Archive for The Beatles

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

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Act Naturally & Celluloid Beatles

Posted in Beatles in 12 Songs, Beatles50, Hard Day's Night with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by fred6368

The Beatles in Twelve Songs (3)

Act Naturally? In the main they didn’t. The black leather boys from Hamburg were stuck in suits by Epstein, discovered in Transylvania for their cartoon identity, and peppered up in military Edwardiana for their day-glo re-invention as submarine alter-ego’s. And don’t even mention the milk-float Bondage of HELP! even though it did give us Act Naturally, the legendary B-side of the all our Yesterday single. They’re going to put The Beatles in the Movies

In the beginning, however, there was Hard Days Night. The kind of quick exploitation movie that sneaks out under the creative radar then transcends the sordid commercial origins in which it was brewed up, in this case by United Artists. As Stephen Denny put it “a low-budget exploitation movie to milk the latest brief musical craze for all it was worth.” UA wanted a quick exploitation picture starring The Beatles in order to get their hands on a Beatles soundtrack which they estimated would make them £1m. They offered a budget of £100k, later upgraded to £200k,and duly gave UA their soundtrack album and, fatally, the rights to 2 more Beatles movies. Although UA originally thought “our record division wants to get the soundtrack album to distribute in the States, and what we lose on the film we’ll get back on this disc” the film ending up taking $11m worldwide becoming tagged “the Citizen Kane of Jukebox movies” In 2013 Mojo rated it 8th out the top 100 music films of all time, with a song written specifically as an overture for the film – Hard Day’s Night

Ringo joined The Beatles  on August 14th 1962 on August 22nd they were filmed for the first time performing Some Other Guy in the Cavern in Liverpool by Leslie Whitehead, later to write the incredible How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin. It’s an oft-bootlegged bit of film as it iconic, filmed the moment before the first Parlophone single but in the heart of their fanland; one of whom shouts “bring back Pete” at the end. Significantly Continue reading

I Want To Hold Your Hand & Going Global

Posted in Beatles in 12 Songs, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2013 by fred6368

The Beatles in Twelve Songs (2)

It was 50 years go today that the Beatles taught America to play, with the biggest prime-time TV show audience ever (73 million viewers) on the Ed Sullivan show, February 9th 1964. In the UK I Want To Hold Your Hand had been the cherry on the cake of their annus mirabilis 1963 where it went to Number One in the charts by knocking off their own She Loves You, which had been in the Top 3 ever since it was released, and had just returned to the top after Beatlemania had gone national. In the USA I Want To Hold Your Hand popped a nations cherry and they laid down begging for the first British Invasion since 1812. This is how The Beatles woke them up and how America succumbed

Surprising huh? Quite a flat performance of a song tooled by McCartney to be a hit single written specifically to break the American market whilst he was living in the house of his girlfriend Jane Asher. Asher’s father was a Harley Street doctor, and her musical mum, Margaret Elliott, was a Professor at the Guildhall School of Music where she had taught producer George Martin the oboe. Frustrated by Capitol Records not promoting, or even releasing, early Beatles singles, manager Brian Epstein had asked Lennon and McCartney to write a song specifically to be a hit in the USA, and it was Paul who did. Jane’s brother Peter Asher was the first to hear the song, played on piano, as his room was opposite Paul’s  at 57 Wimpole Street London. This is what a made to order US hit record sounds like

Peter Asher’s bedroom proved to be amazingly strategically placed. He became good friends with McCartney, showing him round London and later became head of Apple Records, signing James Taylor with whom he Continue reading

Please Please Me & MerseyBeat

Posted in Beatles in 12 Songs, Beatles50 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by fred6368

The Beatles in Twelve Songs (1)

It was fifty years ago today that The Beatles released their first smash hit, the second official release on George Martin’s Parlophone label, Please Please Me. beatlesnumber1

In this series of blog posts, in honor of many Beatles 50th anniversaries throughout 2013, I will be writing a history of The Beatles in 12 songs. Through this I hope to capture and reflect all that they gave us musically and culturally.

Merry Crimble; In The Beatles first Christmas record for their fan club in 1963 John Lennon is asked what most pleased him about the year 1963 and he replies (50 secs in),  “it was a gear year for us, and it all happened really when Please Please Me became a number one hit”: .

In the UK the breakthrough single for the Beatles was Please Please Me, which, to my ears, was the first recording that captured a British Merseybeat sound. (More on Mersey Beat here) Originally an attempt by John to write a Roy Orbison song (the biggest selling artist in the UK in 1962)  it was considered by George Martin to be too slow. The Beatles speeded it up and finally offered George Martin a version in the exuberant tempo that we now expect to hear. Martin re-arranged it and so created both the version we love, along with the template for recording other Merseybeat artists, it certainly pleased George. “Gentlemen you have your first number one record” 

So how did The Beatles become so good at writing smash hit singles Continue reading

Real Best of the Beatles 2

Posted in remasters with tags , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by fred6368

Q Magazine Real Best Series May 2012 

Last post we listed 10 Beatles tracks, 5 selected by Q magazine with a reply to each from me, which represent the “real best” of The Beatles – excluding the obvious tracks; so more Past Masters than All Time Greats. Rob Fitzpatrick, the Q journalist involved, also commented that “no one has ever made better tracks” even 42 years later and that “the Beatles have been instilling the idea of progressive cultural creativity since 1962.” As this blog also believes that we felt we should reply with our own ten tracks. This is part two; 5xQ 5xFred.

Our next remastered track is from 1964, in which “youngblood” Paul  transmit’s his happiness at being RSA actress Jane Asher’s partner by imagining what he might be saying to her in ten years. Q think that this is “a minor chord lament that explodes into major-chord life” 1 minute in. McCartney, who wrote the song on the yacht Happy Days in the Caribbean, said it was “future nostalgic” about Things We Said Today ;   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

Beatles YouTube Album 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2012 by fred6368

Think for Yourself

2012; I am planning a number of blog posts this year, with two key ones. The Ballad of John about Lennon’s contribution to the Beatles will complete the quartet on Ringo’s Skins, Paul’s Bass and George’s Weeps. The second key post will be about The Beatles in Hamburg. I visited Hamburg recently and gathered a lot of information about their experiences there from visiting the Reeperbahn, the Grosse Freiheit and The Beatles Museum; fascinating stuff. As the Beatles Live 1957-63 is the single most popular post on this blog (now with over 10,000 reads) I am hoping I can add to and deepen the discussion of the Beatles formative time in Germany between 1960-62. I will also continue the review of Beatles album with a discussion of Love, having seen the show in Vegas.

2011 Surprised by how marvellous the Martin Scorsese film Living In the Material World was on The Beatles I completed 3 posts about George Harrison’s role in The Beatles in 2011. In line with my view that The Beatles display a “Group Genius“, that is they exist best as Continue reading