Archive for Geoff Emerick

Magical Mystery Tour

Posted in Magical Mystery Tour with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by fred6368

It’s Easy! All You Need is Love ūüôā

Magical Mystery Tour, like Let It Be, exists as a cultural artefact that was under-prepared, it was rushed. In the Beatles canon their best work was nearly always properly prepped; Revolver, Pepper, White Album, Abbey Road. Mystery was a TV film made by four musicians, with a little help from their friends, who were inspired by the chaos and creativity that was going on around them in 1967, not least in the emerging psychedelic underground. What it does do really well, much better than Let It Be, is to capture the spirit of its time and, yet again, provide another cultural breakthrough. So roll up, roll up to this surreal slice of English holiday nostalgia inspired by The Goons, come with me on a fantastic cheery summer of love trip; Magical Mystery Tour;

The Beatles had stopped touring after their world tour in summer 1966 when governments (Philippines), the media (Chicago) and individuals (the Bible Belt) made it dangerous to be a Beatle; “thank God I’m not a Beatle any more” commented George after their last concert in San Franciso. They spent most of the following year in the studio perfecting the sound of Sgt. Peppers, alter-egos¬†they assumed in order to cope with their ridiculous fame so that they could continue to be creative as musicians; the essence of being John, Paul, George and Ringo. The absence of live shows to publicise their music was the first consequence of their unprecedented decision to continue recording whilst not playing live. They needed to make promotional films instead. The first song they recorded as studio musicians was Strawberry Fields, and the ‘experimental’ promo film made for it in Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent could have slotted right into Magical Mystery Tour. Here is The Beatles first slice of psychedelic nostalgia Strawberry Fields Forever;

It wasnt just Lennon experimenting with Mellotrons and complex musical recording technniques. McCartney lived in central London with the musical Asher family and had a little music room, where he played the first version of I Wanna Hold Your Hand to Peter Asher, and Continue reading

The Real Best of the Beatles

Posted in remasters with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by fred6368

Q Magazine May 2012

Q Magazine’s current issue¬†looks at many artists and picks their “real” best tracks, which vary slightly with each artist. ¬†In the case of the Beatles, whom they describe as “the only group in the history of pop music who are actually better than everyone says they are” they’ve decided to pick under-rated works; so nothing from hits CD¬†1.¬† Selected by journalist Rob Fitzpatrick, who says that there is “no such thing as a Beatles obscurity” (Richie Unterberger might disagree¬†& Dehra Dun anyone?) there are 10 Beatles tracks in all. So I’m going to alternate his 10 with my 10 (although he has nicked a couple I would have ¬†chosen) half this week, half next.

The World looks fine when the Rain drops on the Fab Four, Q’s choice of best track and the B-side of Paperback Writer. I remember first seeing the record in a shop in Arnhem whilst, yep, standing in the rain. Rob says “Rain marks the moment when popular music threw itself over the drug pop precipice” but he is an English music journalist; Rain is the first thing the Beatles did after Tomorrow Never Knows¬†and is their finest B-side.¬†

Some kind of happiness is measured out in Hey Bulldog, the last track that all four Beatles jammed on together live in the studio (Feb 68). I remember seeing it in Yellow Submarine back then and being baffled when it wasn’t in the US release. Made up between them in just four hours whilst they were bored with the slow process of filming the Lady Madonna video¬†(they are actually playing Hey Bulldog)¬†this just rocks; joyfully ¬† Continue reading

The Beatles Let It Be 1969

Posted in Abbey Road, Beatles History, Let It Be with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by fred6368

Beatles Creativity (6) And In The End

In 1968 The Beatles peaked again recording their longest, most diverse and biggest selling White Album, and their longest and most successful single Hey Jude. The Beatles created great work when they had time to prepare, had a break and worked closely with collaborative¬†Fifth Beatles. Starting the¬†Get Back Sessions 6 busy weeks later as ‘lets make an album without prep because we are such geniuses’, was as pre-destined to fail as the Magical Mystery Tour. Both were saved as albums because The Beatles knew how to write and record songs and meet a deadline. Thanks to Rishikesh and Kinfauns the White Album had been their best prepared album, so missing recording to deal with Apple Business didn’t affect that plan. However as Ringo said in 1969 ‘now it is all¬†he, where it used to be all we.” McCartney had¬†visited the¬†Harlem¬†Apollo whilst living in Greenwich Village with Linda & Heather, George had recorded Indian music & jammed with The Band, Ringo was an actor and¬†Lennon wanted to be with Yoko. Arriving at a film studio cold and early on January 2nd 1969 to create spontaneously doesn’t work for musical historians and cultural editors.

Of all the writing on Let It Be only Kenneth Womack picks up on the inordinate amount of fifties songs The Beatles played whilst ‘creating’ on the Twickenham Studios Sound Stage, and identifies it with some of the regression they displayed on the White Album, such as McCartney turning into his Dad on Honey Pie. The Beatles had completed their cycle of learning about musical creativity, applied what they knew to Apple but failed to re-imagine themselves as a musical collective. To move on they wanted to get back to where they once belonged. Some of the tension, creativity and jamming is captured in this 14 5 minute outtake from the film Let It Be;¬†¬† 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