Posts Tagged ‘The Beatles’

Macca To Mecca! CD/DVD

 

Little Steven and the Disciples Of Soul’s Thrilling tribute to the Beatles, “Macca To Mecca”, Recieving wide release on CD/DVD anda newly expanded “Soulfire Live” die out January 29 Via Wicked Cool Records/UMe 

Los Angeles – December 4th – In the fall of 2017, when Little Steven landed in Liverpool on his sold out European tour with his newly reformed band the Disciples of Soul in support of “Soulfire”, his first new album in nearly two decades, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician, songwriter and lifelong Beatles fan played an extraordinary surprise set outside of the legendary Cavern Club as a tribute to the seminal band that inspired him and so many others to pick up a guitar and start a band after witnessing their musical revolution on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. The intimate lunchtime gig saw Little Steven aka Stevie Van Zandt lead his 15-strong band through rocking renditions of “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Good Morning, Good Morning,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” and “All You Need Is Love,” alongside iconic songs famously performed by the nascent Fab Four, including “Boys” (originally by The Shirelles), “Slow Down” (by Larry Williams) and “Soldier Of Love” (first recorded by Arthur Alexander).

“Playing in the same venue where The Beatles started their careers was a childhood dream of mine come true,” says Van Zandt. “This was a band that set me on course for a life of music. For my rock ‘n’ roll religion, The Cavern is the first sacred site (after the 4 clubs in Hamburg they played!). It was an honour – no, make that an epiphany – to perform there.”

Fortunately for those that weren’t there to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event, the concert was professionally filmed and expertly recorded by Van Zandt’s touring film and audio crew and is now slated for wide release on CD/DVD as “Macca To Mecca” on January 29th via Wicked Cool Records/UMe. The 13-song love letter to the Beatles kicks off with a riveting performance of “I Saw Her Standing There” recorded at The Roundhouse in London in November of 2017 with a special appearance by Paul McCartney.

Macca To Mecca, which was previously only available as part of the vinyl box set and Blu-ray editions of his concert album, Soulfire Live!, includes the complete Cavern Club concert in both video and audio, exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and a special documentary that sees Van Zandt honoured with a brick in the club’s hallowed Wall of Fame before leading his band through swift rehearsals of Beatles songs mere minutes ahead of their performance.

The Macca To Mecca concert audio has also been added to a newly expanded 4CD version of “Soulfire Live!”, which will be also be released on January 29th. Culled from the best performances from the band’s North American and European concerts, this live collection features Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul taking listeners through a musical history lesson as they blast through an arsenal of songs spanning rock, pop, soul, blues, funk, doo-wop, reggae and everything in between. Nearly every song from his 2016 album Soulfire is represented along with inspired covers and classic tracks from his early catalogue. Among the album’s many highlights are original songs from throughout Little Steven’s illustrious solo career – including classics like “Standing In The Line Of Fire” and “I Don’t Want To Go Home” – alongside a number of favourite cover versions like The Electric Flag’s “Groovin’ Is Easy,” Etta James’Blues Is My Business,” and James Brown’sDown And Out In New York City. In addition, Soulfire Live! includes Van Zandt’s inimitable introductions, detailing each song’s unique history and singular spot in his life and illustrious career. Disc 3 showcases special guest appearances from some of Van Zand’ts closest friends, collaborators, and favourite artists and includes inspired versions of Moby Grape’s “Can’t Be So Bad” performed with the legendary San Francisco band’s founding member, Jerry Miller; the Motown classic, “Can I Get A Witness,” performed with New Jersey’s own Richie SamboraThe J. Geils Band’s “Freeze Frame” with vocals from the one and only Peter Wolf; and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and Little Steven’s own “I Don’t Want To Go Home,” both joined by Bruce Springsteen.

In a year like no other, Van Zandt has kept extraordinarily busy with a slew of releases and projects, including the release of Rock N Roll Rebel – The Early Worka multi-format box set that collects together all of his pioneering early solo career albums between 1982 and 1999, as well as the landmark protest album, Sun City, by Artists United Against Apartheid, the supergroup of musicians brought together by Van Zandt and record producer Arthur Baker to fight racial injustice in South Africa; an acclaimed new record with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band; and an exuberant new holiday song penned for Netflix’s just-released movie, “The Christmas Chronicles 2,” directed by Chris Columbus. The joyous, soul-filled romp, “The Spirit Of Christmas,” sees him reuniting with his friend, the incomparable Darlene Love, who he worked with on their holiday hit “All Alone on Christmas” for “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York,” and her raved about 2015 album, Introducing Darlene Love, which he produced. The song is featured prominently in the sequel with a joyous onscreen musical number performed by Love and Kurt Russell who bring some Christmas magic to weary holiday travellers in a bustling airport terminal in the 1990s.

In celebration of “The Spirit of Christmas” and the Christmas spirit, Van Zandt, who regularly DJs on his Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM and the nationally syndicated show of the same name, has put together a playlist featuring some of his favourite holiday songs. Kicking off with Chuck Berry’s immortal “Run Rudolph Run,” “Little Steven’s Christmas Party Playlist” mixes up Christmas classics with lesser known gems and includes songs by Bob Seger, The Kinks, Slade, Brian Setzer, Jan & Dean, Louis Prima, Joe Pesci, Dion and Ringo Starr alongside Van Zandt’s original Christmas tunes, “The Spirit Of Christmas,” “All Alone on Christmas” and his inspired, horn-drenched rendition of The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight).” 

MACCA TO MECCA TRACKLISTING

CD

  1. I Saw Her Standing There Intro
    2. I Saw Her Standing There
    3. Cavern Club Intro
    4. Magical Mystery Tour
    5. Boys
    6. Slow Down Intro
  2. Slow Down
    8. Some Other Guy
    9. Soldier Of Love Intro
    10. Soldier Of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)
    11. Good Morning Good Morning
    12. Got To Get You Into My Life
    13. All You Need Is Love
    14. Birthday

    DVD
    1. I Saw Her Standing There Intro
    2. I Saw Her Standing There
    3. Cavern Club Featurette
    4. Cavern Club
    5. Magical Mystery Tour
    6. Boys
    7. Slow Down Intro
    8. Slow Down
    9. Some Other Guy
    10. Soldier Of Love Intro
    11. Soldier Of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)
    12. Good Morning Good Morning
    13. Got To Get You Into My Life
    14. All You Need Is Love
    15. Birthday

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It started with a plea from one friend to another. George Harrison had been close to the legendary Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar since the mid-’60s, when the Beatle first sought an expert to teach him to play the multi-stringed Indian sitar. Ravi Shankar, older than Harrison by some 22 years and the acknowledged world master of the instrument, was from Bangladesh (previously known as East Pakistan) in the South Asian region of Bengal. At the time, in 1971, Harrison’s website states, “The country was ravaged by floods, famine and civil war, which left 10 million people mostly women and children fleeing their homes.” Feeling distraught and wanting to help, Shankar met with Harrison and asked if he might be able to draw attention to the crisis, and possibly use his fame to do something to raise some funds for aid. “Yes,” Harrison told him, “I think I’ll be able to do something.”

In April of 1971, Harrison went to work recruiting friends for a one-time-only concert; by June he had already received commitments from several of the biggest names on rock. He also arranged for a film and recording to be made of the event, the proceeds of which would go toward the cause. The concert date was set for August 1st, 1971, two shows .The shows were held at 2:30 and 8:00 pm(afternoon and evening) to take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Not only would The Concert for Bangladesh be Harrison’s first major live appearance since the Beatles quit touring five years earlier, it would go down as one of the greatest evenings of classic rock in history. The event was the first-ever benefit of such a magnitude, and featured a supergroup of performers that included Harrison, fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger. In addition, Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan – both of whom had ancestral roots in Bangladesh – performed an opening set of Indian classical music. The concerts were attended by a total of 40,000 people, and the initial gate receipts raised close to $250,000 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. After collecting the musicians easily, Harrison found it extremely difficult to get the recording industry to release the rights for performers to share the stage, and millions of dollars raised from the album and film were tied up in IRS tax escrow accounts for years, but the Concert for Bangladesh is recognised as a highly successful and influential humanitarian aid project.

Shankar’s original hope was to raise $25,000 through a benefit concert of his own, With Harrison’s commitment, and the record and film outlets available to him through the Beatles’ Apple Corps organisation, the idea soon grew to become a star-studded musical event, mixing Western rock with Indian classical music.

According to Chris O’Dell, a music-business administrator and former Apple employee, Harrison got off the phone with Shankar once the concept had been finalised, and started enthusing with his wife, Pattie Boyd, and herself about possible performers. Ringo Starr, Lennon, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Jim Keltner, Voormann, Billy Preston and Badfinger were all mentioned during this initial brainstorming. The Concert For Bangladesh happened because of my relationship with Ravi … I said, “If you want me to be involved, I think I’d better be really involved,” so I started recruiting all these people.  O’Dell set about contacting local musicians from the Harrisons’ rented house in Nichols Canyon, as Harrison took the long-distance calls, hoping more than anything to secure Bob Dylan’s participation

Almost all of Harrison’s first-choice names signed on immediately, while a day spent boating with Memphis musician Don Nix resulted in the latter agreeing to organise a group of backing singers. The Sunday, was the only day that Madison Square Garden was available at such short notice. By the first week of July Harrison was in a Los Angeles studio recording his purpose-written song, “Bangla Desh”, with co-producer Phil Spector. The song’s opening verse documents Shankar’s plea to Harrison for assistance, and the lyrics “My friend came to me with sadness in his eyes / Told me that he wanted help before his country dies” 

Harrison then met with Apple signed band Badfinger in London to explain that he would have to abandon work on “Straight Up” , before flying to New York on 13 July to see Lennon. During the middle of July also, once back in Los Angeles, Harrison produced Shankar’s Bangladesh benefit record, an EP titled Joi Bangla. As with Harrison’s “Bangla Desh”, all profits from this recording would go to the newly established George Harrison–Ravi Shankar Special Emergency Relief Fund, to be distributed by UNICEF.

Also around the middle of July, the upcoming concert by “George Harrison and Friends” was announced via a small ad buried in the back pages of the New York Times”, Tickets sold out in no time, leading to the announcement of a second show. Towards the end of the month, when all parties were due to meet in New York for rehearsals, Harrison had the commitment of a backing band comprising: Preston, on keyboards; the four members of Badfinger, on acoustic rhythm guitars and tambourine; Voormann and Keltner, on bass and drums, respectively; and saxophonist Jim Horn’s so-called “Hollywood Horns”, which included Chuck Findley, Jackie Kelso and Lou McCreary. Of the established stars, Leon Russell had committed also, but on the proviso that he be supported by members of his tour band. Eric Clapton insisted that he too would be there, even if O’Dell and other insiders, knowing of the guitarist’s incapacity due to his severe heroin addiction, were surprised that Harrison had considered him for the occasion. Among Harrison’s former bandmates, John Lennon initially agreed to take part in the concert without his wife and musical partner Yoko Ono, as Harrison had apparently stipulated. Lennon then allegedly had an argument with Ono as a result of this agreement and left New York in a rage two days before the concerts The line up was staggering: First, there was Ringo Starr. As if half of the Beatles wasn’t enough of an enticement to fans,

As well as the songs he would go on to perform Harrison’s list included his own compositions “All Things Must Pass” with Leon Russell, apparently “Art of Dying” and the just-recorded B-side “Deep Blue” Eric Clapton’s song “Let It Rain” appeared also, while the suggestions for Dylan’s set were “If Not for You”, “Watching the River Flow” (his recent, Leon Russell-produced single) and “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Only Harrison, Voormann, the six-piece horn section, and Badfinger’s Pete Ham, Joey Molland, Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins were at Nola Studios on that first day of rehearsals, and subsequent rehearsals were similarly carried out in “dribs and drabs”, as Harrison put it.

Only the final run-through, on the night before the concert, resembled a complete band rehearsal. On Tuesday, 27th July, Harrison and Shankar, accompanied by a pipe-smoking Allen Klein, held a press conference to promote the two shows notoriously performance-shy, Harrison said “Just thinking about it makes me shake. The “Bangla Desh” charity single was issued in America with a UK release following two days later. Ringo Starr arrived on the Thursday, and by Friday, 30th July, Russell was in town, interrupting his US tour. Leon Russell’s band members Claudia Linnear and Don Preston were added to Don Nix’s choir of backing singers. Billy Preston would switch to lead guitar for Russell’s solo spot during the shows, just as bassist Carl Radle would replace Voormann temporarily. At this point, Clapton’s participation was gravely in doubt, and Harrison had drafted in Jesse Ed Davis as a probable replacement. The ex-Taj Mahal guitarist received last-minute coaching from Voormann, who was more than familiar with Harrison’s songs, as well as those by Billy Preston and Starr.

The final rehearsal, the first for some of the participants, was combined with the concert soundcheck, at Madison Square Garden, late on 31 July. Both Dylan and Clapton finally appeared at the soundcheck that night.Even then, Clapton was in the early stages of heroin withdrawal – only a cameraman supplying him with some methadone would result in the English guitarist taking the stage the following day, after his young girlfriend had been unsuccessful in purchasing uncut heroin for him on the street. To Harrison’s frustration, Dylan was having severe doubts about performing in such a big-event atmosphere and still would not commit to playing. “Look, it’s not my scene, either,” Harrison countered. “At least you’ve played on your own in front of a crowd before. I’ve never done that.”  Stephen Stills having proceeded to sell out Madison Square Garden two days before the concert on 30th July, in support of his album, “Stephen Stills 2”, allowed Harrison to use his stage, sound, lighting system and production manager but was upset when Harrison “neglected to invite him to perform, mention his name, or say thank you”. Stills then spent the show drunk in Ringo Starr’s dressing room, “barking at everyone”.

The shows began with sets by Shankar and his musicians, followed by Harrison and his entourage, performing material both from his emerging solo career. Harrison began the concert with “Wah-Wah”, followed by his Beatles hit song’ “Something” and the gospel-rocker “Awaiting on You All”. Harrison then handed the spotlight over to Preston, who performed his only sizeable hit  “That’s the Way God Planned It”, followed by Ringo Starr, whose song “It Don’t Come Easy” had recently established the drummer as a solo artist. Next up was Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”, with guest vocals on the third verse by Russell, who covered the song on his concurrent album, Leon Russell and the Shelter People. After pausing to introduce the band, Harrison followed this with one of the best-received moments in both the shows – a charging version of the White Album track “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, featuring him and Clapton “duelling” on lead guitar during the long instrumental playout.

Both the band introduction and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” are among the few selections from the afternoon show that were included on the album and in the film. Another one was Leon Russell’s medley of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and the Coasters’ “Young Blood”, which was also a highlight of Russell’s live shows at the time. With Don Preston crossing the stage to play lead guitar with Harrison, there were now temporarily four electric guitarists in the line-up. Don Preston, Harrison and Claudia Linnear supplied supporting vocals behind Russell. In an effective change of pace, Harrison picked up his acoustic guitar, now alone on the stage save for Pete Ham on a second acoustic, and Don Nix’s gospel choir, off to stage-left. The ensuing “Here Comes the Sun” – the first live performance of the song, as for Harrison’s other Beatle compositions played that day was also warmly received. At this point, Harrison switched back to his white Fender Stratocaster electric guitar he looked down at the setlist taped to the body of the guitar and saw the word “Bob” followed by a question mark. “And I looked around,” Harrison recalled of Bob Dylan’s entrance, “and he was so nervous – he had his guitar on and his shades. It was only at that moment that I knew for sure he was going to do it.” Among the audience, there was “total astonishment” at this new arrival. As Harrison had envisaged, Dylan’s mini-set was the crowning glory of the Concert for Bangladesh for many observers. Backed by just Harrison, Russell (now playing Voormann’s Fender Precision bass) and Starr on tambourine, Dylan played five of his decade-defining songs from the 1960s.

The moment that put the Concert for Bangladesh over the top as one for the ages was when Bob Dylan walked out onstage. Like Harrison, he had not performed in public much recently, since a 1966 motorcycle accident that caused him to reassess his life and career. Dylan, who was reportedly nervous about playing to such a large audience, arrived onstage for the first show accompanied by Harrison, Russell (on bass) and Starr (playing tambourine) and performed five of his greatest compositions: “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” and “Just Like a Woman,” before Harrison and the band closed out the show. The evening show followed a similar trajectory, with both Harrison and Dylan making a handful of changes to their set lists: Dylan, notably, added “Mr. Tambourine Man” in place of “Love Minus Zero.”

Harrison and the band then returned to perform a final segment, consisting of his recent international number one hit, “My Sweet Lord”, followed by the song of the moment – “Bangla Desh”.

The Concert for Bangladesh recording, featuring highlights from the two shows, was released on December 20th, 1971, also winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. The film, Following the Bangladesh concerts, some controversy ensued over the allocation of the funds but an estimated $12 million ultimately found its way to aid in the relief efforts over the next decade and a half. And in the world of rock music, the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh is viewed as a landmark event, the first true large-scale benefit concert of its type; it would serve as the model for Live Aid and is seen as the prototype for many other such charitable events even today.

As of August 2020, neither the album nor DVD was in print. Perhaps for its 50th anniversary in 2021we get an updated version along with a full set of the songs performed each night.

 

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”

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”.

50 years ago, Booker T & The M.G.’s released their ode to The Beatles’ Abbey Road, and to the street where Booker and his band recorded: McLemore Avenue. Here Booker T. Jones (keyboards), Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass), and Al Jackson Jr. (drums) deliver funky, bluesy takes on 13 songs from The Beatles’ album, making them all their own. In fact, their renditions caught the ears of The Beatles, and Paul McCartney has used the M.G.’s version of “The End” as his walk-on music on tour for years. Cut from the original analogue master tapes by Jeff Powell in Memphis, pressed onto 180-gram vinyl at MRP and housed in a Stoughton-printed sleeve, the music and the iconic album art have likely never looked or sounded better. It’s worth lining up across the street for!.

As the longtime house band for Stax, Booker T. & The M.G.’s not only helped to shape the label’s iconic sound but also backed sessions by some of the biggest acts of the ’60s—from Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, to Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett. The group also released many acclaimed titles of their own, and their 10th studio album, 1970’s McLemore Avenue, was no exception. Inspired by The Beatles’ Abbey Roadreleased just a year before, Booker T. Jones set out to record a tribute to the album—naming his version after the Memphis avenue where Stax Records stood. In an interview Jones recalled that when he first heard Abbey Road, “I thought it was incredibly courageous of The Beatles… They were the top band in the world but they still reinvented themselves.”

Featuring the classic lineup of Booker T. Jones on keyboards, Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, and Al Jackson Jr. on drums, the instrumental McLemore Avenue offers a supremely funky take on Abbey Road’s songs in the form of three medleys and one standalone version of “Something.” AllMusicpraised that “Not only is McLemore Avenue a stellar interpretation of Abbey Road, it’s one of the finest Booker T. & the M.G.’s albums to boot.”

This special 50th-anniversary edition of the LP has been cut from the original analogue masters by Jeff Powell at Memphis’ Take Out Vinyl and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing. The album comes housed in an old-school-style tip-on jacket, featuring the classic, tongue-in-cheek cover image of the band crossing McLemore Avenue.

Beatles - NME Poll Winners 1965 EP.jpg

We all have our idea of what would constitute a dream concert, and if you were a British teen in 1965 or an adult who happens to know where to find a good time machine—yours might go something like this: First, you’d book the Rolling Stones as one of your opening acts, performing some rhythm and blues favorites like Otis Redding’s “Pain in My Heart” and Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”

For the second half of your fantasy concert, you’d get serious, bringing on the heavyweights: the SearchersThem (featuring that dynamic singer Van Morrison, and the Animals, along with a couple of the best solo artists the U.K. has to offer: Dusty Springfield and the young folk singer from Scotland, called Donovan. And, of course, the Beatles, singing some of their recent hits like “I Feel Fine” and “Ticket to Ride” before closing out their five-song set with Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” And then you’d have the Kinks follow them, singing “You Really Got Me”

Well, if you were at London’s Wembley Empire Pool on April 11th, 1965, you could have witnessed that very concert, filled out with other current faves like Cilla Black, Freddie and the Dreamers , folk-rockers the Seekers , Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, and more.

Each year, beginning in 1953, the British music weekly NME (New Musical Express) polled its readers on the best of the year. The winners were then invited to perform for the people and, at the height of the British Invasion, that meant the Beatles, Stones, Animals, Kinks, etc. You might think that a concert featuring so many future classic rock acts would last for a week, but in those days it was all about running on stage, playing a few hits and beating a hasty retreat. The entire show—presented here in black and white, of course—took about two hours from start to finish.

Also included on the night live performances of the Moody Blues’ “Go Now,” Herman’s Hermits’ “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” the Stones’ “The Last Time,” Donovan’s “Catch the Wind” and Them’s “Here Comes the Night.”

You’d also invite some of the currently happening bands like the Moody Blues (who begin the concert), the soulful Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and Herman’s Hermits.

The NME called it “the greatest pop show in the world” and who are we to argue. The 3 ½ hour show was witnessed by 10,000 fans at Wembley’s Empire Pool who saw The Animals, The Bachelors, Cilla Black, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, Freddie & The Dreamers, Herman’s Hermits, The Ivy League, Tom Jones, The Kinks, The Moody Blues, The Rockin’ Berries, The Rolling Stones, The Searchers, The Seekers, Sounds Incorporated, Dusty Springfield, Them & Twinkle.

The Beatles performed just five songs.

Tracklisting:
SIDE ONE
1. I Feel Fine
2. She’s A Woman
SIDE TWO
1. Baby’s In Black
2. Ticket To Ride
3. Long Tall Sally

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”

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.

See the source image

This is a great hard bluesy song on one of my favourite Beatle’s albums…“The White Album”. This is one reason I like the White Album so much. The song was written and composed by John Lennon during the Beatles’ retreat in Rishikesh, India. The song was a parody of blues music, specifically English imitators of blues. Lennon said that, while “trying to reach God and feeling suicidal” in India, he wanted to write a blues song, but was unsure if he could imitate the likes of Sleepy John Estes and other original blues artists he had listened to in school. In “Yer Blues” he alludes to this insecurity with a reference to the character Mr. Jones from Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” and with the third verse, which draws on Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail.” Instead, Lennon wrote and composed “Yer Blues”  featuring tongue-in-cheek guitar solos and rock and roll-inspired swing blues passages. In the chorus, Lennon sings, “If I ain’t dead already, girl you know the reason why.”

What I like about it is the rawness. This song and Helter Skelter show what a great rock band they were. The room they recorded this in was called Room 2A, which was next to the control room of EMI Studio Two and was a mere 8 ft. by 15.5 ft. The room had been used for storing four-track machines before it was emptied. It was very tight quarters for The Beatles once they set everything up. That added to the sound. They jammed together from 7pm to 5am and after 14 takes produced this song.

Lennon was self-conscious about singing the blues based tune.

John Lennon: “There was a self-consciousness about suddenly singing blues,” John continues. “Like everybody else, we were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school (in the late ’50’s). But to sing it, was something else. I was self-conscious about doing it.”

Paul McCartney recalled, “We were talking about this tightness, this packed-in-a-tin thing. So we got in a little cupboard – a closet that had microphone leads and things, with a drum kit, amps turned to the walls, one mic for John. We did ‘Yer Blues’ live and it was really good

Ringo Starr: “We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing.” .

The song is in the key of E major, but like many blues numbers, it prominently features accidentals, such as G, D, and B♭. It is primarily in a 6/8 meter, but as with several of Lennon’s tunes, the time signature and tempo are altered many times.

The stripped-down, bluesy nature of the number bears similarity to much of Lennon’s early solo output, including “Cold Turkey” and his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album and marks a retreat from the concerns that Lennon had with such studio experimentation as had marked such songs as “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

A Toronto promoter named John Brower was on the phone trying to convince John and Yoko they should attend a September 13th musical event in Canada featuring a host of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll legends. Maybe, suggested the ever-keen and eager Brower, John might even consider a performance piece?.  Two days later, the Lennons had gathered at Heathrow Airport with guitarist Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann (bass player), Alan White (drummer working with Alan Price), Beatles manager Allen Klein and roadie Mal Evans for the flight to Toronto and a show later that evening.

Only three first-class tickets were available, so the newly formed Plastic Ono Band gathered in the rear of the 707 jet, vamping their acoustic way through a cluster of classic rock ‘n’ roll favorites. Songs that the principal players worshipped. Perhaps this in-flight camaraderie inspired the bout of intense honesty that unfolded en route to the Toronto Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival concert. Later it came out that John had informed both Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann that he was thinking about starting a new group. It seems he went as far as to enquire about their interest in joining him in this new enterprise . . . At Varsity Stadium the jet-lagged John was extremely nervous. He hadn’t been onstage in three years, and he admitted to throwing up from nervousness before the show — with abundant reason. “Imagine if you were in The Beatles from the beginning, and you were never in any other band?” he postulated. “Then all of a sudden you’re going onstage with this group who’ve never played live together, anywhere. We formed on the plane coming over here, and now we’re gonna play in front of 20,000 people.”

The audio would be released in December of that year as the Plastic Ono Band’s “Live Peace In Toronto” LP. John bounced out onstage, bedecked in a white tropical suit overpinning a black shirt, and was bedeviling with his new band. The Toronto audience was equally uplifted. After whipping through a number of rock ‘n’ roll chestnuts, John plunged into “Yer Blues” from the White Album.

A 9 minute version with Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell was performed on the Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus. They called the band the Dirty Mac.

Recorded before a live audience in London in 1968, The Rolling Stones “Rock and Roll Circus” was originally conceived as a BBC-TV special. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, it centers on the original line up of The Rolling Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman (with Nicky Hopkins and Rocky Dijon) — who serve as both the show’s hosts and featured attraction. For the first time in front of an audience, “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” performs six Stones classics. The program also includes extraordinary performances by The Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, Yoko Ono, and The Dirty Mac. A ‘supergroup’ before the term had even been coined, the band was comprised of Eric Clapton (lead guitar), Keith Richards (bass), Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (drums) and John Lennon on guitar and vocals.

Check out this great cover of the John Lennon Beatles song “Yer Blues” covered by his son Sean Lennon

Sean Lennon – “Yer Blues” 2012

Photo of Paul in his London garden.

LIMITED EDITION 50th ANNIVERSARY HALF-SPEED-MASTERED VINYL RELEASED FOR RECORD STORE DAY 2020

In June, 2020 one of the greatest solo debuts in rock history, Paul McCartney’s McCartney, will receive a special 50th anniversary release in a limited edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing for Record Store Day.

Originally released in April 1970, one month before The Beatles’ swansong ‘Let It Be’, McCartney  saw Paul getting back to basics. Writing every song and playing every instrument (with backing vocals from Linda McCartney), the eponymous album represented a creative rebirth, bursting with new ideas, experiments, playfulness and freedom. Sonically, McCartney’s bare-bones home recording aesthetic imbued the album with an authentic lo-fi spirit, a much sought after sound that continues to retain a contemporary edge 50 years on. In contrast to the professional difficulties that came with the demise of the world’s most iconic band,

Paul was personally enjoying the contentment of family life as a newly married father. In a Q&A released at the time, Paul described the theme and feel of the album as, “Home, family, love.”  This is obvious from the opening notes of Lovely Linda throughout the album, with tracks like ‘Every Night’ and ‘Man We Was Lonely’ musing on how much Paul’s life had improved—and nowhere more poignantly than on the tour de force ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. Paul’s timeless tribute to Linda would be recognized as one of contemporary music’s great love songs, and remains a staple of Paul’s live set to this day, never failing to inspire tears of joy with its refrain of “Maybe I’m a man in the middle of something that he doesn’t really understand. Maybe I’m a man. Maybe you’re the only woman who can ever help me. Baby won’t you help me understand”.

Linda’s presence is also felt in the album’s iconic artwork: the front cover’s bowl of cherries photographed by her on holiday in Antigua, and the back cover’s portrait of Paul with daughter Mary as a baby, photographed on the family’s farm in Scotland where some of the album was also written. 50 years and counting, McCartney offers an incredible insight into the mind of one of the world’s greatest ever songwriters. The homespun spirit of the album and Paul’s taste for experimentation capture a unique moment in time: The very first steps of an unparalleled solo career that has seen Paul McCartney release decades worth of critically acclaimed commercial blockbuster albums including RAM, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Tug of War, Pipes of Peace, Flowers in the Dirt, Flaming Pie, Memory Almost Full, and most recently 2018’s-charting Egypt Station.

The 50th anniversary Record Store Day limited edition of McCartney was pressed from a master cut by Miles Showell at half speed using the original 1970 master tapes at Abbey Road Studios. It was made as a vinyl specific transfer in high resolution and without digital peak limiting for the best possible reproduction.

McCartney Tracklisting:

Side one:
The Lovely Linda
That Would Be Something
Valentine Day
Every Night
Hot as Sun/Glasses
Junk
Man We Was Lonely

Side two:
Oo You
Momma Miss America
Teddy Boy
Singalong Junk
Maybe I’m Amazed
Kreen-Akrore