Archive for remasters

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

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My Beatles/2009 Mashup

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by fred6368

Suddenly it is end of year poll reflection time again, and the UK Sunday newspaper The Observer has today recommended The Beatles Stereo box set as the box set of the year, obviously. So, what I intend to do here is mashup my favourite ten tracks from the Remasters with my favourite ten tracks from 2009. As you DJs out there know it doesn’t quite work like that as you need to go with the Flow, so this isn’t quite my 10 /10 selection but I think it works as a mix; so lets start with a wake up call! GOOD MORNING! Good Morning, Beatles Fans… Continue reading

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

What Would You Think?

Posted in Sgt Peppers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by fred6368

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The release of Sgt Pepper’s was a huge cultural event; “The closest Western Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815“. It created the album as a coherent artform, created modern rock and set a new benchmark. Unlike, say, The Velvet Underground and Nico, it was listened to endlessly and stayed in the album charts til well after The Beatles split up three years later. It’s release on June 1st 1967 had been set up by the wonderful Liverpool dyptych of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, a mini Sgt. Pepper’s in a single.

It was very much a conceptual album in that it had the conceit of being a release by Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you can see them on the cover, and NOT by The Beatles; thus removing expectations of what the album should be. Even so they opened with a rock track, a rock overture, before opening with Ringo’s song, the first of many unusual moves. The film Yellow Submarine captured much of the faux-Edwardiana of the album. It should be noted that many of us were wearing faux-Edwardiana at the time so Pepper felt both surreal and contemporary. Continue reading

Where Do They All Come From?

Posted in revolver with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by fred6368

REVOLVER

Revolver came out 6 days after England had won the Football World Cup at Wembley in 1966. A week later the Beatles rushed off for their last, fractious tour of the USA. As a famous post in the NME asked “Where is famous Beatles Band?” Caught between embracing the counter-culture and fulfilling old musical industries contracts the Beatles were curiously absent from their own high-water mark; and so were we. Ray Davies of the Kinks, who were amongst the new English bands challenging the Beatles that summer, the Stones, Who, Troggs and Yardbirds, slated the album. With his own bitter-sweet hit of the summer Sunny Afternoon, lazily capturing our triumphant summer mood he was in a position to talk. It was Number One when Revolver was released. The other big cultural aspect of the summer of 1966 was the sudden proliferation of  pirate radio across Europe which, as we all owned little transistor radios, was the musical distribution network of choice, and suddenly radio playlists were sprinkled with the little bits of vinyl magic from the album. This time we didn’t need a big cultural event from The Beatles to cheer us up as a nation, the Charlton brothers and the West Ham Academy had seen to that. Instead the Beatles seeped out through the ether, and their new collaborative democracy was signified by Ringo singing the single and George kicking off the album with the misunderstood Taxman, “the Taxman’s taken all I’ve got” indeed; it’s a shame about Ray… Continue reading