Posts Tagged ‘Paul mcCartney’

Paul McCartney had always been one for a homespun album, whether it be his 1970 debut “McCartney”, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard from 2005, or McCartney III, which he recorded in lockdown (or rockdown, as he called it). Last year, McCartney was the first of his albums to receive a half-speed remaster at Abbey Road, which was pressed up for Record Store Day. The Paul McCartney Half-Speed Remaster series continues with the indie favourite “RAM”, due May 14th to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

Originally released in May 1971, “RAM” served as the follow-up to Paul’s 1970 debut solo album McCartney. The record was also the only McCartney album to be credited to both Paul and his late wife Linda.

RAM saw Paul and Linda taking to the heart of the country and recording most of the album at his Scotland farm following some traditional tracking sessions in New York. This lo-fi approach practically created the “cottagecore” aesthetic routinely explored by today’s most prominent artists. And it’s said that any indie-pop musician who’s recorded an album out of their bedroom owes something to RAMIndeed, with just one listen to “Dear Boy,” “Ram On,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” or “Back Seat of My Car,” it’s easy to draw the line through four-plus decades of indie-pop sounds.

But it wasn’t just Paul and Linda creating the music. The McCartneys also brought on Denny Seiwell, who’d go on to be part of the first incarnation of Wings, along with many other session musicians. As such, the album not only stands as a great piece of music, but also an important transitional piece in McCartney’s recorded history.

The RAM sessions were completed in early 1971, also yielding the standalone single “Another Day”, a worldwide hit that preceded RAM’s May 1971 release.

RAM’s singular sonic palette was unlike its predecessor—or anything else for that matter—and has grown exponentially in stature and influence over the decades. Critically polarizing at the time, the album was instantly beloved by fans, hitting #1 in the UK and giving Paul his first post-Beatles American #1 single, the GRAMMY-winning Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. In recent years the record has continued to solidify its standing as one of the most loved in Paul’s unparalleled output. Fans and critics alike continue to sing its praises: Rolling Stone has hailed the album as a “masterpiece” and “a grand psychedelic ramble full of divine melodies,” Pitchfork has praised it as “a domestic-bliss album, one of the weirdest, earthiest, and most honest ever made,” and Mojo, perhaps most accurately of all, has deemed RAM “quintessentially McCartney.”

RAM has gone on to become one of the most beloved of McCartney’s albums. Upon its release it was panned by critics, though it reached No. 1on the U.K. Albums Chart and yielded his first post-Beatles No. 1 in the States with the whimsical mini-suite “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” Now the album has been deemed “quintessentially McCartney,” a career highlight worthy of reappraisal.

For it’s 50th anniversary edition, “RAM” has been pressed from a new master cut at half-speed sourced from the original master tapes at Abbey Road. The LP is available to pre-order now, and will also be available on indie record stores’ shelves on the May 14th release date. 

Paul and Linda McCartney, RAM 

Paul McCartney / The Lyrics book

Later this year Paul McCartney will release “The Lyrics”a new book described as “a self-portrait in 154 songs”.

The book will contain lyrics to 154 songs from all stages of his career, which will be arranged alphabetically. Each song lyric will be accompanied by annotations which describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now. This text comes from conversations Paul had with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Muldoon over a five-year period.

Presented alongside these words is material from McCartney’s personal archive – drafts, letters, photographs – never seen before, which make this visual record as well as a written one.

“I hope that what I’ve written will show people something about my songs and my life which they haven’t seen before. I’ve tried to say something about how the music happens and what it means to me and I hope what it may mean to others too.” Paul McCartney

The book itself is two hardcover volumes that slide into an outer slipcase. The volumes will not be available separately and each one is 480 pages in length (dimensions are 203 x 254 mm). The outer slipcase features the same photograph, taken by Paul’s brother Mike, that was used as the cover to McCartney’s 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. However, the US edition (published via Liveright Publishing Corporation/WW Norton) appears to have a different, plain green, outer slipcase.

The Lyrics will be published on 2nd November 2021, via Allen Lane in the UK and various other publishers around the world.

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50 years following the release of his self-titled first solo album McCartney, featuring Paul McCartney playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, Macca delivers McCartney III. Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown,” he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II.

At midnight on the day of the release, McCartney released the official music video for the lead track, “Find My Way.” Directed by Roman Coppola, the shoot utilized 46 cameras to capture McCartney on every instrument and from every angle, resulting in an intimate glimpse.

McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. McCartney III spans a vast and intimate range of modes and moods, from soul-searching to wistful, from playful to raucous and all points between — captured with some of the same gear from Paul’s Rude Studio used as far back as 1971 Wings sessions. And Paul’s array of vintage instruments he played on the new album have an even more storied history, including Bill Black of Elvis Presley’s original trio’s double bass alongside Paul’s own iconic Hofner violin bass, and a mellotron from Abbey Road Studios used on Beatles recordings, to name but a few. Just as McCartney’s 1970 release marked Paul’s return to basics in the wake of the biggest band break-up in musical history, and the 1980 avant-garde masterpiece McCartney II rose from the ashes of Wings, McCartney III finds Paul back on his own, turning unexpected circumstances into a personal snapshot of a timeless artist at a unique point in history.

With extra time on his hands due to the pandemic, Sir Paul is rumoured to have recorded as many as 25 tracks. In keeping with McCartney & McCartney II’s photography by Linda McCartney, the principal photos for III were shot by Paul’s daughter Mary McCartney—with additional photography by Paul’s nephew Sonny McCartney as well as photos Paul took on his phone (it’s a family affair). The cover art and typography is by celebrated American artist Ed Ruscha.

From the album’s announcement: Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III  is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc.  atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early 90s, “When Winter Comes” co-produced by George Martin).  Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener “‘Long Tailed Winter Bird”—while “When Winter Comes,”  featuring its 2020 intro, “Winter Bird,” became the new album’s grand finale.

Recorded earlier in 2020 in Sussex, “McCartney III” is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. McCartney III spans a vast and intimate range of modes and moods, from soul searching to wistful, from playful to raucous and all points between. [A Songbook edition containing piano/vocal/guitar arrangements for all songs from McCartney III and accompanying CD is also available, The three releases are true solo efforts in that McCartney performed all the instruments himself (with occasional vocal assistance from his wife, Linda, on the first two).

A follow-up to his 1970 self-titled solo debut and 1980’s McCartney II, the new album features the McCartney playing all the instruments; he wrote and recorded every song.

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”.

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With “McCartney III,” the Ex-Beatle makes a spectacular return to form, produces one of his most compelling albums in decades, and reminds us that at age 78, his musical chops are as exquisite and profound as virtually anyone’s. Ever.

Working at his Sussex studio, Paul McCartney recorded nearly the entirety of “McCartney III” during the pandemic. A one-man band production in the spirit of his eponymous debut solo album in 1970, “McCartney III” arrives more than 40 years after the release of its predecessor, “McCartney II,” in 1980. That summer, the album topped the UK charts and yielded a chart-topping single Stateside in “Coming Up.”

In its own fashion, “McCartney III” functions as the logical extension of its precursors, each acting as lodestones of sorts for signal moments across his long career. As with the first two LPs, McCartney took a carefree, homespun approach to his efforts, allowing his imagination to guide the way. As he remarked in the album’s press notes about his process during its production, “Each day, I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up; it was a lot of fun. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.”

McCartney’s whimsical approach pays dividends from beginning to end, with the songwriter charting the emotional experience of not only surviving, but thriving in his eighth decade on earth. And he has the road miles to prove it. In many ways, McCartney himself is the “Long Tailed Winter Bird” who soars above the opening track, a spirited, largely instrumental number that is highlighted by one of the musician’s niftiest acoustic guitar licks in years.

In short order, McCartney rips off one musical confection after another, including Beatlesque pop ditties such as “Find My Way” and “Seize the Day.” And then there’s “Lavatory Lil,” a composition that, in a very different time and place, might have found a home in the Abbey Road medley nestled alongside “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.”

McCartney absolutely sizzles on such bone-crunching electric numbers as “Slidin'” and “Deep Down,” with hard-driving guitar licks that might find some listeners hearkening back to the “Band on the Run” track “Let Me Roll It.” Even still, his guitar work on “McCartney III” sounds equally fresh and urgent, as he wrestles with the endlessly fecund muse that has served him well since at least the mid-1950s, when he penned his first song as a paean for his mother Mary.

In the LP’s latter stages, McCartney offers up a pair of memorable acoustic tunes in “The Kiss of Venus” and “When Winter Comes.” He reportedly composed “The Kiss of Venus” after reading an astrological book about the balletic movements and synchronicity of the planets. It was “a fascinating book,” the songwriter recalled, about the ways in which our solar system structures itself as a “trippy” lotus shape.

“When Winter Comes” acts as a coda for McCartney III, which, like so many of his previous efforts, features a musical reprise—in this case, the “Winter Bird” exits with a final flourish before giving way to a gentle acoustic guitar. Originally produced by George Martin during the same 1992 “Flaming Pie” session that yielded “Calico Skies,” “When Winter Comes” is a quintessential McCartney number, with a wistful recitation of the natural world and our fleeting existence within its fabric. While “When Winter Comes” would have been at home during virtually any phase of his illustrious career, the song’s inclusion at the tail end of “McCartney III” makes perfect sense: it’s not only one of his most beautiful compositions, which is high praise indeed, but also an insightful realization of the ways in which the uncertainties of life and death are always, in spite of everything, roiling among us.

Capitol Records will release “McCartney III” on digital platforms, CD and LP manufactured by Third Man Pressing on December 11th, 2020,

Cover photo of the 'Family' EP available now to stream.

Announcing McCartney III, to be released December 11th on Capitol Records across digital platforms, on CD, and on LP manufactured by Third Man Pressing. Vinyl configurations will include Third Man Edition of 3000 hand-numbered red vinyl copies sold on the Paul McCartney webstore, a ‘333’ Edition sold only via ThirdManRecords online store and limited to 333 copies on yellow-with-black-dots vinyl composed from a “regrind” of 33 McCartney & McCartney II records. 

2020 marks 50 years since Paul McCartney released his self-titled first solo album. Featuring Paul playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, McCartney’s effortless charms have only grown in stature and influence over time. The chart-topping album would signify not only a creative rebirth for Paul, but also as a template for generations of indie and lo-fi musicians seeking to emulate its warm homespun vibe and timeless tunes including “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Every Night” and “The Lovely Linda”. 

The 1970s saw Paul forming his second band Wings and dominating the charts, stages and airwaves of the world, with multiple #1 singles, sold-out world tours, multi-million-selling albums including Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Wings at the Speed of Sound, London Town and more.  In 1980, 10 years from the release of McCartney, Paul wrapped up the decade of Wings with the surprise release of his second solo album, the electronic-tinged McCartney II. Once again featuring Paul entirely on his own, McCartney II would come to be regarded as a leftfield classic, with classic cuts such as “Coming Up”, “Temporary Secretary” and “Waterfalls”.  

The 1980s saw Paul start again, this time kicking off an unprecedented solo run. The following four decades would see Paul’s iconic and legendary status grow exponentially, with solo masterpieces including Tug of War, Flowers in the Dirt, Pipes of Peace, Flaming Pie, Memory Almost Full and New, and massive live shows the world over — actually setting the World Record for the largest attendance at a concert. In 2018, 54 years since The Beatles first hit #1 on the Billboard Album Charts – Paul’s Egypt Station would be yet another historic #1 McCartney album.

Hard as it is to believe, it’s only been two years since Egypt Station went #1–and it was only last year that Paul’s Freshen Up tour played its last show before Covid hit pause on live music, a legendary blowout at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown,” he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs  would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s  McCartney II.

Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early 90s, When Winter Comes (produced by George Martin). Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener Long Tailed Winter Bird—while When Winter Comes, featuring its new 2020 intro Winter Bird, became the new album’s grand finale.

Speaking about III, Paul said: “I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day. I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track and then when it was done I thought what will I do next? I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had.  Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up, it was a lot of fun.  It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job.  So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.”

Long Tailed Winter Bird and Winter Bird/When Winter Comes bookend McCartney III’s vast and intimate range of modes and moods, from soul searching to wistful, from playful to raucous and all points between — captured with some of the same gear from Paul’s Rude Studio used as far back as 1971 Wings sessions. And Paul’s array of vintage instruments he played on the new album have an even more storied history, including Bill Black of Elvis Presley’s original trio’s double bass alongside Paul’s own iconic Hofner violin bass, and a mellotron from Abbey Road Studios used on Beatles recordings, to name but a few. 

In keeping with McCartney & McCartney II’s photography by Linda McCartney, the principal photos for III were shot by Paul’s daughter Mary McCartney—with additional photography by Paul’s nephew Sonny McCartney as well as photos Paul took on his phone (it’s a family affair).  The cover art and typography is by celebrated American artist Ed Ruscha

McCartney and McCartney II each saw Paul open up a new decade with reinvention, both personal and musical. Just as McCartney’s 1970 release marked Paul’s return to basics in the wake of the biggest band break-up in musical history, and the 1980 avant-garde masterpiece McCartney II rose from the ashes of Wings, McCartney III finds Paul back on his own, turning unexpected circumstances into a personal snapshot of a timeless artist at a unique point in history.

McCartney III will be released December 11th on Capitol Records manufactured by Third Man Pressing. Vinyl configurations will range from standard 180g to a Third Man Edition of 3,333 hand-numbered red vinyl copies, a ‘333’ Edition sold only via Third Man Records online store and limited to 333 copies on yellow-with-black-dots vinyl created using 33 recycled vinyl copies of McCartney and McCartney II, a U.S. indie retail exclusive pressing of 4000 hand-numbered white vinyl LPs, and more.

The-Beatles-Revolver

(It was 50 years ago today! August. 5th in 1966: The Beatles ‘Revolver’ album was released in the UK (August. 8th in the US); it was the band’s 7th studio release featured the likes of “Taxman”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Here, There & Everywhere”, “She Said She Said”, “And Your Bird Can Sing” & “Tomorrow Never Knows”; it reached #1 on both the UK (seven weeks) & US (six weeks) charts; in a 1967 article for ‘Esquire’, music journalist Robert Christgau called the album “twice as good & four times as startling as ‘Rubber Soul’, with sound effects, Oriental drones, jazz bands, transcendentalist lyrics, all kinds of rhythmic & harmonic surprises, & a filter that made John Lennon sound like God singing through a foghorn”; Rolling Stone ranked it #3 on their list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’…

“Revolver” is the seventh studio album by the English rock band The Beatles, released on the Parlophone label and produced by George Martin. Many of the tracks on Revolver are marked by an electric guitar-rock sound, in contrast with their previous LP, the folk rock inspired Rubber Soul (1965). In Britain, the fourteen tracks from Revolver were released to radio stations throughout July 1966, “building anticipation for what would clearly be a radical new phase in the group’s recording career”. The album was remastered 9th September 2009 for the first time since its 1987 digital compact disc release. the album is often regarded as one of the greatest achievements in music history and one of The Beatles’ greatest studio achievements.

We’d had acid on Revolver. Everyone is under this illusion… even George Martin saying ‘Pepper was their acid album,’ but we’d had acid, including Paul, by the time Revolver was finished. … Rubber Soul was our pot album, and Revolver was acid.  John Lennon, Sept 1971, St. Regis Hotel, NYC

Unlike our previous LPs, this one is intended to show our versatility rather than a haphazard collection of songs. We use trumpets, violins and cellos to achieve new effects. George has written three of the tracks. On past LPs he never did more than two and Ringo sings, or rather talks, a children’s song. This is all part of our idea of being up-to-date and including something for everybody. We don’t intend to go back and revive ideas of twenty years ago. Paul McCartney, 1966

The Beatles had initiated a second pop revolution – one which while galvanising their existing rivals and inspiring many new ones, left all of them far behind.
~Ian MacDonald (Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties) ….. Either way, its daring sonic adventures and consistently stunning songcraft set the standard for what pop/rock could achieve. Even after Sgt. Pepper, Revolver stands as the ultimate modern pop album and it’s still as emulated as it was upon its original release.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

Recorded on 6th April – 21st June 1966, at EMI Studios, London

All the rules fell by the wayside with Revolver, as the Beatles began exploring new sonic territory, lyrical subjects, and styles of composition. It wasn’t just Lennon and McCartney, either — Harrison staked out his own dark territory with the tightly wound, cynical rocker “Taxman”; the jaunty yet dissonant “I Want to Tell You”; and “Love You To,” George’s first and best foray into Indian music. Such explorations were bold, yet they were eclipsed by Lennon’s trippy kaleidoscopes of sound. His most straightforward number was “Doctor Robert,” an ode to his dealer, and things just got stranger from there as he buried “And Your Bird Can Sing” in a maze of multi-tracked guitars, gave Ringo a charmingly hallucinogenic slice of childhood whimsy in “Yellow Submarine,” and then capped it off with a triptych of bad trips: the spiraling “She Said She Said”; the crawling, druggy “I’m Only Sleeping”; and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” a pure nightmare where John sang portions of the Tibetan Book of the Dead into a suspended microphone over Ringo’s thundering, menacing drumbeats and layers of overdubbed, phased guitars and tape loops…

It may seem like an odd introduction to one of the Beatles’ more important and experimental albums. Written as a children’s song, “Yellow Submarine” made an impression at the time, but my fondness for Revolver only grew as I did and learned about what it really meant, about the impact it had for the band and for music. Now that I’m a music writer and proudly own their albums—on vinyl, Revolver offers an entirely different listening experience. Hearing it now, “Yellow Submarine” doesn’t quite fit, and yet it somehow does. Revolver is an amalgamation of different styles and genres, and the Beatles excelled at all of them.

The band was heavily involved with drugs at the time—the most mild being marijuana with Lennon becoming more interested in LSD—and questioning their musical identities among other more existential inquisitions. Pair that metaphysical exploration with three months in the studio after they retired from touring and the result is an album that defies the limits often ascribed to music genres.

If one thing in particular defines Revolver, it’s the fact that it evades the Western notion of meaning; of a definitive beginning, middle and end. “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the first song the Beatles recorded for the album and the final track on it, served not as the period to a complete sentence but as a pathway back to the start again. As Ian MacDonald noted in his book Revolution in the Head, part of the song’s instrumental break contains Paul McCartney’s guitar solo (chopped up and played backwards) from “Taxman,” the album’s opening track.  However minutely, the album’s last song references its first, and in doing so presents something closer to a cyclical chant that’s meant to go on and on and on.

Even Revolver’s title referred to a continual loop, but with a keener self-referential touch. McCartney observed that albums “revolved,” so Revolver became an album about albums—about making them and defying what that typically entailed. The now oft-quoted lyric from “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream,” which John Lennon pulled from Timothy Leary’s LSD drug manual The Psychedelic Experience (which itself is an adaptation of The Book of the Dead), presents a challenge to listeners used to albums being a certain way. Are you willing to let go of any preconceptions you have of pop music? Are you willing to do away with any clear categorized notion of “the Beatles?”

How influential was “Tomorrow Never Knows” exactly? It’s always celebrated by rock and pop magazines, but even dance music magazine Muzik ranked it as one of the most influential records of all time, saying “Every idea ever used in dance music exists in this song. ” Again, this is on the same album with “Yellow Submarine,” the string octet of “Eleanor Rigby” and the garage rock of “Taxman.”

By the time of Revolver, Paul McCartney had developed an interest in more classical sounds, which arise in the French horn on “For No One” and the orchestration in “Eleanor Rigby.” But George Harrison went in a different direction. He preferred sounds that lay farther East. “Love You To” integrates Hidustani classical instrumentation and juxtaposes McCartney’s sound at the time as well as the other two songs Harrison contributed to Revolver, “Taxman” and “I Want to Tell You.” Harrison said in 1980, “’Norwegian Wood’ was an accident as far as the sitar part was concerned, but [‘Love You To’] was the first song where I consciously tried to use the sitar and tabla on the basic track.”

That the world’s most popular pop band could explore such varying and digressive ideas in one album signalled the possibilities involved in letting loose rather than keeping an album to one strict idea, be it thematic or melodic. Songs like “Doctor Robert” and “Got to Get You Into My Life” seemed like the natural progression from Rubber Soul, but paired next to such strange and singular songs as “I’m Only Sleeping” and even “Yellow Submarine,” Revolver showed what the Beatles could really do when someone loosened the reigns a little. “We were really starting to find ourselves in the studio,” Starr said of their recording sessions, according to biographer Bob Spitz.

Even though McCartney’s “For No One” feels closer to the typical pop structure the Beatles had followed up to Revolver, it too is an exercise in meditation a la “Tomorrow Never Knows.” At two minutes, it’s the briefest of thoughts with a French horn serving as the harmony John and George would’ve normally provided. Their absence allows McCartney to weave his narrative, but he isn’t concerned with an ending. “And in her eyes, you see nothing/ No sign of love behind the tears, cried for no one/ A love that should have lasted years,” he sings before the horn ends the song. It would make more sense to include an ellipses at the end of his last line, because the fade away is so sudden. There is no grand finale, no punctuative moment that marks its finish. The song merely ends before a silent beat stars the next track and listeners are on to “Doctor Robert.”

For Beatles fans across the globe, “What’s your favourite album?” serves as the ultimate litmus test. No matter the answer, Revolver can’t be ignored, even if, like me, your appreciation for it started off far differently than  it did for a Beatles fan in 1966. It changed the game quite literally for the Beatles and for pop music, and continues to resonate to this day, gaining new fans every year, myself included.

Perhaps if my second grade teacher had played “Taxman” or “Tomorrow Never Knows” (the latter probably would have gotten her in trouble), I wouldn’t have been drawn in at such an early age. And maybe that’s the genius of “Yellow Submarine”: it was an invitation to children, then and now, to enter a world that they would love for the rest of their lives.

Voormann’s history with the Beatles dates to Hamburg, and later living with George Harrison and Ringo Starr in the band’s flat after Lennon and McCartney moved out to be with their ladies.. Voormann who divided his time between graphic arts and playing bass, provided Manfred Mann with a bottom in in the late ’60s, worked as a session musician for Lou Reed, James Taylor and others, and on the Beatles’ Lennon, Harrison and Starr’s solo work. As a graphic artist, he designed a host of album covers for a variety of artists and was enlisted by Lennon to create the cover for the Beatles’ 1966 classic “Revolver.” This is one of the many variations before the final version evolved. His black and white collage style was the perfect complement to the Beatles‘ zany style at the time. Voormann left a lasting mark on the graphic arts and is still busy as he approaches 82. Most people who know his work will forever associate him with his classic “Revolver,” album design.

In the long spectrum of the Beatles’ work, Revolver serves as the dividing line. It marked the boundary between the light-hearted fare that helped the band rise to worldwide fame, and the more serious song writing and experimentation that would define the latter half of their career. Released on August 5th, 1966 in the UK (with the U.S. release following three days later), Revolver signified a meditative moment that would not only change the face of pop music, but continues to impact listeners as powerfully as it did upon its arrival 50 years ago.

The Beatles
John Lennon – lead, acoustic and rhythm guitars, lead, harmony and backing vocals, piano, Hammond organ and harmonium, tape loops and sound effects, cowbell, tambourine, maracas, handclaps, finger snaps
Paul McCartney – lead, acoustic and bass guitars, lead, harmony and backing vocals, piano, clavichord, tape loops, sound effects, handclaps, finger snaps
George Harrison – lead, acoustic and rhythm guitars, bass, lead, harmony and backing vocals, sitar, tamboura, sound effects, maracas, tambourine, handclaps, finger snaps
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, handclaps, finger snaps, lead vocals on “Yellow Submarine”

The-Beatles-Revolver back

Track Listing:

Side one
1. “Taxman” (Harrison)
2. “Eleanor Rigby”
3. “I’m Only Sleeping”
4. “Love You To” (Harrison)
5. “Here, There and Everywhere”
6. “Yellow Submarine”
7. “She Said She Said”

Side two
1. “Good Day Sunshine”
2. “And Your Bird Can Sing”
3. “For No One”
4. “Doctor Robert”
5. “I Want to Tell You” (Harrison)
6. “Got to Get You into My Life”
7. “Tomorrow Never Knows”

McCartney on stage playing guitar and singing.

5-episode Documentary series about the fascinating musical career of Paul McCartney. Episode 1 focuses on 1970-1975. this is a most outstanding documentary, probably the best I have seen on McCartney done with flair, care, expertise and with such a touch of magic that by making it so very special it easily transcends the usual formulaic dirge we’ve been given over the years about The Beatles and their solo careers. I sincerely hope that MPL gets wind of this and realises what a genius they could add to their stable or at least get involved with future McCartney projects. This also will mean such a great deal to the true fans who transcended from The Beatles to the Solo Beatles including myself. Ironic that as Paul was slipping into depression in the autumn of 69 while we were all bathing in the wonderment of Abbey Road…. Without question though imo 70/71 was Pauls finest, the quartet of McCartney/Ram/ Wild Life still retain such a magical aura all of their own.

I loved BOTR & Venus & Mars, but it’s always those first 3 albums I return to again and again. For anyone’s interest Little Lamb Dragonfly on the Red Rose Speedway album was actually recorded in the Ram sessions, and when you learn that fact you realise that it really does belong on Ram. The essential inclusion (and often overlooked) thoughts, feelings and observations of Denny Seiwell , Denny Laine & Henry McCulloch are so vital to the first Wings lineup and very moving too. Their own words reflect how much respect they had for Paul, and really it shows how sadly too they were let down financially leaving Denny Seiwell  and Henry no alternative but to leave. Had Paul perhaps paid the same attention to their payments of salaries that he did to his music they would have never walked out. Linda sadly got a lot of stick at the time but her vocal harmonies (with Denny too) were pure magic and a musical legacy her to be rightly proud of.

As the Beatles were breaking up in 1969–70, McCartney fell into a depression. His wife helped him pull out of that condition by praising his work as a songwriter and convincing him to continue writing and recording. In her honour, he wrote “Maybe I’m Amazed”, explaining that with the Beatles breaking up, “that was my feeling: Maybe I’m amazed at what’s going on … Maybe I’m a man and maybe you’re the only woman who could ever help me; Baby won’t you help me understand … Maybe I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time, hung me on the line, Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.” He added that “every love song I write is for Linda.”

One of my favourite elements about this series is how much input there is from people who actually got the chance to work and collaborate with McCartney. Having that kind of “outside” perspective is especially useful when one’s main subject is not very much given to self-examination. And it’s amazing to see how much love and respect Paul creates around him, more clearly observed in the people whose feelings didn’t get distorted by hurt, envy, and bitterness.

5-episode Documentary series on Paul McCartney’s fascinating music career. Episode 2 spans 1975-1980,

Following the addition of guitarist Henry McCullough, Wings’ first concert tour began in 1972 with a debut performance in front of an audience of seven hundred at the University of Nottingham. Ten more gigs followed as they travelled across the UK in a van during an unannounced tour of universities, during which the band stayed in modest accommodation and received pay in coinage collected from students, while avoiding Beatles songs during their performances. McCartney later said, “The main thing I didn’t want was to come on stage, faced with the whole torment of five rows of press people with little pads, all looking at me and saying, ‘Oh well, he is not as good as he was.’ So we decided to go out on that university tour which made me less nervous … by the end of that tour I felt ready for something else, so we went into Europe.” During the seven-week, 25-show Wings Over Europe Tour, the band played almost solely Wings and McCartney solo material: the Little Richard cover “Long Tall Sally” was the only song that had previously been recorded by the Beatles. McCartney wanted the tour to avoid large venues; most of the small halls they played had capacities of fewer than 3,000 people. Wings followed Band on the Run with the chart-topping albums Venus and Mars (1975) and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976). In 1980, McCartney released his second solo LP, the self-produced McCartney II, which peaked at number one in the UK and number three in the US. As with his first album, he composed and performed it alone. The album contained the song “Coming Up”, the live version of which, recorded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1979 by Wings, became the group’s last number-one hit. By 1981, McCartney felt he had accomplished all he could creatively with Wings and decided he needed a change. The group discontinued in April 1981 after Laine quit following disagreements over royalties and salaries.

5-episode Documentary series about the fascinating musical career of Paul McCartney. Episode 3 focuses on the 1980s. McCartney participated in Live Aid, performing “Let it Be”,

In September 1989, they launched the Paul McCartney World Tour, his first in over a decade. During the tour, McCartney performed for the largest paying stadium audience in history on 21st April 1990, when 184,000 people attended his concert at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.That year, he released the triple album Tripping the Live Fantastic, which contained selected performances from the tour.

5-episode Documentary series about the fascinating musical career of Paul McCartney. Episode 4 focuses on the 1990s.

In 1991, McCartney performed a selection of acoustic-only songs on MTV Unplugged and released a live album of the performance titled Unplugged (The Official Bootleg). During the 1990s, McCartney collaborated twice with Youth of Killing Joke as the musical duo “the Fireman”. The two released their first electronica album together, Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, in 1993. McCartney released the rock album Off the Ground in 1993. The subsequent New World Tour followed, which led to the release of the Paul Is Live album later that year

5-episode Documentary series on Paul McCartney’s fascinating music career. Episode 5 is a “double album” covering some of Paul’s greatest works spanning a total of two decades: Part 1 focuses on 2000-2010, Part 2 covers 2010-2020.

In 1997, McCartney released the rock album Flaming Pie. Ringo Starr appeared on drums and backing vocals in “Beautiful Night”. Later that year, he released the classical work Standing Stone, which topped the UK and US classical charts.[155] In 1998, he released Rushes, the second electronica album by the Fireman. In 1999, McCartney released Run Devil Run. Recorded in one week, and featuring Ian Paice and David Gilmour, it was primarily an album of covers with three McCartney originals. He had been planning such an album for years, having been previously encouraged to do so by Linda, who had died of cancer in April 1998.

McCartney did an unannounced performance at the benefit tribute, “Concert for Linda,” his wife of 29 years who died a year earlier. It was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 10th April 1999, and was organised by two of her close friends, Chrissie Hynde and Carla Lane.

McCartney’s enduring fame has made him a popular choice to open new venues. In 2009, he played to three sold-out concerts at the newly built Citi Field, a venue constructed to replace Shea Stadium in Queens, New York. These performances yielded the double live album Good Evening New York City later that year. McCartney remains one of the world’s top draws.

In case you weren’t aware already, here’s a friendly reminder that The Beatles‘ legendary Melbourne concert from the ’60s will be on TV across Australia tonight.

Starting at 9.30pm on Nine, One Night Only – The Beatles In Oz “is a stunning broadcast of the concert, completely remastered, that also includes never-before-seen footage of the Beatles’ tumultuous and only visit to Australia“.

Channel Nine was given access to film The Beatles‘ final sold out Melbourne concert in 1964 which took place at Festival Hall. “When they touched down here in 1964 on their first world tour Australia went into hysterical Beatlemania,” a statement from Nine reads.

“They captivated the nation for 13 amazing and unforgettable days. Wherever they went, tens of thousands of screaming fans lined the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of John, Paul and George, as well as Jimmie Nicol, the drummer filling in for Ringo, who missed some dates of the tour due to illness.” Beatlemania was at fever pitch in the summer of 1964 as the band prepared for its first tour to Denmark, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. But on June 3rd, the day before the Beatles were to leave, Ringo Starr collapsed at a photo shoot and was hospitalized with tonsillitis.

With hotels and concert halls booked and thousands of tickets sold, manager Brian Epstein understood that cancelling the tour would have been a financial disaster. A scramble began to find a replacement for Starr.

Epstein had to convince the other three Beatles to accept a substitute drummer. And where would he find a musician competent enough to back the biggest group in the world – and fit into Starr’s stage clothes? John Lennon and Paul McCartney accepted that hiring a replacement was necessary but George Harrison balked at the idea. Enter Jimmie Nicol, a 24-year-old London drummer whose studio work had impressed Epstein. McCartney also knew Nicol; the Beatle had recently caught a performance by Nicol with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.

After a six-song audition, Nicol was hired, given a Beatle haircut and told to pack for the flight to Denmark the next day. In the hospital, Starr recalled that he’d replaced Pete Best as the Beatles’ drummer two years earlier. “It was very strange, them going off without me,” Starr said in Anthology. “They’d taken Jimmie Nicol and I thought they didn’t love me any more – all that stuff went through my head.”

Jimmie Nicol became a Beatle for 13 days, participating in press conferences and enjoying the adulation of fans. Nicol played eight concerts and taped a TV show as the Beatles’ drummer. Ringo Starr was released from the hospital and rejoined the Beatles in Melbourne, where he performed on June 14th. The next day, Jimmie Nicol did his final television interview as a Beatle and went to the airport for the lonely trip home. Before he left, Epstein presented Nicol with a gold watch inscribed, “From the Beatles and Brian Epstein to Jimmie – with appreciation and gratitude.”.

It was over 50 years ago that The Beatles made their one and only tour of Australia. The Beatles touched down in Sydney on June 11, 1964 and for an amazing 13 days they captivated the nation. Hundreds of thousands lined the streets everywhere, Beatlemania was more intense here than anywhere else in the world. It was a time of massive musical and cultural change and a time for teenagers to challenge and defy authority. Over 300,000 people turned out in Adelaide – it was the biggest crowd anywhere in the world, anytime! The Beatles performed 20 shows across Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane leaving in their wake a trail of euphoric, captivated youth. Australia was never the same following The Beatles 1964 tour. This montage captures the highlights of their tour and the euphoria that followed.

Paul McCartney / Flaming Pie 5CD+2DVD deluxe edition / Archive Collection reissue

Paul McCartney is set to give his 1997’s album “Flaming Pie” the full-scale reissue treatment. Arriving on July 31st, the Deluxe Edition consists of seven discs. Five CDs contain the remastered original album, demos, home recordings, studio outtakes, B-sides, highlights from 1995’s Oobu Joobu radio series and an audio tour of his home. Two DVDs consist of the In the World Tonight documentary, music videos, an interview by David Frost and several electronic press kits.

The box also includes a 128-page book featuring previously unpublished photos by Linda McCartney, other artwork, an essay by Chris Heath, new interviews with the people involved in the making of the album, track-by-track information, recipes, handwritten lyrics and more.

A Collector’s Edition, limited to 3,000 copies, adds four vinyl discs – the original double LP plus one record of home recordings on a hand-stamped vinyl sleeve and another featuring “The Ballad of Skeletons,” McCartney’s collaboration with Allen Ginsberg. There’s also a portfolio featuring six silk-screened prints by Linda. It’s all housed in a cloth-wrapped, two-piece box.

This is the 13th release in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, personally supervised by McCartney and remastered at Abbey Road Studios. Originally released in 1997, the critically acclaimed and universally beloved solo album was produced by Paul, Jeff Lynne, and George Martin, featuring a supporting cast of family and friends including Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Linda McCartney, and son James. [Expanded double-CD edition features 21 bonus tracks. The triple 180gm vinyl LP edition features the remastered album cut at half-speed, packaged in a gatefold sleeve with exclusive artwork & booklet, plus one LP of unreleased home recordings in hand-stamped white label sleeve, “No, not another souvenir,” Paul pleads in the outro to the tenth track of Flaming Pie.  In the case of its deluxe box set edition, however, he might want to rethink that stance.  Each successive box in McCartney’s long-running Archive Collection seems more luxurious than the last, and this truly – even overwhelmingly – lavish collection is no exception.

The album is also being re-released with 21 extra tracks on two CDs, as a double-LP and as a three-LP set with the home-recordings disc found in the Collector’s Edition. You can get full info on all formats and pre-order at McCartney’s online shop. All pre-orders come with a re-creation of the “Young Boy” maxi-single, which contains the home-recorded version of the song “Looking for You” and excerpts of “Oobu Joobu Part 1.”

For Flaming Pie, McCartney brought in Jeff Lynne, with whom he had recently worked on the Beatles’ Anthology project, and George Martin to co-produce the record with him. It would up being his highest-charting LP since 1982’s Tug of War, debuting at No. 2. All digital pre-orders for the Archive Collection release of Flaming Pie will include YOUNG BOY. Also available as a stand-alone for digital download & streaming, the EP recreates the 1997 “Young Boy” maxi single and features the remastered Flaming Pie single “Young Boy,” a home-recorded version of the song, the original B-side “Looking For You,” and excerpts of “Oobu Joobu Part 1,” also from the original single. The two music videos for the track have been restored and will also be published on the same day.

Two additional EPs will be available with “The World Tonight” arriving on June 26th and “Beautiful Night” on July 17th. Paul remarking at the time“(The Beatles Anthology) reminded me of The Beatles’ standards and the standards that we reached with the songs. So in a way it was a refresher course that set the framework for this album.” Produced by Paul, Jeff Lynne and George Martin and featuring a supporting cast of family and friends including Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Linda McCartney and son James, Flaming Pie is equal parts a masterclass in songcraft and a sustained burst of joyful spontaneity. With highlights ranging from the uplifting and inspirational opener “The Song We Were Singing” to the raucous title track (named for a quote from an early John Lennon interview on the origin of The Beatles’ name: “It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, ‘from this day on you are Beatles with an A.’” to the pensive “Calico Skies,” and featuring singles “Young Boy,” “The World Tonight” and “Beautiful Night,” Flaming Pie would represent yet another pinnacle in Paul’s solo catalogue: Released to rapturous reviews, the album would be Paul’s most commercially successful release of the ‘90s, achieving his highest chart positions since the ‘80s and would receive gold certifications in the US, UK, Japan and more.

Paul will reissue ‘Flaming Pie’ on 31st July 2020 as the thirteenth installment of his GRAMMY Award-winning Archive Collection.

Originally released May 5th, 1997, Flaming Pie ended a four-year gap between McCartney studio albums. Recorded largely in the wake of Paul’s involvement in the curation and release of The Beatles Anthology series, Flaming Pie was shaped and inspired by that experience. The album would become Paul’s most commercially successful release of the ‘90s.

At no time in his career has Macca truly run from his past; how could he, even if he wished to do so?  But on Flaming Pie, he took hold of that past – and all of its attendant ghosts – in a striking embrace.  The centerpiece of the deluxe edition is a hardcover 128-page book; at its heart is a lengthy and heavily-annotated, no-stone-unturned essay by Chris Heath.  (It’s ideal reading accompaniment while listening to the album, and should take the average reader about as long.)  It’s not long before Heath mentions McCartney’s old band from Liverpool: the second line of the second paragraph in fact.  That’s as it should be; their spirit and sound are evoked often throughout the vibrant Flaming PieRingo Starr plays and sings on the sweeping “Beautiful Night,” and his recognizable presence sends shivers up the spine.  He also co-wrote the raucous “Really Love You,” the first song to bear a McCartney/Starkey credit.  George Martin co-produced the lilting “Calico Skies” and reassuring “Great Day” and orchestrated both “Beautiful Night” and the reflective “Somedays.”  (“I laugh to think how young we were,” McCartney sighs over a delicate melody and guitar-and-strings accompaniment.)  Paul worked on Flaming Pieconcurrently with The Beatles Anthology (the three audio volumes of which were released in 1995 and 1996), and brought Jeff Lynne from that project to his new album.

The 4LP/5CD/2DVD Collector’s Edition — remastered at Abbey Road Studios and strictly limited to 3,000 numbered copies issued in a numbered cloth wrapped two-piece collector’s box — will feature everything in the Deluxe Edition plus a marbled art print portfolio of six silkscreened Linda McCartney art prints, exclusive vinyl versions of the remastered album cut at half speed across 2LPs in an exclusive gatefold sleeve, an LP of home recordings in a hand-stamped white label sleeve, and “The Ballad of the Skeletons” – Paul’s 1996 collaboration with Allen Ginsberg, also featuring Philip Glass and Lenny Kaye – released for the first time on vinyl and cut at 45 RPM with vinyl etching and poster.

Flaming Pie is also available on 180g black vinyl 2LP, 3LP, CD, Deluxe formats, as well as digitally on streaming platforms. Paul will reissue ‘Flaming Pie’ on 31st July 2020 as the thirteenth installment of his GRAMMY Award-winning Archive Collection.