“Beatles historian” thinks “Revolution 1” Take 20 may be the real deal

27 02 2009

Here’s an interesting article that’s a few days old.  Richie Unterberger, author of the book The Unreleased Beatles: Music And Film, believes “Revolution 1” Take 20, which found its way onto the internet this week, is the “real deal.”  The article explains why and discusses other Beatles unreleased tracks like the 27 minute take of “Helter Skelter” and “Carnival of Light.”


About Revolution 1, he said

With technology these days, it certainly seems theoretically possible to manufacture and overdub some effects that are heard on the circulating version,” says Unterberger. “A particular feature of this circulating recording is the weird, unclassifiable flowing and ebbing swell of a note that occurs throughout – it’s what I call a ‘train-passing-by’ sound. It seems like it could be an electronically manipulated effect or perhaps even a distorted snatch of a harmony vocal.”

Even so, Unterberger believes the sounds were indeed made by The Beatles themselves. “When I hear them, they don’t sound impossible to me that they could have been part of the original recording – The Beatles were coming up with all kinds of unpredictable and futuristic effects in the studio, especially in their final years.

A few days ago, I was not so sure that this new discovery was nothing more than a brilliant “outfake” but people that know the Beatles lost studio work better than I do seem to think it’s likely a legit Beatles product.  I think the fact that EMI had the file pulled from youtube within a day is quite telling.



The video is gone, but you can listen to “Revolution 1” Take 20 here

25 02 2009

Ahh, the internet.  Try as they might, the mighty corporate giants of the world can’t keep stuff off the internet once it finds its way onto it.

EMI had youtube pull the “Revolution 1” leak, but other websites have very good quality audio versions.  Here’s one.  Listen and enjoy.



The newest development in the “Revolution 1” leak story

24 02 2009

Many of you know that yesterday an alleged previously unreleased version of “Revolution 1,” take 20 to be exact, was “leaked” onto the internet and caused something of a firestorm.

I doubted the authenticity of this thing as a Beatles mix.  Sure, it is Beatles music and incorporates elements of both the released “Revolution 1” and “Revolution 9.”  My suspicion was, and still is, that this “newly discovered” Beatles take is a modern mash-up.

But, EMI has pulled the video from youtube.  Perhaps that is only because the mpeg includes, at least in part, previously released material.  But, perhaps it’s because take 20 is authentic.  Why would EMI worry if this were nothing more than a mash-up?

Hmmm. Wondering.

Beatles “Revolution 1” take 20 a hoax?

24 02 2009

It’s all over the ‘net.  Previously unreleased “Revolution 1” Take 20 is creating quite a stir.  I’ve read numerous blogs and articles about it and am surprised at how few people recognize what it is.

This first part is nothing more than the version of “Revolution 1” that found its way onto the White Album sans the electric guitar licks.  There’s additional studio chatter in the beginning of the song.

What is unique about is how “Revolution 1” bleeds into “Revolution 9.”  Surprisingly, a lot of fans (casual observers, perhaps) don’t recognize that the loops are lifted straight from “Revolution 9.”  There’s nothing new in the loops as far as I can tell.

The world awaits confirmation as to the authenticity of this take.  My belief, and I could be wrong, is that this is nothing more than a mash-up done by an audio-savvy fan.  There are a lot of great song mash-ups out there, and this sounds like one of them.

One of the reasons I believe this is not the take in the form in which it was recorded or mixed by the band is that Beatles fans have dig up damn near everything the Beatles done in the studio.  So many bootlegs of their session work exist and have existed for decades.  How is it that this missing take 20 mix stayed hidden for 41 years?  I think this would have found its way onto the Anthology series had it been an authentic Beatles mix.

We’ll see what the surviving Beatles have to say about it, hopefully in the next few days.

As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but aging…

24 02 2009

If George Harrison were alive today, he’d be celebrating his 66th birthday.

There has been confusion over the years about George’s actual birthdate, but apparently his birth records show he was born on February 24, 1943, just a few minutes shy of midnight.

Happy birthday, George.


An example of trying too hard

23 02 2009

There is little else better in popular music than mind-bending lyrics.  Writers that can paint beautiful pictures with words always catch my ear, even if I don’t necessarily care for their music.

Lyrics really are works of art.  The question is whether or not any given set of lyrics are bad or good art (which is obviously largely a matter of taste.)

I’m turned off by lyrics that are too ambitious, that strain to pound home a message or that are too saturated with imagery.  It’s nearly impossible to quantify something like that.  It’s more of a matter of “I know it when I hear it.”

An example I keep running across is “The Glory of the Atom” by Ani DiFranco.  Just on paper, the lyrics are quite clever.  But they are preachy and arrogant, almost smarmy.  They are almost too artsy, if that can be said.  I can’t explain it better than to say the song drives me bonkers because the lyrics are just too much to take.  It’s like looking at a painting made of all neon colors.  The image might be beautiful, but one can only look so long before one’s eyes start to hurt.

Judge for yourself.

The rebirth of rock opera

21 02 2009

You thought rock opera died with Quadrophenia or, perhaps, Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime.  You were wrong…partially at least.

For the last few months I’ve pretty much ignored the big ad on the back of my Mojo magazines for Monkey Journey to the West, the most recent multi-media project from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewett, collaboratively known for their Gorillaz projects.

The wiki entry for the project reads (in part)

Monkey: Journey to the West is a stage adaptation of the 16th Century Chinese novel Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng’en. It was conceived and created by the Chinese actor and director Chen Shi-zheng, together with the British musician Damon Albarn and British artist Jamie Hewlett. However, the original idea came from Jean-Luc Choplin, head of the Chatelet Theatre in Paris

*     *     *

Billed as a “circus opera“, the show is Hewlett and Albarn’s first major collaboration since Gorillaz. Albarn composed the musical score while Hewlett designed the visual concept, set and costumes. The adaptation for stage has been written by Shi-zheng, who also directs the production. Dramaturgy is by David Greenspan. The show features Chinese singers and 70 Chinese acrobats and martial artists. The orchestra put together for the production includes members of the UK Chinese Music Ensemble (led by Cheng Yu), Demon Strings and Sense of Sound.

In addition to the production, the Manchester International Festival also ran a programme of educational workshops in local schools, in partnership with the Chinese Arts Centre. In the programme, local children were introduced to the tale of Journey to the West, and learnt about various aspects of Chinese culture, music and dance, including mask-making, puppet-making, Tai Chi and Kung Fu.

Hewlett and Albarn included characters from Monkey: Journey to the West in an animation sequence titled “Journey to the East.” The BBC used the sequence to introduce coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing

Here’s the feature one trailer

I was really surprised to find this project was that ambitious, that expansive.  In the strictest sense, it’s not a rock and roll opera.  In fact, it’s more truly a multi-media version of traditional Chinese opera.  With Albarn involved, there are definitely rock elements.  Regardless of how one might label it, the project, to me, is stunning in its daringness.  It’s outside the box (to borrow the overused corporate cliche.)  To me, that makes it worth a look or listen.