August 8, 1969 — the Beatles shoot the most iconic album cover ever

8 08 2012

On August 8, 1969, Scottish photographer Iain MacMillan shot the Fab Four crossing that most famous of London cross walks.  Within 10 minutes, he captured what we all know and love as the cover of the Beatles’ swan song, Abbey Road, released in September 1969.

Almost as interesting as the album cover itself are some of the candid shots; the ones that weren’t used; the outtakes, if you will.  I had some fun with some of these outtakes, giving them a just a bit of an artsy flair.  [NOTE:  Obviously the source photos are not mine.  I don’t know who holds copyright.]

You couldn’t tell from these pictures that, in a little over a month, John would ask for his “divorce” from the Beatles, effectively finishing the group for good.  They seem at least cordial, if not friendly with each other.

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Ringo Starr rules out The Beatles’ sons forming a band | News | NME.COM

31 07 2012

http://www.nme.com/news/the-beatles/64586 I’m not convinced there ever was much chance of this happening, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if some minds were changed by a large enough pile of cash.





Beatles Day?

11 07 2011

I must be living under a rock because I’ve never heard of this event.  It came and went yesterday without me noticing.

It sounds like a cheesy but fun event.  I wonder what the significance is, if any, of July 10.

http://www.beatlesday.tv/





Gates come down at Strawberry Field

10 05 2011

The original gates to Strawberry Field, the Salvation Army home which inspired the Beatles’ 1967 song, have been taken down and put into storage.  They’re being replaced with replicas.

http://www.uncut.co.uk/news/uncut/news/14856





The Purple Gang: rock’s best rhythm sections

13 04 2011

To call a list a “best of” is usually a misnomer.  There is no “best of” anything, really.  It all comes down to opinion and personal taste.  But people know what is meant when that is said, so I’ll just stick with it.

I have my favorite bassist-drummer combos.  I know that other rock fans would probably not have some of these combos on their list and would add others that I hadn’t considered.  I do not necessarily rank them my favorites by technical proficiency.  I don’t know enough about jazz to talk about those guys.  And I’m not even necessarily a big fan of the bands from which these combos hail.  I know when I hear these combos though, for any number of reasons, I am moved by them. In rough order, they are:

  1. Entwistle/Moon, The Who — I don’t think there were better rock musicians at either spot than John Entwistle on bass or Keith Moon on drums.  Together, they were, I would argue, the most powerful force rock has seen.  In my book, they’re the best by miles.
  2. Jones/Bonham, Led Zeppelin — In terms of power, these guys were certainly miles ahead of just about anyone.  Their play was simply amazing.  You could tune out Page and Plant on many of the songs and just groove on the rhythm track.
  3. McCartney/Starr, The Beatles — This is where personal taste kicks in over something more objective and certainly over proficiency.  On bass, McCartney stands up to anyone, at least in his Beatles days.  He really was an innovator, though not because he was so fast or improvisational.  McCartney’s melodic approach was really the glue that held a lot of the Beatles’ best songs together.  Was Ringo one of the best drummers of all time?  I don’t think many fans or critics would say so.  He wasn’t even the best of his generation.  But he could hold his own.  Sometimes he was brilliant.  A great example of their power together is “Rain.”  Give it a listen.
  4. Lee/Peart, Rush — I’m not a big Rush fan, but recognize their skills.  Geddy’s a great bass player and Peart’s drumming — some people refuse to call him a drummer, instead favoring “percussionist” — is out of this world.  Peart might be the most technically proficient drummer in rock history, but I don’t find his work to have been as interesting and flavorful as Keith Moon’s.
  5. Sumner/Copeland, The Police — Was Sting a great bass player?  Many bass aficianados are dismissive of his playing; some think he was quite good in his heyday.  By himself, I do not regard Sting terribly highly, though he had flashes of brilliance.  But as a partner with Stewart Copeland, he made some great music.  I like Copeland’s drumming as well as anyone’s.  I recognize that Keith Moon did more with the instrument, but I get about the same amount of enjoyment listening to Copleland’s work with the Police as I do listening to the Who’s best drum stuff.   In the way that McCartney carried Ringo, I think Copeland carried Sting.
  6. The Funk Brothers — I wasn’t sure how to approach this loose group of combos, but I knew I couldn’t ignore them.  James Jamerson and Bob Babbit were sick good.  Jamerson, many bass players feel, was the best electric bassist ever.  They might be right.  Babbit is one of my favorites.  Check out his silky smooth playing on “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).”   I couldn’t tell you much about any of the individual drummers that rotated through the Funk Brothers.  I just know, as a corps, they did spectacular work.

 





The Beatles’ 100 Best Songs, according to me (51-60)

5 11 2010

Continued from

https://soundofthepounding.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/the-beatles%E2%80%99-100-best-songs-according-to-me-41-50/

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51.  It Won’t Be Long — A masterful pop song with the perfect pop ending

52.  She Loves You — Apparently, She Loves You was the biggest selling Beatles single in British history and it was the second song to explode Beatlemania all over the United States.  Paul noted the use of the device of writing from almost a third person perspective.  The audience is the object of another’s love.  The singer’s a messenger.  The Beatles did this type of thing a few times and it’s a nice little twist on the standard pop song.

53.  She Said, She Said — Perhaps to obscure the inspiration for this great bit of psychedelic rock, John changed it from He Said to She Said.  Peter Fonda nearly managed to kill everyone’s buzz one evening in LA, telling John and whoever else that would listen that he knew what it was like to be dead.  John was annoyed by the persistence and morbidity of the message but it obviously triggered something of a creative spark.  I’m awful at talking about time signatures but this song seems to jump around a bit.

54.  Two of Us — In the midst of breaking up, John and Paul managed to put together a handful of performances that still showed there was a tremendous chemistry between them, musically and personally.  While this song is supposed to be about Paul and his then fiance, Linda, most of us fans hear it as a song from Paul to John.  After all, with whom did Paul “have memories longer than the road the stretches out ahead,” Linda or John?  If the song came out today it would be in the “alt country” genre.

55.  Don’t Let Me Down — One of the best things about Let It Be…Naked is the addition of this simple but great track to the Let It Be lineup.  I’d like to know how it never found its way onto Spector’s version of the album, especially considering it originated during the making of the album and was one of the rooftop songs.  You’ll not find a man much more vulnerable than Lennon in this song.

56.  Yellow Submarine — If you can’t find something to like about Yellow Submarine, there is something seriously wrong with you.  Sure it’s a novelty song, but it’s a great one.  It’s creative, catchy, has a lot going on.  It shows that the Beatles could do amazing things when they took their work seriously, even when the song wasn’t serious.  Two thumbs up for Ringo’s vocals.  No one else could’ve sung it in that band.

57.  Old Brown Shoe — Looking at it conventionally, nothing about this song suggests that it is anything but filler.  It’s not a hit but it’s a nice rock song.  The guitar, the drums, the bass, the vocals — all ugly-funky-good!  In fact, it’s one of my favorite McCartney bass tunes.  OBS shows George a capable rock writer.

58.  I Don’t Want to Spoil The Party — I don’t have the energy to verify it, but I seem to recall that John considered this song a throw-away.  That wouldn’t be shocking considering he was pretty tough on his Beatles output.  Still, I think it’s a great bit of country-rock.  It’s another almost alt country bit.  The guitars sound great and the vocals are superb; another example of how great Paul and John sounded singing together.  Guys, if you’re being honest, you will admit to having a moment or two like this in your life. It’s a weep in your beer song.

59.  I’ve Just Seen a Face — It’s surprising how little credit George gets as a guitarist.  Songs like this get overlooked.  It would be too much to credit the Beatles for launching the folk-rock movement, but this song certainly would’ve helped bolster it, help keep music moving in that direction.  Capitol Records put this song on the American Rubber Soul to strengthen the album’s folk rock feel, to take advantage of the money-making bands like the Birds were doing.

60.  She’s Leaving Home — Probably some of Paul’s “granny shit” if you were to ask John, She’s Leaving Home tells a story that maybe spoke more to what was going on in homes in America and Britain than parents would have cared to admit.  It’s soft rebellion.  Don’t despise your parents, just leave.  Do what you want to do.  Not that the Beatles were necessarily advocating that, but the story plays to some of the stereotypes about the so-called “Me Generation.”  As a bit of music, it’s spectacular.  McCartney was not one to regularly sing falsetto, but he nailed it on this track.





The Beatles’ 100 Best Songs, according to me (41-50)

17 10 2010

Continued from prior posts

https://soundofthepounding.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/the-beatles%E2%80%99-100-best-songs-according-to-me-31-40/

https://soundofthepounding.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/the-beatles-100-best-songs-according-to-me-11-20/

https://soundofthepounding.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/the-beatles-100-best-songs-according-to-me-1-10/

https://soundofthepounding.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/the-beatles-100-best-songs-according-to-me-21-30/

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41.  Hello Goodbye — Lyrically, it’s terrifically simplistic.  Musically, there’s a lot going on, many layers to the song.  There are a bunch of instruments you can’t even hear on the new remasters.  HG is a fun song, well sung by Paul.

42.  Help! — John later admitted it was his “cry for help,” but at first blush it’s a very cool power pop song.  Help is iconic, one of those songs that epitomizes the mid-60’s and the British Invasion.

43.  Drive My Car — Another one of Paul’s attempts at capturing the Motown sound became a great bit of early white funk.  The opening guitar riff is delicious.  Follow the bass through the song; it has that flow.

44.  Things We Said Today — Following this song is a tiny bit like trying to imagine what would happen if you traveled back in time and did something that prevented your existence.  How could you go back in time and do that if you had never been born?  The lyrics themselves are hardly artsy, but the changes in tense is what makes the song interesting.  Paul starts singing about something his lover just said about the future, but he refers to it as an exchange that took place in the near past.  “Someday when we’re dreaming, deep in love, not a lot to say, then we will remember things we said today.”  In the future things will be different and they’ll look back to the past to see that.  Pay attention to how it jumps around and you’ll see its subtle cleverness.

45.  Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey — It’s a dirty little guitar driven rock track, some of the best hard guitar work the Beatles ever did.  I really don’t remember where the title came from, but there’s never been another rock song that pull off something that lyrically clumsy so…awesomely!  “Come on it’s such a joy” is apparently something the Maharishi was fond of saying.  His influence all over the White Album despite the way the Beatles’ love affair with him ended.

46.  Sexy Sadie — Speaking of the Maharishi, Sexy Sadie’s all about him and his alleged transgressions in India which was cause for John, George and Magic Alex to leave the Ishram.  From what I know about the story, Maharishi allegedly made a pass at a woman camper, which apparently John felt was a breach of etiquette.  (Maybe there was a feeling that the campers were supposed to be living a clean lifestyle and that the master should, therefore, lead by example.)  McCartney later said that leaving under that pretext seemed a little “prudish” on John’s part.  When Lennon went back to England he proceeded to dump his wife in favor of Yoko.  Apparently yogis cannot hit on women but pop stars can dump their ways.  Whatever really happened, it resulted in a great song.

47.  I Will — Probably because it was on the Beatles Love Songs double album that I had as a kid that I have always liked this one.  Paul sings it beautifully.  It’s one of those dozen songs that helped cement McCartney’s reputation as a sentimentalist and a balladeer.  What works best about the song is, intentionally or unintentionally, it’s got a Buddy Holly thing going.

48.  Can’t Buy Me Love — I’ve never been able to tell if “me” means “for me” or “my.”  Money can’t buy love for me or it can’t buy my love.  You know how the Brits sometimes say “me” in place of me.  I’ll never know I suppose.  It’s one of the best pop songs ever.

49.  I Saw Her Standing There is proof that John and Paul had an innate ability to write songs that they just happened to be blessed enough to be able to hone to a sharp point.  It was probably written in the late 50’s and stands up against pretty much any of the early American rock n’ roll hits.  It would fit nicely in the Chuck Berry catalog.

50.  Do You Want to Know A Secret — I believe there are a bunch of Beatles songs that are better in both measureable and immeasureable ways, but this works as a kind of doo-wop rock piece that is especially catchy.  It’s dated but almost sounds better after all these years.  You gotta love George’s nasally Scouse accent pouring through the speakers.