Archive for the White Album Category

White Album 2018

Posted in White Album with tags , , , , , on November 13, 2018 by fred6368
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Side 1 All round to Rishikesh

Back in the USSR   first crossfade from EMI Jet Sound Effects into Pauls four-square drumming on his rocking, ironic Beach Boys tribute, now a 21st century live staple; Ukraine Girls!  Read the full review 

Dear Prudence  one of the most beautiful guitar sounds ever recorded, jewel-like; Endlessly circling!    Read the full review 

Glass Onion  a large, hand-blown, sensually-shaped glass bottle used aboard sailing ships to hold wine or brandy, with string arrangements similar to Strawberry Fields;  listen to me!  Read the full review 

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da  the open nostalgia of the Rishikesh songs celebrate past times, like when the Silver Beetles followed Lord Woodbine around learning Calypso; Play it Like This!! Read the full review
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Revolution Live

Posted in White Album with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2018 by fred6368

<-Hey Jude           Back In The USSR->

When I first met Jack he asked what my favourite Beatles track was. Well that changes between about 6 tracks but currently it is Revolution. So I said “Revolution!” As there are 6 versions in the public domain (see below) he asked me “which version?” To which I replied, “the live version.”

Not everyone knows about the “live” version especially in the UK as it was recorded for the Smothers Brothers show in the USA and, unlike Hey Jude on the David Frost show, it was never shown on TV here in the UK at the time. Vevo finally made it available online in 2015. But why Revolution and not Please Please Me, Hard Days Night, I Feel Fine, Drive My Car, Taxman, Strawberry Fields, A Day in the Life, I Am the Walrus or I’ve Got A Feeling? Is it because it is the greatest B-side of all time?


Or is it because it is a part of John’s amazing run of B-sides? Or is it because the Beatles made me a revolutionary by enabling me to “act on my own recognisance” (not believing in outside authorities). Or is it because 50 years later it still sounds like a great slapdash piece of art work in progress? Or is it because it hints at its own back story comprising elements of rock, melody, country, harmony and musique concrete?


Revolution Live has 3 unique qualities; it has Lennon’s first explicitly political lyrics and he is definitely “out” and “in” on this version; it is a ferocious rock performance which was massively appreciated by the waifs and strays rounded up to be its studio audience and it is also a terrific live Beatles performance (my friend Deni says they were the best live band she ever saw, and she saw them a lot in 1963) containing all the Merseybeat and experimental elements that informed the recording of the White Album. No wonder Marmalade Skies say that they were “the greatest group in the world at the height of their powers” at this time…

Lennon has one of the great rock voices, aggressive, arrogant, tender and confused. Just perfect for a song that is aggressive, arrogant and confused with a tender “shoo be-doo-wop” chorus; which is what elevates the live version above the official B-side. Almost uniquely, and despite himself, Lennon’s id (his deepest feelings) keeps outing itself through the immediacy of his “newspaper” lyrics. In Liverpool he was neither at one end of the golf course or the other and this liminal confusion about identity keeps surfacing. I want a better world (for meeee!) but I’m not gonna kill anyone (I’ve suffered from loss too much). And Yoko was in his head for the first time on a recording with Revolution. Take 20 of Revolution was both the B-side and an Outro which became the first draft of his Revolution #9 dream. Lennon was King of the B’s for the Beatles because his id keep revealing his deeper, darker feelings, whilst his superego kept reeling in the fears. On Revolution Live his dark and light side were forced to fight it out in public as he delivered the lyrics with both a snarl and his neutral, but don’t mess with me I’m in charge, face. The lying bastard was forcing himself to be honest. It was the sound of John Lennon singing himself into being and not hiding behind group artifice… Awesome.

This “live” rock performance was pre-recorded in line with Musicians Union policies and the customary way of bypassing them. So the backing track is a live recording to which they mimed for the video (listen to the last few seconds of the video to catch the actual live guitars kicking back in). The greatest rock guitarist of all time Jimi Hendrix loved Lennon’s guitar playing, preferring him to Clapton, and you can hear why here. As a guitarist he served the song, just as Ringo, as a drummer, served the song. But the intense overdriven guitar sound was produced by “golden ears” wunderkid engineer Geoff Emerick who said he “would have sacked himself if he had been the studio manager” for putting the sound so into the red. Their live performances on Revolution and Hey Jude were so good and the audience reaction in the studio so positive that it persuaded them that they should play live again, birthing the Get Back (Let It Be) project. Foolishly they had read and believed the critical reviews of Magical Mystery Tour and, fools on the hill that they were, also believed that the British public no longer loved them. Well Hey Jude and Revolution (the second best single of all time) are enough to persuade anyone that “love makes sweet music” (as we say in Canterbury) or in this case bitter-sweet music makes love.

At the height of their powers, as The Beatles are here, they have become crafty artists who have evolved into working in an atelier called The Beatles, where the studio is just a rooftop over their diverse talents. They have become the Rembrandts of popular music. They have evolved from the early poppermost “where is Beatles Band?” so beloved of the NME and also from the experimental psychedelicists who are within us but are without us. They were always at their best on albums where they had time to prep. For the White album they had both been up in Rishikesh writing and also all round to Georges at Kinfauns on 28/29 May demoing the Unplugged version of the album. Now they were in the “studio” of their artistic ambitions playing around with different “takes” on how the music might finally “look.” Revolution Live is one take and, in this case, the best as all four are contributing something slightly different to last time; and the next time.

For me, with the Beatles, you can always hear the music for its visceral immediacy, but there is always a fascinating back story to unravel and be inspired by. And 50 years later there is also the history you, they and the music have been through…

The Six Revolutions (plus #20) Continue reading

The Beatles Apple 1968

Posted in Beatles History, Open Context Model of Learning, White Album with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by fred6368

The Beatles Creativity (5) ‘you say you want a Revolution?’

1968 is The Beatles’ most fascinating year, they had transformed music in terms of singles and albums but in 1968 they were aiming to transform the music industry by making their company Apple into a musical collective. Singles were no longer formulaic, melodic sing-a-longs designed to make to make money for the songwriters, producers, managers and record companies rather than the artists. Albums were no longer the accidental re-packaging of singles or merely fan souvenirs of live shows, as they had been when The Beatles started and remained throughout the sixties. In terms of this analysis of their creativity they had completed the three main stages of development; being guided, working collaboratively and breaking the rules by 1967. So what came next? 1968.  The magisterial Walter Everett said “the year of 1968 was a time of simultaneous rejuvenation and the dissolution of The Beatles.”

In We Are The Beatles I described the Beatles’ style as evolving from the musical creativity of their psychedelic period 1966-67 to a loose Atelier style, unconsciously aping the studio organisational form of Renaissance artists. By this I mean that they had learnt their craft and now, forced to run their own business, decided to try to create with Apple Corps the company they would liked to have signed for, and so began working with many other artists. Paul completed Step Inside Love with Cilla, George recorded the Inner Light with local musicians in India whilst recording his ‘Wonderwall‘ soundtrack John woke up one morning with the words of his ‘most perfect lyric’ flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. It’s Across The Universe;   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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