles were working on individually during this period were revisited for inclusion on the group’s subsequent albums, while others were eventually released on the band members’ solo albums. According to the bootlegged album of the demos made at Kinfauns, the latter of these two categories includes Lennon’s “Look at Me” and “Child of Nature” (eventually reworked as “Jealous Guy”); McCartney’s “Junk”; and Harrison’s “Not Guilty” and “Circles”. In addition, Harrison gave “Sour Milk Sea” to the singer Jackie Lomax, whose recording, produced by Harrison, was released in August 1968 as Lomax’s debut single on Apple Records. Lennon’s “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” would be used for the medley on Abbey Road the following year.

The Lennon-written “What’s the New Mary Jane” was demoed at Kinfauns and recorded formally (by Lennon, Harrison and Ono) during the 1968 album sessions. McCartney taped demos of two compositions at Abbey Road“Etcetera” and “The Long and Winding Road” – the last of which the Beatles recorded in 1969 for their album Let It Be. The Beatles versions of “Not Guilty” and “What’s the New Mary Jane”, and a demo of “Junk”, were ultimately released on Anthology 3.

“Revolution (Take 20)”, a previously uncirculated recording, surfaced in 2009 on a bootleg. This ten-minute take was later edited and overdubbed to create two separate tracks: “Revolution 1” and the avant-garde “Revolution 9”.

Bardo Pond guitarists, brothers John and Michael Gibbons revive their long-term sonic sparring side project Vapour Theories for a genre-shattering new release ‘Celestial Scuzz’.

Six years after a split LP with Loren Connors, and 15 years after ‘Joint Chiefs’ the duo have assembled a brand new Vapour Theories album that sees their symbiotic union travel deeper, shaping and re-shaping itself as the harmonious power struggle unravels…

Michael: “The balance of power definitely shifts. When the record is put together it is equal parts from me and my brother. The collaboration is complete and represents both sides of our taking the lead on material.”

‘Celestial Scuzz’ is a monumental sound piece created from hours of jam sessions and crafted into a cohesive mind-blowing trip. Featuring their take on Brian Eno’s ‘The Big Ship’ (‘Another Green World’, 1975), the album has a heavy ambience like Eno locked in a dark room with Sunn-O))))) rehearsing next door.

“When we play together there’s a kind of connection to vibrations for us. When it happens, we become vehicles for some unknown forces that work through us to create the music. A kind of spiritual. Most of the time it leaves us stunned; the more stunned we are the better the jam.”

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While Bardo Pond’s trajectory takes them deep into rock music’s ever-imploding sound, the brothers Gibbons surf a more ethereal and eclectic plain; from a heady and consuming space, a “sanctuary; balm for the soul.”
Released on limited edition gold vinyl, ‘Celestial Scuzz’ is available on 26th February on Fire Records

Releases February 22nd, 2021