Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So Where's Capitol Albums Vol. 3?

With Labor Day approaching, Christmas can't be far off. Apple usually releases some kind of Beatles' product for the holidays, and I find it hard to believe the big item this year is the Beatles' Monopoly game (although it looks kind of cool, and I want it!).

Last year was the long awaited Help! DVD, which was pretty damn good, especially if you got the 'deluxe' version (with a shooting script and lobby cards).

Capitol Albums Vol. 1 came out Christmas 2004, Vol. 2 in April of 2006. So Vol. 3 is due. Did the mixing debacle of Vol. 2 make Apple gun-shy? I heard rumors regarding that. i.e., that there's some kind of rift between Apple and Capitol over the whole mess. I still don't have the proper version (the only time I've seen the correct mix is at the Beatles' store at the Mirage in Las Vegas. And like everything else in the store, it was too pricey for this boy).

In the meantime, I'm dying for the mono versions of Revolver and especially Sgt. Pepper (which is regarded as being superior to the stereo one).

So get with it Apple! Or is the only Christmas fun I have to look forward to is rolling some dice and taking my 'Silver Hammer' token to 'Abbey Road'?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Summer of Love

I'm currently reading an Elton John bio, 'Elton', by David Buckley. It's a good one, with lots of info I never knew. Lots of Beatle stuff, too.

But it does perpetuate an ongoing myth out there regarding the 'transformation' of the Beatles, circa 1967. The book mentions that with the release of Sgt. Pepper the Beatles were suddenly unrecognizable. That they had undergone some tremendous change, not only physically, but musically as well.

I read and hear this over and over, and it's bullshit. The Beatles were constantly changing. And when Pepper came out in June 1967, neither their look or music was surprising to those of us who followed their every move at the time.

The single and 'video' for the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields had come out some four months earlier. So the mustaches and groovy threads were nothing new to us by June. Not to mention the fact that there were always new pictures of them in fan mags and newspapers.

John Lennon had cut his hair and began wearing his famous 'granny' glasses for the film How I Won the War in the late 1966, and photos of his new look were everywhere.

And regarding the music, after Rubber Soul and even more so with Revolver (released a year before Pepper), we were already hearing 'psychedelic' sounds, backwards effects and sitars.

For fans, nearly all of the Beatles' changes seemed natural and organic. I do recall having mixed emotions regarding my first sighting of their mustaches on the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields 45 sleeve, but hardly surprised.

People seem to have this notion that the Beatles changed overnight. It didn't happen that way. And when I hear someone say it, I recall a comment the Queen made to someone around that time: 'The Beatles have become awfully strange lately, haven't they?' No, your majesty. It was gradual. You just weren't paying attention.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

'Let it be' DVD WILL be released

If you blinked, you missed the rumor last week that Paul and Ringo were blocking the release of a Let it be DVD. The 'story' was that they felt the warts-and-all doc showed them in a bad light and that they'd rather bury it than have the public subjected to the Beatles 'not getting along'.

I had a feeling it wasn't true and was about to post my thoughts when lo and behold, Apple says it's baloney and that there will be a DVD eventually (don't hold your breath cuz no date has been announced).

'Magical Mystery Tour' hasn't come out either, and I suspect it will be released first, since of the two, Let it be is the more anticipated and a better choice as the 'last' Beatles DVD from a marketing standpoint.

Thinking of those two films made me hearken back to the when I first saw them and other subsequent viewings in those dark pre-cable, no VHS or bootleg DVD days (sometimes I think having only five TV channels and movie theaters as our only source of film made us more appreciative).

'Magical Mystery Tour' was originally a TV Special, broadcast in England on Boxing Day (December 26th, 1967). Because of the negative reaction (a first for the Fab Four), it was never shown on American television. The album had come out, complete with a booklet of pics, but we could only imagine was it was like.

Eventually, some resourceful theater owners were able to obtain prints. The following Summer a theater in Portland put it on. It was on the other side of town and I had to convince my mom to drive me and a buddy across the river to see it. Luckily, she didn't join us, because I remember being shocked (and turned-on) by the striptease sequence. I made my pal promise not to mention the scene to mom. I probably even offered him a bribe since he was a real 'Eddie Haskell' character and would've loved to embarrass me, given the opportunity.

Three years later, the same 'friend' and I went to see Let it be at one of the major theaters downtown. It was either the Fox or the Orpheum, and even though the movie was a major release, the place was empty. I suppose word of mouth was bad, and that 'it's no A Hard Day's Night or Help!.' On our way to see it, we had a discussion along the lines of 'what do you think the movie is about?'. We didn't know it was a documentary. Hell, we probably didn't even know what a 'documentary' was.

I was fascinated by Let it be (and still am). Seeing the boys up close and personal was glorious. Sure it was gloomy and they looked burned-out and sloppy, but watching them sitting around in the studio was, as the poster proclaimed, 'an intimate experience'.

A few years later, in the 70's, the 'midnight movie' craze hit Portland bigtime. Portland was always a good movie town (all the rain, y'know), and a few times a year the 5th Avenue Cinema downtown or the Bagdad's mini 'backstage' theater on Sandy Blvd would have a 'Beatles' night. They'd show solo Beatles' stuff, too, like How I Won the War, 200 Motels and Concert for Bangla Desh.

The drag was that Yellow Submarine was usually part of the line-up because the target audience were stoners, and in the mood for a psychedelic cartoon. Pot was a huge part of the culture back then, and Oregon was the first state to decriminalize it (i.e., a 'traffic ticket' for under than an ounce of the stuff). I'd suffer through Submarine for a chance to see the other ones.

Those midnight movies were a hoot. The crowd would openly smoke dope and drink beer, and along with the movies there would be shorts like 'Bambi vs. Godzilla', weird 50's educational fare or Nixon's famous 'Checkers Speech' (we'd boo and laugh at him).

With bottles rolling under the seats and people sitting in the aisles, a splendid time was guaranteed for all. The cops raided the 5th Avenue Cinema once. The movie stopped and all the lights went up and in come the Blue Meanies!

Luckily, the cop who searched me didn't find the two joints I had hidden in my cigarette pack. No 'traffic ticket' for me that night.