Tuesday, March 29, 2005

50 years ago...

Least we forget, in the begining it was Paul and George. About 50 years ago (early 1955) the two became friends after riding the bus to school together. It was a couple years before John came into the picture.

So take a moment and recall those two scrappy Liverpool kids, ages about 12 and 13, striking up a friendship because of their love of music and guitars. Oh what I'd give to go back in time and see that initial conversation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In Defense of "Sometime in New York City"

I remember buying this album new in the Summer of 1972. Coming less than a year after Imagine (which could be considered Lennon's best post-Beatle album), I was turned off by the Elephant's Memory horn section, the number of Yoko songs and the heavy political themes.

It retrospect, Sometime in New York City has become one of my favorite Lennon lps. While Yoko's "Sisters, O Sisters" and "Born in a Prison" are weak, her album closer "We're All Water" is a terrific number. Great lyrics, great tune...I absolutely love it. And the band really rocks on it, too.

"Woman is the Nigger of the World" is one of John's (and Yoko's) best. "John Sinclair" never fails to fascinate me: A seemingly standard folk song, the weirdly timed chorus is a grabber.

Also super are "New York City", "The Luck of the Irish" and "Angela".

The "Live Jam" on Disc 2 doesn't do much for me, but the original release included it as a freebee, so I figure I'd rather have it than not.

Give this album another chance. It's a neat time capsule into the world of John and Yoko and Nixon's America. And also provides a nice companion piece to the five episodes of the "Mike Douglas Show" that J&Y co-hosted...I remember watching them as a teen in the afternoons of February 1972, and I have the complete shows on a Rhino video collection.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Beatles Playlist...so many LPs, so little time...

What the heck do I decide to play on any given day? Years ago, I created a playlist. It's a list broken into seasons (Fall, Winter, etc.), and the play order is based on when the albums were released.

When I got the White Album for Christmas in 1968 (along with a new stereo!), it was one of the whitest Christmas' on record in my hometown of Portland Oregon. So it's only natural that I associate the LP with Christmas and the white snow and the white color of the LP blend together in my mind.

A hot summer day always reminds me of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. It seems like Pepper got played pretty much everyday the Summer of Love, and I'll always remember the hot August morning that my Mom got my brother out of bed by playing Side 2 of Revolver full blast. The pounding piano intro of "Good Day Sunshine" rousted my brother and I out of a late lay-in. Whether she was aware of the song's relevance is something I'll never know. It was probably already on the turntable, or on top of the stack of LPs in our room.

Here's my playlist broken into seasons, again, based on when they were released. I include all British and American LPs, even the new stuff. I don't include albums like Capitol Albums or the 30th anniversary/limited White Album CD, since they are exactly like the original releases.

SPRING: Please Please Me, Second Album, Early Beatles, Hey Jude, In the Beginning, 1962-66, 1967-70, Hollywood Bowl, Anthology 2

SUMMER: Hard Day's Night, Something New, Beatles VI, Help!, Yesterday and Today, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Let It Be, Rock 'N Roll

FALL: Abbey Road, Past Masters Vol 1 & 2, Anthology 3, Yellow Submarine Songbook, 1, Let It Be...Naked

WINTER/HOLIDAY SEASON: With the Beatles, Beatles For Sale, Beatles '65, Rubber Soul, Collection of Beatle Oldies, Magical Mystery Tour, White Album, Live at the BBC, Anthology 1

WINTER/AFTER HOLIDAYS: Meet the Beatles, Yellow Submarine

For the solo albums, I also break it into seasons, but by artist, not by album. This is partly based on the fact that a lot of John's solo work was released in the Fall and Paul's was released in the Summer (which also coincides with their birthdays). Same with George, who released a lot at Christmas and around his birthday in February.


Of course I don't follow this list religiously. I play whatever I want whenever I want. But when grabbing something to play in the car, or when I'm not sure what I'm in the mood for, I use the list. Also, it helps me make sure I give everything I've acquired since 1964 at least one listen per year.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Our Paul

For us slightly cynical Beatle fans, Paul has always been our least favorite Fab in a lot of ways. Not for his music, although that's part of it, but because of his personality. In a lot of ways, he seems a bit shallow, stingy and unaware of the fact that he can come off as a asshole.

John is the more interesting one overall, and even though he was a dick, he admitted it in his songs and interviews. He at least TRIED to be a nice guy and was aware of his shortcomings.

Ringo we can't hate. We can dismiss his songs and be awed by his sheer luck at hooking up with the others. But he seems like a generally nice guy, and very normal.

George is tough to figure. He was in a strange spot; with Ringo beside him, he was shoved out of the John/Paul power position. But he was much more talented than Ringo, so it had to be frustrating. The quiet one, the "mean" one (in the movies at least), he eventually went on to make some of the best solo work of all of them. And his journey to find spiritual happiness in such a public way is commendable.

Now about Paul. Always seeming to be justifying his part in the Lennon-McCartney team makes him seem shallow and egotistical. More concerned with hits and being popular, it appears that he misses the whole point of what the Beatles were about: Do your own thing.

But maybe that is his thing? In defense of Our Paul, he was always the PR arm of the act. So playing the Super Bowl and self-promoting his ass off isn't really out of character. It's just that it's more annoying without the other three around him to keep him in check. And for all his shallowness, whining about how he was as good as John, and some truly sappy tunes and sketchy career moves, he does seem happy and well adjusted.

Sure he's had his marijuana problems. The guy was a MAJOR pothead, no doubt.

But he was never a drunk, or a hard-drug addict, and he never got a divorce or had a falling out with his family. He's raised decent kids and is involved in various charities. He's had to deal with the death of two beloved partners (Linda AND Lennon) and seems to keep on moving thru life with a good attitude. The ironic thing is, even though I sort of like Paul the least, I'd rather BE Paul than the others.

And here's my final two-cents: Every move Paul has made since he was a young man has been chronicled and detailed. That being said and considered, he's done a pretty okay job living a decent life. And for a guy who comes off as shallow and obsessed with being popular and admired, he has spent a huge chunk of his life alone in a room, writing music and lyrics and making us all a little bit happier by doing it.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Capitol Albums Vol. 1

I really enjoy this CD. It contains one of my top-five Beatle albums; The Beatles' Second Album, which has a great line-up of songs, and is the first Beatles' lp I ever owned. Made up of British singles, EPs and some left-overs from With The Beatles it remains solid and a great example of what a powerful little combo they were.

My only complaint is in the lousy packaging. Unless you get the "little block box" version (as opposed to the old-fashioned "long-box" which I'm told is more common) it's difficult to store on your CD shelf. I found the best way is to lay it on it's spine. Otherwise the CDs fall out and frantic fumbling ensues. Also, the little mini-sleeves, although very cool and fun, should have the title/Beatles name on the spine, like the originals. Maybe they are too small for Capitol to do it, but I'm guessing it could've been done.

Having the stereo mix and mono mix on the same disc is not a perfect solution, but it does seem like the most reasonable way to package it. Having too separate sleeves and disc for each album would be preferred, but I suppose it would've also jacked up the price.

I'm curious about Capitol's plans for Vol. 2 (and a Vol. 3?). There are seven unreleased Capitol Albums left (not counting post-breakup compilations). So how are they going to break it up? And that's counting Revolver, which really doesn't need to be included as the only difference is there are three less songs on it than the British version (the mix may be different, but we're splitting hairs here, and I don't suppose there's much interest in having it unless you are a fanatic Beatle nut like me).

I'm not sure why A Hard Day's Night was not included in the first set. It came out a month before Something New, so they either don't have the rights (it was originally a United Artists release, not Capitol), but I thought Capitol had the rights now since my cassette version bought about 15 years ago is on Capitol.

Including Rubber Soul is also questionable since the line-up in similar to the British version, except that it excludes some tunes that were put on Yesterday and Today and includes some from the British Help!.

They could extend it to two more volumes if they include Hey Jude which is an American release, however it's an Apple lp, not Capitol. So how can it be on a set called "Capitol Albums"?

Well, it's not a perfect world. But if I was in charge, here's how I'd do it:

"Vol. 2"
A Hard Day's Night
The Early Beatles
Beatles VI

"Vol. 3"
Rubber Soul
Yesterday and Today
Hey Jude

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Patti's Pix

Just saw Patti's photo's at a SF gallery. Some good shots of George, mostly in the early 70's but some from the 90's as well. Best one is of George walking along the Isle of Skye in 1972.

Another nice one of Paul and Linda at Patti's wedding to Eric Clapton. Paul looking very dapper and Linda smoking a cig.

A bunch of shots of the boys in India, too. Too bad there are so expensive ($2000+) or I'd consider buying one.

I always liked Patti, and am glad to see her active and it's reassuring to know that she was still friendly with George after the divorce (at least they look friendly in one pic together in 1995 at George's Friar Park estate).

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

CD Fun

For a good time, I've been putting solo Beatle albums on my CD player, hit "shuffle", and get to hear what a post-1969 Beatles album might have sounded like. Putting on Greatest Hits combos is a nice listen. Or I put on solo work from the same year like 1974: Band on the Run, Walls and Bridges, Dark Horse and Goodnight Vienna.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Paul Goes Commerical

Sad to see that Our Paul has decided to sell some of his solo work to the corporate world for advertising. I remember seeing him on Bob Costas' old "Later" show years ago, and he was complaining about Beatle songs being put on TV and print ads. I remember him especially angry over Folger's using the line "I went downstairs and had a cup" (from "A Day in the Life") in a magazine ad.

He talked about how using songs for ads actually devalues them, and I agree.

But don't get me wrong. I love the guy. And it's his right to change his mind and do whatever he wants to do with his music. I'm just disappointed.

Monday, March 07, 2005


February 24th was George's birthday, and I've been listening to his solo work lately. It holds up well.

All Things Must Pass will always be his masterpiece, and I enjoy the new, less reverb version as well. Here's my list of George's solo work in order of preference:

All Things Must Pass
Living in the Material World
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
Thirty-Three and a Third
Dark Horse
Live in Japan
Concert for Bangla Desh
Cloud Nine
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3
George Harrison
Best of Dark Horse (1976-1989)
Best of George Harrison
Extra Texture
Somewhere in England
Gone Troppo
Electronic Sound