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Posted in Let It Be with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by fred6368

Let It Be

Paul was right; Get Back was a brilliant concept for a film and Let It Be…Naked is the better album. Let It Be the album however is what we were bequeathed at the time, in an expensive box set, from a failed, or perhaps unrealised,  fascinating project. Still the rooftop concert shows what “Get Back” might have become and almost pulls it off with five terrific live performances, despite the cold, inhospitable surroundings and police presence; semolina pilchards climbing up the Apple tower. This was Paul’s “good little live band”; Beatles plus Billy Preston. As they said in 1966 they would need more than the four of them to do the songs justice.

Two factors scuppered Paul’s plan; wrong context, wrong atmosphere. The studio at Twickenham was the wrong context, Abbey Road was where their studio creativity flourished best, and to where they returned at George’s insistence for their final flourish. Masters of Abbey Road they could let their tacit brilliance flow and work to their own rhythms. At Twickenham, when they were filming, they were back to being hired hands in their own movie. Secondly whilst there were four Beatles working on the White Album now there were none, well possibly one. The collaboratively ferocious work ethic of the Fab Four had been replaced by four increasingly independent young artists and businessmen working out how they could make their own way in the world.

Nonetheless even half-realised Let It Be still had some real gems. Two of Us is full of beautiful sentiments, but perhaps not truly reflective of that moment in time. The recurring word Home suggests an origin in the same thoughts that prompted the unrealised “Liverpool” concept album, captures the nostalgia for their early rock n roll camaraderie whilst looking forward to their new, post band lives. Two of Us breezes along yet drips with this hometown nostalgia. Here is a great studio version. 

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Got To Be Free

Posted in Abbey Road with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2009 by fred6368

ABBEY ROAD

Abbey Road is a great album which still sounds great today for all sorts of reasons. However when it came out the non-touring Beatles were surrounded by loads of bands who, like them, were also “self-contained units” writing and recording their own material, but who also played live. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and the Who had all released double albums at least as interesting as the White Album, and new groups like King Crimson, Soft Machine and Free, to name but three I saw, were blisteringly good live. No longer were The Beatles effortlessly better than their peers. Ironically 1969 was arguably the most productive year the four Beatles ever had as they worked on 2 Beatles albums, 3 singles and a film as well as their solo work (3 albums and 3 singles by Lennon, 2 albums by George, film acting by Ringo and the production of Badfinger and others by Paul). To fans like me it didn’t seem like they were working hard at the time as the “Get Back” film was put on hold. Nonetheless Come Together was immediately  recognised as a great rocker and, after the Love remastering, even George Martin likes it.  Continue reading

And Then There Were Four

Posted in White Album with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by fred6368

The White Album

Ringo had called Sgt Pepper a “great album where I learnt to play chess” but now it was time to “shake out the jams” and be a group again. In May 68 they gathered at George’s house and put together a tape with 27 songs on it, they had 35 ready, before going to George Martin. Partly influenced by Donovan (the Beatles were influenced by everybody, that was part of their genius) this started off as their Unplugged album but it became a gift from the garden in the foothills of the Himalayas to the flower children.

In fact George Martin coped with this cornucopia by setting up three studios and working on the songs in parallel, it was Paul backed by John, George and Ringo and so on. Four individual geniuses working shifts, who were now so creative and confident that they didn’t function as The Beatles any more,  bashing out an album with a bit of everything, full of great playing and loads of studio effects. No studied perfection like Eleanor Rigby or Day In The Life but loads of creativity, innovation and fun. The pleasure in the White Album isn’t in any one song but the smorgasbord of possibilities it offered to middle class students thinking of forming bands rather than working in an office. It was an early, revolutionary template for “middle youth.”

As ever the Beatles open the White Album with a zinger, the wonderful Back In The USSR, driven by Chuck Berry with harmonising courtesy of the Beach Boys, what’s not to like? Well it was banned in large parts of America for promoting Communism! Well irony in harmony doesn’t scan but it knocked the Ukraine Girls out; and me and most everyone in little old England. You don’t have to be a communist to singalong and enjoy.

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We Are All Together

Posted in Magical Mystery Tour with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2009 by fred6368

Magical Mystery Tour

The feeling in the UK in the winter of 66/67 was that the Beatles had split up as they hadn’t released a new album for just a few months and had quit tourung. Consequently George Martin made the mistake of releasing the single Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane in February 1967 to cover the gap, and so scuppered the idea of the new album being a story about Liverpool. Even so by the time Sgt Pepper was released the Beatles had already completed 6 more new songs, had a rough idea for Magical Mystery Tour, and the cartoon film Yellow Submarine in the works. Oh, and they released the single All You Need is Love a month after Sgt. Pepper.

Magical Mystery Tour, which will be an album in the 9/9/9 Remasters, was released in various forms at the time. I was given the UK double EP edition for Christmas, and it had very odd track sequencing, the three psychedelic tracks mixed up with the three “mumsy” tracks. The US album release not only included the recent, wonderful, singles and B-sides, but has a brilliant track sequencing which both make the magical “Mystery Tour” tracks flow and sets up the bonus tracks as musically logical consequences of them. John called it “one of my favourite albums because it is so wierd”. This time the Americans got a better deal and created this canonical version of the album, which my brother bought on import and always put a big sunny smile on our faces.

Opening with the bright and cheery Magical Mystery Tour, which almost made Sgt. Pepper and was consciously made to highlight the upcoming film, this is an amazingly upbeat opening track which, as is common practice on TV today, prefigures the sequences of the story. It only works as a set up though and is, in effect, the film’s overture. Continue reading