Monday, February 26, 2007

It's George's Birthday, It's George's Birthday....

...and we'd like to wish him all our very best.

George would've been 64 today...the last Beatle to reach the landmark number.

George's music continues to inspire me and I miss him. He was a true Dark Horse, the Wildcard in the Beatles. Without his songs, Indian music influences and sweet harmonies, the Beatles would've been simply a one-two punch.

If you don't already have it, get the DVD Concert For George. A must have. Also cool is the Dark Horse Years DVD. It has most of his later videos and some decent interview footage.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dancing With Heather

I see that Heather Mills has been cast to participate in March's installment of "Dancing With The Stars". I've never watched more than a few minutes of this show, and have no clue as to why people are interested. But that's what makes horse racing and show business.

I truly think it's great that someone with an artificial limb is participating. Heather took the tragedy of her injury and turned it into a cause, becoming an advocate for amputees. Let's give her credit for that.

But I'm asking myself, would ABC have cast her if the divorce from Our Paul was amicable? Or is the network, and Heather, cashing in on the fact that it's a messy affair and that she's become a notorious figure? Maybe. Maybe not.

And is she actually a "star"? She was a nobody in the modeling world before her accident, and her claim to fame is that she was married to a Beatle.

And yes, other Beatle wives used their marriages to promote their careers. But let's look at what they actually did before and after hooking up with a Fab.

Linda McCartney was a respected, talented photographer. The cover of the McCartney album is my favorite cover of all time. And even though it's "cool" to say her singing sucked and she couldn't play keyboards, I disagree. I like her vocals, especially on Ram. And no one even claimed her musicianship was anything but at a beginner's level. She also co-wrote a bunch of songs, including the middle-reggae bit on "Live and Let Die".

Yoko Ono was a well-known figure in the underground scene before she met John. And while people love to put her music down (like Linda), at least she made the effort. Like it or not, she is an artist.

Cynthia Lennon has written a couple of books, but never went into "show business". And I'm glad she wrote the books. I'll read any book by a Beatles insider.

Patti Harrison was a successful model pre-George, and probably would've gone on to be even bigger if she had chosen to. She's now a professional photographer, and her work sells at a hefty price.

And Barbara Bach was a major movie actress. Most notably as the "Bond Girl" in what many people consider the best Roger Moore 007 flick, The Spy Who Loved Me.

I won't go out of my way to tune in to "Dancing With The Stars", but I must admit I'm curious. If I'm channel surfing and it's there, I'll watch. And I wish her well.

But I'd rather see Yoko cut a rug. At least she's a "star".

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Northwest Passage

I know this blog is supposed to about The Beatles, but I had to mention the new documentary, Northwest Passage.

It's a chronicle of the Portland Punk scene in the 70's and 80's and features bands like The Wipers, Neo Boys, Styphnoids, and my old band The Cleavers. Check it out. I haven't seen it yet, but apparently it includes a Cleavers' fan favorite, "Bob Crane Song".

And if you want a "Beatles" connection, well, The Cleavers did emulate the fabs regarding their line-up: Two guitars, bass and drums. So there.

Check the link "Northwest Passage" to the right for more info.

Rock on.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Let it be...DVD

I just read an article regarding the Apple vs. Apple settlement.

And while it's nice that the Apples are all one big happy family now, and the Beatles will finally be available for downloading, the real interesting thing about the story was Neil Aspinall's mention of the Let it be DVD.

To quote Neil: "The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realized: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues."
And that was that. It sounds like it's been shelved much like the original Let it be album was, because nobody can face finishing it up. Maybe they should call up Phil Spector again?

And what are these "issues" and controversiess" he's talking about? It's been forty years! And everything that happened during those January '69 sessions has been well documented in books and interviews.

I hope they get it together. Fans have been clamoring for a cleaned up version with extra footage for ages.

And besides, my originall VHS copy is about worn out.

Friday, February 09, 2007

February 9th, 1964

Forty-Three years ago today, The Beatles made their first historical appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show". Like millions of others, I watched and began my lifelong obsession with the four lads from Liverpool.

I was only six years old, but I still can remember my mom sitting my older brother and me in front of the tube and being told, "Watch this. It's important." Thanks a million, Mum.

The Beatles performed five tunes: "All My Loving", "Till There Was You", "She Loves You", "I Saw Her Standing There", and their mega hit at the time, "I Want To Hold Your Hand".

Some interesting facts about the show:

Paul is the star. He sings lead on three of the five tunes, with "All My Loving" at the top of the set list. This might be why Paul was my favorite Beatle as a kid. He got the most air time on that first show. I also dug him cuz he's left-handed, like me.

George had a severe case of the flu that day, and for the afternoon camera check, Neil Aspinall filled in for him. Neil, the Beatles "roadie" at the time, was originally brought in by his mate Pete Best. He went on to become the true "Fifth Beatle" (IMHO) and runs Apple to this day.

The television audience was so huge, that crime in New York virtually came to a stop during the broadcast. Yes, even the criminals had to stop everything to see what all the fuss was about.

And if you don't already have it: Get the DVD "Ed Sullivan Presents The Beatles". It has all four Ed Sullivan shows the Beatles appeared on (three from '64 and one from '65) and includes the entire show (Frank Gorshin doing some swell imitations, Mitzi Gaynor dancing, etc.), and even has the original commercials. The DVD is only about $20 and well worth it. A super must-have for any Beatles nut.

And hey, check out the Beatles official website (there's a link on the right>>>). They have some very nifty and new Cirque du Soleil Love extras. Videos, podcasts and audio interviews with Paul, Ringo, and George Martin and his son Giles, who produced the new album. Great stuff.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Collection of Beatle Oldies

On December 8th, 1966, Parlophone released A Collection of Beatle Oldies (But Goldies). Released in the U.K. and not in the U.S., the album featured only one cut previously unreleased in England: "Bad Boy". Americans had already heard it on Beatles VI.

The only reason for this albums' existence seems to be the fact that Parlophone wanted a Beatles' LP for the Christmas market. I have no idea who chose the songs or the horrible cover artwork, but it seems as if the Beatles had nothing to do with it. The back cover is cool. It's a strange shot of the boys in a hotel room in Japan. Paul wearing a kimono, George with groovy shades and John's head is turned away from the camera. It's the only interesting thing about the record.

This album has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. It's a real exception to the fact that Parlophone and the Beatles had a habit of giving their U.K. audience their money's worth. Singles were usually not on the LPs, which meant that, unlike the U.S. versions, fans didn't end up buying the same songs twice. I don't know why they suddenly got greedy and decided to release this useless record. And to make matters worse, by sticking "Bad Boy" on it, the truly obsessive fans probably forked over their hard earned dough to buy it. I wonder if there was some contractual agreement that forced the Beatles to release it? This was the first time they hadn't released two U.K. albums in one year (not so with Capitol. They not only had the Revolver LP, but also released the U.S. only Yesterday...and Today).

And even though it's a "official" part of the Beatles EMI/Parlophone canon, it was never made into a CD and is even absent from the Beatles website discography.

It's also void of any George songs. Ringo is there with "Yellow Submarine", but considering A Collection of Beatle Oldies came on the heals of George's sudden emergence on Revolver, it's odd and kind of sad that he was ignored. And although the Beatles probably gave the album very little attention or notice (aside from watching the sales figures), George was probably very aware of his absence on it. Granted, most of the songs included were singles, and George was never on a 45 at this point (A or B side), but Oldies did have a few non-singles (e.g., "Yesterday" and "Michelle").

We know from interviews that George was not all that keen about the fact that his song "It's All Too Much" didn't make the cut of their next LP, Sgt. Pepper. After getting two songs on Rubber Soul and three on the follow-up Revolver, George was probably not too pleased with only getting only one on Pepper. And being ignored on this silly Christmas money-maker was just another sign that it was indeed the "John and Paul Show".