Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Beatles on 8-Track

As a kid, I remember our family had the Revolver eight-track. It was my first experience with a Beatles' album in a different format. We must've listened to that tape a million times.

The truly weird thing about eight-track technology was that the albums had to be divided into four "Programs". Because each program only lasted so long, some songs had to be split in two. The people in charge of sequencing the songs would find an appropriate spot in the song, fade it out, and after the eight-track switched to a new program, the song would fade back in. For example, on "Tomorrow Never Knows", they picked to divide the song half-way through the guitar solo. To this day, when I hear that guitar solo, I expect it to fade out. Ah, memories.

In the late 60's, cassettes came along and the eight-track died a slow death. The last eight-track I remember seeing was a copy of Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. A buddy of mine bought a dozen of them thinking they'd be collector's items. I have no idea what one is worth these days, but I'm guessing $30 or $40 max.

I have a few Beatle/Solo 8-Tracks, including a mint, still in the wrapper Wedding Album. Can you imagine anyone actually listening to that thing in their car? Good way to get somebody to leap out on the freeway.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Fifth Beatle Retires From Apple

Neil Aspinall has quit his job as head of Apple. He's being replaced by a fellow named Jeff Jones who I know nothing about. I'm sure we'll learn more about Jones soon (who he is, why he was chosen, etc.). Check the "Beatle News" link for more info on the whole story.

I was shocked to read the announcement, but Neil is 64 now and I can't think of a better age for the head of the Beatles' affairs to call it quits and spend his time doing the garden and digging the weeds.

As I've said before, Neil truly is the fifth Beatle. Along with the late Mal Evans, Neil was there from the beginning as roadie and driver. And while Mal moved on after the band split, Neil stayed on to run Apple. He watched over the Beatles' franchise like a mother hen and maintained the high standards we came to expect from a Beatles product.

But in retrospect, maybe he watched it a little too closely. I have no beef with his reluctance to take the music in cyberspace. As the biggest act in pop music history, they have that luxury. However, I've grown impatient with the lack of new DVDs. "Help!", "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Let it be" need to be redone, and I want plenty of extras. And how about a DVD of the bands "videos"?

Maybe this Jones character will get on stick. The new CDs, like Let it be...Naked, Love, and The Capitol Albums are fine, but hey, I've been waiting for a "Let it be" DVD for 10 years. And I ain't gettin' any younger.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pete & Paul

I see that Pete Best has said he wants to meet with Paul, bury the hatchet and talk about old times. I always thought it was odd that the Beatles never had any contact with Pete after they sacked him (they did run into him backstage at a gig or two right after, but no words were exchanged).

Apparently Pete and Ringo aren't in hurry to get together. They were never mates in the first place. But even more importantly, Ringo made some comments in a 1965 Playboy interview that Pete's firing was because he was on drugs. Pete sued, and got an out of court settlement. No word on the amount, but let's speculate: Pete's lawyers vs. Beatles lawyers? I'd guess that Pete didn't get much.

Another weird angle is Neil Aspinall, the real fifth Beatle and head of Apple to this day. He was tight with Pete and word is that they are still friends. They are actually "related", too. Neil had an affair with Pete's mom and had a child with her (which makes the child Pete's half-brother). If I could interview Neil, I would like to ask him, "Did you and the Beatles ever discuss Pete? Did they ever ask about him? Or was the subject off-limits?"

These show-business splits/feuds are common. John, Paul, George and Ringo had spats of their own. But as time goes on, things settle, and it's all one big happy family.

Even Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the most famous show-business feud in history, made nice in the end.

It would be interesting to see Paul and Pete sit down for a cuppa. And I have a hunch they will. But don't bet on Ringo tagging along.