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Unbutchered

Posted in Unbutchered with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2009 by fred6368

THE BEATLES UNBUTCHERED

The Beatle’s albums are often divided into early period Beatlemania and late period mature artists. Their run of classic albums is universally seen as beginning with Rubber Soul. Difficult for me to disagree with that as Rubber Soul was the first album that I bought and, from Sgt Pepper onwards, each new Beatles Album was BOTH a media event and a musical event, as well as being a coherent artwork. From the perspective of the twenty first century it seems obvious that an album is an album, but at the time Beatles albums were thrown together as they rushed around the world, burning up records. However my own interest in the Beatles is because they created new forms; they imagined new futures. Perhaps they didn’t realise they had invented the rock album until Brian Wilson released Pet Sounds; his response to Rubber Soul. Despite the coherence of Rubber Soul and Revolver my guess is that Sgt Pepper was the first album that they consciously planned as an art work. What we mostly got in the sixties was the “outlier genius” of the Beatles, accidentally creating new possibilities.

As we look back at Rock’s rich tapestry, the Beatles are seen as a corner stone; actually no, they are the foundations, they created its lineaments, one of which is the album as art form. For me their only pre-cursor in popular music is Frank Sinatra’s 1954 (!) “In The Wee Small Hours” a concept album shot through with coherent brilliance. I am going to leave aside that classic quartet of jazz albums recorded in 1959, as jazz’s relationship with the album is different, and argue that Beatles invented the album in it’s modern creative form. And, secondly I am going to argue that they achieved this with Hard Days Night. The reason we didn’t recognise this at the time is that Hard Days Night was (just!) a soundtrack, Beatles for Sale was weak and HELP! was also a soundtrack; leaving Rubber Soul to be revealed as their first stand alone album work of genius.

Now I disagree with George, and others, who see Rubber Soul and Revolver as a dyptich. For me the great divide in Beatles albums is between Rubber Soul and Revolver. Why? Because they went from being great songwriters playing their songs well to being the first great musicians of the recording studio, Pet Sounds notwithstanding. Rubber Soul is both the last album of the glorious Beatles Band and the last of the mid-period Beatles. For me the “mid-period Beatles” released three classic albums.

1) Hard Days Night, a stumble upon multi-media classic

2) Unbutchered; Digg It! The one they put together as their first bite of the Apple

3) Rubber Soul; the delicious flowering up of their genius

And the stone classic five-star album Unbutchered, as we all know, starts with Eight Days a Week. Here’s the cartoon version; Continue reading

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Beatles in Black

Posted in beatles for sale with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by fred6368

BEATLES FOR SALE

After the peak of Hard Days Night recording their fourth album in just 20 months almost cracked The Beatles productive creativity, so they filled Beatles for Sale with covers and some unremarkable performances and songs. Not even the 10,000 hours of hard graft in learning their craft could save them. Malcolm Gladwell’s claim that they had “outlier” genius looked like it was on hold. They may have had nothing to declare but their genius, but they were clearly knackered. Mind you it being 1964 and Beatles for Sale being a Christmas release it was still, the best selling album of 1964. However singles were outselling albums by 4 to 1 and I had finally saved up the money to buy I Feel Fine on the day it came out, December 5th. Broke after buying that a bike for Christmas seemed more exciting to me than the glumsome foursome displayed on the album sleeve. For a year we had thought John, Paul George and Ringo were glib cheeky chappies cheering up our black and white Britain, but now they had gone monochrome; Beatles in Black. The opening “Lennon trilogy” points the way to Rubber Soul and actually their outlier genius is readily apparent on some of the songs, such as the opener No Reply. Continue reading