Sunday, December 06, 2009

McCartney and the Beatles' Apple Era

Paul really shined during the pre-Apple era of 1966-1967. Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour are all dominated by Paul. And he controlled their A-Sides, 2-to-1 over John.

He was writing great stuff. Not only hits like 'Paperback Writer', 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Penny Lane' and 'Hello Goodbye', but strong album cuts, too. I won't list them all here, but just take some of his slower/non-rocker tunes from that time: 'For No One', 'Fool on the Hill', 'She's Leaving Home' and 'Here There and Everywhere' . He had jumped a level from pop-song tune smith to being a legitimate composer.

He even did the award winning symphonic soundtrack for The Family Way. The guy was on fire.

But then Apple happened. The 'White Album' definitely feels more like a 'John album' than a 'Paul album'. And while McCartney shines on the Abbey Road medley (Side Two), his only complete, great number is 'Oh! Darling'. John and George are much stronger on Abbey. Even Yellow Submarine, which is barely an album, boast only one new Paul number, the silly 'All Together Now'.

And it's well documented that two McCartney numbers from the Apple-era, 'Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da' and 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' were intended as singles (or hits) and rejected by the others as being unworthy. And I agree. So why did Paul's work take a step backward during the Apple era?

I think the reason is because other Beatles quickly lost interest in running the company (Ringo never had any interest in the first place) and the bulk of managing Apple Corps fell to our favorite workaholic, Paul. He was too busy being Apple's overseer and promoting the likes of Mary Hopkins and Badfinger.

But that's not the whole story. Apple's first single was Paul's 'Hey Jude', the Beatles' biggest hit ever. A great launch for the label. And when things got especially dicey during the Let it be sessions, guess who rose to the occasion? Yep. Our Paul. 'Let it Be', 'The Long and Winding Road' and 'Get Back' are some of his best Apple-era songs. And his half of 'I Got A Feeling' ain't bad, either.

It kind of proves that, towards the end, Paul really wanted the Beatles to succeed more than the others. He pulled out his biggest hit to kick-off Apple and sacrificed time he should have been spending composing to being the chief-Beatle (essentially doing a lot of the things that both John and Brian Epstein used to do). Then, when the ship was sinking on Let it be, he resurfaced to make an otherwise lackluster album into another success for them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Blackberry 'All You Need Is Love' Ad

I'm not sure what having a Blackberry has to do with the slogan 'Do What You Love'? They have various ads. A struggling rock band, a mountain climber, two woman designing clothes, a date with a couple arguing (and getting back together by texting!?), and a woman break-dancer.

The only one that kind of makes sense is the last one. It shows the woman using her Blackberry to film a dance troupe she wants to join, she goes home and practices the steps, and voila, she's in the group!

But how does having a Blackberry make your band or dress designs better? And how does having a Blackberry make 'doing what you love' easier? Are they assuming that I'd have to cancel that mountain climbing deal if I couldn't 'text' while I scale Mount Everest?

It's like the ads where they equate having a lousy job with having bad credit. I assume they are saying that during the job screening process some companies check your credit report, and if you have a bad one, it could cost you the job. But the type of person they depict in the ad probably aren't aware that having 'bad credit' could have that kind of sideways affect. Besides, the characters in the ad are in a grungey rock band...shouldn't they have shitty jobs and be driving a beater? That's how my life was when I was a punk rocker.

But back to the Blackberry ad...I like their cover of 'All You Need Is Love', though. Never one of my favorite Beatles songs and I think I actually like this one better than the original.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Paul's Concert Material

A buddy and I were discussing Paul's choice of material for his live shows. It's funny, cuz back when Paul first started playing live in the early 70's, he wouldn't do any Beatles' songs. It was either old standards or new Wings' material.

He eventually began to incorporate a few Beatles' numbers, but stuck to mostly 'new' stuff. I remember thinking at the time (mid-70's) that while it's fun to hear him do 'Lady Madonna' or whatever, I'd rather hear the original Beatles' version. I'm wasn't really interested in hearing Wings do Beatles songs. Denny Laine, Joe English and Jimmy McCollough were poor substitutes for John, Ringo and George. The Beatles were a great, tight, little band. And no matter how 'good' Joe English's drumming was, it wasn't the same. Bands have a chemistry that has little to do with their musicianship. And the Beatles had that. Just watch the Let it be rooftop gig. Plus, John, Paul and George were all great singers and their voices really fit together.

In his recent shows, Paul seems to just want to please the crowd. He does mostly hits and has even said in interviews that the audience expects 'Hey Jude' and he's got to deliver. Again, I'd rather hear the Beatles' 1968 version.

But discussing with my buddy, I realized that what I really want to hear is more obscure solo and Wings stuff. How about some Ram or Red Rose Speedway numbers? You never hear that stuff (except for 'My Love'). My pal said that Bruce Springsteen sometimes does whole albums (or close to it) live. I wouldn't know cuz I've never been a Springsteen fan, but what a great idea! How cool would it be to hear Ram live, or Band on the Run? You might have to cut the numbers that Denny or the others did, but that's okay. I'd even dig Wild Life. Much better than hearing a half-assed version of 'Drive My Car' again.