Saturday, May 31, 2008

Living in the Material World

Pulled out my vinyl copy today and gave it a listen. I also perused the cover and inserts and had some flashbacks to the summer of '73.

This was the last time George would have a #1 album. Coming off the heels of two huge sellers (both triple albums), All Things Must Pass and Concert for Bangla Desh, it flew off the shelves. But after this one, he never cracked that #1 spot again and people sort of lost interest in him.

Some of my favorite memories include the fact that Ringo plays on it, which gives the album a Beatlesque sound. And I love the fact that on the title track he mentions that he met 'John and Paul in the material world' and found 'Richie', too.

The back cover parodies Paul's Red Rose Speedway which had a blurb to join the 'Wings Fun Club'. George has a similar blurb to join the 'Jim Keltner Fan Club' (complete with wings bookending Jim's name) and to send a 'self addressed elephant' to the Apple office.

Red Rose had only come out about six weeks earlier, and I remember thinking at the time that it was funny, but also kind of petty considering George's message of love and karma, etc. But I guess he was sending a message to Paul that they weren't playing to teeny boppers anymore, and the idea of a 'fan club' was a bit silly. And with Paul being surrounded by sycophants, who else could tell him?

Good but not a great album, it was his last gasp at the big time. People bought it on the reputation of All Things Must Pass. But like Orson Welles and Citizen Kane, he could never top that first effort.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lennon/McCartney #1 songwriters

Some guy named Chris Harvey published a list of the '50 Best British Songwriters'.

Now I don't know who Chris Harvey is, but the list has a major problem. He separates Lennon and McCartney. John is #1 and Paul is #4, behind Kate Bush and Morrissey/Johnny Marr. I don't know squat about Kate Bush or Morrissey, but Lennon/McCartney should be #1.

Giving John solo credit for his Beatles' songs is flat out wrong and inaccurate. Even though some tunes were composed individually, they were written with the other guy looking over their shoulder. That's a major factor and all you have to do is listen to their solo work to see that the 'bullshit factor' made them better writers.

And rating Lennon #1 based on his solo work is a stretch. Yeah, there are some great songs in his canon, but you could argue that Paul's solo work is stronger overall.

But Chris Harvey did get one thing right. He calls Paul's last album 'atrocious'.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ringo Starr: Off the Record

I've watched Ringo's HBO special twice now.

The best part is when Ringo sits down at the kit and plays the drum parts of 'Ticket to Ride', 'Back of Boogaloo' and 'Come Together'. He discusses how he came up with the bits and demonstrates. Being naturally left-handed, he shows how he sometimes would drum backwards (going from the floor tom to tom-tom instead of the other way around), and the unique pause in 'Ticket' beat that was an influence of listening to and playing swing music.

But it astonishes me how he, like Patty Boyd in her recent bio, repeats the same stories we've heard a million times.

How during the 'White Album' he felt the other three were connecting and he wasn't meshing with them anymore. So he goes around to talk to them and they all say, 'I thought it was you three who were connecting!?'. And he leaves for a while and when he comes back, George had the studio all decked out with flowers, blah blah blah.

The 'Yer Blues' session is a small room, playing as a 'real' band...yadda yadda yadda.

And how the elongated Rubber Soul cover was an accident because the proof sheet slipped and gave it that weird look.

And host Dave Stewart sits there smiling and nodding. You know he's thinking, 'Yeah, I've seen the Anthology, I've read the about something new, Ring?'.

But it is worth watching. And Ringo is very cool. Laid back and funny. Whereas recent interviews with our Paul tend to show him as a self-promoting ego-maniac. But hey. What else is new?